Komodo dragon, H/T Sirlaughs

Image result for komodo dragon

Marauding Dragons on a Desolate Island

The world’s largest lizard (up to 3 meters long) only needs one bite to infect its prey, and then it will stalk it – patiently, cold-bloodedly – until it keels over; and yes, if no living prey is available, it will gladly dig up human graves…

The Komodo dragon is the closest thing to a dinosaur that we have today on Earth, and to the “epic fantasy” wicked dragons. Its teeth are covered in bleeding tissue, its mouth copiously bleeds every time it feeds, drooling venomous saliva and flicking its long yellow forked tongue. Certainly, these ancient critters are dangerous, awesome and unique (get ready for the “Predator vs. Komodo Dragons” movie).



(images credit: Antonio DruskoDerrick Pereira)

Derrick Pereira is a tech junkie, world traveler and photography enthusiast living in Dubai. He writes to us about his recent journey to the island of Rinca, Indonesia, in search of the mighty Komodo Dragon:

“Komodo dragons have become a noted topic in the press recently after an Indonesian fisherman was mauled and killed while trespassing on Komodo island. Now, what was this fisherman doing on the island in the first place you ask? Searching for lost treasure? Nope. Saving a damsel in distress? Nope… apparently, he went hunting for sugar apples. Yes. Hunting for sugar apples, on an island known for its population of 1,500 Komodo dragons. If you ask me, the media should be handing this guy a Darwin award.



(photos by Derrick Pereira)

The fact is, Komodo dragons are dangerous and should not be taken lightly. They are active, agile predators with razor sharp teeth and have the ability to climb trees, swim or outrun any human. They can also detect prey 10 kilometers away (are you kidding me?), they live 50 years… and they use pretty evil hunting tricks: “Komodo dragon has also been observed intentionally startling a pregnant deer in the hopes of a miscarriage whose remains they can eat, a technique that has also been observed in large African predators” (source)


photo by Derrick Pereira

Komodo dragons can be found, natively, only on two islands in Indonesia – Komodo and Rinca. We decided to visit Rinca (home to approx. 1,500 dragons) which took us two and a half hours by boat (one way) from Seraya Island; plus we got to see a pod of dolphins on the way –



(images credit: Anna MunandarDerrick Pereira)

All visitors to the national park must be accompanied by a ranger who also serves as your guide through the national park area. A fact, further drilled in by the park management, as they pointed to some dried up blood stains on the window left by a ranger who’d been attacked, a week earlier, by a dragon (he survived). Staying on the path becomes imperative:



photos by Derrick Pereira

Let sleeping dragons lie

Our first encounter with dragons was close to the Park HQ, just next to the kitchen area. Four Komodo dragons, attracted by the scent of food, sat around the area in the hopes of scoring a quick meal. The park officials never feed any of the dragons or they’ll get into the habit of coming back for more.


photo by Derrick Pereira

Fifteen minutes into the trek we see a fully grown adult Komodo dragon walking straight towards us… head swinging, tongue lashing and feet pacing one after the next, this Komodo was on the prowl! We moved off the path and into the grass to let him pass by:


photos by Derrick Pereira

Komodo dragon can kill a man with a single bite

Chris Mitchell from TravelHappy also sent us an account of getting close with Komodo dragons. You might remember Chris Mitchell from her previous appearance on DRB with The Plain of Jars in Laos.


(image credit: Maarja)

“Coming face to face with the Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat is somewhat humbling. These huge lizards, up to 3 metres in length, have no fear of humans but humans certainly have reason to fear the Dragons – two tourists have died while visiting these apex predators on the remote Indonesian island of Komodo.

The Dragons infamously have a bacteria-ridden mouth (their saliva is extremely toxic and mixed with blood) that causes death by infection from a single bite – the dragons bite their prey and then track the unfortunate victim for days if necessary while waiting for it to die. (Human bite victims, if treated early with a broad range of antibiotics, do have a good chance of surviving)

The size of their victims? Well, these water buffaloes are the dragon’s favorite snack:


photos by Derrick Pereira

When they move, they move fast, as you can see from this very shaky video – it’s shaky because I was backing away from their lethal bite.

link

Dangerous, dung-mouthed and drooling – what, then, is the enduring appeal of the Komodo Dragon on our collective imaginations?

The scorched mountains of Komodo certainly look like a real world Jurassic Park, abruptly rising from the sea beneath a relentless sun with little sign of human settlement:


Viewpoint on Rinca island, photo by Ken

There is only one town (known as a kampung) on the island of Komodo, but the whole island and the seas around it are part of the Komodo National Park, put in place in the 1980s to protect the Dragon and the other creatures of this remote island habitat. The Dragons themselves were only discovered in 1911, and the remoteness of their natural habitat adds to the feel of having stepped back to somewhere truly primeval.

It is not easy to get to this remote island

We arrived at Komodo early one morning after three days sail from Bali on a scuba diving liveaboard around Komodo. Even in the 21st century, it is not easy to get to this remote island, which accounts for why it’s still not a major tourist destination (to reach Rinca Island you’ll have to haggle for a boat charter from Labuanbajo). Infrastructure on the island for tourists is also very basic, and besides, you have to keep a lookout for the Dragons wherever you are on Komodo – there are around 6000 of them living on the island.


(image credit: Dims)

We took an hour long walk into the bush (in at least 35 degrees celsius heat and full humidity) with our two watchful guides, both armed with big forked sticks to keep any marauding dragons at bay. The island’s landscape is desolately beautiful, the sun having reduced all the foliage to dry brown scrub. The arid climate is the result of hot dry winds blowing from the Australian continent. Apparently when the rainy season begins later in December the island transforms into lush green pasture within the space of two months.


(image credit: Den Ryske)

We didn’t spot a Komodo Dragon while on our walk, which was a obviously a shame. It would be necessary to spend several days on Komodo to properly explore the island. However, daytrippers like us don’t go away empty-handed – there are several Dragons that actually live around the Conservation Headquarters – they’re particularly fond of camping out in the shade of the kitchen hut. You can smell them before you see them – given their foul mouths, personal hygiene is also not high on the Komodo Dragon agenda.

Cannibal dragons eat their own young

The Dragons are not afraid to stand on one another to reach for the food (dangled from a pole above them) and demonstrate dominance – indeed, they are known cannibals, eating their own young on occasion… Occasionally they consume humans and human corpses, digging up bodies from shallow graves… They also make a distinct hissing sound when scenting food which is a warning to other Dragons to back off, although it has the same effect on humans too.

Komodo dragon hatchling… does not look so scary, yet:


(image credit: Frank Peters)

They are fascinating creatures and to see them in their natural habitat – albeit with some help from the kitchen slop bin – made it seem all the more possible that the Dragons are a throwback to prehistoric creatures. It also makes me wonder what else is living on Indonesia’s other 17,000 islands, many of which have never been fully explored and charted.”

DUMPLING

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Dumpling
DumplingFillings.JPG

A fried dumpling filled with minced chicken and spring onion, originally from China.
Main ingredients Flourpotatoes or bread

Uyghur manta, a variety of Central Asian manti

Dumpling is a broad classification for a dish that consists of pieces of dough (made from a variety of starch sources) wrapped around a filling or of dough with no filling. The dough can be based on breadflour, or potatoes, and may be filled with meatfishcheesevegetablesfruits, or sweets. Dumplings may be prepared using a variety of methods, including bakingboilingfryingsimmering, or steaming, and are found in many world cuisines.

African[edit]

Banku and kenkey define a dumpling in way that they are starchy balls of dough that are steamed. They are formed from fermented cornmeal. Banku is boiled and requires continuous kneading, while kenkey is partly boiled then finished by steaming in corn or banana leaves.[1]

Fufu may be described as a dumpling although in actual sense, it is not. Fufu is made by pounding boiled cassava (common in Ghana) or yam (common in Nigeria) in a wooden mortar with a wooden pestle. Plantain or cocoyam may be added. There are several other versions of fufu in Africa and the Caribbean. There have been other versions of fufu which fit better into the definition of dumplings. These are mostly common outside Africa where they originate. It is made by steaming cassava and plantain/cocoyam flour into thick starchy balls.

Tihlo—prepared from roasted barley flour—originated in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and is now very popular in Amhara as well and spreading further south.[2]

Souskluitjies are dumplings found in South Africa. They are a steamed sweet dumpling, sometimes made with plain flour and sometimes with the addition of dried fruits or other flavors. They are often served with a syrup flavored with cinnamon or a custard sauce.[3][4]

South Africa has another kind of dumpling known as melkkos. These dumplings are formed by putting milk, one teaspoon at a time, into a dry flour mixture. The flour clings to the milk and forms dumplings, which are then boiled in a mixture of milk and butter. They are served hot and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.[5]

American[edit]

Dropped dumplings simmering for chicken and dumplings, an American comfort food.[6]

Sealed Crustless Sandwich

American dumplings can be made with eggs, milk, baking powder or even yeast, or just from flour and water. Rolled dumplings are rolled into a tube or flat shape and cut into small pieces for cooking, while dropped dumplings are pulled from the unrolled mound of dough in pieces and formed into small balls by hand before dropping them onto a baking sheet, or directly into a frying pan or pot with other ingredients.[citation needed]

Bite-sized, hand-torn pieces of dough are cooked in boiling chicken broth along with a variety of vegetables and, optionally, chunks of chicken to make the dish chicken and dumplings, which is served as a thick soup or stew. Chicken and dumplings is a popular comfort food in the Midwestern and Southern U.S.,[6][7][8] where dumplings are often used as part of the regionally popular Burgoo stew.[citation needed]

The baked dumpling is popular in American cuisine. These sweet dumplings are made by wrapping fruit, frequently a whole tart apple, in pastry, then baking until the pastry is browned and the filling is tender. As an alternative to simply baking them, these dumplings are surrounded by a sweet sauce in the baking dish, and may be basted during cooking. Popular flavours for apple dumplings include brown sugarcaramel, or cinnamon sauces.[citation needed]

Pop-Tarts are a popular American baked dumpling manufactured by Kellogg Company since it’s introduction in 1964. The popular American breakfast dumpling has been officially titled a “Toaster Pastry” although it fits the definition of a dumpling. The Pop Tart has been released with many flavors, while mostly fruit, several dessert flavors have been released.[9]

Smores flavored Pop-Tart, a popular American Dumpling

Another popular American dumpling is the Sealed crustless sandwich. They are mass-produced with peanut butter and jelly by The J. M. Smucker Company as an alternative take on the popular Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.[10]

Boiled dumplings are made from flour to form a dough. A pot of boiling chicken or turkey broth is used to cook this dough. The thickness and the size of the dumplings is at the cook’s discretion. It is optional to serve with the meat in the dish or on the side.[citation needed]

Tortilla dumplings are made by adding tortillas and fillings to a boiling pot of stock. Popular varieties of Southern dumplings include chicken dumplings, turkey dumplings, strawberry dumplings, apple dumplings, ham dumplings, and even butter-bean dumplings.[citation needed]

Asian[edit]

Steamed dumplings are found throughout the region.[11]

Central Asian[edit]

Kazakh/Uzbek/Tajik manti in a steamer

Manti (also manty or mantu) is a steamed dumpling in Central Asian and Chinese Islamic cuisine. It contains a mixture of ground lamb (or beef) spiced with black pepper, enclosed in a dough wrapper. Manti are cooked in a multi-level steamer (mantovarka) and served topped with butter, yogurt, sour cream, or onion sauce. These dumplings are popular throughout Central Asia, including in AfghanistanKazakhstanKyrgyzstanPakistanTajikistanUzbekistan, and the Xinjiang region in China.

Chuchvara is a very small boiled dumpling typical of Uzbek and Tajik cuisine. Made of unleavened dough squares filled with meat, it is similar to the Russian pelmeni and the Chinese wonton, but in observance of the Islamic dietary rules, the meat filling is without pork. Chuchvara can be served in a clear soup or on their own, with vinegar or sauce based on finely chopped greens, tomatoes and hot peppers. Another popular way of serving chuchvara is topped with suzma (strained qatiq) or with smetana (sour cream), Russian-style.

Chinese[edit]

A legend goes that dumplings were first invented in the era of the Three Kingdoms, around 225 AD. Zhuge Liang, a general and minister of Shu Han, dammed up a poison marsh on his southern campaign against the Nanman with dumplings instead of the heads that the Nanman used. However, this legend is more commonly associated with the mantou (the name is supposedly evolved from “蠻頭”, also pronounced as “mantou”).

The jiǎozi (About this sound餃子) is a common Chinese dumpling, which generally consists of minced meat and finely chopped vegetables wrapped into a piece of dough skin. The skin can be either thin and elastic or thicker. Popular meat fillings include ground meat (usually pork, but can instead be beef or chicken), shrimp, and even fish. Popular mixtures include pork with Chinese cabbage, pork with garlic chives, pork and shrimp with vegetables, pork with spring onion, garlic chives with scrambled eggs. Filling mixtures will vary depending on personal tastes and region. Jiaozi are usually boiled, steamed or fried and continue to be a traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve, the evening before Chinese New Year, and special family reunions. Particularly, in Northern China, people generally eat dumpling on the Winter Solstice (December 22nd of each year), a custom signifying a warm winter. Extended family members may gather together to make dumplings, and it is also eaten for farewell to family members or friends. In Northern China, dumplings are commonly eaten with a dipping sauce made of vinegar and chili oil or paste, and occasionally with some soy sauce added in. However, baozi is not a type of jiaozi.

Zongzi wrapped in a bamboo leaf (right) and ready to eat (left)

If dumplings are laid flatly on a pan, first steamed with a lid on and with a thin layer of water, then fried in oil after the water has been evaporated, they are called guotie (鍋貼, that translates to “potstickers”), as the Maillard reactionoccurring on the bottom of the dumplings makes the skin crispy and brown. The same dumplings are called jiaozi if they are just steamed or boiled.

The wonton (Cantonese name) or hún dun in Mandarin (雲呑/餛飩) is another kind of dumpling. The shape is similar to Italian tortellino. It is typically boiled in a light broth or soup and made with a meat or shrimp filling. The skin wrapping for wontons is different—thinner and less elastic—than that used for jiaozi[citation needed]. Wontons are more popular in Southern China (Shanghai, Guangdong, Hong Kong etc.), whereas in Northern China, jiaozi are more popular. Jiaozi, wonton and potstickers are each wrapped differently.

Steamed har gow (shrimp dumplings) served in dim sum

Another type of Chinese dumpling is made with glutinous rice. Usually, the glutinous rice dumplings, zongzi (粽子), are triangle or cone shaped, can be filled with red bean paste, Chinese dates or cured meat depending on region. Glutinous rice dumplings are traditionally eaten during the Duanwu Festival. Other types of dumplings would be “soup dumplings”, commonly referred to as xiaolongbao (小籠包).

Chinese cuisine also include sweet dumplings. Tangyuan (湯圓) are smaller dumplings made with glutinous rice flour and filled with sweet sesame, peanut, red bean paste. Tangyuan may also be served without a filling. Tangyuan are eaten on the 15th day of Chinese New Year, or the Lantern Festival.

See also: dim sum (點心) for descriptions of several other kinds of dumplings such as har gowfun guosiew maiCha siu baolo mai gai and crystal dumplings.

Indian[edit]

Dumplings of India

Indian cuisine features several dishes which could be characterised as dumplings:

  • Ada (Malayalam) is a sweet South Indian dish from Kerala. Scrapped coconut mixed with sugar or jaggery is enveloped between the spread rice-dough and steamed. The sweet version of Kozhakkattai is equally famous in Kerala.[citation needed]
  • Bhajia are dumplings sometimes stuffed with vegetables and fruits.[citation needed]
  • Fara (Hindi) is famous in North India and is very similar to dumplings. It is made of wheat flour with stuffing of lentils and similar delicacies.[citation needed]
  • Gujhia (Hindi) is a sweet dumpling made with wheat flour, stuffed with khoya.
  • Kachori (Hindi) is a round flattened ball made of fine flour filled with a stuffing of baked mixture of yellow moong dal or Urad Dal (crushed and washed horse beans), besan (crushed and washed gram flour), black pepper, red chili powder, salt and other spices.
  • Karanji (MarathiOriya) or Kajjikayi (KannadaTelugu) or Kanoli are fried sweet dumplings made of wheat flour and stuffed with dry or moist coconut delicacies. They are a popular dish among MaharastriansOriyas and South Indians.
  • Kozhakkattai (Tamil) or Kadabu (Kannada), is another South Indian dish that can be sweet, salty or spicy. The outer shell is always steamed sticky rice dough. In the sweet version, a form of sweet filling made with coconuts, boiled lentils and jaggery is used, whereas in the salty version, a mixture of steamed cracked lentils, chillies and some mild spices is used.
  • Another dumpling popular in Western India and South India is the Modak (MarathiOriya) or Modhaka (Kannada) or Modagam (Tamil) or Sugiyan (Malayalam), Kudumu (Telugu) where the filling is made of fresh coconut and jaggery or sugar while the covering is steamed rice dough. It is eaten hot with ghee.
  • Pidi (Malayalam) is another South Indian dish from Kerala that is usually eaten with chicken curry.
  • Pitha (BihariOriyaBengaliAssamese) are stuffed savouries either made by steam or deep frying. A wide range of pithas are available in eastern and north eastern India.
  • Samosa is another popular savoury snack eaten in the Indian Subcontinent and Iranian Plateau. It is a fried dumpling usually stuffed with mince, vegetables (mainly potatoes) and various other spices. Vegetarian variants of samosas, without the added mince stuffing, are also popular and are sold at most eateries or roadside stalls throughout the country.

Indonesian[edit]

Indonesian dumplings were influenced and brought by Chinese immigrants to Indonesia.

  • Pangsit (wonton) is another type of dumpling that may be boiled, fried, or steamed, and often is used as complement of bakmi ayam or chicken noodle.
  • Siomay is an Indonesian fish dumpling served in peanut sauce.

Japanese[edit]

Japanese dango

Dango (団子) is a sweet dumpling made from rice flour, similar to mochi. Dango is eaten year-round, but the different varieties are traditionally eaten in given seasons. Three to four dango are often served on a skewer.

Gyōza (ギョーザ/餃子) is the Japanese version of the Chinese jiaozi.

Nikuman (肉まん) is the Japanese variant of baozi.

Korean[edit]

Korean dumplings are called mandu (만두). They are typically filled with a mixture of ingredients, including ground porkkimchi, vegetables, cellophane noodles, but there are very many variations. Mandu can be steamed, fried, or boiled. The dumplings can also be used to make a soup called mandu-guk (만둣국).

Mongolian[edit]

Nepalese[edit]

Plateful of Momos in Nepal

In Nepal, steamed dumplings known as momos (or momo-cha) are a popular snack, often eaten as a full meal as well. They are similar to the Chinese jiaozi or the Central Asian manti. This dish is native to Nepal and the concept of the dumpling was brought to Nepal by the Newar traders of Kathmandu who were trading goods with Tibet before the 1930s. Many different fillings, both meat based and vegetarian are common. Kathmandu Valley, a popular destination for momos, has with time developed its own essence for this food that differentiates it from its Tibetan counterpart.

Yomari

Momos can be both fried and steamed. Momos are usually served with a dipping sauce normally consisting of tomatoes and chillies as the base ingredient, from which numerous variations can be made. Momo soup is a dish that has steamed momos immersed in a meat broth. Momos that are pan fried after steaming first are known as kothey momo, and steamed momos served in a hot sauce are called C-Momo in Nepal. Momos can also be prepared by directly deep frying without steaming first. Momos are one of the most items on the menus of Nepalese restaurants not only in Nepal but also around the world with significant Nepali populations like India, USA, UK, Australia and some Middle Eastern and European countries.

Yomari, also called Yamari, is a delicacy of the Newar community in Nepal. It is a steamed dumpling that consists of an external covering of rice flour[12] and an inner content of sweet substances such as chaku. The delicacy plays a very important role in Newaa society, and is a key part of the festival of Yomari punhi.[13] According to some, the triangular shape of the yamari is a symbolical representation of one half of the shadkona, the symbol of Saraswati and wisdom.[14]

Caribbean and Latin America[edit]

Home made empanadas from Córdoba, Argentina

Empanadas, whose stuffing, manufacture and types are numerous and varied, differ from traditional dumplings in that they are deep fried or steamed, and excess dough is not cut off.

Bajan[edit]

In Barbados, dumplings differ from those in other Caribbean islands in that they are slightly sweetened. The dumplings may either be of the flour or cornmeal variety. The dough is flavoured with spices, cinnamon and nutmeg. Dumplings are often added with Bajan soup where they are boiled. When found in Stew food, the dumplings are steamed along with ground provision, salted meat, plantain and other ingredients which is served with gravy.

Brazilian[edit]

In Brazil, there are :

– pastéis, thin dough that is mainly stuffed with cheese and then fried,

– empada, muffin-shaped dough stuffed primarily with chicken, cheese or seafood (this is NOT Empanadas).

– coxinhas, thick dough stuff with chicken (could be described as a chicken corn_dog ), and

– bolinhas, which literally translates to ‘little balls’, can have meat(bolinhas de carne) or cheese(bolinhas de queijo) inside.

All dumplings can vary of its original form with optional additions like olives, onions and/or spices. They are commonly served in parties. In some parts of Brazil like Rio it can be found in fast-food kiosks(‘open restaurants’, where there is no door to enter and you are served in a big counter) in the city or in parks, but it is very diffused through the territory, so you could find people who also eat these on the beach or after work with beer, fruity alcoholic drinks known as batidas, or non-alcoholic beverages like soda or refrescos(sort of juice).

Caribbean[edit]

Dumplings are either pan fried using a simple recipe including all-purpose flour, water, and salt made into a thick dough before frying on a pan until golden brown, or boiled in a soup. The fried version is usually served with breakfast codfish as a side.

Chilean[edit]

In Chile, there are pantrucas, a type of flat, elongated irregular dumplings flavoured with fresh parsley and served in soup. In Chiloé, a Chilean southern archipelago, one of the American regions potato is native from, traditional meal are “chapalele”, “milcao”, “chochoca”, “chuhuañe” and “vaeme”. All of them made potato based, cooked or raw and sometimes mixed in different proportions of wheat flour, seasoned with lard. Some are flat and round filled with greaves and fried (milcao); flat boiled (chapaleles, milcaos), similar but bigger to “pantrucas or pancutras” or a roasted roll in a stick (chochoca). Size is one portion and regularly served as bread. Also are served with honey (mainly hot chapaleles, as dessert). In Chile also existing traditional “papas rellenas”. Boiled potatoes and flour dough; meat,onion,some cumin filled and fried; served regularly with crystallized sugar over.

Jamaican[edit]

Dumplings come in three forms in Jamaica, fried, boiled, and roasted. All are made with flour, white or wheat, and the white-floured dumplings are often mixed with a bit of cornmeal. These foods are often served with a variety of dishes like ackee and saltfishkidneysliversalt mackerel, etc. and often taste better when refried. A refried dumpling is an already boiled dumpling left over from previous cooking that is fried, which gives it a slightly crispy outer layer and a tender middle. A purely fried white flour dumpling (also known as a “Johnny Cake”) is golden brown and looks similar to a buñuelo, often substituting the boiled dumpling, but it is mostly consumed as part of breakfast. Fried dumplings can be made with or without sugar. When mixed with sugar, cornmeal and baking powder and fried, this variation is called festival. This delicious variation goes well when served with fried fish, or any other traditional Jamaican home food.

Peruvian[edit]

“Papas Rellenas” or stuffed potatoes consist of a handful of mashed potatoes (without the milk and butter) flattened in the palm of the hand and stuffed with a savoury combination of ingredients. The stuffing usually consists of sautéed meat (could be beef, pork or chicken), onions and garlic. They are all seasoned with cumin, aji, raisins, peanuts, olives and sliced or chopped hard boiled eggs. After stuffing a ball is formed, rolled over flour and deep fried in hot oil. The stuffed potatoes are usually accompanied by onion sauce consisting of sliced onions, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and slices of fresh peppers. The same dish may also be made with seafood. In some countries, yuca purée is used as the starch component of these Latin American dumplings.

Puerto Rican[edit]

In Puerto Rico, dumplings are made of grated tubers such as yuca and malanga with added calabaza, unripe bananas and plantains mixed with flour. These dumplings are a traditional part in Puerto Rican style pigeon pea soup. Olive oil and annatto are usually added and help the mix from turning brown. The dumplings are formed into small balls and are first cooked in olive oil before boiling. Once the dumplings are crispy on the outside, they are then boiled with added ingredients.

Another dumpling that originated in Puerto Rico is the pasteles, a dumpling made of grated root vegetables, squash, plantains, and unripe bananas. The masa is then mixed with milk and annatto oil, and they are stuffed with stewed pork, chick peas, olives, capers and raisins. They are then placed on a banana leaf, tied and then boiled. The origin of pasteles leads back to Natives on the island of Borikén. Pasteles are popular in the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Trinidad and lately seen in Cuban cuisine.

European[edit]

British and Irish[edit]

Savoury dumplings made from balls of dough are part of traditional British and Irish cuisine. Traditionally dumplings are made from twice the weight of self raising flour to suet, bound together by cold water to form a dough and seasoned with salt and pepper. Balls of this dough are dropped into a bubbling pot of stew or soup, or into a casserole. They sit, partly submerged in the stew, and expand as they are half-boiled half-steamed for ten minutes or so. The cooked dumplings are airy on the inside and moist on the outside. The dough may be flavoured with herbs, or it may have cheese pressed into its centre.

The Norfolk dumpling is not made with fat, but from flour and a raising agent.[15] Cotswold dumplings call for the addition of breadcrumbs and cheese, and the balls of dough may be rolled in breadcrumbs and fried, rather than cooked in a soup or stew.[16] Vegetarian dumplings can be made with vegetable suet, a type of shredded vegetable fat. When sweetened with dried fruit and spices, dumplings can be boiled in water to make a dessert. In Scotland, this is called a clootie dumpling, after the cloth.[17]

Central European[edit]

Tyrolean roast wild boar with Buttermilchserviettenknödel (slices of bread dumpling made with buttermilk)

GermanyRomaniaAustria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia boast a large variety of dumplings, both sweet and savoury. A dumpling is called Kloß in Northern Germany, Knödel, Nockerl or Knöpfle in Southern Germany and Austria. These are flour dumplings, the most common dumplings, thin or thick, made with eggs and semolina flour, boiled in water. Meat dumplings (called Klopse or Klöpse in North-Eastern Germany, Knöpfle and Nocken in Southern Germany) contain meat or liver. Liver dumplings are frequent additions to soup. Thüringer Klöße are made from raw or boiled potatoes, or a mixture of both, and are often filled with croutonsBread dumplings are made with white bread and are sometimes shaped like a loaf of bread, and boiled in a napkin, in which case they are known as napkin dumplings (Serviettenknödel).

Maultaschen are a Swabian (Baden-Württemberg) specialty food, consisting of an outer layer of pasta dough with a filling traditionally made of sausage meat, spinach, bread crumbs and onions and flavored with various spices. Similar in appearance to Italian ravioli, Maultaschen are usually larger, however, each Maultasche being about 8–12 cm (3-5 inches) across.

The only potato dumpling museum in the world, the Thüringer Kloßmuseum, is located in Germany, in the municipality of Heichelheim near Weimar.

A monument to halušky in PoltavaUkraine

Halušky are a traditional variety of dumplings cooked in the Central and Eastern European cuisines (Czech RepublicHungaryPolandRomaniaSerbiaSlovakia, and Ukraine). These are small lumps cut from a thick flour and egg batter and dropped into boiling water, similar to the German SpätzleKnöpfle, or Knödel.

Plum dumplings

In Romania, the dumplings are with plums inside and are called galusca cu prune, while in Hungary, they are called nokedli and in Austria “Zwetschgenknödel”. Sweet varieties called gombócare made with flour and potato dough, which is wrapped around whole plums or apricots, and then boiled and rolled in hot buttered bread crumbs. Shlishkes or “Krumplinudli” are small boiled potato dumplings made from the same potato dough as the sweet plum dumplings, also rolled in hot buttered bread crumbs.

Bryndzové halušky, considered the Slovak national dish, are small potato dumplings without a filling, served with salty sheep’s cheese on top. The same dumplings are also used to create a similar dish, strapačky. Also available are their related stuffed version called pirohy, usually filled with bryndza (bryndzové pirohy), quark cheese, potatoes, onions, cabbage, mushrooms, or meat.

Slices of Czech knedlík

In Czech cuisine dumplings have two main forms:

  • Knödel is called in Czech knedlík and in Slovakia knedľa. It can be either houskový (bread) or bramborový (potato) knödel. These dumplings are boiled in loaf shape and then cut in slices and are part of many Czech national dishes such as Vepřo knedlo zelo or Svíčková na smetaně.
  • Ovocné knedlíky (ball-shaped knedle) filled in with fruit: plums, strawberry, blueberry etc. Meal is completed on plate with grated quark, melted butter and powder sugar.

Idrijski žlikrofi are Slovenian dumplings, regionally located in the town of Idrija. They are made from dough with potato filling and have a characteristic form of a hat. Žlikrofi are made by a traditional recipe from the 19th century, but the source of the recipe is unknown due to lack of historical sources. The dish may be served as a starter or a side dish to meat based dishes. Žlikrofi were the first Slovenian food to be classified as a Traditional speciality guaranteed dish.

Khinkali is a Georgian dumpling[18] which originated in the mountain regions of PshaviMtiuleti, and Khevsureti.[19] Varieties of khinkali spread from there across different parts of the Caucasus.[20] The fillings of khinkali vary with the area. The original recipe consistsof only minced meat (lamb or beef and pork mixed), onions, chili peppersalt and cumin. Modern recipes use herbs like parsley and coriander. In Muslim-majority areas the use of beef and lamb is more prevalent. Mushrooms, potatoes, or cheese may be used in place of meat.

Eastern European[edit]

Ukrainian varenyky filled with sour cherry

Pierogi of Poland, varenyky of Ukraine, pelmeni of Russia and Belarus are ravioli-like crescent-shaped dumplings filled with savoury or sweet filling. Varenyky are usually boiled or steamed. Pierogi are often fried after boiling.

“Little ears”, variously called uszka in Poland, ushki (ушки) in Russia, vushka (вушка) in Ukraine, and vushki (вушкі) in Belarus, are folded ring-shaped dumplings similar in shape to Italian tortellini or Jewish kreplach. They are stuffed with meat or mushrooms and traditionally served in borshch or clear soup. In Romania, “little ears” (Romanianurechiuşe) are also served in dumpling soup (supă de găluşte)

Kluski are a different variety of Polish dumplings.

Lithuanian potato dumplings – cepelinai

Lithuanian dough dumplings are called koldūnai and virtiniai. Usually they are filled with meat or curd. One of the varieties is called Šaltanosiai, “Cold nosed ones”, and is made with blueberry filling. There are also potato dumplings called cepelinai or didžkukuliai, filled with meat or curd inside, served with soured cream. A similar dish exists in Belarus that is called klyocki (клёцкi).

Russian pelmeni are smaller than varenyky and made only of minced meat with addition of onions and spices. Sometimes the meat used is only beef, in other recipes is a mixture of beef with pork and/or mutton. Pelmeni should be juicy inside. They are unrelated to the pasta with which they are sometimes compared as it is a savoury main dish. They are usually boiled in water with spices and salt, or in meat bouillon, sometimes fried before serving. They are often served with plenty of sour cream.

Pelmeni ready for boiling

An important difference between pelmeni, varenyky, and pierogi is the thickness of the dough shell—in pelmeni this is as thin as possible, and the proportion of filling to dough is usually higher.[21] Pelmeni are never served with a sweet filling, which distinguishes them from varenyky and pierogi, which sometimes are. Also, the fillings in pelmeni are usually raw, while the fillings of vareniki and pierogi are typically precooked.

The word pelmeni is derived from pel’n’an’ (пельнянь) – literally “ear bread” in the native Finno-Ugric KomiUdmurt, and Mansi languages.[22][23] It is unclear when pelmeni entered the cuisines of the indigenous Siberian people and when they first appeared in Russian cuisine. One theory suggests pelmeni, or stuffed boiled dumplings in general, originated in Siberia, possibly a simplified adaptation of the Chinese Wonton (in some dialect is called Bāomiàn “包面”). Pelmeni are particularly good means of quickly preserving meat during long Siberian winter, especially eliminating the need to feed livestock during the long winter months.

The main difference between pelmeni and momos is their size—a typical pelmeni is about 2 to 3 centimetres (0.79 to 1.18 in) in diameter, whereas momos are often at least twice that size.

In Siberia, especially popular with the Buryat peoples are steamed dumplings called pozi (buuz in Mongolian, from Chinese包子pinyinbāozi). They are usually made with an unleavened dough, but are often encountered leavened. The traditional filling is meat, but the kind of meat and how it is processed varies. In Mongolia, mutton is favored, and is chopped rather than ground; pork and beef mixes are more popular in Russia.

Mantisamsachiburekki, and belyashi are all popular imported dumplings.

Italian[edit]

Ravioli and tortellini fit the basic definition of a dumpling: these are pockets of pasta enclosing various fillings (cheese, mushrooms, spinach, seafood, or meat). Instead of being made from a ball of dough, the dough is rolled flat, cut into a shape, filled with other ingredients, and then the dough is closed around the filling.

Gnocchi (Spanishñoquis, widely adopted in ArgentinaPortuguesenhoqueSloveneNjoki) is a different kind of Italian dumpling. The word gnocchi literally means “lumps”, and they are rolled and shaped from a mixture of egg with potato, semolina, flour, or ricotta cheese (with or without spinach). The lumps are boiled in water and served with melted butter, grated cheese, or other pasta sauces.

Maltese[edit]

Maltese ravioli (ravjul) are pockets of pasta filled with ricotta cheese.

Pastizzi and qassatat are pockets of dough that can be filled with a variety of fillings, usually ricotta (irkotta) or mashed peas.

Scandinavian[edit]

Norwegian[edit]

In Norwegian cuisine, dumplings have a vast variety of names, as the dialects differ substantially. Names include potetballklubbkløbbraspeballkomlekumlekompekumpekodlakudleklotkamsballbaillkomperdøsekumperdøsekompadøsruterrutaraskekakoriskklotrematkrumme and kromme. They are usually made from crushed potatoes mixed with various types of flour, often with an emphasis on barley and wheat. In some local recipes the potatoes are dehydrated, while in others there is a mixture of raw and boiled potatoes. Occasionally they are filled with bacon. Depending on local tradition, dumplings can be sided with syrup, swede and often meat if the dumplings does not have meat filling.

Swedish[edit]

In Swedish cuisine, potato dumplings of originally German origin[24] have several regional names, mainly depending on the type of flour used. When the potato is mixed with wheat flour, which is more common in southern Sweden, it is called kroppkaka. In Blekinge[25] and parts of the island of Öland, it is traditionally made from grated raw potato, which makes it greyish in colour, while on Gotland and in Småland it is predominantly made from mashed boiled potato, and is thus whiter in colour.[24] The kroppkaka is usually filled with diced, smoked bacon and chopped, raw onion, and is often spiced with allspice.[24]

Swedish palt, served with butter and lingonberry jam.

When the potato is mixed with barley flour, which is traditional in northern Sweden, it is known as palt in LaplandVästerbotten and Norrbotten,[24] and as kams in JämtlandÅngermanland and Medelpad.[24][26] Originally, palt was eaten all over Sweden and was made from barley or rye flour alone, but during the 19th century, when potato was added and wheat became more common and inexpensive, the northern recipes retained the original name, while kroppkaka, which had always been the name used on Öland for the flour dumpling, became the name for the variant in southern Sweden.[27]

Palt and kams is usually filled with diced, unsmoked bacon. However, sometimes fried bacon is served on the side of unfilled palt or kams, which then is known as flatpalt or flatkams, as the lack of filling makes it flatter. The most well-known palt variant is the Pitepalt from Piteå. In Dalarna, where the dish is known as klabbe, it is still made without potatoes and is never filled. Klabbe is instead served with diced bacon on the side.[28]

A variant of palt is blodpalt, where pig, beef or reindeer blood is mixed into the dough. Other palt variants are leverpalt, with minced liver added to the dough, and njurpalt, with diced kidney mixed into the bacon filling.[24] Blodpaltalso existed across the country originally, and has been found in iron age graves in Halland.[26]

The filled kroppkakapalt or kams ball – as well as the flatter, unfilled flatpaltflatkams and klabbe – is dropped into boiling salted water and cooked until it floats. It is traditionally served warm with melted butter and lingonberry jam, although in some parts of southern Sweden the melted butter is replaced by half cream (a mix of milk and cream) or a warm milk sauce, and in parts of northern Sweden the butter is replaced by a warm milk sauce spiced with messmör. Leftover kroppkaka is often served halved and fried.[24]

Unfilled flour dumplings for use in soup are called klimp if the flour is wheat, but mjölpalt if the flour is barley or rye.[24]

Middle Eastern[edit]

Armenian boraki

Georgian khinkali

Iraqi-Jewish kubbeh

Arabic[edit]

Caucasian[edit]

Meat-filled manti in Armenia are typically served with yogurt or sour cream, accompanied by clear soup. Mantapour is an Armenian beef soup with manta.

Boraki (ArmenianԲորակի) are a kind of Armenian fried dumplings. The main distinction of boraki is that the minced meat is pre-fried, the boraki are formed as small cylinders with an open top, the cylinders are lightly boiled in broth and then fried. Boraki are served garnished with yogurt and chopped garlic.[29]

Dushbara (Azerbaijan: Düşbərə) is an Azeri soup with tiny lamb-filled dumplings.[30]

Khinkali (Georgianხინკალი) are Georgian dumplings usually filled with spiced meat. herbs (usually coriander), onions, and garlic. Mushrooms, potatoes, or cheese may be used in place of meat. The khinkali is typically consumed first by sucking the juices while taking the first bite, in order to prevent the dumpling from bursting. The towns of DushetiPasanauri and Mtskheta are particularly famous for their khinkali.

Mataz are dumplings in Circassian and some other Caucasian cuisines, closely related to manti. They typically consist of a spiced meat mixture, usually lamb or ground beef, with greens and onions, put in a dough wrapper, either boiled or steamed. Mushrooms, potatoes, or cheese may be used in place of meat.

Dragonfly

Image result for Dragon fly

dragonfly is an insect belonging to the order Odonatainfraorder Anisoptera (from Greek ἄνισος anisos, “unequal” and πτερόν pteron, “wing”, because the hindwing is broader than the forewing). Adult dragonflies are characterized by large, multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong, transparent wings, sometimes with coloured patches, and an elongated body. Dragonflies can be mistaken for the related group, damselflies (Zygoptera), which are similar in structure, though usually lighter in build; however, the wings of most dragonflies are held flat and away from the body, while damselflies hold the wings folded at rest, along or above the abdomen. Dragonflies are agile fliers, while damselflies have a weaker, fluttery flight. Many dragonflies have brilliant iridescent or metallic colours produced by structural coloration, making them conspicuous in flight. An adult dragonfly’s compound eyes have nearly 24,000 ommatidia each.

Fossils of very large dragonfly ancestors in the Protodonata are found from 325 million years ago (Mya) in Upper Carboniferous rocks; these had wingspans up to about 750 mm (30 in). There are about 3,000 extant species. Most are tropical, with fewer species in temperate regions.

Dragonflies are predators, both in their aquatic larval stage, when they are known as nymphs or naiads, and as adults. Several years of their lives are spent as nymphs living in fresh water; the adults may be on the wing for just a few days or weeks. They are fast, agile fliers, sometimes migrating across oceans, and often live near water. They have a uniquely complex mode of reproduction involving indirect insemination, delayed fertilization, and sperm competition. During mating, the male grasps the female at the back of the head, and the female curls her abdomen under her body to pick up sperm from the male’s secondary genitalia at the front of his abdomen, forming the “heart” or “wheel” posture.

Loss of wetland habitat threatens dragonfly populations around the world. Dragonflies are represented in human culture on artifacts such as pottery, rock paintings, and Art Nouveau jewellery. They are used in traditional medicine in Japan and China, and caught for food in Indonesia. They are symbols of courage, strength, and happiness in Japan, but seen as sinister in European folklore. Their bright colours and agile flight are admired in the poetry of Lord Tennyson and the prose of H. E. Bates.

Dragonflies and their relatives are an ancient group. The oldest fossils are of the Protodonata from the 325 Mya Upper Carboniferous of Europe, a group that included the largest insect that ever lived, Meganeuropsis permiana from the early Permian, with a wingspan around 750 mm (30 in);[3] their fossil record ends with the Permian–Triassic extinction event (about 247 Mya). The Protanisoptera, another ancestral group which lacks certain wing vein characters found in modern Odonata, lived from the Early to Late Permian age until the end Permian event, and are known from fossil wings from current day United States, Russia, and Australia, suggesting they might have been cosmopolitan in distribution. The forerunners of modern Odonata are included in a clade called the Panodonata, which include the basal Zygoptera (damselflies) and the Anisoptera (true dragonflies)[4] Today there are some 3000 species extant around the world.[5][6]

Dragonflies live on every continent except Antarctica. In contrast to the damselflies (Zygoptera), which tend to have restricted distributions, some genera and species are spread across continents. For example, the blue-eyed darner Rhionaeschna multicolor lives all across North America, and in Central America;[9] emperors Anax live throughout the Americas from as far north as Newfoundland to as far south as Bahia Blanca in Argentina,[10] across Europe to central Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East.[11] The globe skimmer Pantala flavescens is probably the most widespread dragonfly species in the world; it is cosmopolitan, occurring on all continents in the warmer regions. Most Anisoptera species are tropical, with far fewer species in temperate regions.[12]

Some dragonflies, including libellulids and aeshnids, live in desert pools, for example in the Mojave Desert, where they are active in shade temperatures between 18 and 45 °C (64.4 to 113 °F); these insects were able to survive body temperatures above the thermal death point of insects of the same species in cooler places.[13]

Dragonflies live from sea level up to the mountains, decreasing in species diversity with altitude.[14] Their altitudinal limit is about 3700 m, represented by a species of Aeshna in the Pamirs.[15]

Dragonflies become scarce at higher latitudes. They are not native to Iceland, but individuals are occasionally swept in by strong winds, including a Hemianax ephippiger native to North Africa, and an unidentified darter species.[16] In Kamchatka, only a few species of dragonfly including the treeline emerald Somatochlora arctica and some aeshnids such as Aeshna subarctica are found, possibly because of the low temperature of the lakes there.[17] The treeline emerald also lives in northern Alaska, within the Arctic Circle, making it the most northerly of all dragonflies.

Dragonflies (suborder Anisoptera) are heavy-bodied, strong-flying insects that hold their wings horizontally both in flight and at rest. By contrast, damselflies (suborder Zygoptera) have slender bodies and fly more weakly; most species fold their wings over the abdomen when stationary, and the eyes are well separated on the sides of the head.[8][19]

An adult dragonfly has three distinct segments, the head, thorax, and abdomen as in all insects. It has a chitinous exoskeleton of hard plates held together with flexible membranes. The head is large with very short antennae. It is dominated by the two compound eyes, which cover most of its surface. The compound eyes are made up of ommatidia, the numbers being greater in the larger species. Aeshna interrupta has 22650 ommatidia of two varying sizes, 4500 being large. The facets facing downward tend to be smaller. Petalura gigantea has 23890 ommatidia of just one size. These facets provide complete vision in the frontal hemisphere of the dragonfly.[20] The compound eyes meet at the top of the head (except in the Petaluridae and Gomphidae, as also in the genus Epiophlebia). Also, they have three simple eyes or ocelli. The mouthparts are adapted for biting with a toothed jaw; the flap-like labrum, at the front of the mouth, can be shot rapidly forward to catch prey.[21][22] The head has a system for locking it in place that consists of muscles and small hairs on the back of the head that grip structures on the front of the first thoracic segment. This arrester system is unique to the Odonata, and is activated when feeding and during tandem flight.[8]

Anatomy of a dragonfly

The thorax consists of three segments as in all insects. The prothorax is small and is flattened dorsally into a shield-like disc which has two transverse ridges. The mesothorax and metathorax are fused into a rigid, box-like structure with internal bracing, and provides a robust attachment for the powerful wing muscles inside it.[23] The thorax bears two pairs of wings and three pairs of legs. The wings are long, veined, and membranous, narrower at the tip and wider at the base. The hindwings are broader than the forewings and the venation is different at the base.[24] The veins carry haemolymph, which is analogous to blood in vertebrates and carries out many similar functions, but which also serves a hydraulic function to expand the body between nymphal stages (instars) and to expand and stiffen the wings after the adult emerges from the final nymphal stage. The leading edge of each wing has a node where other veins join the marginal vein, and the wing is able to flex at this point. In most large species of dragonflies, the wings of females are shorter and broader than those of males.[22] The legs are rarely used for walking, but are used to catch and hold prey, for perching, and for climbing on plants. Each has two short basal joints, two long joints, and a three-jointed foot, armed with a pair of claws. The long leg joints bear rows of spines, and in males, one row of spines on each front leg is modified to form an “eyebrush”, for cleaning the surface of the compound eye.[23]

Migrant hawker, Aeshna mixta, has the long slender abdomen of aeshnid dragonflies.

The abdomen is long and slender and consists of 10 segments. There are three terminal appendages on segment 10; a pair of superiors (claspers) and an inferior. The second and third segments are enlarged, and in males, on the underside of the second segment has a cleft, forming the secondary genitalia consist of lamina, hamule, genital lobe and penis. There is remarkable variations in the presence and the form of the penis and the related structures, the flagellum, cornua and genital lobes. Sperm is produced at the 9th segment and is transferred to the secondary genitalia prior to mating. The male holds the female behind the head using a pair of claspers on the terminal segment. In females, the genital opening is on the underside of the eighth segment and is covered by a simple flap (vulvar lamina) or an ovipositor, depending on species and the method of egg-laying. Dragonflies having simple flap shed the eggs in water, mostly in flight. Dragonflies having ovipositor, use it to puncture soft tissues of plants and place the eggs singly in each puncture they made.[23][25][26][27]

Dragonfly nymphs vary in form with species and are loosely classed into claspers, sprawlers, hiders, and burrowers.[8] The first instar is known as a prolarva, a relatively inactive stage from which it quickly moults into the more active nymphal form.[28] The general body plan is similar to that of an adult, but the nymph lacks wings and reproductive organs. The lower jaw has a huge, extensible labium, armed with hooks and spines, which is used for catching prey. This labium is folded under the body at rest and struck out at great speed by hydraulic pressure created by the abdominal muscles.[8] Whereas damselfly nymphs have three feathery external gills, dragonfly nymphs have internal gills, located around the fourth and fifth abdominal segments. Water is pumped in and out of the abdomen through an opening at the tip. The naiads of some clubtails (Gomphidae) that burrow into the sediment, have a snorkel-like tube at the end of the abdomen enabling them to draw in clean water while they are buried in mud. Naiads can forcefully expel a jet of water to propel themselves with great rapidity.[29]

Coloration

Iridescent structural coloration in a dragonfly’s eyes

Many adult dragonflies have brilliant iridescent or metallic colours produced by structural coloration, making them conspicuous in flight. Their overall coloration is often a combination of yellow, red, brown, and black pigments, with structural colours. Blues are typically created by microstructures in the cuticle that reflect blue light. Greens often combine a structural blue with a yellow pigment. Freshly emerged adults, known as tenerals, are often pale-coloured and obtain their typical colours after a few days,[24] some have their bodies covered with a pale blue, waxy powderiness called pruinosity; it wears off when scraped during mating, leaving darker areas.[30]

Noniridescent structural blue occurs in the green darner, Anax junius; the female (below) lacks blue.

Some dragonflies, such as the green darner, Anax junius, have a noniridescent blue which is produced structurally by scatter from arrays of tiny spheres in the endoplasmic reticulum of epidermal cells underneath the cuticle.[31]

The wings of dragonflies are generally clear, apart from the dark veins and pterostigmata. In the chasers (Libellulidae), however, many genera have areas of colour on the wings: for example, groundlings (Brachythemis) have brown bands on all four wings, while some scarlets (Crocothemis) and dropwings (Trithemis) have bright orange patches at the wing bases. Some aeshnids such as the brown hawker (Aeshna grandis) have translucent, pale yellow wings.[32]

Dragonfly nymphs are usually a well-camouflaged blend of dull brown, green, and grey.[29]

Biology

Ecology

Dragonflies and damselflies are predatory both in the aquatic nymphal and adult stages. Nymphs feed on a range of freshwater invertebrates and larger ones can prey on tadpoles and small fish.[33] Adults capture insect prey in the air, making use of their acute vision and highly controlled flight. The mating system of dragonflies is complex and they are among the few insect groups that have a system of indirect sperm transfer along with sperm storage, delayed fertilization, and sperm competition.[33]

Adult males vigorously defend territories near water; these areas provide suitable habitat for the larvae to develop, and for females to lay their eggs. Swarms of feeding adults aggregate to prey on swarming prey such as emerging flying ants or termites.[33]

Habitat preference: a four-spotted chaser, Libellula quadrimaculata on an emergent plant, the water violet Hottonia palustris, with submerged vegetation in the background

Dragonflies as a group occupy a considerable variety of habitats, but many species, and some families, have their own specific environmental requirements.[34] Some species prefer flowing waters, while others prefer standing water. For example, the Gomphidae (clubtails) live in running water, and the Libellulidae (skimmers) live in still water.[34] Some species live in temporary water pools and are capable of tolerating changes in water level, desiccation, and the resulting variations in temperature, but some genera such as Sympetrum (darters) have eggs and larvae that can resist drought and are stimulated to grow rapidly in warm, shallow pools, also often benefiting from the absence of predators there.[34] Vegetation and its characteristics including submerged, floating, emergent, or waterside are also important. Adults may require emergent or waterside plants to use as perches; others may need specific submerged or floating plants on which to lay eggs. Requirements may be highly specific, as in Aeshna viridis (green hawker), which lives in swamps with the water-soldier, Stratiotes aloides.[34] The chemistry of the water, including its trophic status (degree of enrichment with nutrients) and pH can also affect its use by dragonflies. Most species need moderate conditions, not too eutrophic, not too acid;[34] a few species such as Sympetrum danae(black darter) and Libellula quadrimaculata (four-spotted chaser) prefer acidic waters such as peat bogs,[35] while others such as Libellula fulva (scarce chaser) need slow-moving, eutrophic waters with reeds or similar waterside plants.[36][37]

Behaviour

Many dragonflies, particularly males, are territorial. Some defend a territory against others of their own species, some against other species of dragonfly and a few against insects in unrelated groups. A particular perch may give a dragonfly a good view over an insect-rich feeding ground, and the blue dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) jostles other dragonflies to maintain the right to alight there.[38]

Defending a breeding territory is fairly common among male dragonflies, especially among species that congregate around ponds in large numbers. The territory contains desirable features such as a sunlit stretch of shallow water, a special plant species, or a particular substrate necessary for egg-laying. The territory may be small or large, depending on its quality, the time of day, and the number of competitors, and may be held for a few minutes or several hours. Some dragonflies signal ownership with striking colours on the face, abdomen, legs, or wings. The common whitetail (Plathemis lydia) dashes towards an intruder holding its white abdomen aloft like a flag. Other dragonflies engage in aerial dogfights or high-speed chases. A female must mate with the territory holder before laying her eggs.[38] There is also conflict between the males and females. Females may sometimes be harassed by males to the extent that it affects their normal activities including foraging and in some dimorphic species females have evolved multiple forms with some forms appearing deceptively like males.[39] In some species females have evolved behavioural responses such as feigning death to escape the attention of males.[40]

Reproduction

Mating pair of marsh skimmers, Orthetrum luzonicum, forming a “heart”

Mating in dragonflies is a complex, precisely choreographed process. First, the male has to attract a female to his territory, continually driving off rival males. When he is ready to mate, he transfers a packet of sperm from his primary genital opening on segment 9, near the end of his abdomen, to his secondary genitalia on segments 2–3, near the base of his abdomen. The male then grasps the female by the head with the claspers at the end of his abdomen; the structure of the claspers varies between species, and may help to prevent interspecific mating.[41] The pair flies in tandem with the male in front, typically perching on a twig or plant stem. The female then curls her abdomen downwards and forwards under her body to pick up the sperm from the male’s secondary genitalia, while the male uses his “tail” claspers to grip the female behind the head: this distinctive posture is called the “heart” or “wheel”;[33][42] the pair may also be described as being “in cop”.[43]

Egg-laying (ovipositing) involves not only the female darting over floating or waterside vegetation to deposit eggs on a suitable substrate, but also the male hovering above her or continuing to clasp her and flying in tandem. The male attempts to prevent rivals from removing his sperm and inserting their own,[44] something made possible by delayed fertilisation[33][42] and driven by sexual selection.[41] If successful, a rival male uses his penis to compress or scrape out the sperm inserted previously; this activity takes up much of the time that a copulating pair remains in the heart posture.[43] Flying in tandem has the advantage that less effort is needed by the female for flight and more can be expended on egg-laying, and when the female submerges to deposit eggs, the male may help to pull her out of the water.[44]

Egg-laying takes two different forms depending on the species. The female in some families has a sharp-edged ovipositor with which she slits open a stem or leaf of a plant on or near the water, so she can push her eggs inside. In other families such as clubtails (Gomphidae), cruisers (Macromiidae), emeralds (Corduliidae), and skimmers (Libellulidae), the female lays eggs by tapping the surface of the water repeatedly with her abdomen, by shaking the eggs out of her abdomen as she flies along, or by placing the eggs on vegetation.[43] In a few species, the eggs are laid on emergent plants above the water, and development is delayed until these have withered and become immersed.[29]

Life cycle

Nymph of emperor dragonfly, Anax imperator

Dragonflies are hemimetabolous insects; they do not have a pupal stage and undergo an incomplete metamorphosis with a series of nymphal stages from which the adult emerges.[45] Eggs laid inside plant tissues are usually shaped like grains of rice, while other eggs are the size of a pinhead, ellipsoidal, or nearly spherical. A clutch may have as many as 1500 eggs, and they take about a week to hatch into aquatic nymphs or naiads which moult between six and 15 times (depending on species) as they grow.[8] Most of a dragonfly’s life is spent as a nymph, beneath the water’s surface. The nymph extends its hinged labium (a toothed mouthpart similar to a lower mandible, which is sometimes termed as a “mask” as it is normally folded and held before the face) that can extend forward and retract rapidly to capture prey such as mosquito larvae, tadpoles, and small fish.[45] They breathe through gills in their rectum, and can rapidly propel themselves by suddenly expelling water through the anus.[46] Some naiads, such as the later stages of Antipodophlebia asthenes, hunt on land.[47]

EcdysisEmperor dragonflyAnax imperator, newly emerged and still soft, holding on to its dry exuvia, and expanding its wings

Parts of a dragonfly nymph including the labial “mask”

The larval stage of dragonflies lasts up to five years in large species, and between two months and three years in smaller species. When the naiad is ready to metamorphose into an adult, it stops feeding and makes its way to the surface, generally at night. It remains stationary with its head out of the water, while its respiration system adapts to breathing air, then climbs up a reed or other emergent plant, and moults (ecdysis). Anchoring itself firmly in a vertical position with its claws, its skin begins to split at a weak spot behind the head. The adult dragonfly crawls out of its larval skin, the exuvia, arching backwards when all but the tip of its abdomen is free, to allow its exoskeleton to harden. Curling back upwards, it completes its emergence, swallowing air, which plumps out its body, and pumping haemolymph into its wings, which causes them to expand to their full extent.[48]

Dragonflies in temperate areas can be categorized into two groups, an early group and a later one. In any one area, individuals of a particular “spring species” emerge within a few days of each other. The springtime darner (Basiaeschna janata), for example, is suddenly very common in the spring, but disappears a few weeks later and is not seen again until the following year. By contrast, a “summer species” emerges over a period of weeks or months, later in the year. They may be seen on the wing for several months, but this may represent a whole series of individuals, with new adults hatching out as earlier ones complete their short lifespans which is an average of 7 months.[49][50]

Sex ratios

The sex ratio of male to female dragonflies varies both temporally and spatially. Adult dragonflies have a high male-biased ratio at breeding habitats. The male-bias ratio has contributed partially to the females using different habitats to avoid male harassment. As seen in Hine’s emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana), male populations use wetland habitats, while females use dry meadows and marginal breeding habitats, only migrating to the wetlands to lay their eggs or to find mating partners. Unwanted mating is energetically costly for females because it affects the amount of time that they are able to spend foraging.[51]

Brown hawker, Aeshna grandis in flight: The hindwings are about 90° out of phase with the forewings at this instant, suggesting fast flight.

Flight

Red-veined darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) flying “in cop” (male ahead)

Dragonflies are powerful and agile fliers, capable of migrating across the sea, moving in any direction, and changing direction suddenly. In flight, the adult dragonfly can propel itself in six directions: upward, downward, forward, backward, to left and to right.[52] They have four different styles of flight:[53] A number of flying modes are used that include counter-stroking, with forewings beating 180° out of phase with the hindwings, is used for hovering and slow flight. This style is efficient and generates a large amount of lift; phased-stroking, with the hindwings beating 90° ahead of the forewings, is used for fast flight. This style creates more thrust, but less lift than counter-stroking; synchronised-stroking, with forewings and hindwings beating together, is used when changing direction rapidly, as it maximises thrust; and gliding, with the wings held out, is used in three situations: free gliding, for a few seconds in between bursts of powered flight; gliding in the updraft at the crest of a hill, effectively hovering by falling at the same speed as the updraft; and in certain dragonflies such as darters, when “in cop” with a male, the female sometimes simply glides while the male pulls the pair along by beating his wings.[53]

Southern hawker, Aeshna cyanea: its wings at this instant are synchronised for agile flight.

The wings are powered directly, unlike most families of insects, with the flight muscles attached to the wing bases. Dragonflies have a high power/weight ratio, and have been documented accelerating at 4 G linearly and 9 G in sharp turns while pursuing prey.[53]

Dragonflies generate lift in at least four ways at different times, including classical lift like an aircraft wing; supercritical lift with the wing above the critical angle, generating high lift and using very short strokes to avoid stalling; and creating and shedding vortices. Some families appear to use special mechanisms, as for example the Libellulidae which take off rapidly, their wings beginning pointed far forward and twisted almost vertically. Dragonfly wings behave highly dynamically during flight, flexing and twisting during each beat. Among the variables are wing curvature, length and speed of stroke, angle of attack, forward/back position of wing, and phase relative to the other wings.[53]

Flight speed

Old and unreliable claims are made that dragonflies such as the southern giant darner can fly up to 97 km/h (60 mph).[54] However, the greatest reliable flight speed records are for other types of insects.[55] In general, large dragonflies like the hawkers have a maximum speed of 36–54 km/h (22–34 mph) with average cruising speed of about 16 km/h (9.9 mph).[56] Dragonflies can travel at 100 body-lengths per second in forward flight, and three lengths per second backwards.[21]

Motion camouflage

The principle of motion camouflage

In high-speed territorial battles between male Australian emperors (Hemianax papuensis), the fighting dragonflies adjust their flight paths to appear stationary to their rivals, minimizing the chance of being detected as they approach.[a][57][58] To achieve the effect, the attacking dragonfly flies towards his rival, choosing his path to remain on a line between the rival and the start of his attack path. The attacker thus looms larger as he closes on the rival, but does not otherwise appear to move. Researchers found that six of 15 encounters involved motion camouflage.[59]

Temperature control

The flight muscles need to be kept at a suitable temperature for the dragonfly to be able to fly. Being cold-blooded, they can raise their temperature by basking in the sun. Early in the morning, they may choose to perch in a vertical position with the wings outstretched, while in the middle of the day, a horizontal stance may be chosen. Another method of warming up used by some larger dragonflies is wing-whirring, a rapid vibration of the wings that causes heat to be generated in the flight muscles. The green darner (Anax junius) is known for its long-distance migrations, and often resorts to wing-whirring before dawn to enable it to make an early start.[60]

Becoming too hot is another hazard, and a sunny or shady position for perching can be selected according to the ambient temperature. Some species have dark patches on the wings which can provide shade for the body, and a few use the obelisk posture to avoid overheating. This behaviour involves doing a “handstand“, perching with the body raised and the abdomen pointing towards the sun, thus minimising the amount of solar radiation received. On a hot day, dragonflies sometimes adjust their body temperature by skimming over a water surface and briefly touching it, often three times in quick succession. This may also help to avoid desiccation.[60]

Common clubtail, Gomphus vulgatissimus, with prey

Feeding

Adult dragonflies hunt on the wing using their exceptionally acute eyesight and strong, agile flight.[42] They are almost exclusively carnivorous, eating a wide variety of insects ranging from small midges and mosquitoes to butterfliesmothsdamselflies, and smaller dragonflies.[56] A large prey item is subdued by being bitten on the head and is carried by the legs to a perch. Here, the wings are discarded and the prey usually ingested head first.[61] A dragonfly may consume as much as a fifth of its body weight in prey per day.[62] Dragonflies are also some of the insect world’s most efficient hunters, catching up to 95% of the prey they pursue.[63]

The larvae are voracious predators, eating most living things that are smaller than they are. Their staple diet is mostly bloodworms and other insect larvae, but they also feed on tadpoles and small fish.[56] A few species, especially those that live in temporary waters, are likely to leave water. Nymphs of Cordulegaster bidentata sometimes hunt small arthropods on the ground at night.[8]

Predators and parasites

Southern red-billed hornbill with a captured dragonfly in its bill

Although dragonflies are swift and agile fliers, some predators are fast enough to catch them. These include falcons such as the American kestrel, the merlin,[64] and the hobby;[65] nighthawksswiftsflycatchers and swallows also take some adults; some species of wasps, too, prey on dragonflies, using them to provision their nests, laying an egg on each captured insect. In the water, various species of ducks and herons eat dragonfly larvae[64] and they are also preyed on by newts, frogs, fish, and water spiders.[66] Amur falcons, which migrate over the Indian Ocean at a period that coincides with the migration of the globe skimmer dragonfly, Pantala flavescens, may actually be feeding on them while on the wing.[67]

Dragonflies are affected by three major groups of parasites: water mites, gregarine protozoa, and trematode flatworms (flukes). Water mites, Hydracarina, can kill smaller dragonfly larvae, and may also be seen on adults.[68]Gregarines infect the gut and may cause blockage and secondary infection.[69] Trematodes are parasites of vertebrates such as frogs, with complex life cycles often involving a period as a stage called a cercaria in a secondary host, a snail. Dragonfly nymphs may swallow cercariae, or these may tunnel through a nymph’s body wall; they then enter the gut and form a cyst or metacercaria, which remains in the nymph for the whole of its development. If the nymph is eaten by a frog, the amphibian becomes infected by the adult or fluke stage of the trematode.[70]

Dragonflies and humans

Woodcut on paper, after Kitagawa Utamaro, 1788

Conservation

Most odonatologists live in temperate areas and the dragonflies of North America and Europe have been the subject of much research. However, the majority of species live in tropical areas and have been little studied. With the destruction of rainforest habitats, many of these species are in danger of becoming extinct before they have even been named. The greatest cause of decline is forest clearance with the consequent drying up of streams and pools which become clogged with silt. The damming of rivers for hydroelectric schemes and the drainage of low-lying land has reduced suitable habitat, as has pollution and the introduction of alien species.[71]

In 1997, the International Union for Conservation of Nature set up a status survey and conservation action plan for dragonflies. This proposes the establishment of protected areas around the world and the management of these areas to provide suitable habitat for dragonflies. Outside these areas, encouragement should be given to modify forestry, agricultural, and industrial practices to enhance conservation. At the same time, more research into dragonflies needs to be done, consideration should be given to pollution control and the public should be educated about the importance of biodiversity.[71]

Habitat degradation has reduced dragonfly populations across the world, for example in Japan.[72] Over 60% of Japan’s wetlands were lost in the 20th century, so its dragonflies now depend largely on rice fields, ponds, and creeks. Dragonflies feed on pest insects in rice, acting as a natural pest control.[73][74] Dragonflies are steadily declining in Africa, and represent a conservation priority.[75]

The dragonfly’s long lifespan and low population density makes it vulnerable to disturbance, such as from collisions with vehicles on roads built near wetlands. Species that fly low and slow may be most at risk.[76]

Dragonflies are attracted to shiny surfaces that produce polarization which they can mistake for water, and they have been known to aggregate close to polished gravestones, solar panels, automobiles, and other such structures on which they attempt to lay eggs. These can have a local impact on dragonfly populations; methods of reducing the attractiveness of structures such as solar panels are under experimentation.[77][78]

In culture

A blue-glazed faience dragonfly amulet was found by Flinders Petrie at Lahun, from the Late Middle Kingdom of ancient Egypt.[79]

Dragonfly symbol on a Hopi bowl from Sikyátki, Arizona

For some Native American tribes, dragonflies represent swiftness and activity; for the Navajo, they symbolize pure water. They are a common motif in Zuni pottery; stylized as a double-barred cross, they appear in Hopi rock art and on Pueblo necklaces.[80]:20–26 They have been used in traditional medicine in Japan and China. In Indonesia, adults are caught on poles made sticky with birdlime, then fried in oil as a delicacy.[81]

Tiffany dragonfly pendant lamp

Tiffany & Co. Japonismvase with dragonfly handles, circa 1879, Walters Art Museum

Images of dragonflies are common in Art Nouveau, especially in jewellery designs.[82] They have also been used as a decorative motif on fabrics and home furnishings.[83] Douglas, a British motorcycle manufacturer based in Bristol, named its innovatively designed postwar 350-cc flat-twin model the Dragonfly.[84]

Among the classical names of Japan are Akitsukuni (秋津国), Akitsushima (秋津島), Toyo-akitsushima (豊秋津島). Akitu or akidu are archaic or dialectal Japanese words for dragonfly, so one interpretation of Akitsushima is “Dragonfly Island”.[85] This is attributed to a legend in which Japan’s mythical founder, Emperor Jinmu, was bitten by a mosquito, which was then eaten by a dragonfly.[86][87]

As a seasonal symbol in Japan, the dragonfly is associated with autumn.[88] More generally, dragonflies are symbols of courage, strength, and happiness, and they often appear in art and literature, especially haiku. Japanese children catch large dragonflies as a game, using a hair with a small pebble tied to each end, which they throw into the air. The dragonfly mistakes the pebbles for prey, gets tangled in the hair, and is dragged to the ground by the weight.[80]:38

Accurately drawn dragonflies by Moses Harris, 1780: At top left, the brown hawker, Aeshna grandis(described by Linnaeus, 1758); the nymph at lower left is shown with the “mask” extended.

In Europe, dragonflies have often been seen as sinister. Some English vernacular names, such as “horse-stinger”,[89] “devil‘s darning needle”, and “ear cutter”, link them with evil or injury.[90]Swedish folklore holds that the devil uses dragonflies to weigh people’s souls.[80]:25–27 The Norwegian name for dragonflies is Øyenstikker (“eye-poker”), and in Portugal, they are sometimes called tira-olhos (“eyes-snatcher”). They are often associated with snakes, as in the Welsh name gwas-y-neidr, “adder‘s servant”.[90] The Southern United States term “snake doctor” refers to a folk belief that dragonflies follow snakes around and stitch them back together if they are injured.[91]

The watercolourist Moses Harris (1731–1785), known for his The Aurelian or natural history of English insects (1766), published in 1780, the first scientific descriptions of several Odonata including the banded demoiselle, Calopteryx splendens. He was the first English artist to make illustrations of dragonflies accurate enough to be identified to species (Aeshna grandis at top left of plate illustrated), though his rough drawing of a larva (at lower left) with the mask extended appears to be plagiarised.[b][92]

More recently, dragonfly watching has become popular in America as some birdwatchers seek new groups to observe.[93]

In heraldry, like other winged insects, the dragonfly is typically depicted tergiant (with its back facing the viewer), with its head to chief.[94]

In poetry and literature

Japanese tsuba with a dragonfly, 1931: Shibuichiwith gold and silver, Walters Art Museum

Lafcadio Hearn wrote in his 1901 book A Japanese Miscellany that Japanese poets had created dragonfly haiku “almost as numerous as are the dragonflies themselves in the early autumn.”[95] The poet Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694) wrote haiku such as “Crimson pepper pod / add two pairs of wings, and look / darting dragonfly”, relating the autumn season to the dragonfly.[96] Hori Bakusui (1718–1783) similarly wrote “Dyed he is with the / Colour of autumnal days, / O red dragonfly.”[95]

The poet Lord Tennyson, described a dragonfly splitting its old skin and emerging shining metallic blue like “sapphire mail” in his 1842 poem “The Two Voices”, with the lines “An inner impulse rent the veil / Of his old husk: from head to tail / Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.”[97]

The novelist H. E. Bates described the rapid, agile flight of dragonflies in his 1937 nonfiction book[98] Down the River:[99]

I saw, once, an endless procession, just over an area of water-lilies, of small sapphire dragonflies, a continuous play of blue gauze over the snowy flowers above the sun-glassy water. It was all confined, in true dragonfly fashion, to one small space. It was a continuous turning and returning, an endless darting, poising, striking and hovering, so swift that it was often lost in sunlight.[100]

In technology

A dragonfly has been genetically modified with light-sensitive “steering neurons” in its nerve cord to create a cyborg-like “DragonflEye”. The neurons contain genes like those in the eye to make them sensitive to light. Miniature sensors, a computer chip and a solar panel were fitted in a “backpack” over the insect’s thorax in front of its wings. Light is sent down flexible light-pipes named optrodes[c] from the backpack into the nerve cord to give steering commands to the insect. The result is a “micro-aerial vehicle that’s smaller, lighter and stealthier than anything else that’s manmade”.

H/T Wikipedia

Hippopotamus

Image result for hippopotamus

The common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), or hippo, is a large, mostly herbivoroussemiaquatic mammal native to sub-Saharan Africa, and one of only two extant species in the family Hippopotamidae, the other being the pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaprotodon liberiensis). The name comes from the ancient Greek for “river horse” (ἱπποπόταμος). After the elephant and rhinoceros, the common hippopotamus is the third-largest type of land mammal and the heaviest extant artiodactyl. Despite their physical resemblance to pigs and other terrestrial even-toed ungulates, the closest living relatives of the Hippopotamidae are cetaceans (whalesdolphinsporpoises, etc.) from which they diverged about 55 million years ago.

Common hippos are recognisable by their barrel-shaped torsos, wide-opening mouths revealing large canine tusks, nearly hairless bodies, columnar legs and large size; adults average 1,500 kg (3,310 lb) and 1,300 kg (2,870 lb) for males and females respectively. Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it is capable of running 30 km/h (19 mph) over short distances.

The common hippopotamus inhabits rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps, where territorial bulls preside over a stretch of river and groups of five to thirty females and young. During the day, they remain cool by staying in the water or mud; reproduction and childbirth both occur in water. They emerge at dusk to graze on grasses. While hippopotamuses rest near each other in the water, grazing is a solitary activity and hippos are not territorial on land. The hippopotamus is among the most dangerous animals in the world as it is highly aggressive and unpredictable. They are threatened by habitat loss and poaching for their meat and ivory canine teeth.

Classification

The hippopotamus is the type genus of the family Hippopotamidae. The pygmy hippopotamus belongs to a different genus in Hippopotamidae, either Choeropsis or Hexaprotodon. Hippopotamidae are sometimes known as hippopotamids. Sometimes, the subfamily Hippopotaminae is used. Further, some taxonomists group hippopotamuses and anthracotheres in the superfamily Anthracotheroidea.[7]:39 Hippopotamidae are classified along with other even-toed ungulates in the order Artiodactyla. Other artiodactyls include camelscattledeer and pigs, although hippopotamuses are not closely related to these groups.

Pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis)

Five subspecies of hippos have been described based on morphological differences in their skulls and geographical differences:[7]:3

  • Great northern hippopotamus or Nile hippopotamus H. a. amphibius – (the nominate subspecies) which stretched from Egypt, where they are now extinct, south up the Nile River to Tanzania and Mozambique
  • East African hippopotamus H. a. kiboko – in Kenya in the African Great Lakes region, and in Somalia in the Horn of Africa. Broader nasals and more hollowed interorbital region
  • Cape hippopotamus or South African hippopotamus H. a. capensis – from Zambia to South Africa, most flattened skull of the subspecies
  • West African hippopotamus or Tchad hippopotamus H. a. tschadensis – throughout Western Africa to, as the name suggests, Chad, slightly shorter and wider face, with prominent orbits
  • Angola hippopotamus H. a. constrictus – in Angola, the southern Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia, named for its deeper preorbital constriction

The suggested subspecies were never widely used or validated by field biologists; the described morphological differences were small enough that they could have resulted from simple variation in nonrepresentative samples.[7]:2Genetic analyses have tested the existence of three of these putative subspecies. A study examining mitochondrial DNA from skin biopsies taken from 13 sampling locations, considered genetic diversity and structure among hippo populations across the continent. The authors found low, but significant, genetic differentiation among H. a. amphibiusH. a. capensis, and H. a. kiboko. Neither H. a. tschadensis nor H. a. constrictus has been tested.[8][9]

Evolution

Evolutionary relationships among hippo and cetacea (whales, dolphins).[10]

Until 1909, naturalists grouped hippos with pigs, based on molar patterns. Several lines of evidence, first from blood proteins, then from molecular systematics[11] and DNA [12][13] and the fossil record, show that their closest living relatives are cetaceans – whalesdolphins and porpoises.[14] The common ancestor of hippos and whales branched off from Ruminantia and the rest of the even-toed ungulates; the cetacean and hippo lineages split soon afterwards.[12][15]

   Artiodactyla
 Tylopoda
   Artiofabula
 Suina
   Cetruminantia
 Ruminantia
   Whippomorpha
 Hippopotamidae
 Cetacea

Anthracotherium magnum from the Oligocene of Europe

The most recent theory of the origins of Hippopotamidae suggests that hippos and whales shared a common semiaquatic ancestor that branched off from other artiodactyls around 60 million years ago.[12][14] This hypothesized ancestral group likely split into two branches around 54 million years ago.[11]

One branch would evolve into cetaceans, possibly beginning about 52 million years ago, with the protowhale Pakicetus and other early whale ancestors collectively known as Archaeoceti, which eventually underwent aquatic adaptation into the completely aquatic cetaceans.[15] The other branch became the anthracotheres, a large family of four-legged beasts, the earliest of which in the late Eocene would have resembled skinny hippopotamuses with comparatively small and narrow heads. All branches of the anthracotheres, except that which evolved into Hippopotamidae, became extinct during the Pliocene without leaving any descendants.[14]

A rough evolutionary lineage can be traced from Eocene and Oligocene species: Anthracotherium and Elomeryx to the Miocene species Merycopotamus and Libycosaurus and the very latest anthracotheres in the Pliocene.[16]MerycopotamusLibycosaurus and all hippopotamids can be considered to form a clade, with Libycosaurus being more closely related to hippos. Their common ancestor would have lived in the Miocene, about 20 million years ago. Hippopotamids are therefore deeply nested within the family Anthracotheriidae.

The Hippopotamidae are believed to have evolved in Africa; the oldest known hippopotamid is the genus Kenyapotamus, which lived in Africa from 16 to 8 million years ago. While hippopotamid species spread across Asia and Europe, no hippopotamuses have ever been discovered in the Americas, although various anthracothere genera emigrated into North America during the early Oligocene. From 7.5 to 1.8 million years ago, an ancestor to the modern hippopotamus, Archaeopotamus, lived in Africa and the Middle East.[17]

While the fossil record of hippos is still poorly understood, the two modern genera, Hippopotamus and Choeropsis (sometimes Hexaprotodon), may have diverged as far back as 8 million years ago. Taxonomists disagree whether or not the modern pygmy hippopotamus is a member of Hexaprotodon – an apparently paraphyletic genus, also embracing many extinct Asian hippopotamuses, that is more closely related to Hippopotamus – or of Choeropsis, an older and basal genus.[16][17]

Choeropsis madagascariensisskeleton with a modern hippopotamus skull.

Extinct species

Three species of Malagasy hippopotamus became extinct during the Holocene on Madagascar, one of them within the past 1,000 years. The Malagasy hippos were smaller than the modern hippopotamus, likely through the process of insular dwarfism.[18] Fossil evidence indicates many Malagasy hippos were hunted by humans, a likely factor in their eventual extinction.[18] Isolated members of Malagasy hippopotamus may have survived in remote pockets; in 1976, villagers described a living animal called the kilopilopitsofy, which may have been a Malagasy hippopotamus.[19]

Three species of hippopotamus, the European hippopotamus (Hippopotamus antiquus), Hippopotamus major and Hippopotamus gorgops, ranged throughout continental Europe and the British Isles. All three species became extinct before the last glaciation. Ancestors of European hippos found their way to many islands of the Mediterranean Sea during the Pleistocene.[20] The Pleistocene also saw a number of dwarf species evolve on several Mediterranean islands, including Crete (Hippopotamus creutzburgi), Cyprus (the Cyprus dwarf hippopotamusHippopotamus minor), Malta (Hippopotamus melitensis), and Sicily (Hippopotamus pentlandi). Of these, the Cyprus dwarf hippopotamus survived until the end of the Pleistocene or early Holocene. Evidence from an archaeological site, Aetokremnos, continues to cause debate on whether or not the species was encountered, and was driven to extinction, by man.[21][20]

Description

Hippo’s skull, showing the large canines and incisors used for fighting.

Hippopotami are among the largest living land mammals, being only smaller than elephants and some rhinoceroses. Mean adult weight is around 1,500 kg (3,310 lb) and 1,300 kg (2,870 lb) for males and females respectively,[22][23]very large males can reach 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) and exceptional males weighing 2,660 kg (5,860 lb)[22] and 3,200 kg (7,050 lb)[24] have been reported. Male hippos appear to continue growing throughout their lives while females reach maximum weight at around age 25.[25]

Mostly submerged hippo with exposed eyes, ears, and nostrils

Hippopotami have barrel-shaped bodies with short legs and long muzzles.[26] Their skeletal structures are graviportal,[7]:8 adapted to carrying their enormous weight, and their specific gravity allows them to sink and move along the bottom of a river.[27] Hippopotamuses have small legs (relative to other megafauna) because the water in which they live reduces the weight burden.[28] Though they are bulky animals, hippopotamuses can gallop at 30 km/h (19 mph) on land but normally trot. They are incapable of jumping but do climb up steep banks.[26] Despite being semiaquatic and having webbed feet, an adult hippo is not a particularly good swimmer nor can it float. It is rarely found in deep water; when it is, the animal moves by porpoise-like leaps from the bottom.[7]:3 The eyes, ears, and nostrils of hippos are placed high on the roof of their skulls. This allows these organs to remain above the surface while the rest of the body submerges.[29]:259 The testes of the males descend only partially and a scrotum is not present. In addition, the penis retracts into the body when not erect. The genitals of the female are unusual in that the vagina is ridged and two large diverticula protrude from the vulval vestibule. The function of these is unknown.[7]:28–29

Characteristic “yawn” of a hippo

The hippo’s jaw is powered by a large masseter and a well-developed digastric; the latter loops up behind the former to the hyoid.[29]:259 The jaw hinge is located far back enough to allow the animal to open its mouth at almost 180°.[7]:17 A moderate folding of the orbicularis oris muscle allows the hippo to achieve such a gape without tearing any tissue.[30] The bite force of an adult female has been measured as 8,100 newtons (1,800 lbf).[31] Hippopotamus teeth sharpen themselves as they grind together. The lower canines and lower incisors are enlarged, especially in males, and grow continuously. The incisors can reach 40 cm (1 ft 4 in), while the canines reach up to 50 cm (1 ft 8 in).[26] The canines and incisors are used for combat and play no role in feeding. Hippos rely on their broad horny lips to grasp and pull grasses which are then ground by the molars.[29]:259, 263 The hippo is considered to be a pseudoruminant; it has a complex three-chambered stomach but does not “chew cud“.[7]:22

Completely submerged hippo (San Diego Zoo)

Unlike most other semiaquatic animals, the hippopotamus has very little hair.[29]:260 The skin is 6 cm (2 in) thick,[26] providing it great protection against conspecifics and predators. By contrast, its subcutaneous fat layer is thin.[7]:3 The animals’ upper parts are purplish-gray to blue-black, while the under parts and areas around the eyes and ears can be brownish-pink.[29]:260 Their skin secretes a natural sunscreen substance which is red-coloured. The secretion is sometimes referred to as “blood sweat”, but is neither blood nor sweat. This secretion is initially colourless and turns red-orange within minutes, eventually becoming brown. Two distinct pigments have been identified in the secretions, one red (hipposudoric acid) and one orange (norhipposudoric acid). The two pigments are highly acidic compounds. They inhibit the growth of disease-causing bacteria, and their light absorption peaks in the ultraviolet range, creating a sunscreen effect.[32][33] All hippos, even those with different diets, secrete the pigments, so it does not appear that food is the source of the pigments. Instead, the animals may synthesize the pigments from precursors such as the amino acid tyrosine.[33] Nevertheless, this natural sunscreen cannot prevent the animal’s skin from cracking if it stays out of water too long.[34]

A hippo’s lifespan is typically 40–50 years.[29]:277 Donna the Hippo was the oldest living hippo in captivity. She lived at the Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Indiana in the US[35][36] until her death in 2012 at the age of 61.[37]

Distribution and status

Hippopotamus amphibius was widespread in North Africa and Europe during the Eemian[38] and late Pleistocene until about 30,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence exists of its presence in the Levant, dating to less than 3,000 years ago.[39][40] The species was common in Egypt‘s Nile region during antiquity, but has since been extirpated. Pliny the Elder writes that, in his time, the best location in Egypt for capturing this animal was in the Saite nome;[41]the animal could still be found along the Damietta branch after the Arab Conquest in 639. Reports of the slaughter of the last hippopotamus in Natal Province were made at the end of the 19th century.[42] Hippos are still found in the rivers and lakes of the northern Democratic Republic of the CongoUgandaTanzania and Kenya, north through to EthiopiaSomalia and Sudan, west to The Gambia, and south to South Africa.

Ugandan tribespeople with hippo slain for food (early 20th century)

Incised hippopotamus ivory tusk, upper canine. Four holes around top (Naqada Tomb 1419, Egypt; Naqada period)

Genetic evidence suggests that common hippos in Africa experienced a marked population expansion during or after the Pleistocene, attributed to an increase in water bodies at the end of the era. These findings have important conservation implications as hippo populations across the continent are currently threatened by loss of access to fresh water.[8] Hippos are also subject to unregulated hunting and poaching. In May 2006, the hippopotamus was identified as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with an estimated population of between 125,000 and 150,000 hippos, a decline of between 7% and 20% since the IUCN’s 1996 study. Zambia (40,000) and Tanzania (20,000–30,000) possess the largest populations.[1]

The hippo population declined most dramatically in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[43] By 2005, the population in Virunga National Park had dropped to 800 or 900 from around 29,000 in the mid-1970s.[44] The decline is attributed to the disruptions caused by the Second Congo War.[44] The poachers are believed to be Mai-Mai rebels, poorly paid Congolese soldiers, and local militia groups.[44][45] Reasons for poaching include the belief that hippos are harmful to society, as well as financial gain.[46] However, as of 2016, the Virunga hippo population appears to have increased, possibly due to greater enforcement and cooperation between fishermen and park authorities.[47]The sale of hippo meat is illegal, but black-market sales are difficult for Virunga National Park officers to track.[45][46] Hippo meat is considered a delicacy in some areas of central Africa and the teeth have become a valued substitute for elephant ivory.[48]

Invasive potential

In the late 1980s, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar kept four hippos in a private menagerie at his residence in Hacienda Nápoles, 100 kilometres (62 mi) east of MedellínColombia, after buying them in New Orleans. They were deemed too difficult to seize and move after Escobar’s death, and hence left on the untended estate. By 2007, the animals had multiplied to 16 and had taken to roaming the area for food in the nearby Magdalena River.[49][50]

In 2009, two adults and one calf escaped the herd and, after attacking humans and killing cattle, one of the adults (called “Pepe”) was killed by hunters under authorization of the local authorities.[50][51] As of early 2014, 40 hippos have been reported to exist in Puerto Triunfo, Antioquia from the original four belonging to Escobar.[52] As of 2018 the growing population was estimated at 50-70.[53] Without management the population size is likely to more than double in next decade.[54] The National Geographic Channel produced a documentary about them titled Cocaine Hippos.[55] A report published in a Yale student magazine noted that local environmentalists are campaigning to protect the animals, although there is no clear plan for what will happen to them.[56]

In 2018, National Geographic published an article on the hippos which found disagreement among environmentalists on whether they were having a positive or negative impact, but that conservationists and locals – particularly those in the tourism industry – were mostly in support of their continued presence.[57]

Behaviour and life history

Hippopotamus out of the water after sunrise

Hippopotamus in the water

Different from all other large land mammals, hippos are of semiaquatic habits, spending the day in lakes and rivers.[7]:3 They can be found in both savannah and forest areas.[1] Proper habitat requires enough water to submerge in and grass nearby.[26] Larger densities of the animals inhabit quiet waters with mostly firm, smooth sloping beaches. Males may be found in very small numbers in rapid waters in rocky gorges.[29]:264 Hippo mostly live in freshwater habitats, however populations in West Africa mostly inhabit estuarine waters and may even be found at sea.[1]With the exception of eating, most of hippopotamuses’ lives – from fighting with other hippos, mating, to parturition – occurs in the water. Hippos leave the water at dusk and travel inland, sometimes up to 10 km (6 mi),[26] to graze on short grasses, their main source of food. They spend four to five hours grazing and can consume 68 kg (150 lb) of grass each night.[58]

Hippopotamus feeding on grass

Like almost any herbivore, they consume other plants if presented with them, but their diet in nature consists almost entirely of grass, with only minimal consumption of aquatic plants.[59]Hippos are born with sterile intestines, and require bacteria obtained from their mothers’ feces to digest vegetation.[60] Hippos have (albeit rarely) been filmed eating carrion, usually close to the water. There are other reports of meat-eating, and even cannibalism and predation.[61] The stomach anatomy of a hippo is not suited to carnivory, and meat-eating is likely caused by aberrant behaviour or nutritional stress.[7]:84

File:Hippo.ogv

Video of hippos in the wild

Hippo defecation creates allochthonous deposits of organic matter along the river beds. These deposits have an unclear ecological function.[59] A 2015 study concluded that hippo dung provides nutrients from terrestrial material for fish and aquatic invertebrates,[62] while a 2018 study found that their dung can be toxic to aquatic life in large quantities, due to absorption of dissolved oxygen in water bodies.[63] Because of their size and their habit of taking the same paths to feed, hippos can have a significant impact on the land across which they walk, both by keeping the land clear of vegetation and depressing the ground. Over prolonged periods, hippos can divert the paths of swamps and channels.[64]

A hippopotamus walking on the grass land in Seregeti National Park in the morning

Adult hippos move at speeds up to 8 km/h (5 mph) in water; typically resurfacing to breathe every three to five minutes. The young have to breathe every two to three minutes.[7]:4 The process of surfacing and breathing is subconscious: a hippo sleeping underwater will rise and breathe without waking up. A hippo closes its nostrils when it submerges into the water.[65] As with fish and turtles on a coral reef, hippos occasionally visit cleaning stations and signal, by opening their mouths wide, their readiness for being cleaned of parasites by certain species of fishes. This is an example of mutualism in which the hippo benefits from the cleaning, while the fish receive food.[66]

Hippopotamus coexist with a variety of formidable predators. Nile crocodileslions and spotted hyenas are known to prey on young hippos.[29]:273[7]:118 However, due to their aggression and size, adult hippopotamus are not usually preyed upon by other animals. Cases where large lion prides have successfully preyed on adult hippopotamus have been reported; however, this predation is generally rare.[67] Lions occasionally prey on adults at Gorongosa National Park and calves are taken at Virunga.[68] Crocodiles are frequent targets of hippo aggression, probably because they often inhabit the same riparian habitats; crocodiles may be either aggressively displaced or killed by hippopotamuses.[69] In turn, beyond cases of killing the seldom unguarded hippo calf, very large Nile crocodiles have been verified to occasionally prey on “half-grown” hippopotamuses and anecdotally perhaps adult female hippos. Aggregations of crocodiles have also been seen to dispatch still-living bull hippopotamuses that have been previously injured in mating battles with other bulls.[70][71][72]

Social spacing

Hippopotamus pod

Studying the interaction of male and female hippopotami has long been complicated because hippos are not sexually dimorphic; thus females and young males are almost indistinguishable in the field.[73] Although hippos lie close to each other, they do not seem to form social bonds except between mothers and daughters, and they are not social animals. The reason they huddle close together is unknown.[7]:49 Hippopotamuses are territorial only in water, where a bull presides over a small stretch of river, on average 250 m (270 yd) in length, and containing 10 females. The largest pods can contain over 100 hippos.[7]:50 Younger bachelors are allowed in a bull’s stretch, as long as they behave submissively toward the bull. The territories of hippos exist to establish mating rights. Within the pods, the hippos tend to segregate by gender. Bachelors lounge near other bachelors, females with other females, and the bull on his own. When hippos emerge from the water to graze, they do so individually.[7]:4

Males fighting

Hippos mark their territory by defecation. While depositing the faeces, hippos spin their tails to distribute their excrement over a greater area.[74] “Yawning” serves as a threat display.[26]When fighting, male hippos use their incisors to block each other’s attacks and their large canines to inflict injuries.[29]:260 When hippos become over-populated or a habitat is reduced, bulls sometimes attempt infanticide, but this behaviour is not common under normal conditions.[75] Incidents of hippo cannibalism have been documented, but this is believed to be the behaviour of distressed or sick hippos.[7]:82–83

Hippopotami appear to communicate vocally, through grunts and bellows, and they may practice echolocation, but the purpose of these vocalizations is currently unknown. Hippos have the unique ability to hold their heads partially above the water and send out a cry that travels through both water and air; individuals respond above and under water.[76] Hippos will also express threat and alarm with exhalations.[26]

Reproduction

A juvenile at the Zoo Basel

Mother with young

Female hippos reach sexual maturity at five to six years and have a gestation period of eight months.[77] A study of endocrine systems revealed that female hippopotamuses may begin puberty as early as three or four years.[78]Males reach maturity at around 7.5 yr. A study of hippopotami reproductive behaviour in Uganda showed that peak conceptions occurred during the end of the wet season in the summer, and peak births occurred toward the beginning of the wet season in late winter. This is because of the female’s oestrous cycle; as with most large mammals, male hippopotamus spermatozoa is active year-round. Studies of hippos in Zambia and South Africa also showed evidence of births occurring at the start of the wet season.[7]:60–61 After becoming pregnant, a female hippopotamus will typically not begin ovulation again for 17 months.[78]

Preserved hippo fetus

Mating occurs in the water, with the female submerged for most of the encounter,[7]:63 her head emerging periodically to draw breath. Female hippos isolate themselves to give birth and return within 10–14 days.[26] Baby hippos are born underwater at a weight between 25 and 50 kg (55 and 110 lb) and an average length of around 127 cm (4.17 ft), and must swim to the surface to take their first breaths. A mother typically gives birth to only one calf, although twins also occur. The young often rest on their mothers’ backs when the water is too deep for them, and they swim under water to suckle. They suckle on land when the mother leaves the water.[7]:64

Mother hippos are very protective of their young and may keep others at a distance. However, calves are occasionally left in nurseries which are guarded by one or a few adults. Calves in nurseries engage in playfights.[26] Weaningstarts between six and eight months after birth, and most calves are fully weaned after a year.[7]:64 Like many other large mammals, hippos are described as K-strategists, in this case typically producing just one large, well-developed infant every couple of years (rather than many small, poorly developed young several times per year as is common among small mammals such as rodents).[78][75]

Hippos and humans

The earliest evidence of human interaction with hippos comes from butchery cut marks on hippo bones at Bouri Formation dated around 160,000 years ago.[79] Later rock paintings and engravings showing hippos being hunted have been found in the mountains of the central Sahara dated 4,000–5,000 years ago near Djanet in the Tassili n’Ajjer Mountains.[7]:1 The ancient Egyptians recognised the hippo as a ferocious denizen of the Nile and representations on the tombs of nobles show that the animals were hunted.[80]

The hippopotamus was also known to the Greeks and Romans. The Greek historian Herodotus described the hippopotamus in The Histories (written circa 440 BC) and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote about the hippopotamus in his encyclopedia Naturalis Historia (written circa 77 AD).[41][81] The Yoruba people called the hippopotamus erinmi which means “elephant of the water”.[82] Zulu warriors preferred to be as brave as a hippopotamus, since even lions were not considered to match its courage.[83] They would chant their chief: “Een-gonyama Gonyama! Invooboo! Yah-bo! Yah-bo! Invooboo!” which translates as “He is a lion. Yes, he is better than a lion – he is a hippopotamus.”[84]

Hippopotamus (“William”), Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, ca. 1961–1878 B.C.

In the U.S., Representative Robert F. Broussard of Louisiana introduced the “American Hippo bill” in 1910 to authorize the importation and release of hippopotamus into the bayous of Louisiana.[85][86] Broussard argued that the hippopotamus would eat the invasive water hyacinth that was clogging the rivers and also produce meat to help solve the American meat crisis.[86][87] The chief collaborators and proponents of Broussard’s bill were Major Frederick Russell Burnham and Captain Fritz Duquesne.[88][89] Former President Theodore Rooseveltbacked the plan, as did the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The Washington Post, and The New York Times which praised the taste of hippopotamus as “lake cow bacon”.[88] The “American Hippo Bill” fell just short of being passed.[86]

Attacks on humans

The hippopotamus is considered to be very aggressive and has frequently been reported as charging and attacking boats.[90] Small boats can be capsized by hippos and passengers can be injured or killed by the animals or drown. In one case in Niger, a boat was capsized by a hippo and 13 people were killed.[91] As hippopotamuses will often engage in raiding nearby crops if the opportunity arises, humans may also come in conflict with them on these occasions, with potential for fatalities on both sides.[92]

Hippos in zoos

Obaysch lounging at the London Zoo in 1852

A hippopotamus at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington

Hippopotamuses have long been popular zoo animals. The first zoo hippo in modern history was Obaysch, who arrived at the London Zoo on 25 May 1850, where he attracted up to 10,000 visitors a day and inspired a popular song, the “Hippopotamus Polka”.[93] Hippos generally breed well in captivity; birth rates are lower than in the wild, but this is attributed to zoos wanting to limit births, since hippos are relatively expensive to maintain.[7]:129[93][94]

Like many zoo animals, hippos were traditionally displayed in concrete exhibits. In the case of hippos, they usually had a pool of water and patch of grass. In the 1980s, zoo exhibits increasingly reflected native habitats. The Toledo Zoo Hippoquarium, features a 360,000 gallon pool.[95] In 1987, the Toledo Zoo saw the first underwater birth by a captive hippo.[96] The exhibit was so popular, the hippos became the logo of the Toledo Zoo.[97]

Cultural depictions

Ijaw hippopotamus masks

A red hippopotamus represented the Ancient Egyptian god Set; the thigh is the “phallic leg of Set” symbolic of virility. Set’s consort Tawaret was also seen as part hippo[98] and was a goddess of protection in pregnancy and childbirth, because ancient Egyptians recognised the protective nature of a female hippopotamus toward her young.[99] The Ijaw people of the Niger Delta wore masks of aquatic animals like the hippo when practicing their water spirit cults[100] and hippo ivory was used in the divination rituals of the Yoruba.[101] The Behemoth from the Book of Job, 40:15–24 is thought to be based on a hippo.[102]

Hippopotamuses have been the subjects of various African folktales. According to a San story; when the Creator assigned each animal its place in nature, the hippos wanted to live in the water, but were refused out of fear that they might eat all the fish. After begging and pleading, the hippos were finally allowed to live in the water on the conditions that they would eat grass instead of fish and would fling their dung so that it can be inspected for fish bones. In a Ndebele tale, the hippo originally had long, beautiful hair, but was set on fire by a jealous hare and had to jump into a nearby pool. The hippo lost most of his hair and was too embarrassed to leave the water.[103]

The Hippopotamus Polka

Ever since Obaysch inspired the “Hippopotamus Polka”, hippos have been popular animals in Western culture for their rotund appearance that many consider comical.[93] Stories of hippos such as Huberta, which became a celebrity in South Africa in the 1930s for trekking across the country;[104] or the tale of Owen and Mzee, a hippo and tortoise which developed an intimate bond; have amused people who have bought hippo books, merchandise, and many stuffed hippo toys.[105][106] Hippos were mentioned in the novelty Christmas song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” that became a hit for child star Gayla Peevey in 1953. They also feature in the songs “The Hippopotamus” and “Hippo Encore” by Flanders and Swann, with the famous refrain “Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud”. They even inspired a popular board game, Hungry Hungry Hippos.[107][108]

Hippos have also been popular cartoon characters, where their rotund frames are used for humorous effect. For example, the Disney film Fantasia featured a ballerina hippopotamus dancing to the opera La Gioconda,[43] and Hanna-Barbera created Peter Potamus.[109]

The hippopotamus characters “Happy Hippos” were created in 1987 by the French designer André Roche to be hidden in the “Kinder Surprise egg” of the Italian chocolate company Ferrero SpA.[110]

H/T Wikipedia

Pets

Image result for Pets

 

pet or companion animal is an animal kept primarily for a person’s company, protection, or entertainment rather than as a working animallivestock, or laboratory animal. Popular pets are often noted for their attractive appearances, intelligence, and relatable personalities.

Two of the most popular pets are dogs and cats. A cat lover is known as an ailurophile and a dog lover is known as a cynophile. Other animals commonly kept include: rabbitsferretspigsrodents, such as gerbilshamsterschinchillasrats, and guinea pigsavian pets, such as parrotspasserines, and fowl; reptile pets, such as turtleslizards and snakesaquatic pets, such as fishfreshwater and saltwater snails, and frogs; and arthropod pets, such as tarantulas and hermit crabs. Small pets may be grouped together as pocket pets, while the equine and bovine group include the largest companion animals.

Pets provide their owners (or “guardians”) both physical and emotional benefits. Walking a dog can provide both the human and the dog with exercise, fresh air, and social interaction. Pets can give companionship to people who are living alone or elderly adults who do not have adequate social interaction with other people. There is a medically approved class of therapy animals, mostly dogs or cats, that are brought to visit confined humans, such as children in hospitals or elders in nursing homesPet therapy utilizes trained animals and handlers to achieve specific physical, social, cognitive or emotional goals with patients.

Some scholarsethicists and animal rights organizations have raised concerns over keeping pets because of the lack of autonomy and objectification of nonhuman animals.

Keeping animals as pets may be detrimental to their health if certain requirements are not met. An important issue is inappropriate feeding, which may produce clinical effects. The consumption of chocolate or grapes by dogs, for example, may prove fatal.

Certain species of houseplants can also prove toxic if consumed by pets. Examples include philodendrons and Easter lilies (which can cause severe kidney damage to cats) and poinsettiasbegonia, and aloe vera (which can sicken or, in extreme cases, kill dogs).

Housepets, particularly dogs and cats in industrialized societies, are also highly susceptible to obesity. Overweight pets have been shown to be at a higher risk of developing diabetes, liver problems, joint pain, kidney failure, and cancer. Lack of exercise and high-caloric diets are considered to be the primary contributors to pet obesity.

It is widely believed among the public, and among many scientists, that pets probably bring mental and physical health benefits to their owners; a 1987 NIH statement cautiously argued that existing data was “suggestive” of a significant benefit. A recent dissent comes from a 2017 RAND study, which found that at least in the case of children, having a pet per se failed to improve physical or mental health by a statistically significant amount; instead, the study found children who were already prone to be more healthy (such as white children living in homes rather than apartments) were more likely to get pets in the first place. Unfortunately, conducting long-term randomized trials to settle the issue would be costly or infeasible.

Observed correlations

Pets might have the ability to stimulate their caregivers, in particular the elderly, giving people someone to take care of, someone to exercise with, and someone to help them heal from a physically or psychologically troubled past. Animal company can also help people to preserve acceptable levels of happiness despite the presence of mood symptoms like anxiety or depression. Having a pet may also help people achieve health goals, such as lowered blood pressure, or mental goals, such as decreased stress.There is evidence that having a pet can help a person lead a longer, healthier life. In a 1986 study of 92 people hospitalized for coronary ailments, within a year 11 of the 29 patients without pets had died, compared to only 3 of the 52 patients who had pets. Having pet(s) was shown to significantly reduce triglycerides, and thus heart disease risk, in the elderly. A study by the National Institute of Health found that people who owned dogs were less likely to die as a result of a heart attack than those who didn’t own one. There is some evidence that pets may have a therapeutic effect in dementia cases. Other studies have shown that for the elderly, good health may be a requirement for having a pet, and not a result. Dogs trained to be guide dogs can help people with vision impairment. Dogs trained in the field of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) can also benefit people with other disabilities.

Pets in long-term care institutions

People residing in a long-term care facility, such as a hospice or nursing home, may experience health benefits from pets. Pets help them to cope with the emotional issues related to their illness. They also offer physical contact with another living creature, something that is often missing in an elder’s life. Pets for nursing homes are chosen based on the size of the pet, the amount of care that the breed needs, and the population and size of the care institution. Appropriate pets go through a screening process and, if it is a dog, additional training programs to become a therapy dog. There are three types of therapy dogs: facility therapy dogs, animal-assisted therapy dogs, and therapeutic visitation dogs. The most common therapy dogs are therapeutic visitation dogs. These dogs are household pets whose handlers take time to visit hospitals, nursing homes, detention facilities, and rehabilitation facilities. Different pets require varying amounts of attention and care; for example, cats may have lower maintenance requirements than dogs.

Connection with community

In addition to providing health benefits for their owners, pets also impact the social lives of their owners and their connection to their community. There is some evidence that pets can facilitate social interaction. Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Leslie Irvine has focused her attention on pets of the homeless population. Her studies of pet ownership among the homeless found that many modify their life activities for fear of losing their pets. Pet ownership prompts them to act responsibly, with many making a deliberate choice not to drink or use drugs, and to avoid contact with substance abusers or those involved in any criminal activity for fear of being separated from their pet. Additionally, many refuse to house in shelters if their pet is not allowed to stay with them.

H/T Wikipedia

WREATH

wreath (pronunciation: /ɹiːθ/) is an assortment of flowersleavesfruitstwigs, or various materials that are constructed to resemble a ring.[1]

In English-speaking countries, wreaths are used typically as household ornaments, mainly as an Advent and Christmas decoration. They are also used in ceremonial events in many cultures around the globe. They can be worn as a chaplet around the head, or as a garland around the neck. Wreaths have much history and symbolism associated with them. They are usually made from evergreens and symbolize strength, as evergreens last even throughout the harshest winters. Bay laurel may also be used, and these wreaths are known as laurel wreath.

Ancient Etruscan wreaths[edit]

Wreath with ivy leaves and berries, a satyr‘s head at either end. Gold sheet, Etruscan artwork, 400–350 BC. From a tomb near Tarquinia.

Wreaths were a design used in ancient times in southern Europe. The most well-known are pieces of Etruscan civilization jewelry, made of gold or other precious metals. Symbols from Greek myths often appear in the designs, embossed in precious metal at the ends of the wreath. Ancient Roman writers referred to Etruscan corona sutilis, which were wreaths with their leaves sewn onto a background.[2] These wreaths resemble a diadem, with thin metal leaves being attached to an ornamental band.[3] Wreaths also appear stamped into Etruscan medallions. The plants shown making the wreaths in Etruscan jewelry include ivy, oak, olive leaves, myrtle, laurel, wheat and vines.

Wreaths were worn as crowns by Etruscan rulers. The Etruscan symbolism continued to be used in Ancient Greece and Rome. Roman magistrates also wore golden wreaths as crowns, as a symbolic testament to their lineage back to Rome’s early Etruscan rulers. Roman magistrates also used several other prominent Etruscan symbols in addition to a golden wreath crown: fasces, a curule chair, a purple toga, and an ivory rod.[4]

Ancient Greece and Rome[edit]

A replica bust of Apollowearing a laurel wreath.

In the Greco-Roman world, wreaths were used as an adornment that could represent a person’s occupation, rank, their achievements and status. The wreath that was commonly used was the laurel wreath. The use of this wreath comes from the Greek myth involving Apollo, Zeus’ son and the god of life and light, who fell in love with the nymph Daphne. When he pursued her she fled and asked the river god Peneus to help her. Peneus turned her into a laurel tree. From that day, Apollo wore a wreath of laurel on his head. Laurel wreaths became associated with what Apollo embodied; victory, achievement and status and would later become one of the most commonly used symbols to address achievement throughout Greece and Rome. Laurel wreaths were used to crown victorious athletes at the original Olympic Games[5] and are still worn in Italy by university students who just graduated.[6]

Other types of plants used to make wreath crowns also had symbolic meaning. For example, oak leaves symbolized wisdom, and were associated with Zeus, who according to Greek mythology made his decisions while resting in an oak grove. The Twelve Tables, dating to 450 BC, refer to funeral wreaths as a long-standing tradition.[7] Olive wreath was the prize for the winner at the ancient Olympic Games.[8]

Modern wreaths[edit]

Harvest wreath[edit]

A Scandinavian-style harvest wreath made of woven straw.

A five-candle Advent wreath in the chancel of a Christian church (top) and a Christmas wreath adorning an American home, with the door chalked for Epiphanytide and the wreath hanger bearing a placard of the Angel Gabriel (bottom)

Harvest wreaths, a common household decoration today, are a custom with ancient roots in Europe. The creation of harvest wreaths in Europe can be traced back to ancient times, and is associated with animistic spiritual beliefs. In Ancient Greece, the harvest wreath was a sacred amulet, using wheat or other harvested plants, woven together with red and white wool thread. The harvest wreath would be hung by the door year-round.[9]

Harvest wreaths were an important symbol to the community in Ancient Greece, not merely to the farmer and his family. The festivals devoted to Dionysus, the Oschophoria and Anthesteria, included a ritual procession called the eiresîonê. A harvest wreath was carried to Pyanopsia and Thargelia by young boys, who would sing during the journey. The laurel or olive wreath would be hung at the door, and then offerings were made to Helios and the Hours. It was hoped that this ritual would bring protection against crop failure and plagues.[10]

In Poland, the harvest wreath (wieniec) is a central symbol of the Harvest Festival, Dozynki. Wreaths are made of different shapes and sizes, using harvested grain plants, fruit and nuts. The wreath is then brought to a church for a blessing by a priest. The tradition includes a procession to the family home from the church, with a girl or young woman leading the procession and carrying the wreath. The procession is followed with a celebration and feast.[11] Ukraine, Hungary, and other Eastern Europe cultures also have similar rituals that began as part of pre-Christian culture.

Advent and Christmas wreaths[edit]

In Christianity, wreaths are used to observe the Advent season, in preparation for Christmastide and Epiphanytide, as well as to celebrate the latter two liturgical seasons.[12] These wreaths, as with other Advent and Christmas decorations, are often set up on the first Sunday of Advent,[13][14] a custom that is sometimes done liturgically, through a hanging of the greens ceremony.[15] The Advent wreath was first used by Lutherans in Germany in the 16th century,[16] and in 1839, Lutheran priest Johann Hinrich Wichern used a wreath made from a cart wheel to educate children about the meaning and purpose of Christmas, as well as to help them count its approach, thus giving rise to the modern version of the Advent wreath. For every Sunday of Advent, starting with the fourth Sunday before Christmas, he would put a white candle in the wreath and for every day in between he would use a red candle.[17][18] The use of the Advent wreath has since spread from the Lutheran Church to many Christian denominations,[19][20] and some of these traditions, such as the Catholic Church and Moravian Church, have introduced unique variations to it.[21] All of the Advent wreaths, however, have four candles, and many of them have a white candle in the centre, the Christ candle, which is lit on Christmas Day.[22] Advent and Christmas wreaths are constructed of evergreens to represent everlasting life brought through Jesus and the circular shape of the wreath represents God, with no beginning and no end.[23][24][25] Advent and Christmas wreaths are now a popular symbol in preparation for and to celebrate the coming of Christ, with the former being used to mark the beginning of the Christian Church’s liturgical year and both serving as décor during Advent and Christmas festivities. While Advent wreaths are erected on stands or placed on tables, Christmas wreaths are often hung on doors or walls.[26] Within Advent, the Church observes Saint Lucy’s Day, the memorial of Saint Lucy, who is said to have brought “food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs” using a candle-lit wreath to “light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible”;[27][28] as such, on this day, many young Christian girls dress as Saint Lucy, wearing a wreath on their head.[29]

Funeral and memorial wreaths[edit]

Wreaths laid at war memorials in Australia

Wreaths are mounted on frames near the Moscow grave of Russian intellectual Andrei Sakharov, 1990

The symbolism of wreaths has been used at funerals since at least the time of Ancient Greece, to represent a circle of eternal life. Evergreen wreaths were laid at the burial place of early Christian virgin martyrs in Europe, the evergreen representing the victory of the eternal spirit over death.[5]

In early modern England, a wreath custom existed for the funerals of “young maidens”. A young woman of the same age as the one being mourned would lead the funeral procession, carrying a wreath of white flowers to represent the purity of the deceased, and “that eternal crown of glory reserved for her in heaven”.[30]

By the Victorian era, the symbolism of flowers had grown to become an elaborate language, and the symbolism of funeral wreaths was no exception. Flowers represented life and resurrection. Specific flowers were used in funeral wreaths to represent particular sentiments. Cypress and willow were used for crafting wreath frames, and were associated with mourning by the Victorians.[5]

Wreaths are commonly laid at the tombs of soldiers and at memorial cenotaphs during Memorial Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies. Wreaths may also be laid in memory of persons lost at sea, either from an accident or due to navy action. In a memorial service at sea, the wreath is lowered to the water and set adrift.

Wreaths worn as crowns[edit]

A wreath may be used as a headdress made from leaves, flowers and branches. It is typically worn in festive occasions and on holy days. Wreaths originally were made for use with paganrituals in Europe, and were associated with the changing seasons and fertility. Christianity accepted the symbolism of the wreath based upon its Roman association with honour and moral virtue.[31] During the Middle Ages, Christian art featured depictions of the Virgin Mary and various saints crowned with wreaths, much as figures from Roman and Greek mythology were depicted wearing wreaths, as well as Roman and Greek rulers and heroes.

Maypole wreath[edit]

Maypole with wreaths, raised for Midsummercelebrations in Östra Insjö, Dalarna, Sweden

Wreath customs in Europe have survived over many centuries. The observance of May Day in England includes Maypole festivities, culminating in a race by young unmarried men to climb to the top of the Maypole to capture the May Day wreath perched at the top of the pole. The winner of this contest would wear the wreath as his crown, and would be recognized as the May Day King for the rest of the holiday. Plants traditionally used to make Midsummer wreaths and garlands include white lilies, green birchfennelSt. John’s Wortwormwood,[32] vervain and flax. The flowers used in making the Midsummer wreath had to be picked early in the morning before the dew had dried; the belief was that once the dew dried, the magical properties of the plants evaporated with the dew.[33]

Midsummer celebrations are still observed in Germany and Scandinavia as well, with Maypoles and wreaths playing a prominent role, similar to England.

Wreath symbolism in England[edit]

By the Renaissance period, wreaths became symbols of political and religious alliances in England. Protestant reformers such as the Puritans saw wreaths and the holidays they were associated with, such as May Day, as being pagancorrupting influences that destroyed healthy Christian morality. Soldiers confiscated wreaths in Oxford on May Day of 1648.[34] During the Interregnum following the overthrow of Charles I of England, wreaths symbolized Royalist sympathies. In Bath, Somerset, the coronation of Charles II of England was marked with a procession of 400 maidens in white and green, carrying “gilded crowns, crowns made of flowers, and wreaths made of laurel mixed with tulips”, and led by the mayor’s wife.[34]

1235 N LOOP 336 WEST CONROE TX 77301  .

Duck

Image result for ducks animal

Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the waterfowl family Anatidae which also includes swans and geese. Ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the family Anatidae; they do not represent a monophyletic group (the group of all descendants of a single common ancestral species) but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered ducks. Ducks are mostly aquatic birds, mostly smaller than the swans and geese, and may be found in both fresh water and sea water.

Ducks are sometimes confused with several types of unrelated water birds with similar forms, such as loons or divers, grebesgallinules, and coots.

The word duck comes from Old English *dūce “diver”, a derivative of the verb *dūcan “to duck, bend down low as if to get under something, or dive”, because of the way many species in the dabbling duck group feed by upending; compare with Dutch duiken and German tauchen “to dive”.

This word replaced Old English ened/ænid “duck”, possibly to avoid confusion with other Old English words, like ende “end” with similar forms. Other Germanic languages still have similar words for “duck”, for example, Dutch eend “duck”, German Ente “duck” and Norwegian and “duck”. The word ened/ænid was inherited from Proto-Indo-European; compare: Latin anas“duck”, Lithuanian ántis “duck”, Ancient Greek nēssa/nētta (νῆσσα, νῆττα) “duck”, and Sanskrit ātí “water bird”, among others.

A duckling is a young duck in downy plumage or baby duck, but in the food trade a young domestic duck which has just reached adult size and bulk and its meat is still fully tender, is sometimes labelled as a duckling.

A male duck is called a drake and the female is called a duck, or in ornithology a hen.

The overall body plan of ducks is elongated and broad, and the ducks are also relatively long-necked, albeit not as long-necked as the geese and swans. The body shape of diving ducks varies somewhat from this in being more rounded. The bill is usually broad and contains serrated lamellae, which are particularly well defined in the filter-feeding species. In the case of some fishing species the bill is long and strongly serrated. The scaled legs are strong and well developed, and generally set far back on the body, more so in the highly aquatic species. The wings are very strong and are generally short and pointed, and the flight of ducks requires fast continuous strokes, requiring in turn strong wing muscles. Three species of steamer duck are almost flightless, however. Many species of duck are temporarily flightless while moulting; they seek out protected habitat with good food supplies during this period. This moult typically precedes migration.

The drakes of northern species often have extravagant plumage, but that is moulted in summer to give a more female-like appearance, the “eclipse” plumage. Southern resident species typically show less sexual dimorphism, although there are exceptions like the paradise shelduck of New Zealand which is both strikingly sexually dimorphic and where the female’s plumage is brighter than that of the male. The plumage of juvenile birds generally resembles that of the female. Over the course of evolution, female ducks have evolved to have a corkscrew shaped vagina to prevent rape.

Ducks have many economic uses, being farmed for their meat, eggs, and feathers (particularly their down). They are also kept and bred by aviculturists and often displayed in zoos. Almost all the varieties of domestic ducks are descended from the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), apart from the Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata). The call duck is another example of a domestic duck breed. Its name comes from its original use established by hunters, as a decoy to attract wild mallards from the sky, into traps set for them on the ground. The call duck is the world’s smallest domestic duck breed, as it weighs less than 1 kg (2.2 lb).

In many areas, wild ducks of various species (including ducks farmed and released into the wild) are hunted for food or sport, by shooting, or formerly by decoys. Because an idle floating duck or a duck squatting on land cannot react to fly or move quickly, “a sitting duck” has come to mean “an easy target”. These ducks may be contaminated by pollutants such as PCBs.

In 2002, psychologist Richard Wiseman and colleagues at the University of HertfordshireUK, finished a year-long LaughLab experiment, concluding that of all animals, ducks attract the most humor and silliness; he said, “If you’re going to tell a joke involving an animal, make it a duck.” The word “duck” may have become an inherently funny word in many languages, possibly because ducks are seen as silly in their looks or behavior. Of the many ducks in fiction, many are cartoon characters, such as Walt Disney‘s Donald Duck, and Warner Bros.‘ Daffy DuckHoward the Duck started as a comic book character in 1973 and was made into a movie in 1986. The 1992 Disney film The Mighty Ducks, starring Emilio Estevez chose the duck as the mascot for the fictional youth hockey team who are protagonists of the movie, based on the duck being described as a fierce fighter. This led to the duck becoming the nickname and mascot for the eventual National Hockey League professional team Anaheim Ducks. The duck is also the nickname of the University of Oregon sports teams as well as the Long Island Ducks minor league baseball team.

Coyote

Image result for Coyote

The coyote (Canis latrans; from Nahuatl About this soundpronunciation ) is a canine native to North America. It is smaller than its close relative, the gray wolf, and slightly smaller than the closely related eastern wolf and red wolf. It fills much of the same ecological niche as the golden jackal does in Eurasia, though it is larger and more predatory, and is sometimes called the American jackal by zoologists.

The coyote is listed as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to its wide distribution and abundance throughout North America, southwards through Mexico, and into Central America. The species is versatile, able to adapt to and expand into environments modified by humans. It is enlarging its range, with coyotes moving into urban areas in the Eastern U.S., and was sighted in eastern Panama (across the Panama Canal from their home range) for the first time in 2013.

As of 2005, 19 coyote subspecies are recognized. The average male weighs 8 to 20 kg (18 to 44 lb) and the average female 7 to 18 kg (15 to 40 lb). Their fur color is predominantly light gray and red or fulvous interspersed with black and white, though it varies somewhat with geography. It is highly flexible in social organization, living either in a family unit or in loosely knit packs of unrelated individuals. It has a varied diet consisting primarily of animal meat, including deerrabbitsharesrodentsbirdsreptilesamphibiansfish, and invertebrates, though it may also eat fruits and vegetables on occasion. Its characteristic vocalization is a howl made by solitary individuals. Humans are the coyote’s greatest threat, followed by cougars and gray wolves. In spite of this, coyotes sometimes mate with gray, eastern, or red wolves, producing “coywolf” hybrids. In the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, the eastern coyote (a larger subspecies, though still smaller than wolves) is the result of various historical and recent matings with various types of wolves. Genetic studies show that most North American wolves contain some level of coyote DNA.

The coyote is a prominent character in Native American folklore, mainly in the Southwestern United States and Mexico, usually depicted as a trickster that alternately assumes the form of an actual coyote or a man. As with other trickster figures, the coyote uses deception and humor to rebel against social conventions. The animal was especially respected in Mesoamerican cosmology as a symbol of military might. After the European colonization of the Americas, it was reviled in Anglo-American culture as a cowardly and untrustworthy animal. Unlike wolves (gray, eastern, or red), which have undergone an improvement of their public image, attitudes towards the coyote remain largely negative.

Coyote males average 8 to 20 kg (18 to 44 lb) in weight, while females average 7 to 18 kg (15 to 40 lb), though size varies geographically. Northern subspecies, which average 18 kg (40 lb), tend to grow larger than the southern subspecies of Mexico, which average 11.5 kg (25 lb). Body length ranges on average from 1.0 to 1.35 m (3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 5 in), and tail length 40 cm (16 in), with females being shorter in both body length and height. The largest coyote on record was a male killed near Afton, Wyoming, on November 19, 1937, which measured 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) from nose to tail, and weighed 34 kg (75 lb). Scent glands are located at the upper side of the base of the tail and are a bluish-black color.

The color and texture of the coyote’s fur varies somewhat geographically. The hair’s predominant color is light gray and red or fulvous, interspersed around the body with black and white. Coyotes living at high elevations tend to have more black and gray shades than their desert-dwelling counterparts, which are more fulvous or whitish-gray. The coyote’s fur consists of short, soft underfur and long, coarse guard hairs. The fur of northern subspecies is longer and denser than in southern forms, with the fur of some Mexican and Central American forms being almost hispid (bristly). Generally, adult coyotes (including coywolf hybrids) have a sable coat color, dark neonatal coat color, bushy tail with an active supracaudal gland, and a white facial mask. Albinism is extremely rare in coyotes; out of a total of 750,000 coyotes killed by federal and cooperative hunters between March 22, 1938, and June 30, 1945, only two were albinos.

The coyote is typically smaller than the gray wolf, but has longer ears and a relatively larger braincase, as well as a thinner frame, face, and muzzle. The scent glands are smaller than the gray wolf’s, but are the same color.[7] Its fur color variation is much less varied than that of a wolf. The coyote also carries its tail downwards when running or walking, rather than horizontally as the wolf does.

Coyote tracks can be distinguished from those of dogs by their more elongated, less rounded shape. Unlike dogs, the upper canines of coyotes extend past the mental foramina.

At the time of the European colonization of the Americas, coyotes were largely confined to open plains and arid regions of the western half of the continent. In early post-Columbian historical records, distinguishing between coyotes and wolves is often difficult. One record from 1750 in Kaskaskia, Illinois, written by a local priest, noted that the “wolves” encountered there were smaller and less daring than European wolves. Another account from the early 1800s in Edwards County mentioned wolves howling at night, though these were likely coyotes. This species was encountered several times during the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806), though it was already well known to European traders on the upper MissouriLewis, writing on 5 May 1805, in northeastern Montana, described the coyote in these terms:

The small woolf or burrowing dog of the prairies are the inhabitants almost invariably of the open plains; they usually ascociate in bands of ten or twelve sometimes more and burrow near some pass or place much frequented by game; not being able alone to take deer or goat they are rarely ever found alone but hunt in bands; they frequently watch and seize their prey near their burrows; in these burrows they raise their young and to them they also resort when pursued; when a person approaches them they frequently bark, their note being precisely that of the small dog. They are of an intermediate size between that of the fox and dog, very active fleet and delicately formed; the ears large erect and pointed the head long and pointed more like that of the fox; tale long … the hair and fur also resembles the fox, tho’ is much coarser and inferior. They are of a pale redish-brown colour. The eye of a deep sea green colour small and piercing. Their [claws] are reather longer than those of the ordinary wolf or that common to the Atlantic states, none of which are to be found in this quarter, nor I believe above the river Plat.

The coyote was first scientifically described by naturalist Thomas Say in September 1819, on the site of Lewis and Clark’s Council Bluffs, fifteen miles up the Missouri River from the mouth of the Platte during a government-sponsored expedition with Major Stephen Long. He had the first edition of the Lewis and Clark journals in hand, which contained Biddle’s edited version of Lewis’s observations dated 5 May 1805. His account was published in 1823. Say was the first person to document the difference between a “prairie wolf” (coyote) and on the next page of his journal a wolf which he named Canis nubilus (Great Plains wolf). Say described the coyote as:

Canis latrans. Cinereous or gray, varied with black above, and dull fulvous, or cinnamon; hair at base dusky plumbeous, in the middle of its length dull cinnamon, and at tip gray or black, longer on the vertebral line; ears erect, rounded at tip, cinnamon behind, the hair dark plumbeous at base, inside lined with gray hair; eyelids edged with black, superior eyelashes black beneath, and at tip above; supplemental lid margined with black-brown before, and edged with black brown behind; iris yellow; pupil black-blue; spot upon the lachrymal sac black-brown; rostrum cinnamon, tinctured with grayish on the nose; lips white, edged with black, three series of black seta; head between the ears intermixed with gray, and dull cinnamon, hairs dusky plumbeous at base; sidespaler than the back, obsoletely fasciate with black above the legs; legs cinnamon on the outer side, more distinct on the posterior hair: a dilated black abbreviated line on the anterior ones near the wrist; tail bushy, fusiform, straight, varied with gray and cinnamon, a spot near the base above, and tip black; the tip of the trunk of the tail, attains the tip of the os calcis, when the leg is extended; beneath white, immaculate, tail cinnamon towards the tip, tip black; posterior feet four toed, anterior five toed.

The earliest written reference to the species comes from the naturalist Francisco Hernández’s Plantas y Animales de la Nueva España (1651), where it is described as a “Spanish fox” or “jackal”. The first published usage of the word “coyote” (which is a Spanish borrowing of its Nahuatl name coyōtl) comes from the historian Francisco Javier Clavijero‘s Historia de México in 1780. The first time it was used in English occurred in William Bullock‘s Six months’ residence and travels in Mexico (1824), where it is variously transcribed as cayjotte and cocyotie. The word’s spelling was standardized as “coyote” by the 1880s. Alternative English names for the coyote include “prairie wolf”, “brush wolf”, “cased wolf”, “little wolf” and “American jackal”. Its binomial name Canis latrans translates to “barking dog”, a reference to the many vocalizations they produce.

 

 

Eagle

Image result for Eagle

Image result for Eagle

Eagle is the common name for many large birds of prey of the family Accipitridae. Eagles belong to several groups of genera, not all of which are closely related. Most of the 60 species of eagle are from Eurasia and Africa.[1]Outside this area, just 14 species can be found—2 in North America, 9 in Central and South America, and 3 in Australia.

Eagles are large, powerfully built birds of prey, with heavy heads and beaks. Even the smallest eagles, such as the booted eagle (Aquila pennata), which is comparable in size to a common buzzard (Buteo buteo) or red-tailed hawk(B. jamaicensis), have relatively longer and more evenly broad wings, and more direct, faster flight – despite the reduced size of aerodynamic feathers. Most eagles are larger than any other raptors apart from some vultures. The smallest species of eagle is the South Nicobar serpent eagle (Spilornis klossi), at 450 g (0.99 lb) and 40 cm (16 in). The largest species are discussed below. Like all birds of prey, eagles have very large, hooked beaks for ripping flesh from their prey, strong, muscular legs, and powerful talons. The beak is typically heavier than that of most other birds of prey. Eagles’ eyes are extremely powerful. It is estimated that the martial eagle, whose eye is more than twice as long as a human eye, has a visual acuity 3.0 to 3.6 times that of humans. This acuity enables eagles to spot potential prey from a very long distance.[2] This keen eyesight is primarily attributed to their extremely large pupils which ensure minimal diffraction (scattering) of the incoming light. The female of all known species of eagles is larger than the male.[3][4]

Eagles normally build their nests, called eyries, in tall trees or on high cliffs. Many species lay two eggs, but the older, larger chick frequently kills its younger sibling once it has hatched. The dominant chick tends to be a female, as they are bigger than the male. The parents take no action to stop the killing.[5][6]

Due to the size and power of many eagle species, they are ranked at the top of the food chain as apex predators in the avian world. The type of prey varies by genus. The Haliaeetus and Ichthyophaga eagles prefer to capture fish, though the species in the former often capture various animals, especially other water birds, and are powerful kleptoparasites of other birds. The snake and serpent eagles of the genera CircaetusTerathopius, and Spilornis predominantly prey on the great diversity of snakes found in the tropics of Africa and Asia. The eagles of the genus Aquila are often the top birds of prey in open habitats, taking almost any medium-sized vertebrate they can catch. Where Aquila eagles are absent, other eagles, such as the buteonine black-chested buzzard-eagle of South America, may assume the position of top raptorial predator in open areas. Many other eagles, including the species-rich genus Spizaetus, live predominantly in woodlands and forest. These eagles often target various arboreal or ground-dwelling mammals and birds, which are often unsuspectingly ambushed in such dense, knotty environments. Hunting techniques differ among the species and genera, with some individual eagles having engaged in quite varied techniques based their environment and prey at any given time. Most eagles grab prey without landing and take flight with it, so the prey can be carried to a perch and torn apart.[7]

The bald eagle is noted for having flown with the heaviest load verified to be carried by any flying bird, since one eagle flew with a 6.8 kg (15 lb) mule deer fawn.[8] However, a few eagles may target prey considerably heavier than themselves; such prey is too heavy to fly with, thus it is either eaten at the site of the kill or taken in pieces back to a perch or nest. Golden and crowned eagles have killed ungulates weighing up to 30 kg (66 lb) and a martial eagle even killed a 37 kg (82 lb) duiker, 7–8 times heavier than the preying eagle.[7][9]Authors on birds David Allen SibleyPete Dunne, and Clay Sutton described the behavioral difference between hunting eagles and other birds of prey thus (in this case the bald and golden eagles as compared to other North American raptors):[10]

They have at least one singular characteristic. It has been observed that most birds of prey look back over their shoulders before striking prey (or shortly thereafter); predation is after all a two-edged sword. All hawks seem to have this habit, from the smallest kestrel to the largest Ferruginous – but not the Eagles.

Among the eagles are some of the largest birds of prey: only the condors and some of the Old World vultures are markedly larger. It is regularly debated which should be considered the largest species of eagle. They could be measured variously in total length, body mass, or wingspan. Different lifestyle needs among various eagles result in variable measurements from species to species. For example, many forest-dwelling eagles, including the very large harpy eagle, have relatively short wingspans, a feature necessary for being able to maneuver in quick, short bursts through densely forested habitats.[7] Eagles in the genus Aquila, though found almost strictly in open country, are superlative soarers, and have relatively long wings for their size.

Eagles are often informally divided into four groups.[note 1][18]

The snake eagles are placed in the subfamily Circaetinae. The fish eagles, booted eagles, and harpy eagles have traditionally been placed in the subfamily Buteoninae together with the buzzard-hawks (buteonine hawks) and harriers. Some authors may treat these groups as tribes of the Buteoninae; Lerner & Mindell[19] proposed separating the eagle groups into their own subfamilies of Accipitridae.

Fish eagles

Sea eagles or fish eagles take fish as a large part of their diets, either fresh or as carrion.

Proposed subfamily Haliaeetinae. Genera: HaliaeetusIchthyophaga.

Some authors include Gypohierax angolensis, the “vulturine fish eagle” (also called the palm-nut vulture) in this group.[18] However, genetic analyses indicate it is related to a grouping of NeophronGypaetusEutriorchis (Egyptian vulturebearded vulture (lammergeier), and Madagascan serpent eagle).[20]

The fish eagles have a close genetic relationship with Haliastur and Milvus; the whole group is only distantly related to the Buteo group.[20]

Booted eagles

Booted eagles or “true eagles”[18][21] have feathered tarsi (lower legs).

Tribe Aquililae or proposed subfamily Aquilinae. Genera: AquilaHieraaetusSpizaetusOroaetusSpizasturNisaetus;[20] IctinaetusLophoaetusPolemaetus; and Stephanoaetus.[18][21]

See comments under eagle species for changes to the composition of these genera.

Snake eagles

Snake or serpent eagles are, as the name suggests, adapted to hunting reptiles.

  • Subfamily Circaetinae. Genera: CircaetusSpilornisDryotriorchisTerathopius.[18]
  • Eutriorchis (subfamily Gypaetinae or Circaetinae).

Despite filling the niche of a snake eagle, genetic studies suggest that the Madagascan serpent eagle Eutriorchis is not related.[20]

Harpy eagles

Harpy eagles[18] or “giant forest eagles”[17] are large eagles that inhabit tropical forests. The group contains two to six species, depending on the author. Although these birds occupy similar niches, and have traditionally been grouped together, they are not all related: the solitary eagles are related to the black-hawks, and the Philippine eagle to the snake eagles.

  • Harpy eagles (proposed subfamily Harpiinae)
    • Harpia harpyjaharpy eagle ― Central and South America.
    • Morphnus guianensiscrested eagle ― Central and South America.
    • Harpyopsis novaeguineaePapuan eagle ― New Guinea.
  • Philippine eagle
  • Solitary eagles
    • Chaco eagle or crowned solitary eagle, Buteogallus (formerly Harpyhaliaetuscoronatus ― South America.
    • Solitary eagle or montane solitary eagle, Buteogallus (formerly Harpyhaliaetussolitarius ― South America.
    • Among the eagles are some of the largest birds of prey: only the condors and some of the Old World vultures are markedly larger. It is regularly debated which should be considered the largest species of eagle. They could be measured variously in total length, body mass, or wingspan. Different lifestyle needs among various eagles result in variable measurements from species to species. For example, many forest-dwelling eagles, including the very large harpy eagle, have relatively short wingspans, a feature necessary for being able to maneuver in quick, short bursts through densely forested habitats.[7] Eagles in the genus Aquila, though found almost strictly in open country, are superlative soarers, and have relatively long wings for their size.[7]

      These lists of the top five eagles are based on weight, length, and wingspan, respectively. Unless otherwise noted by reference, the figures listed are the median reported for each measurement in the guide Raptors of the World[11] in which only measurements that could be personally verified by the authors were listed.[7]

      Rank Common name Scientific name Body mass
      1 Steller’s sea eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus 6.7 kilograms (15 lb)
      2 Philippine eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi 6.35 kg (14.0 lb)
      3 Harpy eagle Harpia harpyja 5.95 kg (13.1 lb)
      4 White-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla 4.8 kg (11 lb)[12]
      5 Martial eagle Polemaetus bellicosus 4.6 kg (10 lb)[12]
      Rank Common name Scientific name Total length
      1 Philippine eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi 100 cm (3 ft 3 in)[13]
      2 Harpy eagle Harpia harpyja 98.5 cm (3 ft 3 in)
      3 Wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax 95.5 cm (3 ft 2 in)
      4 Steller’s sea eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus 95 cm (3 ft 1 in)
      5 Crowned eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus 87.5 cm (2 ft 10 in)
      Rank Common name Scientific name Median wingspan
      1 Philippine eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi 220 cm (7 ft 3 in)
      2 White-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla 218.5 cm (7 ft 2 in)
      3 Steller’s sea eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus 212.5 cm (7 ft 0 in)
      4 Wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax 210 cm (6 ft 11 in)[14][15]
      5 Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos 207 cm (6 ft 9 in)
      6 Martial eagle Polemaetus bellicosus 206.5 cm (6 ft 9 in)

Owl

Image result for owls

Owls are birds from the order Strigiformes, which includes about 200 species of mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, binocular visionbinaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers adapted for silent flight. Exceptions include the diurnal northern hawk-owl and the gregarious burrowing owl.

Owls hunt mostly small mammalsinsects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish. They are found in all regions of the Earth except polar ice caps and some remote islands.

Owls are divided into two families: the true (or typical) owl family, Strigidae, and the barn-owl family, Tytonidae.

Owls possess large, forward-facing eyes and ear-holes, a hawk-like beak, a flat face, and usually a conspicuous circle of feathers, a facial disc, around each eye. The feathers making up this disc can be adjusted to sharply focus sounds from varying distances onto the owls’ asymmetrically placed ear cavities. Most birds of prey have eyes on the sides of their heads, but the stereoscopic nature of the owl’s forward-facing eyes permits the greater sense of depth perception necessary for low-light hunting. Although owls have binocular vision, their large eyes are fixed in their sockets—as are those of most other birds—so they must turn their entire heads to change views. As owls are farsighted, they are unable to clearly see anything within a few centimeters of their eyes. Caught prey can be felt by owls with the use of filoplumes—hairlike feathers on the beak and feet that act as “feelers”. Their far vision, particularly in low light, is exceptionally good.

Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270°. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae compared to seven in humans, which makes their necks more flexible. They also have adaptations to their circulatory systems, permitting rotation without cutting off blood to the brain: the foramina in their vertebrae through which the vertebral arteries pass are about 10 times the diameter of the artery, instead of about the same size as the artery as in humans; the vertebral arteries enter the cervical vertebrae higher than in other birds, giving the vessels some slack, and the carotid arteries unite in a very large anastomosis or junction, the largest of any bird’s, preventing blood supply from being cut off while they rotate their necks. Other anastomoses between the carotid and vertebral arteries support this effect.

The smallest owl—weighing as little as 31 g (1 oz) and measuring some 13.5 cm (5 in)—is the elf owl (Micrathene whitneyi). Around the same diminutive length, although slightly heavier, are the lesser known long-whiskered owlet(Xenoglaux loweryi) and Tamaulipas pygmy owl (Glaucidium sanchezi). The largest owls are two similarly sized eagle owls; the Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) and Blakiston’s fish owl (Bubo blakistoni). The largest females of these species are 71 cm (28 in) long, have 54 cm (21 in) long wings, and weigh 4.2 kg (9.3 lb).

Different species of owls produce different sounds; this distribution of calls aids owls in finding mates or announcing their presence to potential competitors, and also aids ornithologists and birders in locating these birds and distinguishing species. As noted above, their facial discs help owls to funnel the sound of prey to their ears. In many species, these discs are placed asymmetrically, for better directional location.

Owl plumage is generally cryptic, although several species have facial and head markings, including face masks, ear tufts, and brightly coloured irises. These markings are generally more common in species inhabiting open habitats, and are thought to be used in signaling with other owls in low-light conditions

Eyesight is a particular characteristic of the owl that aids in nocturnal prey capture. Owls are part of a small group of birds that live nocturnally, but do not use echolocation to guide them in flight in low-light situations. Owls are known for their disproportionally large eyes in comparison to their skulls. An apparent consequence of the evolution of an absolutely large eye in a relatively small skull is that the eye of the owl has become tubular in shape. This shape is found in other so-called nocturnal eyes, such as the eyes of strepsirrhine primates and bathypelagic fishes. Since the eyes are fixed into these sclerotic tubes, they are unable to move the eyes in any direction.Instead of moving their eyes, owls swivel their heads to view their surroundings. Owls’ heads are capable of swiveling through an angle of roughly 270°, easily enabling them to see behind them without relocating the torso. This ability keeps bodily movement at a minimum, thus reduces the amount of sound the owl makes as it waits for its prey. Owls are regarded as having the most frontally placed eyes among all avian groups, which gives them some of the largest binocular fields of vision. However, owls are farsighted and cannot focus on objects within a few centimeters of their eyes.[16][18] While owls are commonly believed to have great nocturnal vision due to their large (thus very light-gathering) eyes and pupils and/or extremely sensitive rod receptors, the true cause for their ability to see in the night is due to neural mechanisms which mediate the extraction of spatial information gathered from the retinal image throughout the nocturnal luminance range. These mechanisms are only able to function due to the large-sized retinal image. Thus, the primary nocturnal function in the vision of the owl is due to its large posterior nodal distance; retinal image brightness is only maximized to the owl within secondary neural functions. These attributes of the owl cause its nocturnal eyesight to be far superior to that of its average prey.

Owls exhibit specialized hearing functions and ear shapes that also aid in hunting. They are noted for asymmetrical ear placements on the skull in some genera. Owls can have either internal or external ears, both of which are asymmetrical. Asymmetry has not been reported to extend to the middle or internal ear of the owl. Asymmetrical ear placement on the skull allows the owl to pinpoint the location of its prey. This is especially true for strictly nocturnal species such as the barn owls Tyto or Tengmalm’s owl. With ears set at different places on its skull, an owl is able to determine the direction from which the sound is coming by the minute difference in time that it takes for the sound waves to penetrate the left and right ears.  The owl turns its head until the sound reaches both ears at the same time, at which point it is directly facing the source of the sound. This time difference between ears is a matter of about 0.00003 seconds, or 30 millionths of a second. Behind the ear openings are modified, dense feathers, densely packed to form a facial ruff, which creates an anterior-facing, concave wall that cups the sound into the ear structure. This facial ruff is poorly defined in some species, and prominent, nearly encircling the face, in other species. The facial disk also acts to direct sound into the ears, and a downward-facing, sharply triangular beak minimizes sound reflection away from the face. The shape of the facial disk is adjustable at will to focus sounds more effectively.

The coloration of the owl’s plumage plays a key role in its ability to sit still and blend into the environment, making it nearly invisible to prey. Owls tend to mimic the colorations and sometimes even the texture patterns of their surroundings, the common barn owl being an exception. Nyctea scandiaca, or the snowy owl, appears nearly bleach-white in color with a few flecks of black, mimicking their snowy surroundings perfectly. Likewise, the mottled wood-owl (Strix ocellata) displays shades of brown, tan, and black, making the owl nearly invisible in the surrounding trees, especially from behind. Usually, the only tell-tale sign of a perched owl is its vocalizations or its vividly colored eyes.

Most owls are nocturnal, actively hunting their prey in darkness. Several types of owls, however, are crepuscular—active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk; one example is the pygmy owl (Glaucidium). A few owls are active during the day, also; examples are the burrowing owl (Speotyto cunicularia) and the short-eared owl (Asio flammeus).

Much of the owls’ hunting strategy depends on stealth and surprise. Owls have at least two adaptations that aid them in achieving stealth. First, the dull coloration of their feathers can render them almost invisible under certain conditions. Secondly, serrated edges on the leading edge of owls’ remiges muffle an owl’s wing beats, allowing an owl’s flight to be practically silent. Some fish-eating owls, for which silence has no evolutionary advantage, lack this adaptation

The systematic placement of owls is disputed. For example, the Sibley–Ahlquist taxonomy of birds finds that, based on DNA-DNA hybridization, owls are more closely related to the nightjars and their allies (Caprimulgiformes) than to the diurnal predators in the order Falconiformes; consequently, the Caprimulgiformes are placed in the Strigiformes, and the owls in general become a family, the Strigidae. A recent study indicates that the drastic rearrangement of the genome of the accipitrids may have obscured any close relationship of theirs with groups such as the owls. In any case, the relationships of the Caprimulgiformes, the owls, the falcons, and the accipitrid raptors are not resolved to satisfaction; currently, a trend to consider each group (with the possible exception of the accipitrids) as a distinct order is increasing.

Some 220 to 225 extant species of owls are known, subdivided into two families: 1. Typical owls or True owl family (Strigidae) and 2. barn-owls family (Tytonidae). Some entirely extinct families have also been erected based on fossil remains; these differ much from modern owls in being less specialized or specialized in a very different way (such as the terrestrial Sophiornithidae). The Paleocene genera Berruornis and Ogygoptynx show that owls were already present as a distinct lineage some 60–57 million years ago (Mya), hence, possibly also some 5 million years earlier, at the extinction of the nonavian dinosaurs. This makes them one of the oldest known groups of non-Galloanserae landbirds. The supposed “Cretaceous owls” Bradycneme and Heptasteornis are apparently nonavialan maniraptors.

During the Paleogene, the Strigiformes radiated into ecological niches now mostly filled by other groups of birds.[clarification needed] The owls as known today, though, evolved their characteristic morphology and adaptations during that time, too. By the early Neogene, the other lineages had been displaced by other bird orders, leaving only barn-owls and typical owls. The latter at that time were usually a fairly generic type of (probably earless) owls similar to today’s North American spotted owl or the European tawny owl; the diversity in size and ecology found in typical owls today developed only subsequently.

Around the Paleogene-Neogene boundary (some 25 Mya), barn-owls were the dominant group of owls in southern Europe and adjacent Asia at least; the distribution of fossil and present-day owl lineages indicates that their decline is contemporary with the evolution of the different major lineages of typical owls, which for the most part seems to have taken place in Eurasia. In the Americas, rather an expansion of immigrant lineages of ancestral typical owls occurred.

The supposed fossil herons “Ardea” perplexa (Middle Miocene of Sansan, France) and “Ardea” lignitum (Late Pliocene of Germany) were more probably owls; the latter was apparently close to the modern genus Bubo. Judging from this, the Late Miocene remains from France described as “Ardea” aureliensis should also be restudied. The Messelasturidae, some of which were initially believed to be basal Strigiformes, are now generally accepted to be diurnal birds of prey showing some convergent evolution towards owls. The taxa often united under Strigogyps  were formerly placed in part with the owls, specifically the Sophiornithidae; they appear to be Ameghinornithidae instead.