The Pink Fairy Armadillo

The Pink Fairy Armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) or Pichiciego is the smallest species of armadillo (mammals of the family Dasypodidae, mostly known for having a bony armor shell). It is found in central Argentina where it inhabits dry grasslands and sandy plains with thorn bushes and cacti.

Characteristics

The Pink Fairy Armadillo is approximately 90–115 mm (3½-4½ inches) long excluding the tail, and is pale rose or pink in color. It has the ability to bury itself completely in a matter of seconds if frightened.

The Pink Fairy Armadillo is a nocturnal animal. It burrows small holes near ant colonies in dry dirt, and feeds mainly on ants and ant larvae near its burrow. Occasionally it feeds on worms, snails, insects and larvae, or various plant and root material.

The Pink Fairy Armadillo spends much of its time under the ground as it is a "sand swimmer" similar to the Golden Mole or the Marsupial Mole. They use large front claws to agitate the sand, allowing them to almost swim through the ground like it is water. It is torpedo-shaped and has a shielded head to prevent abrasion from the sand.

Status

In 1996 the species was classed as endangered by the IUCN. However, this was downgraded to near threatened in 2006, and in 2008 changed to data deficient. Although concern exists over habitat destruction, particularly due to cattle farming, the actual effects are poorly understood.

The armadillo is found in several protected areas, including the Lihué Calel National Park. Both national and provincial legislation is in place specifically protecting the species.



















More on the Pink Fairy Armadillo : msu.edu

                                                     

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           The Axolotl
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The Pink Fairy ArmadilloThe Pink Fairy ArmadilloThe Pink Fairy ArmadilloThe Pink Fairy Armadillo - Mounted Pink Fairy Armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus), at the Muséum d'Histoire naturelle de Genève.pic by Author Totodu74
The Pink Fairy Armadillo - skullThe Pink Fairy Armadillo - skullThe Pink Fairy ArmadilloThe Pink Fairy Armadillo
The Pink Fairy ArmadilloThe Pink fairy armadillos (or pichiciegos) are found in the warm sandy plains of Argentina.These armadillos prefer to burrow in very dry soil. They leave their burrows if it is moistened by rainfall. These animals often burrow near anthills,so that they can be close to their foosource.pic by CliffThe Pink Fairy Armadillo pic by su-lin on flickrThe Pink Fairy Armadillo
The Pink Fairy ArmadilloThe Pink Fairy Armadillo source : Brehms Tierleben, Small Edition 1927
The Axolotl - pic by  岡部碩道 The Axolotl - The Axolotl - pic by Monika Korzeniec
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The Axolotl - Eggs of Ambystoma mexicanum (Axolotl) on the stem of a water plant in Cologne Zoo, Germany
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The Axolotl

The axolotl (pronounced /ˈæksəlɒtəl/), Ambystoma mexicanum, is the best known of the Mexican neotenic mole salamanders belonging to the Tiger Salamander complex. Larvae of this species fail to undergo metamorphosis, so the adults remain aquatic and gilled. The species originates from the lake underlying Mexico City and is also called ajolote (which is also the common name for the Mexican Mole Lizard). Axolotls are used extensively in scientific research due to their ability to regenerate most body parts, ease of breeding, and large embryos. They are commonly kept as pets in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Japan (sold under the name wooper looper (ウーパールーパー, Ūpā Rūpā?)) and other countries.

Axolotls should not be confused with waterdogs, the larval stage of the closely related Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum and Ambystoma mavortium), which are widespread in much of North America and also occasionally become neotenic, nor with mudpuppies (Necturus spp.), fully-aquatic salamanders which are not closely related to the axolotl but bear a superficial resemblance.

As of 2008[update], wild axolotls are near extinction  due to urbanization in Mexico City and polluted waters. Nonnative fish such as African tilapia and Asian carp have also recently been introduced to the waters. These new fish have been eating the axolotls' young, as well as its primary source of food. The axolotl is currently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's annual Red List of threatened species

Description

A sexually mature adult axolotl, at age 18–24 months, ranges in length from 15–45 centimetres (5.9–18 in), although a size close to 23 centimetres (9.1 in) is most common and greater than 30 centimetres (12 in) is rare. Axolotls possess features typical of salamander larvae, including external gills and a caudal fin extending from behind the head to the vent. Their heads are wide, and their eyes are lidless. Their limbs are underdeveloped and possess long, thin digits. Males are identified by their swollen cloacae lined with papillae, while females are noticeable for their wider bodies full of eggs. Three pairs of external gill stalks (rami) originate behind their heads and are used to move oxygenated water. The external gill rami are lined with filaments (fimbriae) to increase surface area for gas exchange. Four gill slits lined with gill rakers are hidden underneath the external gills. Axolotls have barely visible vestigial teeth, which would have developed during metamorphosis. The primary method of feeding is by suction, during which their rakers interlock to close the gill slits. External gills are used for respiration, although buccal pumping (gulping air from the surface) may also be used in order to provide oxygen to their lungs. Axolotls have four different colours, two naturally occurring colours and two mutants. The two naturally occurring colours are wildtype (varying shades of brown usually with spots) and melanoid (black). The two mutant colours are leucistic (pale pink with black eyes) and albino (golden, tan or pale pink with pink eyes).














Habitat and ecology

The axolotl is only native to Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in central Mexico. Unfortunately for the axolotl, Lake Chalco no longer exists as it was drained by humans to avoid periodic flooding, and Lake Xochimilco remains a diminished glimpse of its former self, existing mainly as canals. The water temperature in Xochimilco rarely rises above 20 °C (68 °F), though it may fall to 6 or 7 °C (45 °F) in the winter, and perhaps lower. The wild population has been put under heavy pressure by the growth of Mexico City.Axolotls are also sold as food in Mexican markets and were a staple in the Aztec diet. They are currently listed by CITES as an endangered species and by IUCN as critically endangered in the wild, with a decreasing population.

Axolotls are members of the Ambystoma tigrinum (Tiger salamander) complex, along with all other Mexican species of Ambystoma. Their habitat is like that of most neotenic species—a high altitude body of water surrounded by a risky terrestrial environment. These conditions are thought to favor neoteny. However, a terrestrial population of Mexican Tiger Salamanders occupies and breeds in the axolotl's habitat.

The axolotl is carnivorous, consuming small prey such as worms, insects, and small fish in the wild. Axolotls locate food by smell, and will "snap" at any potential meal, sucking the food into their stomachs with vacuum force.














Axolotl's neoteny

Axolotls exhibit a property called neoteny, meaning that they reach sexual maturity without undergoing metamorphosis. Many species within the axolotl's genus are either entirely neotenic or have neotenic populations. In the axolotl, metamorphic failure is caused by a lack of thyroid stimulating hormone, which is used to induce the thyroid to produce thyroxine in transforming salamanders. The genes responsible for neoteny in laboratory animals may have been identified; however, they are not linked in wild populations, suggesting artificial selection is the cause of complete neoteny in laboratory and pet axolotls.

Unlike some other neotenic salamanders (Sirens and Necturus), axolotls can be induced to metamorphose by an injection of iodine (used in the production of thyroid hormones) or by shots of thyroxine hormone. Another method for inducing transformation, though one that is very rarely successful, involves removing an axolotl in good condition to a shallow tank in a vivarium and slowly reducing the water level so that the axolotl has difficulty submerging. It will then, over a period of weeks, slowly metamorphose into an adult salamander. During transformation, the air in the vivarium must remain moist, and the maturing axolotl sprayed with a fine mist of pure water. The odds of the animal being able to metamorphose via this method are extremely small, and most attempts at inducing metamorphosis lead to death. This is likely due to the strong genetic basis for neoteny in laboratory and pet axolotls, which means that few captive animals have the ability to metamorphose on their own. Artificial metamorphosis also dramatically shortens the axolotl's lifespan if it survives the process. A neotenic axolotl will live an average of 10–15 years (though an individual in Paris is credited with achieving 25 years), while a metamorphosed specimen will scarcely live past the age of five. The adult form resembles a terrestrial Mexican Tiger Salamander, but has several differences, such as longer toes, which support its status as a separate species.

Use as a model organism

Six adult axolotls (including a leucistic specimen) were shipped from Mexico City to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris in 1863. Unaware of their neoteny, Auguste Duméril was surprised when, instead of the axolotl, he found in the vivarium a new species, similar to the salamander. This discovery was the starting point of research about neoteny. It is not certain that Mexican Tiger Salamanders were not included in the original shipment.

Vilem Laufberger of Germany used thyroid hormone injections to induce an axolotl to grow into a terrestrial adult salamander. The experiment was repeated by the Englishman Julian Huxley, who was unaware the experiment had already been done, using ground thyroid hormones. Since then, experiments have been done often with injections of iodine or various thyroid hormones used to induce metamorphosis.

Today, the axolotl is still used in research as a model organism, and large numbers are bred in captivity. Axolotls are especially easy to breed compared to other salamanders in their family, which are almost never captive bred due to the demands of terrestrial life. One attractive feature for research is the large and easily manipulated embryo, which allows viewing of the full development of a vertebrate. Axolotls are used in heart defect studies due to the presence of a mutant gene that causes heart failure in embryos. Since the embryos survive almost to hatching with no heart function, the defect is very observable. The presence of several color morphs has also been extensively studied.

The feature of the salamander that attracts most attention is its healing ability: the axolotl does not heal by scarring and is capable of the regeneration of entire lost appendages in a period of months, and, in certain cases, more vital structures. Some have indeed been found restoring the less vital parts of their brains. They can also readily accept transplants from other individuals, including eyes and parts of the brain—restoring these alien organs to full functionality. In some cases, axolotls have been known to repair a damaged limb as well as regenerating an additional one, ending up with an extra appendage that makes them attractive to pet owners as a novelty. In metamorphosed individuals, however, the ability to regenerate is greatly diminished. The axolotl is therefore used as a model for the development of limbs in vertebrates.














Captivity

Axolotls live at temperatures of 14 °C (57 °F)-20 °C (68 °F), preferably 17 °C (63 °F)-18 °C (64 °F). As for all cold-blooded organisms, lower temperatures result in slower metabolism; higher temperatures can lead to stress and increased appetite. Chlorine, commonly added to tapwater, is harmful to axolotls. A single typical axolotl typically requires a 40 litres (8.8 imp gal; 11 US gal) tank with a water depth of at least 15 centimetres (5.9 in). Axolotls spend a majority of the time at the bottom of the tank.

In laboratory colonies, adult axolotls are often housed three to a one-gallon container, and water changes are performed more regularly. Salts, such as Holtfreter's solution, are usually added to the water to prevent infection.

In captivity, axolotls eat a variety of readily available foods, including trout and salmon pellets, frozen or live bloodworms, earthworms, and waxworms.















More websites about The Axolotl  : exoticpets

                                                               eol.org

                                                     

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The Axolotl -taken in the zoo of Wrocław (Poland) pic by Guérin NicolasThe Axolotl -pic by Orizatriz
The Axolotl -pic by Orizatriz
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The Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray - With a broad, rounded head, thick body, and large fins, the bowmouth guitarfish has a distinctive profile. pic by Cat from Nagoya, Japan

The Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray - Shin-Enoshima Aquarium, Kanagawa, Japan picture by OpenCage
The Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray
The Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray
Newport aquarium
The Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray
"Sweet Pea" at the Newport Aquarium. pic by Jeff Kubina from Columbia, Maryland
The Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray
The Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray
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The Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray

The bowmouth guitarfish, mud skate, or shark ray, Rhina ancylostoma (sometimes misgendered ancylostomus), is a species of ray related to guitarfishes and skates, and the sole member of the family Rhinidae. It is found widely in the tropical coastal waters of the Indo-Pacific region, at depths of up to 90 m (300 ft). Highly distinctive in appearance, the bowmouth guitarfish has a wide, thick body with a blunt snout and large, shark-like dorsal and tail fins. The line of its mouth is strongly undulating, and there are multiple thorny ridges over its head and back. It has dorsal color pattern of many white spots over a bluish gray to brown background, with a pair of prominent markings over the pectoral fins. This large species can grow to 2.7 m (8.9 ft) long and 135 kg (300 lb).

Strong-swimming and demersal in nature, the bowmouth guitarfish prefers sandy or muddy flats and areas adjacent to reefs, where it hunts for crustaceans, molluscs, and bony fishes. Reproduction is aplacental viviparous, with recorded litter sizes ranging from 4 to 9. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed this species as Vulnerable; its sizable pectoral fins are greatly valued as food and it is widely caught by artisanal and commercial fisheries. Its thorns and propensity for damaging netted catches, however, cause it to be viewed as a nuisance by trawlers. Habitat destruction and degradation likely pose an additional, significant challenge to this species' survival. The bowmouth guitarfish adapts relatively well to captivity and is displayed in some public aquariums.

Taxonomy and phylogeny

German naturalists Marcus Elieser Bloch and Johann Gottlob Schneider originally described the bowmouth guitarfish in their 1801 Systema Ichthyologiae, basing their account on a 51 cm (20 in) long specimen collected from off the Coromandel Coast of India, which has since been lost. In his phylogenetic study, Kiyonori Nishida (1990) concluded that Rhina and Rhynchobatus are the sister clade to all other batoids except for the sawfishes.John McEachran and Neil Aschliman (2004) found that, based on morphological characters, Rhina is the most basal member of the Rajiformes.Systematists have variously classified the bowmouth guitarfish with the family Rhinobatidae (which was polyphyletic prior to recent revisions), Rhynchobatidae, or in its own family; the last was the arrangement recognized by Joseph Nelson in Fishes of the World (4th edition, 2006), as it has phylogenetic support.














Description

The bowmouth guitarfish is large and heavily built, measuring up to 2.7 m (8.9 ft) in length and weighing 135 kg (300 lb). The head is short, wide, and depressed, with a broadly rounded snout; the anterior portion of the head, including the eyes and large spiracles, is clearly distinct from the body. The nostrils are elongated and oriented nearly crosswise, with well-developed flaps of skin that separate each opening into inflow and outflow apertures. The lower jaw has three protruding lobes that fit into three depressions in the upper jaw. There are around 47 upper tooth rows and 50 lower tooth rows; the teeth are ridged and arranged in winding bands. The five pairs of gill slits are positioned underneath, close to the lateral margins of the head.

The body is deepest in front of the two dorsal fins, which are tall and falcate (sickle-shaped). The first dorsal fin is about a third larger than the second and originates over the pelvic fin origins, whereas the second dorsal is located midway between the first dorsal and the caudal fin. The pectoral fins are broad and triangular, with a deep indentation between their origins and the sides of the head. The pelvic fins are much smaller than the pectoral fins, and the anal fin is absent. The tail is much longer than the body, with a large, crescent-shaped caudal fin; the lower caudal fin lobe is more than half the length of the upper.

There is a thick ridge running along the midline of the back, bearing a band of massive, sharp thorns. More thorn-bearing ridges are found in front of the eyes, from over the eyes to behind the spiracles, and on the "shoulders". The entire dorsal surface has a granular texture from a dense covering of dermal denticles. The coloration is bluish gray above, lightening towards the margins of the head and pectoral fins, and light gray to white below. There are prominent white spots scattered over the body and fins, a white-edged black marking above each pectoral fin, and two dark transverse bands atop the head between the eyes. Younger individuals are more vividly colored than adults, which tend to be more brownish with a fainter pattern and proportionately smaller spots.

Biology and ecology

The bowmouth guitarfish is an active species with a shark-like swimming style. It is most active at night, and is not known to be territorial.This species has crushing dentition and feeds mainly on bottom-dwelling crustaceans, such as crabs and shrimp, though molluscs and bony fishes are also consumed. The bowmouth guitarfish is known to fall prey to the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier).The thorns on its head and back are employed in defense (including butting). Parasites that have been documented from this species include the tapeworm Tylocephalum carnpanulatum, the trematode Melogonimus rhodanometra, the monogeneans Branchotenthes robinoverstreeti and Monocotyle ancylostomae,and the copepod Nesippus vespa. There is a record of an individual being serviced by bluestreak cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus). This species is aplacental viviparous, with the developing embryos being sustained by yolk. Michael (1993) reported the litter size as 4 and the birth size as 45 cm (18 in), while Last and Stevens (2009) noted a female specimen pregnant with 9 mid-term embryos, measuring 27–31 cm (11–12 in) long. Males attain sexual maturity at 1.5–1.8 m (4.9–5.9 ft) long.

Human interactions

Throughout its range, the bowmouth guitarfish is captured intentionally and incidentally by artisanal and commercial fisheries, using trawls, gillnets, and line gear. The pectoral fins are exceedingly valuable and usually the only part brought to market, though the meat is sometimes also sold fresh or dried and salted in Asia for human consumption. Larger bowmouth guitarfish are considered a nuisance by trawl fishers, as their rough skin and thorns make them difficult to handle and may damage the rest of the catch. In Thailand, the enlarged thorns of this species are used to make bracelets.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed the bowmouth guitarfish as Vulnerable; it is threatened by fishing and habitat destruction and degradation, particularly from blast fishing, coral bleaching, and siltation. Its numbers are known to have declined in Indonesian waters, where it is targeted by guitarfish gillnet fisheries. The bowmouth guitarfish has been assessed as Near Threatened off Australia, where it is not a targeted species but is taken as bycatch. The installation of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on some Australian trawlers has benefited this species.The bowmouth guitarfish is a popular subject of public aquariums and fares relatively well, with one individual having lived for 7 years in captivity.Rare and facing many conservation threats, it has been called "the panda of the aquatic world". In 2007, the Newport Aquarium initiated the world's first captive breeding program for this species.















The bowhead guitarfish, often described as prehistoric in appearance, is considered by some scientists to be the ‘missing link’ between sharks and rays based on the ray-like placement of the mouth and gill openings and disc shape of the front part of the body and the shark-like streamlined appearance of the rest of the body and the powerful tail.


Another website about The Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray  : Arkive

                                                        

                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                         Source : Wikipedia



                                                                                                                                                                  
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The Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark RayThe Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark RayThe Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray pic by SmilingSunflower on Flickr
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The Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray -  Juvenile characteristicsThe Bowmouth guitarfish a.k.a. The Shark Ray - Mouth skeleton
The Bowmouth Guitar fish
The Gee's Golden Langur - Map of British Indian Empire, from Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, Oxford University Press. Original map scanned from personal copy by Fowler&fowlerThe Gee's Golden Langur - Golden langur highres habitat1909 - Cropped image of the map of East Bengal, Assam, and Bhutan from Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909.by Fowler&fowlerThe Gee's Golden LangurThe Gee's Golden Langur
The Gee's Golden LangurGee's Golden Langur 4 by spo0nman on FlickrGee's Golden Langur 4 by spo0nman on FlickrGee's Golden Langur
Gee's Golden LangurGee's Golden LangurGee's Golden Langur pic by Yuval NaamanGee's Golden Langur with 11 day old baby
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The Gee's Golden Langur

Gee's Golden Langur (Trachypithecus geei), or simply the Golden Langur, is an Old World monkey found in a small region of western Assam, India and in the neighboring foothills of the Black Mountains of Bhutan. It is one of the most endangered primate species of India.Long considered sacred by many Himalayan peoples, the Golden Langur was first brought to the attention of science by the naturalist E. P. Gee in the 1950s.

The Golden Langur is known for its rich golden to bright creamish hair, a black face and a very long tail measuring up to 50 centimetres (20 in) in length. For the most part, the langur is confined to high trees where its long tail serves as a balancer when it leaps across branches. During the rainy season it obtains water from dew and rain drenched leaves. Its diet is herbivorous, consisting of ripe and unripe fruits, mature and young leaves, seeds, buds and flowers.

The region of its distribution is very small, limited to the area (Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary) bounded on the south by the Brahmaputra river, on the east by the Manas river, on the west by the Sankosh river, all in Assam, India, and on the north by the Black Mountains of Bhutan. These biogeographical barriers are believed to have led to the radiation of species from closely related Capped Langurs (Trachypithecus pileatus).It generally lives in troops of about 8 (but sometimes up to 50) with several females to each adult male. The Golden Langur is currently endangered, the total Indian population in 2001 was recorded to be 1,064 individuals, with the relative dearth of infants and juveniles indicating a declining population and with the habitat being degraded by human activity. A fragmented but protected population in a rubber plantation in Nayakgaon, Kokrajhar district of Assam increased in population from 38 individuals in 1997 to 52 in 2002. The population has also adapted to feeding on dry rubber seeds.

There are believed to be two subspecies of this lutung as proposed by Wangchuk (2002):

Trachypithecus geei geei
Trachypithecus geei bhutanensis
















Another website about The  Gee's Golden Langur  : Arkive

                                                                                        Theprimata

                                                        

                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                         Source : Wikipedia



                                                                                                                                                                  
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Gee's Golden Langur - Release-chakrasila-wls-apr09-pranjit - An infant golden langur left found alone at Mowriagaon, Manas NP and later reunited with its troupe .by MVS Lower Assam unit.Gee's Golden Langur stamp India
The Gee's Golden Langur
The Goliath Frog skeletonThe Goliath Frog The Goliath Frog skeletonThe Goliath FrogThe Goliath Frog
The Goliath FrogThe Goliath FrogThe Goliath Frog
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The Goliath Frog

The goliath frog, Conraua goliath is the largest extant anuran on Earth. It can grow up to 13 inches (33 cm) in length from snout to vent, and weighs up to 8 lb (3 kg). This animal has a relatively small habitat range, mainly in Cameroun and Equatorial Guinea. Its numbers are dwindling due to habitat destruction, its collection for consumption as food and its collection for the pet trade.

Life history

The goliath frog can live up to 15 years.Goliath frogs eat largely crabs, but will also eat insects and smaller frogs. These frogs have acute hearing but no vocal sac, and additionally lack nuptial pads.

Habitat

The goliath frog is normally found in fast-flowing rivers with sandy bottoms in the West African countries of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. These rivers are usually clear and highly oxygenated. Their actual range spans from the last 125 miles (200 km) of the Sanaga basin in Cameroon to the north to the last 30 miles (50 km) of the Benito River basin in Equatorial Guinea to the south. The river systems in which these frogs live are often found in dense, extremely humid areas with relatively high temperatures.

Reproduction

Like all amphibians the water is vital for their reproduction. The males will construct spawning and breeding areas alongside and within rivers by pushing rocks into semicircular patterns. Not much is known about the goliath frog's reproduction; however, some African scholars have started to do more research for medical reasons.

Relations with Humans

Goliath frogs were considered to be a source of food in some parts of west Africa. They were also highly exported to zoos and animal dealers to be sold as pets. Unfortunately, these frogs fail to thrive in captivity (and almost never reproduce there). Due to their classification as endangered, the Equatorial Guinean government has declared that no more than 300 goliaths may be exported out of the country per year. Some are captured and kept as pets.


Another website about The  Goliath Frog  : Arkive

                                                                                                                                           

                                                     

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The Goliath Frog
Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial distribution Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial -  skeleton Gavial (gharial) skeleton, prepared and articulated by Skulls Unlimited International pic by SklmstaGharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial -  in a Florida zoo pic  by “Jonathan Zander (Digon3)”
Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial
Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial - The adult male develops a pot-like structure on the end of the snout, giving the gharial its name from "ghara" -- Hindi for earthen pot. This nose knob is used to produce a bussing noise that repels rival males and serves as an audible warning system. pic by CliffGharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial - Group of gharials in the Karnali River of Bardia National Park, Nepal pic byWimbexGharial a.k.a. Indian GavialGharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial I Taken at the San Diego Zoo pic by Justin Griffiths
Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial - Taken at San Antonio Zoo
pic  by GreverodGharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial 10 by ZeWrestlerGharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial - Gharial lurking pic  by Steve
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Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial

The gharial (Hindi : घऱियाल, Marathi : सुसर Susar) (Gavialis gangeticus), sometimes called the Indian gavial or gavial, is one of two surviving members of the family Gavialidae, a long-established group of crocodile-like reptiles with long, narrow jaws. It is one of the three crocodilians found in India, the other being the Mugger crocodile and the Saltwater crocodile.

It is a critically endangered species. The gharial is one of the longest of all living crocodilians.

Ancestry

The fossil history of the Gavialoidea is quite well known, with the earliest examples diverging from the other crocodilians in the late Cretaceous. The most distinctive feature of the group is the very long, narrow snout, which is an adaptation to a diet of small fish. Although gharials have sacrificed the great mechanical strength of the robust skull and jaw that most crocodiles and alligators have, and in consequence cannot prey on large creatures, the reduced weight and water resistance of their lighter skull and very narrow jaw gives gharials the ability to catch rapidly moving fish, using a side-to-side snapping motion.

The earliest gharial may have been related to the modern types: some died out at the same time as the dinosaurs (at the end of the Cretaceous), others survived until the early Eocene. The modern forms appeared at much the same time, evolving in the estuaries and coastal waters of Africa, but crossing the Atlantic to reach South America as well. At their peak, the Gavialoidea were numerous and diverse; they occupied much of Asia and America up until the Pliocene. One species, Rhamphosuchus crassidens of India, is believed to have grown to an enormous 15 metres (~50 feet) or more.

Distribution

Gharials once thrived in all the major river systems of the Indian subcontinent, spanning the rivers of its northern part from the Indus in Pakistan across the Gangetic floodplain to the Irrawaddy in Myanmar. Today their distribution is limited to only 2% of their former range:

in India small populations are present and increasing in the rivers of the National Chambal Sanctuary, Katerniaghat Sanctuary, Son River Sanctuary and the rainforest biome of Mahanadi in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, Orissa, where they apparently don't breed ;
in Nepal small populations are present and slowly recovering in tributaries of the Ganges, such as the Narayani-Rapti river system in Chitwan National Park and the Karnali-Babai river system in Bardia National Park.
They are extinct in Pakistan's Indus River, in the Brahmaputra of Bhutan and Bangladesh and in the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. They are sympatric with the Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) and formerly used to be with the Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) in the delta of Irrawaddy.

There have been some small-scale projects to breed and rehabilitate gharials, i.e. in Nepal's Chitwan National Park.













Habitat

Riverine—most adapted to the calmer areas in the deep fast moving rivers. The physical attributes of the gharial do not make it very suited for moving about on land. In fact the only reasons the gharial leaves the water is either to bask in the sun or to nest on the sandbanks of the river.

Appearance

The species has a characteristic elongated, narrow snout, similar only to the closely related False gharial, (Tomistoma schlegelii). The snout shape varies with the age of the saurian. The snout becomes progressively thinner the older the gharial gets. The bulbous growth on the tip of the male's snout is called a 'ghara' (after the Indian word meaning 'pot'), present in mature individuals. The ghara is used to generate a resonant hum during vocalization. It acts as a visual lure for attracting females and it is also used to make bubbles which have been associated with the mating rituals of the species.

The elongated jaws are lined with many interlocking, razor-sharp teeth - an adaptation to the diet (predominantly fish in adults). This species is one of the largest of all crocodilian species, being the only crocodilian besides the Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) with multiple records of attaining a length of 6 m (20 feet) and a weight of 1000 kg (2200 lbs), although a majority of gharials do not grow past 5 m (16.5 feet) and about 680 kg (1500 lb).The three largest examples reported were a 6.5 m (21.5 ft) gharial killed in the Gogra River of Faizabad in August 1920; a 6.3 m (21 ft) individual shot in the Cheko River of Jalpaiguri in 1934; and a giant taped at 7 m (23 ft) which was shot in the Kosi River of northern Bihar in January 1924.  The average size of mature gharials is 3.6-4.5 m (12.2-15.5 ft) about the same as for male Saltwater Crocodiles and Nile Crocodiles. The leg musculature of the gharial does not enable it to raise its body off the ground (on land) to achieve the high-walk gait—being able only to push its body forward across the ground ('belly-sliding'), although it can do this with some speed when required. However, when in water, the gharial is the most nimble and quick of all the crocodilians in the world. The tail seems overdeveloped and is laterally flattened, more so than other crocodilians, which enables it to achieve excellent aquatic locomotive abilities.

The gharial has 27 to 29 upper and 25 or 26 lower teeth on each side. These teeth are not received into interdental pits; the first, second, and third mandibular teeth fit into notches in the upper jaw. The front teeth are the largest. The gharial's snout is narrow and long, with a dilation at the end and its nasal bones are comparatively short and are widely separated from the pre-maxillaries. The nasal opening of a gharial is smaller than the supra-temporal fossae. The gharial's lower anterior margin of orbit (jugal) is raised and its mandibular symphysis is extremely long, extending to the 23rd or 24th tooth. A dorsal shield is formed from four longitudinal series of juxtaposed, keeled, and bony scutes.

The length of the snout is 3.5 (in adults) to 5.5 times (in young) the breadth of the snout's base. Nuchal and dorsal scutes form a single continuous shield composed of 21 or 22 transverse series. Gharials have an outer row of soft, smooth, or feebly-keeled scutes in addition to the bony dorsal scutes. They also have two small post-occipital scutes.

The outer toes of a gharial are two-thirds webbed, while the middle toe is only one-third webbed. Gharials have a strong crest on the outer edge of the forearm, leg, and foot. Typically, adult gharials consist of a dark olive color tone while young ones are pale olive, with dark brown spots or cross-bands.













Diet

Young gharials eat insects, larvae, and small frogs. Mature adults feed almost solely on fish, although some individuals have been known to scavenge dead animals. Their snout morphology is ideally suited for piscivory; their long, narrow snouts offer very little resistance to water in swiping motions to snap up fish in the water. Their numerous needle-like teeth are ideal for holding on to struggling, slippery fish. Gharials will often use their body to corral fish against the bank where they can be more easily snapped up.

Danger to humans

The gharial is not a man-eater and is sensitive towards humans. Despite its immense size, its thin and fragile jaws make it physically incapable and impossible to consume a large animal, especially a human being. The myth that gharials eat humans may come partly from their similar appearance to Crocodiles and also since jewelry has been found in their stomachs. However, the gharial may have swallowed this jewelry while scavenging corpses or as gastroliths used to aid digestion or buoyancy management.

Breeding

The mating season is during November through December and well into January. The nesting and laying of eggs takes place in the dry season of March, April, and May. This is because during the dry season the rivers shrink a bit and the sandy river banks are available for nesting. Between 30 and 50 eggs are deposited into the hole that the female digs up before it is covered over carefully. After about 90 days, the juveniles emerge, although there is no record of the female assisting the juveniles into the water after they hatch (probably because their jaws are not suited for carrying the young due to the needle like teeth). However, the mother does protect the young in the water for a few days until they learn to fend for themselves.

Conservation

In the 1970s the gharial came to the brink of extinction and even now remains on the critically endangered list. The conservation efforts of the environmentalists in cooperation with several governments has led to some reduction in the threat of extinction. Some hope lies with the conservation and management programs in place as of 2004. Full protection was granted in the 1970s in the hope of reducing poaching losses, although these measures were slow to be implemented at first. Now there are 9 protected areas for this species in India which are linked to both captive breeding and 'ranching' operations where eggs collected from the wild are raised in captivity (to reduce mortality due to natural predators) and then released back into the wild (the first being released in 1981). More than 3000 animals have been released through these programs, and the wild population in India is estimated at around 1500 animals—with perhaps between one and two hundred animals in the remainder of its range. The release of captive gharials has not met with the success that was expected. Recently more than 100 gharials died in India in the Chambal River from an unknown cause with gout-like symptoms. This recent death toll is expected to have decreased the number of breeding pairs to less than 400. Tests of the carcasses conducted at the IVRI suggest the possibility of poisoning by metal pollutants.

Recently this species has moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered on the 2007 Red List of endangered species of animals and plants issued by the World Conservation Union, and qualifies for protection under the CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) Appendix II.

Gharials are bred in captivity in the National Chambal Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh, at the Honolulu Zoo on Oahu and La Ferme aux Crocodiles in France.













Taxonomy

The gharial and its extinct relatives are grouped together by taxonomists in several different ways:

If the three surviving groups of crocodilians are regarded as separate families, then the gharial becomes one of two members of the Gavialidae, which is related to the families Crocodylidae (crocodiles) and Alligatoridae (alligators and caymans).
Alternatively, the three groups are all classed together as the family Crocodylidae, but belong to the subfamilies Gavialinae, Crocodylinae, and Alligatorinae.
Finally, palaentologists tend to speak of the broad lineage of gharial-like creatures over time using the term Gavialoidea.
Janke et al. (2005), using molecular genetic evidence, found the gharial and the false gharial (Tomistoma) to be close relatives, and placed them together in the same family.

Common names include: Indian gharial, Indian gavial, Fish-eating crocodile, Gavial del Ganges, Gavial du Gange, Long-nosed crocodile, Bahsoolia, Chimpta, Lamthora, Mecho Kumhir, Naka, Nakar, Shormon, Thantia, Thondre, Garial.

Appearances in popular culture

In the PlayStation 2 video game, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, one of the more noted animals that Naked Snake can consume for his survival is the Indian Gavial. It replenishes significant amounts of stamina, while causing Snake to express utmost satisfaction. A crocodile cap is also an obtainable item that can be used to scare away unsuspecting enemy soldiers. The Indian Gavials in the game are generally not too dangerous on land, inflicting only minor damage by striking the game's protagonist with their tails. However, if Naked Snake is attacked by one while in the water, it kills him instantly. Furthermore, nearby Gavials are provoked to attack Snake if he wears the croc cap in the water.

The Ravnica: City of Guilds expansion of the Magic: The Gathering trading card game features a "Crocodile" creature called Grayscaled Gharial,and the Shards of Alara expansion includes the creature Algae Gharial.

In Esperanto, the verb gaviali ("to gharial") means to speak Esperanto in a situation where another language would be more appropriate.



Another website about The Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial : Arkive

                                                                                                                                           

                                                     

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Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial pic by Bo LinkGharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial pic by MP Roopesh on FlickrGharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial
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Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial - Close-up of the male's ghara Taken at the San Diego Zoo pic by Justin GriffithsGharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial 15 Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial
Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial  skullGanges Gharial
 
Date 1896
 
Source The Royal Natural History
 
Author R A Lydekker
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Gharial a.k.a. Indian Gavial