Hello friends! So it is the end of June, once again I’m astounded that we are now half way through the year. But! Today we are talking about a mushroom. Fungi aren’t my favourite topic of conversation but I couldn’t resist because this one is so so cool. It’s sometimes referred to as Lion’s mane or bear’s head tooth fungus. It is Hericium americanum!
Size: The fruiting body (the fleshy bit) can grow from about 15-30cm big. That in the range of mushrooms is big!
Diet: It lives off of decaying broad-leaved trees. It is thought that this may be init ally a parasitic fungus.
Distribution: It is found as the name might suggest in america. Specifically in North East america. Reproduction: Fungus reproduce with spores which can be many different colours. This fungus has a white spore print.
Conservation: These fungi are quite common in the states however they are a prized find. They are an edible fungi and can be quite expensive because of how big they are!
The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:
The shape of the fruiting body is simply stunning. The ice crystal shapes when combined with many fruiting bodies can look like a frozen waterfall!
It’s the end of May already! This months species has been in the news for reintroduction in Denmark. This is of course the grey wolf.
Grey wolves can measure up to 160cm in length and 85cm from shoulder height, however these sizes vary globally.
As wolves are known globally diets do vary dependent on which continent they are found. That being said wolves generally feed on herbivorous mammals for example deer, goats and even bison. Wolves have been known to supplement this diet with berries and vegetable matter. This can include things like blueberries and melons but again varies on the location.
Generally 7-8 years in the wild but wolves have been known to live up to 12 years or longer in remote locations and in protected areas.
Breeding season occurs once a year late January through March. Pups are born blind and defenseless and there can be between 4 and 7 pups per litter. The pack cares for the pups until they fully mature at about 10 months of age when they can hunt on their own. Once grown, young wolves may disperse. Dispersing wolves have been known to travel 50 to 500 miles.
Wolf populations worldwide decreased in the 19th century mainly through hunting. The populations are threatened from habitat loss and continued conflict with humans. On the other side populations have began to increase through an increase in protected areas and wolf populations have began to grow in places which were recently extinct from wolves.
The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:
Wolves have unique howls, like fingerprints, that scientists (and other pack members) can use to tell them apart.
Another month has flown by, as they always do! I’m really excited for spring to finally roll around. So to celebrate that my species of the month is actually a genus! Commonly known as the snowdrop! This genus actually has 20 species and have been cultivated to produce giant snowdrops and even yellow ones! The traditional snowdrop as we know it has the scientific name of Galanthus nivalis.
Size: 7-15cm tall. Natural snowdrops only have one flowerhead growing on one stem.
Habitat: Woodland areas and damp areas
Some species of snowdrop are under threat in there natural habitats due to habitat destruction, illegal collecting and climate change. Some species have regulation in their trade under CITES.
The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:
The snowdrop is often considered to be a wildflower in the UK but they weren’t recorded as growing wild until the 1770s and the snowdrop plant may be said to look like three drops of milk hanging from a stem. This accounts for the Latin name Galanthus which means “milk-white flowers”.
Hello! Welcome to this brand new series! Its the Monthly Species. That’s right every month I’ll be giving you a profile for a new species! Alternating predominantly between the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom! This month it’s….
Southern Royal Albatross
Scientific Name : Diomedea epomophora
Size: Albatross are huge. Gigantic in fact! They have an average length of 112 cm and an average weight of 8.5 kg. Males are slightly heavier than females. There wingspan is around 3 metres! Thats around 10ft.
Diet: Just like many sea dwelling birds, these birds have a diet based around squid, fish and other crustaceans. They eat within a 1250km radius of their breeding site.
Life Expectancy: They can live into their 40s!
Reproduction: Pairs of albatross nest on grasslands and then both parents will incubate the egg. They breed in New Zealand and raise a chick every other year. The chick hatches in February to March and will then take flight for the first time in October to early December. The fledgling process is helped by the strong winds New Zealand experiences at that time.
Conservation: Currently these birds are classed as vulnerable according to the IUCN red list. This is because the population is still recovering after it was predated on heavily by humans in the 1930s. Other threats to these birds include farming on breeding grounds and animals like pigs and cats taking their eggs. Another threat to the albatross is being caught as bycatch in fisheries which could amount to the death of thousands of birds every year. However the population is currently stable and there are efforts to protect their breeding grounds.
The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species: The albatross are migratory birds and some have been reported to cover 190,000km a year! One migration of a bird was calculated to cover 13,000km in just two weeks!
I guess to summarise these birds are big and beautiful. They deserve protecting and are an important part of terrestrial and marine ecology. Thats why they had to be the species of the month!
Hello! Today I want to tell you about a very special day I had in August, the day that I met Pickle.
Pickle is a Humboldt penguin that lives at Newquay Zoo. I got to meet him as part of the
penguin feeding experience there alongside my other half. Pickle is quite a special penguin in that he was raised by humans and has since struggled to fully ascertain that he is in fact a penguin and not a human. He falls in love with humans when he meets them and sings to them like penguins sing to their penguin partners. When I sat down next to him he let me stroke his feathers and snuggled into me, it was truly an amazing experience to see a penguin so close and to see them all so happy. Aside from meeting pickle I got to meet all the other penguins living there, who did not care for humans without fish and I learnt a lot about these penguins and other species of penguin from the keeper. One thing I thought that was really interesting was most penguins live in warm climates, Humboldt penguins are native to Chile and Peru. They also have salt glands to get rid of salt from the ocean which they sneeze out (Penguin sneezes are the cutest thing). Feeding them was so much fun and it was great to learn that at Newquay zoo they have a fantastic breeding programme. Either way I thought I had to let you guys know all about Humboldt penguins so below is there profile! Enjoy!
Scientific Name: Spheniscus humboldti
They are medium-sized penguins, growing to 56–70 cm long and a weight of 3.6-5.9 kg. Baring in mind the biggest penguin (the emperor penguin) grow to about 122cm tall and have a weight of up to 45kg.
They eat fish, mainly anchovies, krill and squid.
On average they live around 20 years in the wild however at Newquay zoo they have a penguin called Mother who is 28 years old!
Humboldt penguins make nests in between cracks and crevices in rocks, at the zoo they had ones made from fibreglass for them. Females lay one or two eggs. When chicks hatch after a 40 day incubation period, both parents take in turns to care for them. After about two months, the chick is left alone during the day while both parents hunt for food. Most of the time it is one male and one female taking care of the chicks however in Germany two adult male Humboldt penguins adopted an egg that had been abandoned by its biological parents. After the egg hatched, the two male penguins raised, protected, cared for, and fed the chick in the same manner that regular penguin couples raise their own biological offspring.
It is currently under the IUCN red list classed as vulnerable. The population of Humboldt penguins is declining, caused partly by over-fishing, climate change, and ocean acidification. The main reason for their decline is due to habitat destruction, and in the over collecting of guano (that’s the accumulated excrement of seabirds, seals, or cave-dwelling bats which is used as a fertiliser) by humans. Removal of guano means that penguins cannot build there nests up adequately to protect their chicks, leaving them exposed to predators and severe weather conditions. However in August 2010 penguins in Peru and Chile were granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Today we’re looking at the head honcho of the ocean. Here’s my profile of the Great White Shark.
Scientific Name: Carcharodon carcharias
An interesting fact about Great Whites is that the females are often bigger than the males. Most range from about 4 to 5 metres. They can weigh over 3000kg and grow up to 6 metres long.
Great White sharks typically eat fish, other sharks, sea lions, seals, sea-birds, small whales, turtles, porpoises and carrion. The occasional human perhaps? I joke obviously! When a great white goes for a human it is typically because it has mistaken it for something else. This is why there are so many cases of people being bitten and then the shark swimming away.
Hard to say exactly because they remain to be mysterious creatures. Through various studies we can say they could live up to 30 to 40 years however given their size they could be living longer.
The Great White Shark is ovoviviparous, meaning the eggs develop and hatch in the females uterus. When born the offspring are about 1.5m long and perfectly capable predators. A female Great White Shark will give typically give birth to 8 or 9 pups.
It is currently under the IUCN red list classed as vulnerable.
Hope you’ve enjoyed todays profile and dip into the Shark Tank. Who knows maybe one day there will be some more profiles of other animals!
This month I’ve been binge watching blue planet, one of my favourite environment documentary’s so of course this months scientist goes to none other than:
Sir David Frederick Attenborough
Born: 8 May 1926 (age 90) in Isleworth, London.
Noted for: Being a broadcaster and naturalist. Also for having one of the best voices of all human kind.
Why scientist of the month?
Aside from being one of my biggest inspirations to become a scientist, he also got so many people around the world taking an interest about what’s going on outside his front door. He has received so many awards that his current full title is Sir David Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE FRS FSA. He also has 32 honorary degrees from British Universities. I can only aspire to have that many letters after my name!
He first became the voice of nature documentary’s in 1952 with the three part series Animal Patterns, he then went on to present a show called Zoo Quest which featured the animals at London Zoo. Perhaps his biggest credit is the Life series, an entire collection of the stories of Life across earth. The series started with “Life On Earth” in 1979 and finished (well so far, although Attenborough has said the series has concluded) with “Life in Cold Blood” in 2008. Although his series Blue Planet in 2001 remains to be my favourite closely followed by the Hunt in 2015.
He has been a huge influence on the general public by showing them the wonders of the natural world. As well as being a huge advocate for things that can’t speak for themselves so let me finish with his closing message from State of the Planet in 2002.
“The future of life on earth depends on our ability to take action. Many individuals are doing what they can, but real success can only come if there’s a change in our societies and our economics and in our politics. I’ve been lucky in my lifetime to see some of the greatest spectacles that the natural world has to offer. Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy, inhabitable by all species.”