The two-humped species is the Bactrian camel (second photo). It is built more heavily than the Arabian camel, and has longer, finer hair, dark or fawn-colored. The Bactrian camel’s feet are harder, for this animal lives, not in sandy desert, but among the rocky wastes and mountain passes of northern and eastern Asia, in China, Siberia, Mongolia and India. It stands well the rigors of Arctic cold and of fierce heat.
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One of the strangest things about New Zealand is that originally it had no land mammals, no snakes, no fruit trees, and no cereal grains or grasses of the kinds that animals eat. There was one poisonous insect, a little spider that lives on some of the beaches. When the Maoris came to the islands, they brought some dogs and a kind of black rat with them in their canoes, but there are none of these dogs left now, and the rats are very rare. When the white settlers come here, they had to bring into the country all of the cattle, sheep, and other domesticated animals. They also had to import clover and other pasture grasses for the animals to eat, and then they had to import bees to pollinate the clover.
Yet today New Zealand is one of the greatest sheep and cattle countries in the world, and has many fruit trees. Deer, pheasants, rainbow trout, rabbits, stoats and ferrets are among the kinds of animals and freshwater fish that have been brought to New Zealand and have flourished. Unfortunately, the results of bringing in these strangers have not always been good. The rabbits became such pests, destroying the farmers’ crops that the government had to take measures to destroy as many as possible. The ferrets and stoats, and cats which had become wild, also became plague to the farmers in outlaying districts, and killed so many of the wonderful wingless birds, like the kiwi, and destroyed so many of the other birds, that refuges had to be created to protect the bird life.
There are many lovely songbirds in New Zealand, such as the tui, or parson-bird, and the makomako. The kea (photo, above), a hawk like green parrot, has learned how to be a nuisance, for it has become skilful at killing sheep, piercing their backs with its sharp beak to get at the fat which surrounds the kidneys.
|Cat righting reflex|
This sense is governed by the semicircular canals – six little fluid-bearing canals, three in each ear – that enable cats (and humans) to keep in balance. However, if they played any special part in the wonderful feat of the cat we should expect to find these balancing canals very highly developed in cats; but they are not. Scientists say that man also would be able to alight on their feet when falling if they could think quickly enough. Some men dive head-foremost from a trapeze, turn somersaults in the air and land safely. Others vault over the backs of horses, whirling round in midair as they go, yet drop safely on their feet. All these skills are perfected by much practice so that they become almost instinctive.
Cat righting reflex (Wikipedia)
This habit has been bestowed upon them by nature since they cannot fight against predators in the forest. When it is not possible to save oneself through fight the best way is to lie quietly in one place so that the attention of hunters is not attracted.
A bird named poorwill is renowned for its long sleep. Every winter the poorwill hibernates for about 88 long days. During this long sleep its heartbeats lessen considerably and the temperature of its body also reduces. When winter is over and there is warmth in the atmosphere the poorwill wakes up automatically – as if an alarm bell has rung.
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Snakes of sandy desert would have found themselves in a sad plight for another reason. Minute grains of desert sand constantly slip underneath so it is not possible for the snake to move forward by pressing its tail in sand. On the contrary, when lunging forward it will only succeed in making a furrow in the sand. It will only get bogged down in the sand instead of moving forward rapidly. Another important factor: Unlike mammals or birds, snakes are cold-blooded reptiles whose body temperature does not remain at a constant level (E.g. body temperature of human beings remains steady at 96.6º Fahrenheit). Snake’s blood becomes cool or warm according to the temperature of the atmosphere. If a snake remains on the burning hot desert sand even for a short time its body temperature will rise to such a degree that it might die. So it shelters under a shade during hot daytime. If it has to move on the hot sand it has to keep as much of its body raised above the sand as possible and for as long as possible. It can avoid the heat of sand only if it is able to cut off the body contact with sand frequently.
The cycle of antler growth coincides with the rutting season. They begin to grow in early spring, sprouting from swollen pads on the skull. While growing, they are covered with a soft, hairy skin called ‘velvet’. Under the velvet is the blood supply, which carries nourishment to the growing bone.
Because the blood vessels are so close to the surface during the velvet stage, the antlers act as a cooling system, letting off access body heat. But this also makes them delicate – susceptible to bruising and bleeding. By late fall the antlers reach the full size and hardness. Their blood supply cuts off, and the dead and dry velvet peels away. The deer is then ready to challenge other bucks head-on for a mate.
When mating is over, the antlers drop off, leaving a pair of bony bases from which next year’s set will grow. Among more than 50 kinds of deer in the world, males usually get the antlers. But in two cases – the female caribou and reindeer – nature has opted for equality. The females use the shovel-shaped branches of their antlers to dig away snow cover and find food beneath it. After being shed, the antlers are eaten by small forest animals for the rich supply of calcium, salt and other useful minerals.
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