G is for … Gorilla

 

G

 

is for – Gorilla, Goldfish, and Gull. We’ll look at Gorilla.

The Gorilla is the largest of the four ‘great apes’ which are the most closely related to humans. The others are the Orang-utan, Chimpanzee and, Bonobo.

Gorilla’s arms are longer than their legs which is pronounced on sight, because they tend to walk on all fours. Although large and fearsome looking animals, they are not aggressive unless provoked.

They are tender with their young and, highly protective. Unlike monkeys and the smaller ape species’ the Gorilla is a ground dweller and sleeps on a blanket of leaves.

Sam

Silverback Gorilla – acrylic on canvas

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Species: The four sub-species of Gorilla are the Mountain Gorilla (the longest hair), Cross River Gorilla, Western Lowland Gorilla and, Eastern Lowland Gorilla (the largest sub-species).

Size: Average 5.5 – 6ft (when standing upright).

Habitat: Mountain forest and, lowland forest.

Location: Central and Western Africa.

Diet: Roots, Shoots, Leaves and, Vines.

Predators: Mankind … yes, the most famous of them all. Where mankind can’t find a way to kill or injure, he reduces or damages the habitat – and here he does all of the aforementioned.

Info / Strange Fact: Gorillas can live as long as 50 years.

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F is for … Felines

 

F is for – Flounder, Fulmar, and Felines. We’ll look at Felines.

I will say up front, I am not a ‘pet’ person so I don’t have a cat, or any other domestic animals – however, of all the creatures in the natural world the big cats are my favourites.

In the world of cats apart from the domestic variety which is numerous in sub-species, there are also the smaller cats, like Wildcat (various countries of origin), Serval, Civet, Ocelot, Caracal and many others.

We then move on to the big cats, which include the Lion, Tiger, Cheetah, Leopard, Puma, Lynx, Jaguar, Snow Leopard, and Black Panther.

In this special post I’d like to highlight my top three which are the Cheetah, Tiger, and Lion.

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CheetahSpecies: Cheetah – the fastest land animal. This beautiful creature can attain speeds up to 70mph over a short distance (100 yards). It has a streamlined body, long tail for balance, and dark stripes from inner corner of the eyes to the mouth (thought to have evolved to prevent sun-glare).

 

Size: Body bulk is more akin to a domestic Greyhound than a Labrador. The Cheetah can reach up to 6ft from nose to tail.

Habitat: Wide open plains and savannahs.

Location: In a few African countries in the wild, but many more in private parks and game reserves. A small number exist in Iran where they are a protected species. They were once found across most of Africa, India and, southern Asia.

Diet: Small birds and animals. Favourites include the Impala and, Thompson’s Gazelle (with the distinctive black diagonal stripe on the flank).

Predators: Mankind is the front-runner (ironically with this creature) – although he uses a rifle, traps, or poison. The adults can fall to hyenas or lions. A cheetah must kill and, eat quickly before the larger animals turn up to steal the carcass. Cubs can be taken by eagles.

Info / Strange Fact: Unlike other cats, the cheetah cannot retract its claws.

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TigerSpecies: Tiger – the largest of the big cats. The sub-species are Bengal, Siberian, Sumatran, Indochinese and, South China.

Size: Siberian Tigers are the largest sub-species. Like all tigers it has a bulky body, which is not surprising at 1,000lbs. It can reach up to 10ft in length from nose to tail.

 

Habitat: Hot jungles, woodland and, ice-cold forests.

Location: Russia, India, China, Southern Asia and, Sumatra (an island species).

Diet: Cattle, wild pigs and deer are the primary food source, although smaller game will be taken when the need arises.

Predators: Mankind. Hunting was a primary reason, but has now been overtaken by ‘poaching’ to secure the skin and body parts for ‘medicinal’ purposes.

Info / Strange Facts: Many stories are told of ‘man-eating’ tigers. Like any big cat, these creatures become ‘man-eaters’ for a few simple reasons. The animal is too old, infirm through injury to hunt the preferred prey. It can also occur because the tiger’s massive hunting territory/ habitat have been destroyed. On occasion it is purely the need to survive and to a tiger – a human is a meal.

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lionSpecies: Lion – the most commonly named in everyday language. Although not the largest of the big cats, the lion is undoubtedly the ‘King’, complete in the case of the males with his huge mane.

There is still a small number (200 – 300) of the sub-species Asiatic Lion

*

*The lion appeared on eggs as a quality stamp for many years.

*MGM films feature a roaring lion in the opening sequence of their films.

*‘The lion’s share’ is an everyday phrase which stems from the lion having first rights to the meal.

*‘The lion’s den’ is still widely used as a euphemism for going into a dangerous environment (including interview scenarios).

*‘Feed him to the lions’ usually means a theoretical ‘sacrifice’ of an individual – like an employee being used as a scapegoat.

Size: Up to 420lbs and, up to 9ft in length from nose to tail. The male lion’s mane creates the illusion to an opponent that the animal is larger or heavier than it is.

The Asiatic Lion is smaller in size and the male has a smaller mane with less of a crown.

Habitat: Open plains and savannahs.

Location: Africa and India (the almost extinct Asiatic Lion).

Diet: Zebra, Giraffe, Wildebeest (Gnu), Deer, Buffalo, larger antelopes like Kudu and Ibex and baby Elephants.

Predators: Not surprisingly, mankind is the main opponent to the lion’s survival.

Info / Strange Facts: The lionesses are usually the hunters and supply the meals, but the males play the role of protector of the pride and its territory. The male lion’s mane creates the illusion of the animal being bigger, but this massive growth of hair also acts as protection when there is a duel between two male lions. It prevents teeth or claws reaching the neck.

In the tuft of a male lion’s tail is a small horny growth, which is as yet unexplained.

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E is for … Eagle

 

E is for – Elephant, Eel, and Eagle. We’ll look at Eagle.

Eagles are known to vary in size, but when the word eagle is used it usually conjures up visions of the Fish Eagle, Bald Eagle, or Golden Eagle. These birds are without doubt the royalty of our feathered friends.

They are regal in pose and stature, and are the most powerful of all birds of prey.

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Eagle

 

Species: There are 59 species of Eagle which are broken into four recognisable groups.

1. Serpent or Snake Eagles are the smallest sub-species.

2. Buzzard / Woodland Eagles, have longer tails, but shorter wings.

3. Sea Eagles, which are among the largest and specialise in catching fish and turtles.

4. Booted Eagles like the Golden Eagle.

Size: From pigeon-sized Serpent / Snake Eagles up to the Golden Eagle which can weigh in at around 20lbs and have a wingspan up to 8ft.

Habitat: The range of nesting sites is dependent on the bird, so the smaller species will be found in rock crevices, woodland and high altitude forestry. The Sea-Eagles will nest on islands, high in trees or cliff-faces. The Golden Eagle nests high in mountain ranges.

Location: The eagle in its various forms inhabits the entire planet and every continent has its home-grown specialised eagle.

Diet: As might be expected the range of food is as widespread as the birds themselves. The larger the bird – the larger the prey. Serpent-Eagles are small and will take small snakes and rodents. Rabbits and similar small animals are a favourite with most eagles. The Golden Eagle and other eagles of a similar size will take lambs or deer. Like all birds and animals they will go for smaller prey in times of need.

Predators: Once again mankind can take the credit for causing harm to these wonderful birds. The theft of eggs is only a problem for the smaller species, but the greatest hazard overall is caused by destruction of habitat. The birds have few natural enemies.

Info / Strange Fact: Being eagle-eyed is not simply a phrase. The eagle has increased components within the structure of its eyes. To put this in perspective, the Golden Eagle can see a rabbit at 2 miles distance.

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D is for … Dolphin

 

D is for – Dingo, Dolphin, and Dipper. We’ll look at Dolphin.

Dolphins are highly intelligent animals and have acute hearing, in or out of water. They are known to be sociable creatures, but like so many others, the males will become aggressive when in competition for a female. (Yes, don’t we know all about that aspect of life).

Having fought to get the female, the male (bull) relinquishes all duties regarding the young calf, which it leaves in the care of the mother (cow).

Dolphins have been responsible on many occasions for saving humans from shark attacks and, the dolphin’s ‘beak’ is a considerable weapon when used as a battering ram.

A group of dolphins is called a ‘school’ or ‘pod’.Dolphin

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Species: There are 40 recognised species of dolphin. Porpoises are mistakenly thought by some people to belong to the dolphin family, but, they are a separate group entirely.

Size: Due to the inclusion of Killer Whales in the Dolphin family, the size differential is extensive. The creatures of the many species referred to as ‘Dolphins’ are on average 5 feet long from nose to tail. Killer Whales (Orca) will grow to around 30 feet long.

Habitat: There are oceanic dolphins and river-based dolphins.

Location: Dolphin species of some description can be found in almost any open sea or oceanic area of the world.

Diet: Fish and Squid are the staple diet, although the Orca (Killer Whale) will take seals, or small whales.

Predators: Dolphins are actively hunted in certain places (Japan and, The Faroe Islands). Numbers are depleted regularly by mankind through pollution, accidents with boats and, bycatch (being caught in nets and drowning).

Info / Strange Facts: The inhabitants of Tahiji in Japan and those of the Faroe Islands consider the dolphin as food. There is a level of karma, in that dolphin meat is high in mercury, which is of course poisonous to humans.

In Laguna, Santa Catarina, Brazil, dolphins assist the local fishermen by driving the fish towards the shore. The dolphins take the fish which escape the nets.

The idea of a Military Marine Mammal Program (MMMP) has existed for over 50 years. The USA and Russia have conducted a variety of training and active service using Bottlenose Dolphins. Russia is said to have ceased the enterprise, however the US is open about the continued use of the animals.

The official training is said to be to locate persons in the water and to locate mines, however certain other practices are thought to be in existence, although not admitted.

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C is for … Coral Snake

 

C is for – Cheetah, Coral Snake, and Condor.

We’ll look at Coral Snake.

The Coral Snake is well-known for its bright red, yellow, and black hooped skin. Several other snake species have developed a similar colour scheme to mimic the Coral Snake, which is useful because it portrays the non-venomous creatures as dangerous.

There is a rhyme used to remind people how to tell the difference. The rhyme is based on whether or not the red and yellow bands are touching. In more recent years it’s been discovered the simple verse is no longer accurate because of the impersonators.

An accurate, if slightly dangerous method of telling the difference is the bands on a Coral Snake encircle the body, as opposed to being an upper-body decoration.

In respect of the strength of its venom this creature is regarded as second only to the Black Mamba.

*****coral snake

Species: One of few creatures which have two distinct groups before considering sub-species.

The first group are ‘Old World’ where there are 70 species.

The second group are ‘New World’ in which there are 15 species.

Size: They’re a particularly thin creature, some sub-species being as narrow as a pen or pencil. In length they may range from 15 inches to 36 inches dependent on species.

Habitat: The creatures are nocturnal. Old World species will tend to spend daylight hours underground or under leaf-litter. New World species would normally be found in rocky areas of desert, with a tendency to burrow, like most desert-dwelling creatures.

Location: Old World species: Asia. New World species: The Americas.

Diet: Other small snakes, amphibians, lizards.

Predators: Birds of Prey, Foxes, Raccoons, Skunks, and Mongooses.

Info / Strange Facts: In many species, the Coral Snake has a black, bullet shaped head and, a black tail section, which means at first glance it’s difficult to tell whether you are looking at the head or tail. Like most snakes the tail is pointed, rather than bullet-shaped. Due the colour of the head it makes it difficult to see the eyes.

This snake is known to coil its head within its body and raise the tail when confronted, thus leaving a predator to attack the tail. The Coral Snake is more likely to avoid confrontation by slithering into a hole, or crack, or burrowing out of sight.

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A to Z 2014 Reflections

 A-to-Z_Reflection_[2014][1]Where do I begin?

I had never heard of the A to Z Challenge before so this was my first attempt.

I got a lot out of it, but as anyone who followed me would know; I put a lot into it. To make it clear I’ll list in the same fashion I used for my posts. It’s a method that provides clarity. I said … it’s a method that provides clarity.

1. I enjoyed it, although at times it was hard work. I started by following the ‘suggested’ 5 blogs, but through interest I ended up following 20.

2. I got every post out on time on the correct day.

3. I prepared a few, but only towards the end.

4. I gained a few more followers. I started with a figure in the mid-20’s, and I now have 79. About 5 of those have appeared since the challenge ended.

 5. I’m now following about 15 more blogs than I was at the start of the challenge.

Where there any blogs I liked in particular?

Yes, there were several, and they are all mentioned with links in my ‘Z’ is for Zoom-in post: https://tombensoncreative.com/2014/04/27/z-is-for-zoom-in/

What could be improved for next year?

Not a lot, is my initial response, although I feel if we all advertised it on our individual blogs from about mid-March next year, it might increase figures. This would obviously require a much larger support network, and the new team members would have to be aware of how much pressure was on them.

One area that I found frustrating was the logging-in to make comments. Out of habit, I don’t just hit the ‘like’ button when I visit a site. I use WordPress, but when visiting ‘Blogger’ for instance, it was a task sometimes to get a comment accepted. That is nothing to do with the challenge itself, but it does tend to impact on how much time a person might spend trying to make their voice heard

What will I do differently next year?

I’ll get my topic ready and prepare several posts so that I’m ready to go from the outset.

I managed to get around all the back-up team to give a brief vote of thanks. In my ‘Z‘ post I named all of them with a link to their blogs, so it’s easy for anyone to find out who our organisers were.

I have the full list of my A to Z posts in a menu on my blog. My topic / theme was ‘writing’.

I look forward to next time. Now I must get back to my writing.

I’ll be seeing some of you regularly from now on I’m sure. My intention is to conduct two, or possibly three blog patrols per week.