Bird-catching tree

A tree that actively catches birds to provide extra nutrition for itself sounds unlikely, but that is exactly the strategy adopted by tropical Pisonia trees.On Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef, some seventy thousand black noddy terns breed. The birds use the pisonia tree and the tree uses the...Read More
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Snow Leopard

The snow leopard is a specialist mountaineer. It has short legs and its ears and testicles are drawn deep into its multi-layered fur coat. In extreme cold, it will wrap itself in its long lush tail, like a woolly scarf. Its lungs are large and the nose cavity is enlarged, to make the most of the ...Read More
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Mine, Mine, Mine

On the way to work this morning I saw two or three gulls squabbling over a juicy piece of goodness knows what, toast probably, right in the main street. Dunedin is a coastal town so gulls are a common sight, ours are smartly coloured with red legs and feet, red beaks and a red ring round the eye. I...Read More
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Devil in the trees

'Devil in the trees' is the local New Caledonian name for the giant gecko because of the growling noises that it makes. On the island of New Caledonia the giant gecko has grown larger, up to one foot long, because here no other animal competed with it for food or space - and it had few ...Read More
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Picture Winged Flies

Two kinds of fruit fly accidentally arrived in Hawaii long ago when these oceanic islands were young. From them more than 800 species known as picture wings are believed to be descended, some well known, others awaiting investigation or even discovery. Picture wing flies have striking black and whi...Read More
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Birds of Paradise

The most astonishingly dramatic and colourful birds of the air are with out doubt the birds of paradise, from Papua New Guinea and northern Australia. This still of a lesser bird of paradise Paradisaea minor is from an NHNZ Images movie clip.It's the males that dazzle with song, colour and acrobatic...Read More
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In cold southern seas mollymawks roam great distances. They are small albatrosses and nest in very crowded colonies. They cram onto the Bounty Islands four hundred miles east of New Zealand's South Island. Seven hundred and fifty thousand gaze out from this tiny outpost of continental granite juttin...Read More
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Argentinian horned frogs or toads are also called wide mouthed frogs. No, not because of the joke (which I'm not going to tell here), but because they indeed have a very wide mouth! It's a nickname that applies to several different species of Ceratophyrs genus. They breed in seasonal pools in the ...Read More
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Mount Cook, New Zealand

Mount Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain. At 3754m it, like the rest of the Southern Alps, is a young mountain and is still growing at a rate of about 10mm a year. In 1981 a massive avalanche rock-fall knocked 20m off its height. There are 27 other peaks over 3050m in the eponymous National Park...Read More
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Mourning Gecko

This baby mourning gecko has hatched from an egg that was never fertilised. The female reproduces asexually, laying two eggs without a male gecko participating. Indeed, male mourning geckos have never been found. Young geckos are genetic replicas of their mothers. There is no particular season for ...Read More
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