Friday, April 27, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #36: Odd Animals Edition

I like animals, even ones you can't eat. Especially ones you can't eat, as long as I don't have to clean up their droppings.

1) The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest armadillo in the world. It lives in the sandy plains and grasslands of central Argentina. It's 3.5 to 4.5 inches (90-115 mm) long, and it looks like this:

A nocturnal animal, the pink fairy armadillo makes its burrow near anthills, so it can feed on the ants and their larvae. It spends most of its time underground, using its large front claws to swim through the sandy soil. When it can't get ants, it feeds on insects, worms, snails and roots.

2) The maned wolf can be found in the grasslands and semi-forested areas of southeastern, central and southern Brazil. It has really long legs.

The maned wolf does not form packs, but is a solitary hunter. If mated, the maned wolf will defend its territory of 12 square miles (30 square kilometers) with the help of its mate. It eats birds, fish, rabbits and rodents, although more than half of its diet consists of sugarcane, root vegetables and fruits, such as the aptly named “wolf apple.” It is not, in fact, related to wolves, dogs, foxes, jackals, or coyotes, but is a separate canine species. While shy and not typically a threat to humans, the maned wolf has been historically hunted for its eyes, which were considered good luck. Though the animal is not endangered, the Brazilian government has awarded it protected status.

3) The okapi looks like a cross between a zebra, a giraffe and a horse, and also, look at its tongue:


That tongue, just so you know, is long enough for the okapi to clean out its own ears. This is the Gene Simmons of the animal world.

The okapi stands 4.9 to 6.6 ft (1.5 to 2 meters) high and weighs about 440 to 660 pounds (200 to 300 kilos). They are solitary animals who prefer to see each other only when breeding. They have suffered from human encroachment, which has greatly reduced their habitat. While ancient Egyptians depicted the okapi in their carvings 2,500 years ago, the animal was not photographed in the wild until 2008.

4) The Amazon river dolphin is f*cking pink.

Very pink.

It's found in the Amazon, Orinoco and Araguaia/Tocantins River systems and is endangered. It is one of only four extant species of freshwater dolphin, the fifth having gone extinct (probably our fault). It can grow to a length of 7.9 feet (2.4 meters) and weigh 217 pounds (98.5 kilos). The Amazon river dolphin's unfused neck vertebrae allow it to turn its head 180 degrees. It eats crab, catfish, turtles, shrimp, and piranha.

Something eats these. ~ Greg Hume

Local legend has it that, at night, the Amazon river dolphin turns into an irresistibly handsome young man who emerges from the river, makes sweet, sweet love with the young virgins of the town, and then returns to the river to regain his dolphin shape in the morning. Sounds like a good excuse to me.

5) The dugong is a marine mammal related to the manatee. Like the manatee, it looks ridiculous:

Juliem Willem

The dugong lives in coastal areas and feeds on sea grasses. It uses its large, flat forelegs to paddle through the water. It has historically been hunted for its oil and meat, and is now considered a vulnerable species due to hunting, human activities and damage to its habitat (also probably due to human activities). Scientists have determined that the dugong, while related to the manatee, is actually more closely related to the elephant. As if the name “dugong” weren't silly enough, the creature is also known as the “sea camel” or the “sea pig.” They can grow to a length of about 9.8 feet (3 meters) and weigh around 926 pounds (420 kilos).