Meet the Japanese giant salamander, which can grow to to be 5 feet long. The males are particularly feisty and battle with other males for prime nest sites. Paternal care is rare among salamanders, but the males of this species (called den-masters) do all of the child rearing.
Jason G. Goldman looks at how certain adolescent animal behaviors remind us of risk-taking teenage humans. Research suggests there’s some evolutionary advantage to a species’ young walking the fine line of danger as a way to learn and become more successful adults:
Whether it’s inquisitive antelope following a cheetah around or older elephant males controlling the murderous, aggressive outbursts in younger males, the transition years to maturity are tough on many animals … by necessity.
Throughout the animal kingdom, adolescence is a tightrope act. As they gradually lose the care and protection they receive from their parents, young animals of any species must strike a delicate balance between risk and safety. If they play it too safe, they’ll suffer a lack of understanding about the dangers of the worlds in which they live. Too risky, and they might wind up served as a tasty snack for a hungry shark or cheetah or killed at the hands of their friends.
(via BBC - Future)
Eurasian Roller: The Smell of Fear
Rollers are one of my favorite birds, not only for its colorful plumage, but also for the splendid symmetry in the arrangement of their feathers, which is seen when their wings are extended.
This is Coracias garrulus (Coraciiformes - Coraciidae), better known as Eurasian Roller, a Near Threatened species found in Europa, Asia and Africa.
Many animals react to danger by producing chemical cues that can be smelled by others, which is called the smell of fear. Some bird species produce chemical compounds when threatened, such as nestlings of Coracias garrulus that vomit an odorous orange liquid when scared in their nests.
Indeed, a study showed that the supposedly defensive liquid which nestling rollers vomit when disturbed is smelled by parents so that they can adjust their behavior to avoid predation. Therefore, the expelling of vomit may act as a cue informing parents of a recent danger at their nests. Interestingly too, this research add to the growing body of evidence showing that birds are not anosmic (unable to perceive odors) and that they may rely on olfaction for important tasks.
Photo credit: ©Hendri Venter
Locality: Kruger National Park, South Africa
Amazonian royal flycatchers are typically drab-looking brown birds. During courtship, however, both sexes display a brightly colored crest that is normally hidden from view. It is rare among birds for both males (red) and females (yellow) to have such colorful markings.
Image credit: Andrew Snyder