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African Elephant

Photo Credit: Gary M. Stolz Although the African elephant is the largest and most powerful of all living land mammals, it is also amo...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Plains Leopard Frog


Photo Credit: Don Becker

The Plains leopard frog, sometimes referred to as Blair's leopard frog, named after the noted zoologist and University of Texas professor, Dr. W. Frank Blair.

The Plains leopard drog is a medium sized frog, typically ranging from 2-3.5 inches (50-90 mm). Coloration is brown or gray on top with round brown or black spots on the back and sides. A dark spot is usually present on the snout. The upper jaw has a distinct line along the upper jaw. The tympanum typically has a light spot. Toes have well developed webbing. The dorsolateral stripe is broken posteriorly. Underparts are white with pale yellow near the groin and inner thighs.

They live in grassland areas of the Midwest (from southern South Dakota in the north to central Texas in the south and from New Mexico in the west to western Indian in the east). These frogs can be found floodplains, ditches, farm ponds, small streams, marshes.

The Plains leopard frogs' diet consists of a wide variety of invertebrates (worms, aquatic insects, small minnows).

Did you know?
This species breeds from mid-April to early June. Females may produce between 4,000 and 6,500 eggs. Eggs hatch in 2 to 3 weeks. Tadpoles are herbivorous but may feed on dead animal matter. This species disperses between ponds on rainy nights. During the winter, adults or tadpoles hibernate in the leaves and mud at the bottom of ponds and streams.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Squid

Photo Credit: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org

Squid are cephalopods, which comprises around 304 species. Like all other cephalopods, squid have a distinct head, bilateral symmetry, a mantle, and arms. Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs and two, usually longer, tentacles. Squid are strong swimmers and certain species can "fly" for short distances out of the water.

The main body mass is enclosed in the mantle, which has a swimming fin along each side. These fins, unlike in other marine organisms, are not the main source of locomotion in most species.

The skin is covered in chromatophores, which enable the squid to change color to suit its surroundings, making it practically invisible. The underside is also almost always lighter than the topside, to provide camouflage from both prey and predator.

Like all cephalopods, squid have complex digestive systems. The muscular stomach is found roughly in the midpoint of the visceral mass. From there, the bolus moves into the caecum for digestion. The caecum, a long, white organ, is found next to the ovary or testis. In mature squid, more priority is given to reproduction such that the stomach and caecum often shrivel up during the later life stages. Finally, food goes to the liver (or digestive gland), found at the siphon end, for absorption. Solid waste is passed out of the rectum. Beside the rectum is the ink sac, which allows a squid to rapidly discharge black ink into the mantle cavity.

Did you know?
All squid are carnivores and eat mainly fish, shrimp, crabs and even other squid. They are ambush predators, often relying on stealth to sneak up on prey and capture it before it can escape.
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