If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may know that for the past six months, we’ve been posting Freaky Frog articles every fortnight. During our journey through the weird and wonderful world of these amazing amphibians, we’ve looked at the delightfully named ‘scrotum frog’, we’ve examined the remarkable defensive mechanism of the ‘wolverine frog’, and we’ve marvelled at the cryogenic wood frog. There have been frogs that brood their young in their vocal sacs. Toads that brood their young inside pockets in their own skin. Frogs with moustaches. Frogs that practise ‘reproductive necrophilia’.
A while back, The Nature Nook looked at the so-called ‘African unicorn’, the okapi. Half-believed but never seen, surrounded by legend and mystique, this highly secretive relative of the giraffe was only officially described by science at the start of the 20th century, long after most other large animals had been discovered and catalogued. A hundred and twenty years later, the okapi remains rare and elusive, but it can at least be seen in several zoos around the world and we now know much more about it.
A vast expanse of sand and rock, the Arabian Desert is the largest desert in Asia. Covering 2.3 million square km, it spans almost the entire Arabian Peninsula and is shared among nine nations. With huge, featureless stretches of sand to the south, salt-encrusted plains to the east, and a temperature that can reach 50°C, this extreme environment seems almost too harsh for survival. But several desert specialists live here, including scorpions, sand cats, gazelles – and, once again, after a period of absence, the subject of today’s post, the Arabian oryx.
Lurking in the depths of a select few lakes in England and Scotland is our rarest freshwater fish. Known as the vendace, this truly is a relic from the past. The few isolated populations that remain are the last vestiges of a species that was much more widespread during the last Ice Age. In our warmer modern world, only large, deep glacial lakes can provide the cold, clean, well-oxygenated conditions that these fish need to survive.
Deep in the dense tropical rainforests of the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa, there lurks a very curious creature. With its long legs and predominantly dark brown coat of short fur, it looks, at first glance, a bit like a horse, though a second look will reveal a somewhat deer-like face atop a relatively long, flexible neck, and, most strikingly, horizontal white stripes on its upper legs and rump.