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This is one of the most distinctive animals on the planet. African elephants are the largest of the three elephant species. Elephants have many unique characteristics, and the secrets of some of their adaptations are still being discovered to this day. Elephants live long and very social lives centered around a matriarch and her offspring. The illegal killing of elephants for ivory represents a serious and pressing threat to the future of this species.
Blue-throated macaws are often called barba azul in Spanish, meaning “blue beard,” because of the bright blue coloration covering their throats. They play an important role in the ecosystem as seed dispersers. These intelligent and colorful birds are critically endangered and threatened by habitat loss and the illegal pet trade.
Guatemalan Beaded Lizard
The Guatemalan beaded lizard lives only in an isolated pocket of desert in eastern Guatemala. Discovered by scientists in the mid-1980s, this distinctive lizard has been well known to local populations in Guatemala for millennia. This species is one of the five closely related species of venomous beaded lizards, including the Gila monster of the southwestern U.S. The venom is used entirely for self-defense and is not used in the capturing of prey.
Reticulated pythons, along with the green anaconda, are the largest snakes in the world. The distinction is that these pythons attain a greater length, with valid records of wild individuals over 20 feet in length. Green anacondas, on the other hand, are not as long but achieve a much more massive girth and mass.
Ring-tailed lemurs are named for the distinctive, alternating black-and-white bands along their tails. They reside in southern and southwestern Madagascar and are found in social groups called troops. This species uses both vocal and scent marking as tools of communication.
Guenons are a diverse group of Old World monkeys, characterized by enormous cheek pouches that they stuff with food opportunistically as they forage. They will then actually consume the bounty from their recent foraging bout in a secluded retreat, safe from predators. They mainly eat fruits and small animals such as insects or lizards. Like the other species of guenon, these are social animals living in family groups, with a single dominant male. Group size may reach 50 animals when resources are abundant, but groups may split into smaller units if resources become scarce.
Sumatran tigers are the smallest of the tigers. Unfortunately, all subspecies of tiger are endangered (and three already are extinct) because of the combined threats of habitat loss, fear-based persecution by humans, and wildlife trade for their skins, bones and other body parts.
Sidewinders get their name from their unique form of side-stepping locomotion that is an adaptation for moving across loosely packed desert sands. They are a type of rattlesnake and are venomous.
Malayan Sun Bear
These highly arboreal bears have exceptionally long claws and tongues to help them forage for honey, insects, and other small creatures inside logs. The name “sun bear” comes from the distinctive golden colored patch of fur on their chests, and every individual sun bear has a different patch. Commercial production of palm oil, as well as heavy poaching pressure for traditional medicines, are significant threats to this species.
Naked Mole Rat
The appearance and habits of the naked mole rat enthrall scientists and observers alike. Naked mole rats are eusocial mammals, with a social system structured in service of a queen, much like bees.