Saturday, February 2, 2013

Top Ten Most Interesting Arboreal Mammals (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of the Top Ten Most Interesting Arboreal Mammals in honor of the birthday of Charlie Bowers!  FYI, for those of you who don't know, arboreal means an animal that lives in the trees!  For Part 1 of this duology, click HERE.

5.  Fossa - The fossa has one of the most interesting and amusing scientific names: Cryptoprocta ferox.  Any guesses as to what that means?  If you guessed "Fierce Hidden-Anus," then you are spot-on!  Native to Madagascar (and, in fact, the largest carnivore of the "Lost Continent"), this cat-like creature is not actually a cat.  Instead, it is closely related to the civets and the genets, like the binturong.  To see a video of how incredibly acrobatic the fossa is, click HERE

4.  Cats - We talk about cats a LOT on this blog, and we are going to talk about them again today!  Quite simply put, cats are quite possibly the most acrobatic group of carnivores in the world.  Many of them are acrobatic on the ground (like the caracal, serval, and cheetah), while others are acrobatic in the trees.  Some of these are larger cats, like the leopard and the jaguar.  Others are smaller cats, like the ocelot and the margay, the latter of which can rotate its ankles around 180 degrees in order to climb down the trunks of trees head first!

3.  Ringtail/Cacomistle -  A member of the raccoon family Procyonidae like their relatives the coatis and olingos, the ringtail and the cacomistle are pretty obscure animals.  The ringtail actually lives as far north as southern Oregon, and throughout the southwestern United States, as well as in Mexico.  The range of the cacomistle actually overlaps that of the ringtail in Mexico, but the cacomistle also lives as far south as Panama.  They are both omnivorous, and insects, fruits, arthropods, and small vertebrates are important components of their diets.  They are also both listed as "Least Concern" by the IUCN.

2.  Tamandua -  Like all anteaters, the tree anteaters, such as the tamandua (pictured above) have very strong, large, and powerful claws, made to access the nests of ants.  These claws also happen to be perfect for climbing.  It's tail, like many other arboreal creatures, has evolved to be prehensile, which is an enormous benefit when climbing in the trees.  This fifth limb, if you will, is especially important when the tamandua has to tear into the bark of trees to expose the tasty insect treats within, helping to keep the tamandua from falling from the trees.  The tail is actually powerful enough to support the weight of the entire animal!  You don't often think of anteaters climbing around in the trees, which is why I think that the tree anteaters are excellent candidates for our number two spot on the list.  To see a video of the tamandua in action, albeit in Russian or something (it doesn't really matter, just watch without audio or something, but make sure to watch from 1:00 onwards) click HERE.

1.  Tree Kangaroos - Sometimes, nothing is quite as funny as a kangaroo.  But imagine a smallish kangaroo hopping around in the trees, a hundred feet or more above the ground.  Believe it or not, such a thing exists!  Having evolved from the rock-wallabies (who are in turn thought to have evolved from the pademelons), the tree kangaroos are pretty awesome creatures!  Reportedly pretty clumsy in the trees, it is hypothesized that, if there were any significant predators in the area (like many of the carnivores that we have been talking about in these two posts), the tree kangaroo would have either have had to evolve, or they would have been hunted into extinction by these predators.  Since it is so clumsy, and it spends so much of its time between 70 and 100 feet above the rainforest floor, the tree kangaroo has adapted to large and significant falls from high in the sky.  They can fall around 60 or 70 feet with no physical harm!  Don't believe me?  Once you click the video link HERE to learn more, go ahead to about 5:10 if you want the skinny.  You will be able to enjoy a tree kangaroo falling!  And don't worry, it won't be hurt: just check out the video!

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