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Animal Watch

Small Killers, Big Impact: A Creative Approach to Controlling Deadly Snail Parasites

by Camila Cruz, age 16

When we think of deadly creatures, our minds often gravitate toward large predators. However, the most lethal killers in the natural world happen to be quite small.

Snail parasites are responsible for thousands of deaths annually, having infected nearly 250 million people, primarily in regions across Asia, Africa, and South America. This parasitic disease is known as schistosomiasis, and despite its ease of transmission, it remains relatively unknown. The parasite resides in freshwater environments worldwide, primarily latching onto snails, and waiting for other organisms to enter the water. Once it detects a potential host, it attaches to the skin and burrows into the host's blood vessels, where it can reproduce and live for decades.

Interestingly, it's not the parasite itself but its eggs that cause the infection. These eggs possess sharp barbs that pierce through the host's body, allowing them to return to the water, where they seek out a snail to complete their life cycle. [Read More]

Scientists Discover Fish are Self-Aware

by Jonah Smith, age 14

Humans can recognize their faces in mirrors and photos almost automatically. Ongoing research at Metropolitan University in Japan suggests that fish have the same ability. Being able to recognize your reflection or being self-aware, is an ability usually tied to intelligent animals, such as chimpanzees or humans. Finding this ability in fish suggests that self-awareness might be more common than scientists previously thought.

Previous research at Metropolitan University demonstrated that Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasses can pass a self awareness test using a mirror. To conduct the test, scientists expose an animal to a mirror for a long period of time. Once the animal gets acquainted with its reflection, scientists add a mark somewhere on its body. If the subject were to be self-aware, it would start to touch that spot on its body in hopes of getting rid of that mark. Before this research, only large-brained animals such as apes, dolphins, elephants, and magpies have passed the test.

Failing the mirror test should not be indicative of lack of self awareness. Other animals thought to have large brains, such as monkeys and ravens have not passed. Scientists also wonder if this is an appropriate test for animals who rely on other senses, or ones who don’t care about how they look. As a result of this, it makes it more surprising that a fish can recognize itself. [Read More]

Monarch Butterflies are now on the Red List of Threatened Species

by Hanna Eyobed, age 17

Karen Oberhauser, one of the world’s top experts on monarch butterflies, has always pushed for greater awareness of the risks they face. That’s why she thinks it could be a good thing that monarchs were declared endangered in July. “Certainly it’s negative that monarchs have reached this point where they need to be listed. But it’s positive that they have this recognition and that, hopefully, this will bring more people on board to do what we can to preserve monarchs.”

Madison residents can help by planting the only food migratory monarch butterflies can eat as caterpillars: milkweed. Sam Harrington has been very impactful in the Madison community, she is a climate journalist who began making a difference in 2017, when she decided to put her parents’ lawn in Middleton to use by planting a quarter of an acre with plants native to Wisconsin. She planted species like yellow coneflower, royal catchfly, butterfly weed, and purple prairie clover. She eventually planted over 60 species and documented what was planted, what survived, and what animals they attracted. “It feels like an investment in the future, one that I want to live in, one that’s full of pretty flowers and butterflies and I have a good relationship with the land of the place where I’m from.”

Michelle Martin and her work with Monarch butterflies is another example of local change. In July of 2022, as she was inspecting her milkweed plants in her garden, she spotted a monarch egg. She then proceeded to carefully cut the piece of the leaf off, took the egg into her home, and put it on a fresh milkweed leaf in a habitat made specifically for butterflies. During the process of its birth, Martin was consistent in taking care of the caterpillar by adding fresh milkweed. As time went on she added sticks to the enclosure. The caterpillar hung from a chrysalis and after two weeks it hatched into an adult butterfly. After a couple of days, as the butterfly regained its strength, Martin released it. Martin isn’t the only witness to the butterflies she raises, as she is a teacher who shows this process to her class of two-year-olds at Big Oak Child Care Center in Madison. She understands the importance of nature in the lives of developing children and believes that implementing the process of raising monarch butterflies is transformative. It allows her students to be amazed and respectful of the beauty of nature and gives them a sense of urgency to protect it. [Read More]

Parasite Manipulation Alters Gray Wolf Behavior

by Amare Smith, age 19

There is a parasite called “Toxoplasma gondii” that changes the behaviors of gray wolves. The infected wolves make bolder decisions compared to the uninfected ones. Infected wolves are more prone to taking risks, and therefore there is a higher chance that they will leave their pack, create their own, or kill other wolves.

Research revealed that these parasites can negatively alter the wolves’ fate. For example, wolves leaving their pack or becoming leaders can cause them to starve or fight other wolves more frequently.

After analyzing 26 years' worth of data from 299 wolves in Yellowstone National Park, researchers have found that the cougar is also at high risk of contracting Toxoplasma gondii. It is believed that a feedback loop has been created in which infected wolves lead members of their pack into areas where cougars reside and therefore get more wolves infected. However, more research is needed to confirm this phenomenon. It was also determined that this parasite can control other smaller animals like mice. [Read More]

¿Qué es tan salvaje sobre el gato montés europeo?

por Santiago Rosero Perea, 12 años de edad; traducido por Samuel Garduño Martínez, 16 años de edad

El gato montés europeo es un pequeño felino que se parece mucho a un gato regular de casa, similar al bien conocido gato atigrado domesticado.

Las características de estos gatos son esenciales para su supervivencia. Por ejemplo, sus bigotes y ojos les ayudan con su movimiento y su visión nocturna. Sus ojos están estructurados para capturar la mayor cantidad de luz posible en la oscuridad. Esto significa que pueden ver seis veces mejor que los seres humanos. Estos gatos son conocidos por tener huesos fuertes y sus caninos superiores pueden ser de dos centímetros en longitud. Sus garras son muy útiles cuando se trata de cazar, autodefensa  y en muchas otras actividades. De hecho, tienen una garra de “rocío” que permanece escondida en sus patas delanteras.

Esta criatura cautelosa mide 52 a 75 centímetros entre los machos, y 46 a 58 centímetros entre las hembras. Su dieta consiste en conejos, insectos, pequeños reptiles, anfibios, pequeños mamíferos y pájaros. El gato montés europeo puede pesar entre 3 y 8 kilogramos, y puede vivir hasta quince años. [Read More]

The Okapi Is a Unique Relative of the Giraffe

by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

Okapis are mammals that originate and live in the Ituri Rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Scientists say this animal looks like a cross between a deer and a zebra. However, its nickname is the “forest giraffe" and it is a relative of the giraffe. The Latin name of an okapi is Okapia Johnstoni.

The okapi is a herbivore and uses its tongue in the same way as the giraffe to get leaves from branches. The diet of an Okapi consists of fruits, buds, leaves, twigs, and other vegetation. Its four stomachs help it digest all of these foods. The tallest an Okapi can grow is around five feet. Due to its brown and white stripes, an Okapi can camouflage to look like streaks of sun shining through the trees in the rainforest.

Okapis can live up to 30 years in captivity and usually weighs 440 to 660 pounds. The International Union for Conservation reports that the Okapi is on the endangered list and scientists are in a race to save them. [Read More]

Wisconsin DNR Drafts New Plan for Wolf Hunt

by Zayn Khalid, age 12

Hunters and animal rights advocates are frustrated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) because they did not set a standard for wolf hunting. Animal rights advocates want wolf hunting to be illegal, but hunters want to hunt. What will the DNR do?

In the past, it was legal to hunt wolves in Wisconsin. In 2012, former Governor Scott Walker established an annual fall wolf hunt in the state. This hunt has become the biggest argument between animal rights advocates and hunters. Animal rights advocates say that “wolves are too majestic to slaughter,” but hunters say wolves kill farmers' livestock. The DNR paid out more than $3 million from 1985 to 2021 to provide for the loss of farmers’ livestock.

A group called Hunter Nation won a court case forcing the DNR to hold the month of February 2021 for hunting. The outcomes were chaotic as hunters killed 218 wolves in four days, going way past their 119-animal quota. Animal advocates worried that the February hunt decimated the population of wolves, which convinced a Dane County judge to hold off on the annual fall hunt. [Read More]

Exploring the Hidden Lives of Carnivores and the Urgent Need for Conservation

by Daniel Garduno, age 12

When people think of carnivores, they usually think of wolves, bears, and leopards. However, there are lesser-known predators such as weasels, badgers, and skunks.

The definition of a carnivore is an animal that only consumes meat. Carnivores' diets heavily rely on the meat found in their habitat. Without the necessary nutrients, they would eventually starve or die from fatigue. Common foods for these predators include birds, reindeer, fish, frogs, mice, voles, rats, and rabbits.

Wolves, a commonly known carnivore, can be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, usually in habitats like dense tundras or snowy areas. Wolves travel in packs, which helps them fend off unwanted enemies. When they find a place to live, they claim and mark their territory using scent markings, whining, or howling. This alerts prey and enemies that they are entering wolf territory. Wolf territories can span from 40 to more than 400 square miles. [Read More]

The Mammal that Helped Take Over the Globe

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 12

Researchers have discovered a prehistoric mammal with a two to five years life cycle that they call the Manbearpig. The mammal’s short lifespan is likely due to their months-long pregnancy, a trait scientists believe helped mammals dominate the world after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The name Manbearpig came from the features it contained: a face like a bear; a body similar to a pig; and five fingered hands. These mammals are also known by their scientific name, Pantolamba bathmodon, and were plant eaters. The Manbearpig lived about 62 million years ago. The Manbearpig was one of the largest mammals of its time and seemed to appear after the dinosaur extinction, which allowed mammals to grow to larger sizes than ever before. It was a member of the placental group of mammals, animals who do their prenatal development in the womb of their mother.

Researchers were able to discover how fast they would grow throughout their life from the enamel of their teeth, which looked different during different life stages. These mammals' lives were short and they died at a younger age than typical animals, between two and five years of life. The Manbearpig had a really short life cycle because it stayed in the womb for about seven months, a pregnancy much longer than is observed in modern marsupials, but similar to extreme modern placentals like giraffes and wildebeests. The most extreme modern placentals are usually walking within hours of birth, and usually only give birth to one baby per litter. This species nursed for one or two months after they were born. In a year, they would reach adulthood. The longest a Manbearpig was found to have lived was 11 years. [Read More]

2.5-Yard Elephant Tusk Fossil Discovered in Israel

by Desteny Alvarez, age 17

Researchers in Israel recently found a 2.5-yard-long fossil that belonged to a long-extinct straight-tusked elephant. It is believed to be the largest fossil ever found at a prehistoric site in the country.

This amazing fossil was discovered near a piece of land called a kibbutz on the central plain running parallel to the Israel’s Mediterranean coast. The discovery was made by researchers from Israel Antiquites Authority (IAA) in a joint excavation from Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University. Avi Levy, lead researcher of the find, called this fossil, “The largest complete fossil tusk ever found at a prehistoric site in Israel or the Near East.” This site is at least 500,000 years old based on the stone tools recovered from the area, the antiquites authorities said.

“Very puzzling, very enigmatic,” said Omry Barzilai, an IAA archaeologist also in the discovery, because it was not known whether ancient people hunted the behemoth on the spot or they brought the animal’s tusk to this spot. [Read More]

Nature's Lumberjacks: How Beavers Shape Ecosystems and Cultivate Harmony

by Dayanis Cruz, age 13

Beavers are one of the greatest engineers in the world. They make improvements to their habitat by creating waterways, dams, and lodges. They can cause conflict with farmers by eating their crops, or by building a lodge near a pond or a river.

A lodge is a dome that is made out of sticks and mud. There are underwater entries that lead to greenery above the water levels. To make a peaceful pond, beavers create dam walls that stop the current of water systems. Many peer groups of beavers share dams for several generations, but sometimes the ponds will fill up with dirt, forcing beavers to find a new location.

Beavers feed and build new lodges in their environment at night. Through winter, they hardly ever emerge from their lodge since it keeps them warm, making it perfect for the winter season. [Read More]

You Can Find the Beautiful Ruby-Throated Hummingbird in Your Own Backyard

by Sofia Zapata, age 12

Have you seen any Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flying in your neighborhood recently? They are commonly seen in Wisconsin, but usually only during the warmer months. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America. In the bright sun, these beautiful, tiny, precision-flying birds sparkle like gems, then dart away to their next food source.

A Ruby-throated Hummingbird has fascinating attributes that make its tiny physical futures unique. Their wings flap up to 55 times a second at a relaxed pace. However, when a hummingbird increases their speed while moving forward, they flap 75 times a second. The wings of this hummingbird aren’t the only things that go at a fast pace. The tiny hearts of these birds beat 225 times per minute and can increase to 1,250 beats per minute. Compared to hummingbirds, the human heart averages from 60-100 bpm. This is to put the physical abilities of the ruby-throated hummingbirds into perspective.

Hummingbirds are the only birds that are able to fly backward. This species is one of the biggest aerial migrators. During their migration season, they travel across the Gulf of Mexico, and it takes them around 18 hours to fully cross. Once they arrive at a safe place, they create a nest that is the same size as a small walnut. A fun fact about the male hummingbird is that it weighs the same as a penny. Male hummingbirds begin to mate during spring by flying and chasing their mate. Afterward, when the nest is made in a tree, the females will begin to lay around two eggs. [Read More]

Nature’s “Vacuum Cleaner:” The Matamata

by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

The matamata lives in South America and is part of the turtle family. The matamata lives in the northern part of South America, in Brazil, Venezuela, but can sometimes be found in northern Bolivia, Ecuador, eastern Peru, Colombia, the Guianas, and Trinidad. They are about 18 inches in length and weigh around five to six pounds. Other than eating fish, they eat small birds and small mammals. This particular species lives up to 30 years.

Scientists compare this species to a vacuum cleaner, because it swallows its food rather than chews it. Camouflage is a common hunting tactic for the matamata. When in hunting position, it looks like an unassuming mossy rock in the water. They have fleshy appendages close to their mouths that look like weeds hanging and can act as a lure for fish. The nose on the matamata acts as a snorkel, allowing them to breathe air while they wait for food to approach so they can swallow it whole.

The word matamata is a phrase in a Native language that means “I kill” and its scientific name is Chelus fimbriatus which means fringed turtle. A matamata’s neck is almost the size of its back. In comparison, if the same were true for humans, our necks would be about three feet long. The matamata is one of the turtle species that breathes air, unlike other turtle species who get oxygen from water. [Read More]

Native Asian Moth Spotted in Washington State

by Justin Medina Ruiz, age 13

On July 7, 2022, a giant moth with a ten-inch wingspread was discovered in a garage of a home in the state of Washington. Thankfully, the moth species does not pose a public health threat. The Atlas moth originates from the tropical forests of Asia and has not been seen before in the U.S.

It is not clear how this moth found a way to get to Washington. However, scientists found on eBay, an e-commerce company, an account selling Atlas moth cocoons for $60 each. This account was later taken down because the Atlas moth is a quarantine pest, meaning it is illegal to obtain, sell, or harbor, no matter if they are adults, eggs, larvae, or pupae.

In spite of that, the individual sighting does not mean that there is a population of the Atlas in the U.S. The state’s agriculture department asks the public to take photographs and collect Atlas moths if they find one. This would help determine whether there is a population or not. If there were an infestation, it would be harmful to the region’s fruit-growing industry because like other moths and caterpillars, they enjoy feasting on the leaves of cherry and apple trees. [Read More]

Will the Tasmanian Tiger Roam the Earth Once More?

by Sandy Flores-Ruíz, age 16

For the past years —scientists have thought about reviving extinct species. Scientists in Australia and the U.S. have recently started a multi-million dollar project to bring back the Tasmanian tiger from extinction.

The stripes on the back of the Thylacine gave its nickname of “Tasmanian Tiger,” despite the animal being a marsupial, a type of Australian mammal that raises its young in a pouch, like a kangaroo, instead of a tiger.

The Tasmanian tiger went extinct in 1936 when the last known tiger, Thylacine, died in the Hobart Zoo. Years before humans arrived in Australia, these tigers roamed free. However, once humans started to populate Australia, the population of these tigers decreased. The last known tigers to roam free on the island of Tasmania were then hunted to extinction. [Read More]

The Critically Endangered Giant Ibis Faces the Risk of Extinction

by Leilani McNeal, age 17

Hunting, habitat disturbance, and deforestation are all activities that may change the natural adaptations of various bird species. This means the chance of extinction continues to grow, and in the process, birds would begin to look and act differently.

In an effort to bridge an understanding between the biodiversity crisis and the wide range of bird species, the Current Biology journal published an extensive study that examines variously distinctive avian species and their survivorship rates. As a whole, the global extinction crisis surpasses not only the loss of species but will also result in fewer specialized features that have driven birds’ life strategies and way of living, according to Dr. Emma Hughes, lead author of the study and UK ecologist at the University of Sheffield.

Hughes and her team cross-examined the physical traits of birds and the evolutionary variances between species, known as phylogenetic diversity, across nearly 8,500 bird species. This segued into a process of eliminating birds from most to least threatened. [Read More]

Researchers Discover Significant Drop in Animal Population

by Jonah Smith, age 14

Exploring the sea is something that most of us don’t think about, but it’s important to understand the dangers of it as well as see how it can be successfully accomplished.

A common danger is running out of oxygen. This may happen because the diver has gone too far down underwater and does not have enough time to return to the surface. Another massive danger is underwater pressure, which can crush and kill the diver. This may happen because the pressure is so high that it crushes the bathysphere, an old kind of submarine that was used throughout the 1930s.

William Bebee was a man on a mission to break many records, especially those in the science field. William was born in Brooklyn, New York in the late 1870s, and in the 1930s he began breaking records in New York Zoos. In 1934, he set the record for the deepest bathysphere descent at a depth of 3,028 feet. At the time many believed it was a bad idea. [Read More]

Scientists Say Invasive Species of Crayfish Might Leave Wisconsin on its Own

by Lah’Nylah Bivens, age 15

The rusty crayfish appeared in Wisconsin 50 years ago. Since this crayfish is not native to Wisconsin it is considered an invasive species. The rusty crayfish pushed native crayfish out of their dens and ate the native aquatic plants, causing harm to the lakes. This harmed the local spawning grounds, leaving fish unprotected.

Rusty crayfish may have found their way to Wisconsin by traveling in buckets to be used as bait. These crayfish are native to Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and the streams of the Ohio River Basin states. They also can be found in New Mexico, Northeastern states, areas in Ontario, Canada, and states surrounding Wisconsin.

Crayfish reproduce at alarming rates due to the female rusty crayfish laying around 80 to 575 eggs at a time. It takes about three to six weeks, depending on the temperature of the water, for the eggs to hatch. Scientists have studied these crayfish over the years and have found that the population can die off naturally. Due to destroying their own habitats and fungal diseases, recent studies have shown that the rusty crayfish population has dropped to zero. [Read More]

The Fascinating World of Zebras and Their Unique Survival Strategies

by Bruno Torres, age 7

Zebras are fascinating creatures that look similar to horses, however, they are special as each zebra has its unique stripe pattern!

To remain safe, zebras live in family groups called herds. Baby zebras are called foals when they are born. These creatures are impressive, when a foal is 20 minutes old, it can start walking! An hour after birth, it learns the ability to run. Zebra foals need to run since many predators are trying to eat them.

Zebras are found in several areas of Africa. They grow to be the size of a small horse and are good at avoiding predators by confusing them with their stripes. [Read More]

Scientists Attempt to Bring Back the Extinct Dodo Species Amidst Controversy

by Zayn Khalid, age 13

Maybe you have heard of scientists trying to bring back certain animals from extinction. The dodo bird is the newest focus of this effort by scientists.

Colossal Bioscience is a genetic engineering and reproductive technology company. Colossal Bioscience first started the project to revive extinct species two years ago. They first focused on the wooly mammoth, but the company now also focuses on bird-related genetic technologies too. The last dodo bird was killed in 1681 on the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius.

Colossal Bioscience’s project to bring back extinct animals caught the attention of many investors, but some scientists have doubts about it. The project won’t directly make money, but the genetic tools and equipment the company will build and use will ultimately benefit other projects, making the investments beneficial. [Read More]

Giant Turtles Once Roamed Through South America

by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

The extinct turtle called the Carbonemys roamed around what is now known as Colombia 60 million years ago. It was a massive side-neck turtle. Its scientific name is Carbonemys cofrinii or coal turtle, which is fitting since its fossil was discovered in a coal mine. In 2005, the fossil was discovered in Colombia by paleontologist Edwin Cadena. This turtle was the largest turtle species in the area at the time. Their average length was five foot seven inches.

This species appeared 5 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs. The habitat of the Carbonemys was in the deltas of the Ornico or the Amazon rainforest. This species had enormous and powerful jaws that could take down small crocodiles, mollusks and small turtles. The Carbonemys was an omnivourous species. Nothing bothered the Carbonemys since they could easily kill their prey. Sixty million years ago, the Carbonemys lived alongside the giant 40-foot-long titanoboa snake. During what was called the late paleocene, there were many unique animals living in northern Colombia.

Carbonemys were a unique turtle species because of how its skeleton was found in a coal mine. Scientists and paleontologists are continuing returning and attempting to find out more about the Carbonemys. [Read More]

Moths Are the Pollinators of the Night

by Melanie Bautista, age16

An accidental discovery by researchers at the University of Denmark found that moths pollinate a third of red clover flowers.

The head of the project, Jamie Alison researches insects that pollinate plants. Alison and his team of researchers were trying to study more about bees and how the red clover got pollinated. Instead, they found that moths play a huge part in the pollination process.

The research group set up 15 time-lapse cameras in the Swiss Alps, where red clovers are found. This made it easier for researchers to keep track of pollinators' visits. From June to August 2021 the cameras captured 36 red clover flowers. Nine of the cameras took images in the afternoon and again at night. The other six 6 cameras snapped photos every 5 minutes. [Read More]

Discovering the World of Rays: From Manta Rays to Electric Rays

by Jeronimo Rosero, age 9

Rays are interesting creatures that have been around for 150 million years. They are calm animals but when you disturb them, they can attack using their venomous spines or barbs on their tails. There are various types of rays including stingrays, manta rays, butterfly rays, and electric rays.

Manta Rays are very large animals and can reach widths of up to seven meters. These creatures migrate across the oceans in groups as large as 10,000 individuals.

Stingrays are another unique type of ray. The stingray has jelly-filled canals on its face that give it an electromagnetic sense, called the ampullae of Lorenzini. This sense helps it search for food and detect other animals' electrical signals. Their diet consists of fish, snails, and other small crustaceans. There are many species of rays, about 539, and many of them are considered threatened. [Read More]

Water Can't Stop this Mighty Galapagos Lizard!

by Bruno Torres, age 8

Marine iguanas are interesting creatures. They have many resources to help them survive in the wild. They can grow up to four feet in length and weigh up to 28 pounds. They eat seaweed and small marine animals. These iguanas can have two to three eggs, which they bury on the beach to hatch. What is even cooler is that marine iguanas can live up to 20 - 40 years.

These clever iguanas have tough and scaly skin, which helps protect them against rocks. The claws of the iguana are extra long and strong to help them maintain balance on slippery rocks while they eat.

Marine iguanas have spiky spines extending along their backs and tails. They also have very sharp three-cusped teeth that help them chew their way through springy seaweed. [Read More]

The Asiatic Lion Is One of Earth’s Rarest Big Cat Species

by Mahalia Pearson, age 13

When people envision lions, they typically think they are from Africa, but lions can be found in different geographical areas around the world such as India, one example being the Asiatic lion. The Asiatic lion is one of the rarest types of cat species. Not only is it called an Asiatic lion, but it is also referred to as the Persian lion.

The coat of this carnivore consists of many colors such as black, dark brown, sandy, and gray. The Asiatic lion is smaller than the well-known African lion and has a short, sparse, and dark mane that makes its ears more visible compared to the African lion. Another distinction is that the Asiatic lion has a longitudinal fold of skin that goes along its belly.

The Asiatic lion lived in habitats ranging from Turkey and across Asia to Eastern India. Unfortunately, this creature has been hunted down to the point of near extinction. Currently, these lions are prone to diseases, disaster, and potential poaching. They also have to deal with the consequences of a growing population of humans and cattle. With larger human populations that demand more land for agriculture and settlement, the habitats of these lions are slowly disappearing. [Read More]

The Warm-Blooded Giant that Ruled Ancient Seas

by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 16

Did you know there was once a shark three times larger than a great white Shark? This shark was an Otodus megalodon, a massive ancestor of sharks that grew to be 66 feet long. Its blood was warmer in comparison to that of great white sharks. Its body temperature was about 13 degrees Celsius, which was warmer than seawater. Their warm-bloodedness may have contributed to their success and eventual fall as creatures in the past.

Megalodons were one of the world's most giant carnivores. They ate meat to gain energy and often obtained food from consuming large marine mammals. Their warm-bloodedness may have helped them become swift and aggressive apex predators. Specifically, the O. megalodon's body temperature would have allowed it to swim further and faster, which increases the chances of it finding its prey. However, this trait likely also led to the shark's enormous appetite and diet, potentially creating a risk for the species as environments change. Large creatures with warm blood require lots of food to fuel their metabolism. In an environment with scarce resources and food, this could become a problem, especially for apex predators.

The O. megalodon evolved around 23 million years ago; they went extinct between 3.5 million and 2.6 million years ago. This was around the same time when great white sharks emerged, around 3.5 million years ago. Competition between these two species likely drove megalodons towards extinction, especially when food became scarce. Additionally, scientists suspect that climate change during the Pliocene Epoch, lasting from 5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago, also led to drastic megalodon decline as marine mammals faded. Great white sharks, being smaller in size, likely needed less food to survive, thus allowing them to live past megalodons. [Read More]

Thorny Devils, Masters of Camouflage

by Ian Kosharek, age 11

Thorny devils are spiny, fierce-looking creatures native to the Australian desert, particularly favoring dry and hot climates in coastal areas of Australia. These creatures weigh up to three ounces and are approximately two centimeters in size, roughly the size of a hand. When they hatch, both male and female thorny devils are similar, but after a year, females become visibly longer, sometimes reaching twice the size of the largest males. Their lifespan ranges from 10 to 20 years.

When the thorny devil walks, its tail doesn't touch the ground. They possess distinctive horn-like features, giving rise to their name, "thorny devil." They also have a false head used to deceive potential predators. When threatened, the thorny devil tucks its head, and this fake head often confuses predators because they can't eat the sharp and fragile spikes. As for their diet, thorny devils primarily feed on tiny insects, with a preference for ants. In terms of reproduction, females dig 10-inch tunnels to lay their eggs.

Their distinctive appearance and behavior make them stand out in the animal kingdom. Thorny devils have specialized coloration that helps them camouflage with their surroundings. Depending on factors like temperature and mood, they can change their color to some extent, which assists in temperature regulation. [Read More]

Wisconsin Wonders, The Great Egret's Migration Journey

by Lina Al’Quraishi, age 9

One of the first things people notice about the Great Egret is its long neck, but there is more to know about it besides its heron-like features. The bird's body is mainly white with black legs. They have bright yellow bills with some green coloration extending from the bill to the eyes. They can also have bright yellow eyes with big black pupils.

Great Egrets eat a variety of foods. When they hunt, they will eat anything they can fit into their mouths to survive. This typically includes small mammals, frogs, small fish, and more.

The Great Egret is the largest egret species. They live on Mexico's coasts and in South and Central America all year round. In the spring, they make their way to northern regions – Wisconsin, Iowa, and other parts of the midwest – where they breed in shallow water, ponds, artificial lakes, and canals. [Read More]

Red Flour Beetles Have Unconventional Water-Drinking Abilities

by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 15

Did you know that some beetles can drink water from their butts?

Water vapor from the air condenses on feces inside the red flour beetle's lower gut. This water is then drawn into the beetle’s body by a special cell lining the gut. This mechanism was studied by Kenneth Halberg, who leads his research at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Halberg studies how hormones work in different kinds of beetles, and he believes this research could aid in pesticide design.

Red flour beetles have a gene known as Nha1. The gene is more active in cells that are part of the rectal complex of the digestive system. Halberg’s team found that the gene Nha1 in beetles can lead to the accumulation of charged potassium particles. This buildup triggers a process called osmosis where water moves towards an area with a high concentration of ions. This process is especially critical for the beetle as it allows for water to be pulled through the walls of the insect’s rectal complex into the rest of their body for circulation. Researchers figured out that red flour beetles open their anuses in high humidity when there is more water vapor in the air. This draws more water into the rectal complex and eventually into body circulation. [Read More]

Do Dolphins Use 'Baby Talk'? Examining Whistle Communication in Bottlenose Dolphins

by Dulce Vazquez, age 15

Typically, when adults speak to babies they use a high-pitched baby voice. Did you know dolphins do the same?

Bottlenose dolphin moms modify their whistles when their newborns are nearby. Similarly, baby bottlenose dolphins also start creating a unique tune or whistle in their first few weeks and can continue doing so for up to a couple of months. “Dolphins shout their names in water as a way to keep track of each other,” marine biologist Laela Sayigh from Massachusetts said.

Sayigh and her students published a large study in 2009 that examined 40 unique whistles from 19 female dolphins. The researchers discovered that mom dolphins appear to adjust their tune when their calves are present. Calves stay with their moms from three to six years, creating mother-baby bonds. [Read More]

Wolf Pack Dynamics: Leaders, Territories, and Survival

by Marco Gonzales, age 9

A male and a female alpha are the head of a wolf pack. They decide what to do for their packs’ survival. A pack is a group of wolves with six to 15 members who vary in age. The pack is blood related and they have offspring.

Wolves do not fight within their pack but they are very territorial. They mark their territory and if a member from another pack trespasses into their area, they will attack and kill them.

Alphas have a dominant and forceful personality. Other wolves in the pack are more submissive. Once the pack's leader is old, young adult wolves will move up the ranks and replace previous positions in the pack. [Read More]

The Pink Amazon River Dolphin Faces Growing Environmental Threats

by Dani Garduño, age 12

When people think of animals in the Amazon, most usually think of pythons, toucans, or parrots. Yet, fewer people know about the Amazon River dolphin. The Amazon River dolphin is a strange-looking dolphin that has an effective way of navigating the Amazon River. This dolphin is found in South America up to the basins of the Orinoco River as well as in the northern part of the Madeira River.

The Amazon River dolphin has a unique body that can grow up to two or three meters long. They usually weigh up to 140-160 kilograms. What makes these dolphins unique is their color-changing skin that varies with their age. At a young age, their skin color is usually gray. However, when they start to mature, they begin to turn pink. These dolphins' eyes are small, yet their eyesight is very bold. Their beak is very long and is designed to hunt prey. Other dolphins have uniform dorsal fins and fin sizes, but the Amazon River dolphins do not have one. Instead, they have a hump that grows larger as they age.

Unfortunately, the average lifespan of the Amazon River dolphin in the wild is only expected to reach up to 33 months. Surprisingly, records have indicated a much higher life expectancy of those living in captivity, and in some cases, these dolphins have lived between 10 to 33 years. [Read More]

Meet the Rare Asiatic Cheetah

by Allison Wallace, age 11

There are currently only 30 Asiatic cheetahs left, a majestic cat species. These cheetahs are found in Iran, but their habitat used to span from the Middle East of Asia to Russia. Unfortunately, their population has significantly declined.

Compared to their African counterparts, Asiatic cheetahs are smaller, and have thicker coats, more powerful necks, and longer legs. These longer legs have led to theories that they might be faster, although no studies have confirmed this. They also have lighter fur, nearly white on their sides, a deviation from African cheetahs, and small black spots on their face that are irregularly scattered on their bodies.

The Asiatic cheetah primarily preys on herbivores such as rabbits, hares, wild sheep, goats, and gazelle. [Read More]

Battles and Behaviors of Prehistoric Beasts

by Iliyan Hoskins, age 10

Dinosaurs in prehistoric times had unique methods to catch their prey and protect themselves from predators. Fossil evidence has unveiled fascinating glimpses of battles among different dinosaur species, shedding light on their behaviors.

One notable fossil pair illustrates a gripping encounter where a dinosaur thrust its tail into the flesh of another. In 1971, Velociraptor and Protoceratops fossils were initially assumed to be victims of a sandstorm. However, paleontologists later discovered that they were engaged in a fierce battle. The Velociraptor was caught in the act of slashing the throat of the Protoceratops, while the Protoceratops was simultaneously biting the right arm of the Velociraptor. This finding represents just one of many such combats unearthed in the fossil record.

Among these prehistoric creatures were the Coelophysis, small carnivorous dinosaurs that primarily scavenged on deceased remains. Despite their size, measuring 10 feet in length and three feet in width, they possessed remarkable speed and agility. [Read More]

Fascinating Facts About Honeybees, From Queen Bee to Pollinators

by Malak Al Quraishi, age 12

Did you know that queen bees can lay over 2,500 eggs every day? Honeybees were introduced to the Americas by European settlers in the 19th century. Today, they are commonly found collecting nectar from flowers and pollinating plant life. They collect nectar during the daytime, but during the night, they keep the hive warm, clean up debris, and sleep.

Honeybees also have a self-defense mechanism. When they perceive that the hive is threatened, honeybees will actively seek out and sting an intruder if necessary. When honeybees sting, they leave behind their venomous sac. Melittin is the main toxic compound found in bee venom, constituting 50 - 60% and causing the majority of the pain.

One reason why honeybees may sting is to protect their hive, which stores the eggs laid by the queen. The queen then fertilizes the eggs as they’re being laid. The queen will occasionally not fertilize an egg. The queen does this to get drones, which are male worker bees that don’t have stingers. The eggs later then become worker bees or drones that run and sustain the colony. [Read More]

The Mighty Anaconda: South America's Giant Predator

by Joseph Zheng, age 9

Have you ever seen a snake that can eat an alligator? From little prey to big creatures, the anaconda can eat them all.

The anaconda lurks downstream in a muddy place, perfect for seeking prey, and blends in with its brown body waiting to strike. The anaconda is not like most snakes. It does not inject poison, instead it squeezes its prey to death with its strong muscles and long, big body. It has a huge circumference of almost three feet.

Anacondas have their nostrils positioned upward so they can breathe when they are drifting underwater. Their eyes help them see prey at night. The anaconda has two rows of backward teeth and one row at the bottom. They use their wide opening jaws to swallow prey that many be bigger than itself. The anaconda can sense movement in land and water. This lurking beast is active at night and is a great swimmer that hunts in the shadows. [Read More]

Rare Roseate Spoonbill Sighted in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Astonishing Birding Community

by Mariama Bah, age 16

A mysterious bird, described as a pink football on short stilts, was recently spotted alive in Green Bay for the first time. Its unexpected appearance generated excitement within the Wisconsin birding community, marking the return of a bird that had long been absent from the region.

On the morning of July 26th, Logan Lasee, a Bay Area Bird Club member, was monitoring endangered piping plovers in the Cat Island restoration area when he noticed something pink that immediately caught his attention.

The roseate spoonbill, typically a shoreline bird, is usually found in Texas, Florida, and South America. However, its historical range in the United States suffered a severe decline in the 1860s due to the overhunting of wading bird colonies, driven by the demand for their pink plumage for women's hats. Roseate spoonbills primarily inhabit coastal marshes and lagoons and sustain themselves on crustaceans like prawns and shrimp, contributing to their distinctive pink coloration. They can reach heights of up to 32 inches and boast an impressive wingspan spanning 50 inches. [Read More]

The Endangered Wild Dogs of East Africa

by Chelsea Zheng, age 11

East African wild dogs are one of the most muscular African canids. They are recognized by their dark coat, yellow patches, and large ears.

They are found in the African countries of Tanzania and Mozambique. The wild dog's shoulder height reaches about 24 to 30 inches. Its head and body length reaches 71 to 28 to 44 inches. Female African wild dogs weigh 45 to 55 pounds, which is 3-7% smaller than males, which can weigh up to 80 pounds. African wild dogs are lean, tall, and one of the largest canid species, falling behind the grey wolf. However, they are among one of the most endangered mammals in the world.

African wild dogs mostly live in Savannah and dry lands. They also stay away from forested areas as they need large open spaces to see and chase down their prey. They hunt during daylight in packs that consist of 27 adults and yearling pups. The wild dogs are also known to hunt medium sized antelopes. African wild dogs stalk their prey, then approach it silently to then chase it up to 41 miles per hour. [Read More]

The Vampire Spiders Are the Secret Blood-Lovers of the Insect World

by Riya Adhikari, age 12

Everyone talks about blood-loving mosquitos, but does anyone talk about the blood-loving spiders? Evarcha culicivora, also called vampire spiders, are a type of spider that feeds on blood. They are called mosquito terminators.

Evarcha likes both animal and human blood. Vampire spiders cannot bite through skin or animal hide because their mouthparts are not built for this ability.

Vampire spiders depend on mosquitoes to get the blood they desire. Their favorite types of mosquitoes are Anopheles, which are the main malaria spreaders in Africa. This mosquito species sits with its bottom sticking up in the air, while the majority of mosquitos sit with their bottoms on the floor. Their posture is an advantage for baby spiders. They can crawl under the mosquito’s abdomen, jump up, then grab onto the mosquito. While it flies away, the little spiders hang on to the mosquito and inject it with their venom. They then have a big feast. Vampire spiders live by Lake Victoria in the nations of Kenya and Uganda in the eastern part of Africa. [Read More]

Camels: Remarkable Desert Dwellers of Mongolia and China

by Juan Esteban Palma, age 11

Camels are desert-dwelling animals found in arid regions like Mongolia and China. Their dietary choices depend on their location, primarily consisting of plants. There are two camel species: the Bactrian camel, with two humps, and the more prevalent dromedary camel, also known as the Arabian camel, which has one hump. These humps provide energy for desert navigation and sustenance. Dromedary camels represent nearly 90% of the camel population.

Around three thousand years ago, camels were domesticated and employed for various purposes, such as transportation. They can endure extended periods without water, which aids their desert survival. They can carry up to 200 pounds and cover over 20 miles daily, while also serving as a source of food and milk for humans.

Bactrian camels can measure between 5.2 to 5.9 feet in height, 10 to 15 feet in length, and weigh from 990 to 1,100 pounds. Dromedary camels range in height from 5.9 to 6.6 feet, length from 7.2 to 11.2 feet, and weigh between 880 and 1,320 pounds. [Read More]

Tail Tricks and Venomous Encounters of the Mexican Beaded Lizard

by Daileni Torres Cruz, age 10

Have you ever heard of the Mexican Beaded Lizard? This unique creature has an interesting feature with its tail. Specifically, the tail falls off in summer and grows thicker before thinning down in winter. In winter, the lizard loses its tail fat and burns the fat into energy.

Along with its tail, the Mexian Beaded Lizard has other intriguing traits. The lizard's forked tongue gathers scent molecules from the air and then transfers them to an organ on the roof of its mouth. The Mexican beaded lizard can grow up to a length of three feet. They usually hunt young mammals, birds, lizard eggs, and other reptiles.

When they attack, poison is released into the lungs of their prey which can be enough to kill. Only a small portion of animals dare to mess with the lizard because of its dangerous cobra-like venom. When it bites people, it causes agonizing pain which is made worse by the lizard's strong jaw muscles. [Read More]

Diving into the World of Dolphins

by Abigail Gezae, age 11

Growing up, my favorite sea animal was the dolphin. These sea creatures are mammals of the sea and are great swimmers, compared to other fish.

Dolphins have interesting features from their head to their tails. Starting at the head, dolphins have corn-shaped teeth. Looking at their bodies, dolphins have flippers that help guide them through the water. These animals live about 20 years, and in some cases even longer. Dolphins spend 98% of their time underwater, but they still need to resurface to breathe air. Near the top of the dolphin’s head, they have a blowhole which is used for breathing.

Dolphins have a superpower, which is their hearing. They can listen extremely well, even though their ears are small and hard to see. They use their bones to sense frequencies. When dolphins are in a pod – a group of dolphins – they call one another by using their bones to accept frequencies. When dolphins hunt, up to 300 dolphins can form a pod. [Read More]

Deep in the Rainforests of Borneo Lives a Mysterious Elephant Species

by Daileni Torres Cruz, age 10

Borneo, the third largest island in the world, is located in Asia, and is home to the most misunderstood species: the Bornean elephant. Being the smallest Asian elephant, they are smaller than their mainland cousins.

The Bornean elephant is the largest mammal in Borneo. They have tails that can touch the ground depending on how long they grow. Compared to other elephants, they have straighter tusks and bigger ears. They are also known as Borneo pygmy elephants because of their size of 8.2 to 9.8 feet tall.

The elephants are frequently in contact with people and have lost their source of food as the forests are shrinking and causing habitat loss. A lot of Bornean elephants spend time reaching fragmented forest patches. The threat to these elephants is losing their forests. Borneo lost 60% of its elephant habitat due to cultivation. [Read More]

Beware the American Alligator, Nature's Formidable River Predator

by Joseph Zheng, age 9

When you are walking along a river, be alert because you might come face to face with an American alligator.

This beast has powerful teeth hiding in its mouth and hard scales that protect it. This wild creature has sturdy limbs to attack its prey, and their eyes help them see their prey while swimming. The snout of an American alligator is broader and rounder than a typical crocodile.

The gator’s prey are amphibians, mammals, and other domestic animals. With all that food, the American alligator can weigh up to 500 pounds. A female alligator is seven feet long and males are between 11 to 12 feet. They can survive up to 50 years in captivity. [Read More]

African Dwarf Crocodile Is the World’s Smallest

by Dakota Wilson, age 12

All crocodiles are big and scary, right? Not this one, the African dwarf crocodile is just five feet long, making it the smallest crocodile species.

Osteolaemus Tetraspis or the African dwarf crocodile has many names such as the Black crocodile, the broad-nosed crocodile, and the Dwarf crocodile. These crocodiles are covered by black bony plates that form coarse armor on their skin. They also have yellow underskins and blunt short muzzles. The hatchlings are identified by light brown stripes on their tail and body and yellowish markings on their head.

Dwarf crocodiles are carnivores and solitary hunters. They mainly hunt during the night, preying on small animals such as crabs, insects, snakes, and lizards. Black crocodiles are cold-blooded; they constantly have to maintain their body temperature. To stay cool in the heat, the crocodile will lay in the water and ambush any prey that stumbles on its path. In the cold, they usually tend to sunbathe. [Read More]

120-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Fossil Sheds Light on Bird Evolution

by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, 15

Scientists have just discovered a 120-million-year-old fossil that could help us learn more about landbound dinosaurs and their evolution into flying birds.

The Cratonavis Zhui bird was revealed to have a dinosaur-like head and a body similar to that of today's birds.

This bird originated from the northeast region of China. CT scans found its skull to be nearly identical to that of a theropod dinosaur, similar to the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Chinese Academy of Sciences reports that the Cratonavis skull had not evolved its mobile upper jaw like other birds. [Read More]

The Short-eared Owl Is a Year-long Resident of Wisconsin

by Edwin Torres, age 12

The Short-eared Owl is an owl species that is native to Wisconsin, Canada, and other northern parts of the U.S. Fortunately for those looking to spot them, the Short-eared Owl lives all year round in those areas. This owl can travel long distances. People have reported sightings that are hundreds of miles away from land.

A Pueo is a subspecies of a Short-eared Owl only native to Hawaii and resides on several Hawaiian islands. It is believed that the Pueo might have descended from Native Alaskan ancestors.

A Short-eared Owl has very short ears, which are difficult to see. Despite this, they have really good hearing. Their sharp hearing can be useful when hunting animals, especially smaller ones. A very visible physical attribute of the Short-eared Owl is its black-rimmed yellow eyes. This owl also has a pale face and rounded wings. [Read More]

The Metamorphosis of Amphibians from Water to Land

by Marie Pietz, age 11

Amphibians are born in freshwater and move out to dry land when they reach a certain age.

Many types of amphibians can be found in bodies of water.

While they are born into water, they have to go through stages of growth before moving onto land. When amphibians mate, most lay eggs, while others give birth. Those who lay eggs usually lay them in soft clumps with a jelly-like texture. [Read More]

The Sloth Bear is a Shy and Solitary Speices

by Jeronimo Rosero Perea, age 9

When you think about bears, you may think about the black bear. Many would

Not think about the solitary sloth bear!

The sloth bear lives in parts of India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. However, it is mainly found in the forests of India. It enjoys eating fruits, termites, insect larvae, honey, and carrion. Bears eat a lot of plants but they're classified as carnivores [Read More]

Non-Native Honeybee Pollination May Decrease the Quality of Seeds Over Time

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 13

Recently, researchers have observed that the quality of seeds from flowers pollinated by honeybees is decreasing. Pollinators hunt for flowers in search of nectar and pollen. They are important to the food system since they help produce seeds for the ecosystem.

The seeds’ poor outcome could be because honeybees tend to spend their time going from flower to flower within the same plant, transferring pollen back into itself and resulting in inbred seeds. The study was conducted by ecologists Joshua Kohn and Dillion Travis from the University of California.

The bees that were most prominent in the study were honeybees that are not native to the United States. Non-native species are outnumbering native species of pollinators. The study showed that non-native pollinators took pollen away from native plant species and spread it to other plants of the same species, resulting in negative outcomes for native plants. [Read More]

The Northern Harrier Is a Small Hunter that Lives in Wisconsin’s Grasslands

by Sofia Zapata, age 14

There are many animals in Wisconsin, but many people may not have heard about northern harriers.

The northern harrier is similar to a hawk and it is the only harrier in North America. Northern harriers have an owl-like facial disk that allows them to hunt by sound, as well as by sight. All northern harriers have a white rump patch. Adult male harriers are gray, while adult females and juveniles are brown.

This species is often found in fields and marshes during nesting season. However, they also live in many kinds of wet and dry open terrain, where there is good ground cover. [Read More]

North American Beavers are the Builders of the Wild

by Reety Subedi, age 7

The North American beaver is known for constructing dams. They use their teeth to chop down trees and gather materials for their dams.

Beavers are mammals that live in the United States and Canada. A group of beavers is called a colony. Beavers can usually have four to six babies called kits, across their lifetime. These kits can grow to be bigger than, and as heavy as, a suitcase. They usually eat grass, bark, plants, leaves, and twigs. They use their teeth and their hands to gather food for themselves and their colony.

Dams are the homes where beavers live. They use their teeth to cut down wood, collect sticks, and twigs to help build their dams. A beaver can hold its breath underwater for about 15 minutes. The beavers slap their flat tails on the water to warn other beavers that there is danger nearby. When other beavers see them and hear this signal, they run away in fear and hide. [Read More]

The Humpback Anglerfish is a Deep-Sea Oddity

by Dani Garduno, age 12

Many are unfamiliar with the critters that live deep in the oceans, there are many various species of marine life and other life forms. One of those life forms is the Humpback Anglerfish, which is a species that looks angry and terrifying. Living 3,000 feet below sea level, this “ugly fish” has features that are unique for its size and environment.

Male Humpback Anglerfish are about three centimeters long, and females are about eighteen centimeters long. Both are very light and do not swim in the water, instead, they wobble around. These “sea devils” have bodies that are normally dark, with the color of gray, black, and brown. Their heads are humongous and their mouths are filled with jagged and sharp teeth. This makes their nostrils and eyes seem big. The anglerfish usually has four fins, although on rare occasions it can have three or five. The environment of the fish is extremely dark, as they live so deep under the water, which also makes the temperatures unbearable. This fish is usually found in the South and East China Seas.

The Humpback Anglerfish has a unique reproduction system. The males are specifically designed to find females to mate with. The Anglerfish follow their scent in the dark. Once the female is found, the male uses its teeth to suck the female's blood. After the mating process, the female lays its eggs, and the male leaves, releasing its sperm to fertilize the eggs. [Read More]

Exploring the Depths of the Unique-looking Goblin Shark

by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

The goblin shark is a species of shark that lives 4,265 feet below the surface of the ocean. Its scientific name is Mitsukurina owstoni.

The goblin shark has multiple unique features. It can unhinge its jaws while eating its prey. Their diet consists of small bony fish, cephalopods, and an unknown species of crab. This species of shark has a special kind of rostrum (pointed snout). They have unique organs that help the rostrum function; due to the dark depths, they use it to find their food by detecting sounds such as heartbeats or water movements. They usually thrust their jaws and use pharyngeal suction whenever their prey is trying to escape.

These sharks live in three oceans: the Pacific, the Atlantic, and Indian oceans. Some goblin sharks have been spotted and caught on the beaches of various Japanese places such as Honshu, Sagami, and Suruga, as well as in Kaikoura, New Zealand, and southern Africa. [Read More]

Gentoo Penguins are the Speedy Wonders of the Antarctic

by Lizzie Reinemann, age 8

Gentoo penguins are the fastest swimming penguins in the world. Their scientific name is Pygoscelis Papaya, they are native to the Antarctic region and the Southern Ocean.

The Gentoo is the third largest penguin in the world. They can live up to 20 years and are the fastest penguin species reaching 22 mph. Their height is 20 to 35 inches and weigh between nine to 19 pounds. They have a white stripe that stretches from the eyes to the back of their head; they also have a bright orange bill and feet. Their diet includes krill, fish, and prawns, however, they have to watch out for bigger animals such as orcas, leopard seals, and sharks, as they hunt gentoos. They have a cute call that sounds like a donkey which is used for defending against egg thieves. They also use this call to impress female gentoos.

Male gentoos can get into loud arguments when they fight for the most beautiful stones and pebbles. These stones are given to females to gain sympathy and to help them build nests. The nests usually measure up to ten inches in diameter and eight inches in height. They are located on iceless grounds and incubate the eggs for over a month. After 30 days, the baby Gentoo begins to hatch. [Read More]

The Charm of Frogs

by Soren Dahl, age 11

If you hold a dislike for frogs, your perspective might change once you delve into the fascinating world of these diminutive amphibians.

Across the globe, there exist thousands of frog species, with some falling under the category of toads. Toads typically exhibit dry, bumpy skin and are not commonly found in aquatic environments. Among the frog species, certain ones can attain remarkable sizes, such as the Goliath frog or the Cane toad, which can grow to over a pound in weight.

Frogs boast a varied diet, encompassing an eccentric and unusual assortment of foods. Flies, ants, and other small insects form the staple diet of most frogs. Larger frogs, on the other hand, gravitate toward larger insects and small creatures. Among the examples are tarantulas and mice. [Read More]

The Green Tree Pythons is a Colorful Ambush Artists

by Aloniab Gezae, age 9

The green tree python is a uniquely colorful snake that hides in the forest to ambush its prey. Despite its name, the green tree python is quite colorful. It can be green with yellow speckles or even completely blue. Young green tree pythons can be yellow, orange, or brick red; they turn green at six to 12 months.

Green tree pythons can be found camouflaging in rainforests in countries like Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia. The unique colors of this python allow it to be a good hunter as it camouflages with its surroundings.

The green tree python is a carnivore, eating frogs, birds, lizards, and small mammals. Young tree pythons use their tails as lures. The green tree python has a forked tongue to taste the air for its prey and heat sensors in its eyes that allow it to find its prey at night. [Read More]

The Deadly Fierce Snake: Australia's Venomous Reptile

by Daileni Torres Cruz, age 10

The Fierce Snake is a dangerous reptile that possesses venom glands inside each of its cheeks. It can reach a length of up to eight feet. During the summer, the snake's color commonly transitions from shiny black to brown or greenish-yellow. The Fierce Snake is primarily found in Australia, typically near deserts and the western mountains known as the Great Dividing Range.

The Fierce Snake injects venom into its prey, a toxin so potent that it can kill its victim within seconds. This venom can disrupt nervous systems and induce blood clotting. The snake's lethality is apparent even in its youth, as it preys on rodents and small marsupials.

Since its discovery in the 19th century, the Fierce Snake has been observed only a few times, with a significant appearance in 1967. The snake's rediscovery followed an incident where a man was bitten on the finger. Unfortunately, doctors administered the wrong medicine because the man mistook the Fierce Snake for a brown snake. Although his heart stopped beating twice, he fortunately survived. [Read More]

The Edmontonia: An Armored Behemoth

by Dayanis Torres Cruz, age 13

A dinosaur called Edmontonia, when young, had a snout like a hippo and was part of the Ankylosaurus family. This family contains two groups, one of which is the Nodosaurids. The largest group within the Nodosaurids is Edmontonia, which had the appearance of a large rock or table with short, thick legs.

Edmontonia possessed armor covering its neck and back, which served as a shield against predators. Along with the armor protecting its nose, eyes, and brain, Edmontonia also had large spikes located around its neck. Edmontonia had an interesting way of eating because its teeth were positioned in its cheeks. It would snip its food into small bits before consuming it.

Nodosaurids can be traced back to the late Jurassic period. Their remains have been discovered in Canada, Montana, and Texas. Edmontonia was the last of the Nodosaurids. [Read More]

The Black and Yellow Garden Spider: Master Weaver and Predator

by Teddy Reinemann, age 8

The black and yellow garden spiders are found throughout much of North America. When these spiders give birth, their babies are called spiderlings. The black and yellow garden spider usually lays up to 1,400 eggs. These spiders are not very large in size. Specifically, they grow to two and a half inches long.

Female garden spiders like to build bigger webs compared to male spiders. These spiders produce silk from their bodies to build their circular webs. The webs are sticky and form zigzag shapes to help capture prey as the spider awaits. Small creatures can get stuck in the web and are eaten by the spider, including flies, mosquitoes, and other insects.

The black-and-yellow garden spider is an interesting arachnid, and there is more to learn about its fascinating abilities. [Read More]

They like it warm: Africa’s Unique Penguins

by Dilma Attidekou, age 8

Penguins are known to live in cold areas. However, one species of penguins are born in Africa. These African penguins can live to be 15 years old, but many don't reach that age as their lifespan is decreasing due to human interaction and predator attacks.

African penguins are endangered; there are about 52,000 left in the world. Oil spills, competition overfishing, humans stealing their eggs for profit, and destroying nests are just a few reasons for their population decline.

Most penguins are known to lay eggs in the open, but African penguins lay eggs differently due to the strong heat in Africa. These penguins dig large burrows and lay their eggs underground to protect them from the sun and predators. After hatching, the small chicks stay in the burrows for roughly three weeks before coming out. At six days old, they begin to stand upright. However, for the penguins and babies to get nutrition, they have to go out from the burrows and find food. [Read More]

The Enigmatic Beauty of the Flower Hat Jellyfish

by Dayanis Torres-cruz, age 13

The Flower Hat Jellyfish is a translucent jellyfish that lives in the Western Pacific Ocean. Although the Flower Hat Jellyfish has a similar appearance to other jellyfish, it is not technically considered one.

The Flower Hat Jellyfish, also referred to as the Olindias formosus, is six inches wide. Its head shape is compared to a bell and is smaller than others in its hydrozoan class. They are colorful creatures that come in patterns and different shades. Although the Flower Hat always remains translucent, its unique colors can be seen when it is in darker waters.

These jellyfish are known to live in the Western Pacific Ocean, but especially near the shores of Japan, and South America. Their diet consists of small fish, and their life span is short, usually only lasting 4-6 months. As of now, the jellyfish are not on the endangered species list but could be in the near future. [Read More]

The African Bongo: Big Horns? Low Branches? No Problem!

by Oliver Zink, age 12

The bongo is Africa's most colorful antelope. They can weigh up to 892 pounds and have spiral shaped horns which can grow up to 39 inches long. The bongos’ big ears help with hearing the slightest noise from predators.

Bongos have patterns in their coats which makes it easier to spot each other in shaded areas. This patterns is also broken up across the bongo’s coat, making it especially helpful for camouflage.

Bongos reach sexual maturity when they are 30 months old. They mate throughout the year, however, they can only have one calf at a time. Bongos live in rainforests and they lean their head back while running to prevent getting their horns stuck in the foliage. Their diet consists of plants, buds, leaves and roots. They roam all over the rainforest to find the best food. [Read More]

Exploring the World of Bats

by Kimberly Rodriguez, age 11

There are approximately 1,200 different types of bats on Earth! Bats are best known for their echolocation, which is the ability to sense objects using sound.

In the United States, there are 40 species of bats. They are usually found in the southwestern parts where it is warm, as they don't prefer cold environments. Bats sleep in caves in large groups called colonies. This provides them with extra protection and helps keep them warm.

Most bats eat scorpions, spiders, and other insects they can find on the ground. Baby bats drink milk from their mothers. There are also fruit-eating bats, while other species are meat-eaters that feed on small rodents and tree frogs. Additionally, there's the common fear of vampire bats, which enjoy feeding on the blood of larger animals such as cattle or, in rare cases, humans! [Read More]

Earth’s Smallest Fox Species Lives Deep in the Sahara Desert

by Dilma Attidekou, age 8

The fennec fox is an efficient animal that survives in the depths of the Sahara Desert. Although small, this creature can eat a lot and is known as the smallest canid species.

The fennec fox is a nocturnal animal that does much of its hunting during nighttime. Its diet consists of insects, birds, small rodents, and even smaller mammals. Despite its cute features to humans, it is scary to its prey. The fennec fox has sensitive hearing that allows it to hear prey crawling underground.

This small carnivore can grow up to 17 inches in length and about three pounds in weight, which is about the size of a house cat. It has large floppy ears that release heat from its body. Parts of its body like its coat, ears, and kidney, all work together to help it adapt to heat. [Read More]

The Interesting Qualities of the Egg-Eating Snake

by Daileni Torres-Cruz, age 10

Many people are not aware of the African egg-eating snake. It has many unique qualities. The African egg-eating snake is known for eating eggs in one bite, and then spitting out the shell. These snakes change their appearance to look like poisonous species, but they are harmless.

This African snake only feasts on fresh bird eggs. The process begins when the snake spots a fresh bird egg. Next, it uses its tongue to smell the egg and proceeds to swallow it whole. Pressing its back on the egg, the snake can push out all the nutrients of the egg. Once it's done, the snake ejects the shell slithers away to sleep, and repeats the process.

This snake’s spine is strong enough to crack an egg. Their spine has spiked bones to break their food. These bones are covered with enamel. Without this feature, the snake would die from starvation. [Read More]

The Lifecycle of a Wolf Pup

by Joseph Zheng, age 9

In spring, females wolves give birth to newborn pups in dens after nine weeks of pregnancy.

One adult wolf fits perfectly into a single den, which is dug ten feet long prior to pregnancy. During the first month after the pups are born, the mother takes full responsibility for the wolf pack.

The puppies remain in their dens for the first few weeks to stay warm and protected as they are initially deaf. Each pup weighs about one pound. Their mother will start to breastfeed them until they are old enough to eat meat. After their first month, the responsibility of survival shifts from solely the mother to the entire pack. This caretaking method helps form a bond between the newest members and the rest of the pack. [Read More]

Endangered Bird Species Makes a Comeback in Wisconsin

by Sofia Zapata, age 13

The Kirtland’s Warbler was one of the first birds that were on the endangered species list, created in 1973. This type of bird is a gray and yellow songbird, they are a beautiful and unique species.

The habitat of the Kirtland’s Warbler is in forests and grassy areas located in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Canada. During winter, these birds migrate to sunny places like the Bahamas. When they fly back to the U.S., they stop to rest in forests and marshes.

The primary conservation concerns are habitat loss or degradation and parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds. Partners in Flight, a conservation organization for birds, estimates the global breeding population at 4,800 individuals and rates the species a 16 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, which is a rating given to endangered species. The group lists Kirtland's Warbler on the Yellow Watch List for species with restricted ranges. [Read More]

Learn About the Graceful Harp Seals and the Threats to Their Well-being

by Dilma Attidekou, age 8

The harp seal received its name from the black patch on its back, which resembles the harp instrument.

The harp seals live in the North Atlantic, varying in physical appearance, but also sharing similar features overall. Generally, they range from five to six feet long and weigh between 260 and 300 pounds. They have a slim snout and a tiny, flat head. When harp seals are born, they weigh about 25 pounds, are about three feet long, and sip on high-fat milk for roughly 12 days. They peak at 80 pounds, and after reaching that weight, their mom leaves them. The pups stay on the ice alone and without food for six weeks. They can lose up to half their weight before eating by themselves in the wild.

Harp seals love to eat. Their diet consists of more than 130 different species of fish. Harp seals may get injured or die from contaminated water such as oil spills, gas development, wastewater discharges, urban runoff, and other industrial processes. In Canada, they have been hunted for oil and meat since the 1600s. Now there is a limit on how many can be hunted per year to ensure they do not go extinct. [Read More]

The Fascinating Reproduction Process of Reptiles

by Mahalia Pearson, age 12

Reptiles are known to spend their whole lifetime split between land and water. When they mate, they then have to come out of the water to lay their eggs.

Not only are reptile eggs durable, but they also boast a shell underneath that shields the fluid of the yolk and protects the embryo. The small fluid inside allows the baby creatures to remain safe. This yolk provides the baby food while they grow in the egg.

The young reptiles come out of the egg like a small version of their parents. There are many types of reptiles, including snakes, alligators, lizards, and a Galapagos giant tortoise, of whom these reproduce with eggs. However, other reptiles including some snakes and lizards, are viviparous which means that they do not lay any eggs. Instead, they give birth to a fully developed reptile. [Read More]

Scientists "Rediscover" the Jambato Harlequin Frog in Ecuador

by Shalom Shalmat, age 14

Is it possible for an animal that has been extinct to make a comeback? Across Central and South America there is a group of bejeweled frogs that is doing just that. The group is called the Harlequin frogs, which is a category of 100 different colored frogs.

After several researchers reported in the December Biological conservation that “roughly one third of harlequin frogs presumed to have gone extinct since the 1950s has been rediscovered,” Klye Jaynes, a conservation biologist at Michigan State University believes this is a glimmer of hope. When Jaynes heard about the jambato harlequin frog, he was motivated to begin researching how many harlequin frogs have returned from extinction.

A fungus caused the frog to fully disappear from 1988 to 1989. People searched for this frog for years. Scientists ran extreme research and pastors even offered rewards to their congregations if anyone found one. After being missing for decades, in 2016 a boy discovered a small population of Jambato frogs in a mountain valley in Ecuador. [Read More]

Interesting Facts About Wild Ponies

by Lina Al Quarishi, age 9

Wild ponies are not only cute but there are several breeds of the famous animal such as the Shetland, Dartmoor, and Exmoor. These ponies have lived on Earth for thousands of years, with some dating back to the last ice age, which was 10,000 years ago. These miniature horses have unique characteristics and qualities that set them apart from other animals.

The Dartmoor and Exmoor ponies are some of the most famous breeds because of their sturdiness. They have the ability to survive tough weather conditions like rain, snow, and wind. These ponies are also popular because they can be tamed and used for riding lessons.

Similar to the Dartmoor and Exmoor breeds, the Connemara ponies have excellent speed and endurance, which makes them good for competition events. When tamed, they work well with both children and adults. Connemaras are smart, fast, and can jump high. They get those abilities from their ancestors. The Connemara ponies had lived in Ireland and now they live all around Europe. [Read More]

Fun Facts about Giraffes!

by Aubrey Bevenue, age 12

Giraffes are the tallest living animal and can see over very long distances due to their height.

Giraffes can be found in the southern part of the Sahara Desert in Africa. They prefer the open woodlands and grasslands, and avoid the Namib desert, dense rainforests, marshes and boggy ground. As a benefit to their height, they are the only animal that can reach the upper part of trees. A giraffe's hooves are pretty narrow and prevent the giraffe from sinking into the soft and mushy ground.

Giraffes are able to live for a long time without water, they get all they need from the vegetation they consume. While their long legs allow for easy access to food, drinking is difficult for them as they have to spread out their legs very awkwardly to position themselves lower to the ground. Giraffes use their very long tongues and strong upper lips to eat leaves, tearing them from branches. Giraffes regurgitate their food from their four chambered stomachs. They then re-chew their food and swallow it again. Consuming their food this way provides maximum nutrition from low energy food. [Read More]

Why do Horses Appear in so Many Myths?

by Ian Kosharek, age 11

Horses are not only interesting creatures, but they have also been featured throughout history in various stories across many countries.

For example, Greece has the famous Trojan horse, a story about a giant wooden horse that was rolled into the city of Tory. The Trojans thought it was a surrendering gift but they were wrong. The Greeks rolled the horse into the castle. After which soldiers broke out of the horse and won the war. However, Greece is not the only place with horse stories; other places like the Middle East, India, China, Britain, the Roman Empire, and Norse land also have stories.

Along with stories, there are also myths about horses. One myth is that horses are color blind. In reality, they mostly see blue and green but find red and yellow hard to recognize. In contrast, their night vision is amazing. People also say that horses sleep standing up but they actually sleep lying down and like to rest standing up. [Read More]

What's so Wild About the European Wildcat?

by Santiago Rosero Perea, age 12

The European wildcat is a small feline that looks a lot like a regular house cat, similar to the well-known domestic tabby cat.

The characteristics of these cats are essential to helping them survive. For example, their whiskers and eyes help with their movement and vision at night. Their eyes are structured in a way that allows them to capture as much light as possible in the dark. This means they can see six times better than humans. These cats are known to have strong bones and their upper canines can have a length of two centimeters. Their claws are very helpful when it comes to hunting, self defense and other activities. In fact, they have a “dew” claw that remains hidden in their forefeet.

This stealthy creature measures 20.5 to 29.5 inches for a male and 18.2 to 22.9 for a female. Their diet consists of rabbits, insects, small reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals or birds. The European wildcat can weigh between 6.6 and 17.6 pounds, and can live up to 15 years. [Read More]

Arabian Camels: Man's Best Friend?

by Joseph Zheng, age 9

Owning a camel can be a sign of wealth in other countries. Dromedaries, better known as Arabian camels, are unique mammals with distinct characteristics.

Dromedaries are heavy animals weighing up to 1,600 pounds and grow to seven feet tall. A main characteristic you may notice on dromedaries is the big humps on their backs. Their humps are unique because they store 80 pounds of fat which can be used for hydration in the future. The Arabian camel is also able to consume 30 gallons of water in 13 minutes! Because of their strong features, they are able to carry heavy loads for 25 miles a day.

Arabian camels can be found in various places around the world. Many live in Northern Africa, Southwestern Asia and Australia. These locations can reach very high temperatures, but the camel's body is trained to survive temperatures reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit. [Read More]

What is an Addax?

by Malak Al Quraishi, age 12

An addax looks like a cross between a deer and a goat, but it is a creature that is specifically known for its horns. These horns look like twisted blades that can twist up to three times and reach lengths of three feet.

Addax live in the Sahara Desert. Their diet changes depending on their habitat but they normally eat desert grass and shrub foliage.

Their skulls are super thick to protect themselves. This is especially important in fights as they ram into one another and headbutt eachother to determine the strongest addax. Along with a strong skull, the addax has interesting facial patterns. Some experts think that the pattern on the addax’s face is a form of camouflage so that it is able to confuse predators. [Read More]

Learn More About the Majestic Bald Eagle

by Soren Dahl, age 11

Bald eagles have many amazing majestic features that we can learn about.

The bald eagles wingspan is 5.5 to 8 feet long. To put that in perspective, an average human male is 5.9 feet tall. The eagle’s talons are two inches long. They use these monster talons to catch fish and other prey. The color of the bald eagles is unique, when they are young their heads and tails are brown. As they age, their heads and tails become white. The bald eagle’s lifespan in captivity is typically forty seven years old, but in the wild they live up to twenty five years.

Bald eagles eat seabirds, waterfowl, mammals, and reptiles but in the winter if they are desperate, they will also eat carrion, which are dead animals and other scraps of meat. Bald Eagles hunt by standing on a perch that overlooks the water. When they see a fish in open water they swoop down and snatch it out of the water. [Read More]

Gray Wolf Walks from Minnesota to Wisconsin

by Aissata Bah, age 13

R2L, a gray wolf, started his long journey from a forest in northern Minnesota to Wisconsin, ultimately walking 264 miles at the age of one and a half.

His journey is worth acknowledging because it highlights the steps it takes for the gray wolf to reach Wisconsin. R2L’s adventure started in 2021, walking for miles to reach his destination. His journey was not uncommon as many male wolves tend to leave their habitat.

His journey was actually more challenging than expected, going through Minnesota for seven weeks to finally reach southeast Wisconsin. Some researchers have been tracking R2L, other wolves, and even other animals with the common goal of checking dens for reproduction and other activities. [Read More]

Team Flier or Team Glider? — by Alejandro Berrueta, age 11

There are many animals known as fliers and gliders in the world. Bats, lemurs and flying squirrels are a few of them. [Read More]

Sponges, Creatures of the Sea — by Dilma Attidekou, age 8

When you hear the word sponge, you may think about cleaning or washing dishes. This cleaning tool was named after a real life organism in the sea called a sponge. This creature has been used by humans for centuries! Sponges are usually mistaken for coral or plants, but they are actually animals that play a major role in their ecosystem [Read More]

Bald Eagle Shot Near Milwaukee Dies During Surgery — by Sol Saray, age 11

A bald eagle, America's symbol of pride, was shot on December 7, 2022, in southwest Milwaukee County. The Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center tried to save the eagle, however, it died during surgery. [Read More]

Growing Population of Invasive Moth Species in Wisconsin — by Desteny Alvarez, age 18

Recently, we have seen a rise in the number of spongy moths in Wisconsin. These moths cause skin rashes and are a danger to our environment. [Read More]

The Original Animals — by Joseph Zheng, age 8

The first land animals explored planet Earth around 450 million years ago. Before this time most early creatures came from the ocean. [Read More]

Who is the Fastest Mover of Them All? — by Malak Al Quraishi, age 12

Many animals use their speed to catch their prey and others use their speed to escape predators. They all move in different ways. [Read More]

Should We Add Insects to Our Diet? — by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 14

When we think about consuming bugs, most of us would immediately respond by saying, “ew!” Although bugs may look nasty or creepy, they are a good source of protein. If insects are raised and prepared correctly, the protein they carry can be beneficial for our bodies. Raising them requires less water, less land, and overall less resources than other animals. [Read More]

Carnivores Aren't the Only Dangerous Predators! — by Aubrey Bevenue, age 11

Amphibians, like many reptiles, are carnivores. They use many ways to trap, track and hunt their prey. [Read More]

A Snake in a Tree? — by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

The green mamba is a species of snake that lives in Western and Eastern Africa. The snake has a coffin-shaped head due to its venom glands that sit right behind its eyes. Like humans, the green mamba’s pupil size decreases when there is a sign of light, meaning that this snake hunts in daylight. [Read More]

The Only Canids Known to Fish — by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 12

For the first time, researchers observed a fox fishing for food. After seeing the red fox, they joined the group of land mammals that also hunt for fish. [Read More]

Black Mamba: Deadly, but Shy — by Kaleab Afeworki, age 15

The black mamba is the biggest and some say the scariest snake in Africa. A lot of people are fearful of this snake because of its speed and strong venomous bites. [Read More]

Barn Owl Sightings Increase in Wisconsin, but the Future of this Iconic Bird Remains in Doubt — by Juanes Palma, age 9

In 2018, a unique species of barn owls were reported for the first time in over two decades in Wisconsin by The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The owls were spotted in September of 2018 as a pair of these birds were found in the cavity of a dead tree. Recently, there has been an increase in barn owl sightings in Wisconsin and other near states. [Read More]

Fun Facts About the Black-Handed Spider Monkey — by Joseph Zheng age 8

Spider monkeys are well known for their name. Although their name may sound like they are spiders, they are actually mammals. Black-handed spider monkeys live in Mexico and South America and can weigh up to 17 pounds. They climb and use their long prehensile tails to move or hang onto other branches. [Read More]

Crocodiles and Alligators-Dinosaur Relatives Still Alive Today — by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 13

Crocodiles are some of the few living creatures today that were alive at the time of the dinosaurs. Their lifestyle and anatomy have helped crocodiles survive for millions of years. [Read More]

The Bald Eagle: An Iconic Species on the Verge of Extinction — by Santiago Rosero Perea, age 11

The bald eagle is one of the most recognized and powerful birds on Earth. [Read More]

La matamata: la “aspiradora” de la naturaleza — por Aarosh Subedi, 10 años de edad; traducido por Yoanna Hoskins, 17 años de edad

La matamata vive en Sudamérica y es parte de la familia tortuga. Esta especie vive en la parte norte de Sudamérica, en Brasil y Venezuela, pero algunas veces se puede encontrar en el norte de Bolivia, Ecuador, el este de Perú, Colombia, las Guayanas y Trinidad. Miden alrededor de 18 pulgadas de largo y pesan alrededor de cinco a seis libras. Además de comer pescado, comen pequeños pájaros y pequeños mamíferos. Esta especie en particular vive hasta 30 años. [Read More]

The Differences Between African and Asiatic Lions — by Ruben Becerril Gonzalez, age 10

When talking about lions, people are usually thinking of African lions. However, there are also lions roaming in Asia known as the Asiastic lions. [Read More]

Leopards Are Large and Powerful "Supercats" — by Ian Kosharek , age 10

Leopards are a type of cat that live mainly in Africa, but they can also be found in China, Malaysia, and even Korea. There are more leopards in the wild than any other wild cat—that is why they are called supercats! [Read More]

Gigantic Lace Lizards Find Home in Australian Cities — by Aloniab Gezae, age 8

Which reptile can climb on trees or, sometimes mistakenly, on people and also horses? Which reptile has a heavy tail but can swim and stay underwater for an hour? It is the gigantic lace lizard! [Read More]

Fun Facts About the Short-Head Seahorse — by Juan Esteban Palma Zuluaga, age 10

The short-head seahorse is a unique-looking fish with interesting characteristics. It is known for its curled tail that reminds many of a monkey's tail and has skin like an alligator, and its head resembles a dragon or a horse. [Read More]

Learn About the Vampire Squid — by Abigail Gezae, age 10

Vampire squids don’t actually share many resemblances to Dracula, and they aren’t after your blood. Instead, they are creatures that live deep in the ocean, around 2,000 to 3,000 ft. [Read More]

Invertebrates: The Boneless Group of Animals — by Aarosh Subedi age 10

Invertebrates are animals that do not have any backbones; they also have features unique to the specific species. [Read More]

The Iconic Australian Shingleback Skink — by Daniel Garduno Martinez, age 11

Think of an animal with armored scales, a blue tongue, and a mighty bite. This might sound like a crocodile or alligator that ate one too many ring-pops, but it is the shingleback skink; a small lizard that lives in the dry ecosystems of southern Australia. [Read More]

The Grizzly Is North America’s Giant — by Moore Vang, age 14

The grizzly bear or the brown bear is one of the most dangerous bears in North America. It is gigantic, extremely powerful, and wildly unpredictable. Its fur is light brown with white-tipped hairs and it has a distinct shoulder hump. Interestingly, it can run as fast as a horse but only for a short duration. [Read More]

The Perilous Life of Baby Penguins — by Chelsea Zheng, age 10

Life for baby penguins can be challenging. These egg-shaped birds often have difficult childhoods as they face the cold tundras of Antarctica. [Read More]

Is That a Leaf or a Gecko? — by Aloniab Gezae, age 8

The leaf-tailed gecko is a fascinating reptile. It can only be found in the rainforests of Madagascar and can grow up to eight inches long. Since leaf-tailed geckos are extremely rare, their lifespan is still unknown to scientists. [Read More]

Red Panda? More like Red Raccoon! — by Dalya Alquraishi age

The red panda is a cute and fuzzy animal that lives in China and the eastern Himalayas. It is commonly believed that these mammals are related to pandas, however red pandas are instead more closely related to raccoons. [Read More]

Learn About the World's Smallest Elephants — by Ashley Mercado, age 13

The Bornean elephant is the largest mammal on the huge island of Borneo. These elephants are also known as Borneo pygmy elephants because of their size. Compared to other elephants, Bornean elephants have larger ears, straighter tusks, and are smaller. [Read More]

Can You Run Faster than an Ostrich? — by Joseph Zheng, age 8

The largest bird in the world cannot fly, but it can kill with just its feet. The ostrich can grow up to nearly 8 feet. Male ostriches make a big booming sound to warn other ostriches when danger is near. These large, flightless birds tend to live in dry, open areas as well as woodlands in the country of Africa. [Read More]

Learn About the Beautiful and Endangered Green Sea Turtle — by Joseph Zheng, age 7

Green sea turtles are notable for being one of the largest sea turtle subgroups in the oceanic world. The name of this species is quite simple as it is named after the color of their skin and shell, the color green! Ironically, a green sea turtle's most distinguishable physical feature is its relatively hard shells. [Read More]

Learn All About The Ouranosaurus — by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

The Ouranosaurus is a magnificent dinosaur that lived in parts of Western Africa. It is known for its back sail which resembles a boat sail. The name Ouranosaurus is used to define a brave lizard in the Arabic language. This dinosaur mesaured 23 feet long and it weighed up to 4,900 to 8,800 pounds. [Read More]

The Scoop Behind Slow Moving Triceratops — by Joseph Zheng, age 8

Triceratops lived about 65 to 70 million years ago in North America, and were the last dinosaurs on Earth. Scientists believe that these dinosaurs lived in groups to survive; triceratops formed a circle around the young to protect them. [Read More]

Cómo las abejas hacen crecer las plantas — por Maya Maclin, 10 años

Polinizadores son muy importantes en nuestra Tierra. Te sorprendería lo mucho que ayudan las abejas y los polinizadores. ¿Sabías que necesitamos tanto a los polinizadores que las flores dependen en un 80 por ciento de la polinización? [Read More]

What Brought About the Extinction of the Megalodons? — by Jason Medina Ruiz, age 11

Megalodons, an extinct species of mackerel shark, were the ocean’s biggest predator for millions of years. The appearance of great white sharks brought competition to the megalodons. It is a popular theory that great whites were the reason for the megalodon's extinction. [Read More]

The Brontosaurus: Not a Real Dinosaur... Until Now! — by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 13

Sauropods, some of the largest animals to ever roam the earth, were long-necked and long-tailed dinosaurs often portrayed in movies eating from the top of the trees. The Brontosaurus, also known as the “thunder lizard,” is part of the sauropod family, but until recently many thought it didn’t exist. [Read More]

Wolves in Wisconsin: A Conservation Success Story with an Uncertain Future — by Dyami Rodriguez, age 16

The Federal Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973 in order to protect wildlife and plants throughout the country in danger of extinction. In Wisconsin, the gray wolf benefited from the act since it kept these animals from becoming extinct. [Read More]

Rodent, not Rat — By Dilma Attidekou age 8

About more than half of the mammals on the earth are rodents. Rodents are small mammals that live all over the world, and there are many different kinds of them. All rodents have the same kind of jaw. Their teeth are used for grinding and gnawing food. If a rodent does not gnaw or grind its teeth, they will grow until the rodent isn’t able to eat anymore. [Read More]

Why You Should Stay Away From Nile Crocodiles — by Chelsea Zheng, age 10

Have you ever heard of the Nile crocodile? It is a big and dangerous creature, and hundreds of people are killed by it annually. [Read More]

From Water to Land Back to Water Again: the Evolution of the Qikitania — by Giovanni Tecuatl Lopez, age 17

There are many speculations regarding evolution and how it took place. Many think of evolution as a linear timeline; but this is not always the case and such can be seen in creatures like the Qikitania and Tiktaalik. [Read More]

This Madagascar Chameleon May Be the World's Smallest — by Dani Garduno, age 10

There has been a modern-day discovery of a tiny chameleon species. This chameleon is named Brookesia nana. This interesting reptile species was discovered in 2012. Surprisingly, this nano-chameleon species is about the size of a human fingertip! [Read More]

Scientists Study Sleep-Deprived Mosquitoes to Prevent the Spread of Deadly Diseases — by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 13

Humans and mosquitoes are more alike than you may want to believe; new research suggests mosquitoes prefer sleep over food when sleep-deprived. [Read More]

Aprenda sobre los elefantes más pequeños del mundo — Por Ashley Mercado, 13 años

El elefante de Borneo es el mamífero más grande de la enorme isla de Borneo. Estos elefantes también son conocidos como elefantes pigmeos de Borneo debido a su tamaño. [Read More]

The Ocean's Largest Omnivore — by Jonah Smith, age 13

Just off the Australian coast, in the Indian Ocean, tropical fish biologist Mark Meekan is looking for an animal that could be the world’s largest living omnivore. Meekan is from the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Perth, Australia, and he specializes in the study of whale sharks. After he spots one, he dives into the water with a hand spear and takes small samples of the shark's skin, which he uses to study characteristics like their diet. [Read More]

World’s Smallest Sea Turtles Found Alive in Gulf of Mexico — by Jason Medina Ruiz, age 11

The world's smallest sea turtle, known as Kemp's ridley, lives in the Gulf of Mexico. In the past 75 years, the population has diminished to the point that they are now the most endangered sea turtle in the world. Recently, the sea turtle population has increased off the coast of Louisiana. [Read More]

How a Rare Asian Bird Found a Home in Nevada — by Camila Cruz, age 14

The Himalayan range in Asia is home to the largest and highest peaked mountains, including Mount Everest, where a rare bird species called the snowcock is found. Additionally, snowcock birds can be found in the Ruby Mountain range in the state of Nevada. Now, how did this rare bird species arrive from Asia to the United States [Read More]

How Dinosaur Eggs Reveal Differences in Species — by Camila Cruz, age 15

Modern birds have many similarities to dinosaurs, from their feathers and feet to hollow bones and laying eggs. Recently, paleontologists found another feature dinosaurs shared that is their unique way of hatching, called tucking. [Read More]

Fun Facts About Beluga Whales — by Max Moreno, age 10

The beluga whale is one of the most intelligent whales. This whale is mostly known for its ability to smile and make faces. It can also perform tricks like making a bubble ring with its mouth, propelling backwards, and swimming up to 13 miles per hour. [Read More]

Bottlenose Dolphins; Friends of the Sea — by Joseph Zheng, age 8

Dolphins roam through warm ocean waters across the world. One species in particular is unique: the bottlenose dolphin. [Read More]

El águila calva: una especie icónica al borde de la extinción — por Santiago Rosero Perea, 11 años de edad; traducido por Yoanna Hoskins, 17 años de edad

El águila calva es una de las aves más conocidas y poderosas en nuestro mundo. Las águilas calvas cazan en lagos y ríos. La medida del cuerpo de un hombre es de alrededor de 90 centímetros, mientras que el cuerpo de una mujer tiene un promedio de 108 centímetros. El peso de un águila calva es de 14 libras, mientras un águila arpía pesa 11 libras. [Read More]

Wisconsin's Year-Round Birds — by Ruben Becerril Gonzalez, age 10

Have you heard of some of Wisconsin’s year-round birds? Today, I’m going to talk about the American Robin, Mourning Dove, and Song Sparrow. [Read More]

Learn the Difference Between a Cheetah and a Leopard — by Max Moreno, age 9

People may easily mistake a cheetah for a leopard. However, there are many differences to look for that can help you tell these two species apart. [Read More]

Do You Want a Pony as a Pet? — by Dilma Attidekou, age 8

Many years ago, people used all different kinds of ponies to haul carts or to farm. Today, ponies are often enjoyed as pets. [Read More]

Why Do So Few Cubs Turn Into Big Cats? — by Chelsea Zheng, age 10

Wild cat babies, known as cubs or kittens, are easy targets to male lions. Mother cats guard their cubs until they are of age. [Read More]

Cardinals in Wisconsin: These Beautiful Birds are Moving North — by Allison Torres, age 13

Northern cardinals are highly valued and favored songbirds in North America. These birds typically nest in Northern Wisconsin, along with parts of Minnesota and even Canada. [Read More]

Not Really a Big Cat, the Caracal Is a Hunter that Lives in Asia and Africa — by Sol-Saray, age 10

A desert lynx, also known as caracal, is a wild cat native from Africa, Asia, and parts of India. They can be found in woodlands, grasslands, savannahs, and forest. [Read More]

Tiger Wandering: Scientists Have Important Questions About Unusual Spider — by Dani Garduno, age 10

Researchers have taken a big interest in learning about a species of spider called the Tiger Wandering. This spider’s features include very unusual legs. [Read More]

Why Do Butterflies Migrate? — by Abigail Gezae, age 9

Have you seen a big group of butterflies flying around? Do you know why? It might be because they are migrating. [Read More]

How Wisconsin Manages its Black Bear Population — by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 14

It is getting easier to see black bears in Wisconsin. It’s becoming more common to see black bears because their numbers in Wisconsin are growing. So, if you decide to go camping in our state, it's possible you could see a black bear roaming around. [Read More]

Deadly Piranhas Stalk the Amazon River in Large Groups — by Max Moreno Lopez, age 9

Did you know that a piranha's sharp and pointy teeth help them bite off chunks of flesh from their prey? The powerful jaw of the piranha helps it catch and grab onto its prey. These creatures travel in groups called schools, making the piranha strong attackers and defenders. [Read More]

Disgusting Animals Play an Important Part in the Ecosystem — by Sol-Saray, age 9

All animals are built differently, some are cute or scary-looking, and others are just ugly and disgusting. Some of these ugly creatures may have skinny crooked legs or are covered in little bumps. Most fish and flies have huge eyes that do not blink or move. Ugly animals have similarities and differences, however, to humans many are smelly, scary, or disgusting. [Read More]

Aprenda sobre el largato sungazer puntiagudo — Aloniab Gezae, edad 8

¿Te gustan las lagartijas? Si lo hace, le gustará el lagarto sungazer porque este lagarto tiene púas de la cabeza a la cola [Read More]

The Last Living Dinosaurs — by Amelia Mieko Pearson, age 12

You may not know this but birds are dinosaurs! As much as they do not look like dinosaurs, the connection between these two species does exist. In the Jurassic age, 150 years ago, the first bird was hatched from a small and feathery raptor-like dinosaur and became another branch of the dinosaur family tree. [Read More]

How Does a Boa Constrictor Hunt? — by Aloniab Gezae, age 7

Do you like snakes? Hopefully you do because today you will be learning about a snake called the boa constrictor! Boa constrictors are big and dangerous. They eat mice, rats, lizards, and birds. The lifespan of a boa constrictor in captivity can be up to 40 years! That’s a long time! Boa constrictors can swim and like living near rivers and lakes, specifically inside rainforests in South and Central America. [Read More]

No es realmente un gato grande, el caracal es un cazador que vive en Asia y África — Por Sol-Saray, 10 años

Un lince del desierto, también conocido como caracal, es un gato salvaje originario de África, Asia y partes de la India. Se pueden encontrar en bosques, pastizales, sabanas y bosques. [Read More]