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  • How many animal species do we have?

    How many animal species do we have?

    There are more than 1.5 million animal species. Ranging from simple animals like sponges and jellyfish, the invertebrates include the arthropodphylum with over 1 million species of insects. The higher level vertebrates include fish with about 35,000 species. Around 350 million years ago, when aquatic animals moved to land, they adapted to the new environment and amphibians were born. They adapted some more and became reptiles. From reptiles came the birds and around 4000 known species of mammals.


    What are species?

    Biologists have classified the animals according to their common features. Animals that share a lot of common features are known as species. For instance, all members of the dog species have similar body structures and group behaviour. Similar species are grouped together in one family, similar families are grouped in ord nd orders are further combined to form classes. The fox, wolf, and dog species combine to make one 'family' of canine predators. Together with the cat and bear families, they belong to the 'order' of predators in the 'class' of mammals, which in turn belong to the vertebrates in the kingdom' of animals. During the dry season we can see a lot of animals such as zebras, gazelles, and elephants at the waterholes of Africa.


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    What are the characteristics of mammals?

    'Mammal' is derived from the word 'mammary'. The young ones of mammals suckle milk from the teats of the mother. This milk contains all the essential nutrients for growth. Except for the monotremes (page 94), all mammals are born as young ones and are not hatched from eggs. Contrary to almost all other animal species, mammals nurture and train their young ones for a considerable time. Mammals have a constant body temperature of 36-40°C, so they need a hide (like an elephant) or a thick layer of fat (like a whale) as protection against extreme heat or cold. All breeds of dogs belong to the species of dog. Their size or the length of their fur is a feature of their breed, Being mammals, dogs suckle their young ones.


    Why are there so many insects?

    Insects have the largest number of species among animals on the Earth. Out of ten different animal species, eight are of insects. They can survive almost all types of habitats regardless of temperature. Many can survice only in specific environmental conditions, while others are found in all parts of the world. The reason for this difference within the speci the species is not known. Insects have six legs and a body divided into three parts with a solid o douter r covering called the armour. Many insects are useful (bees which pollinate fruit tree flowers), while others are harmful (plant louse on indoor plants).


    How do fish reproduce?

    Female fish lay eggs-they spawn. The male fish eject their semen on the eggs, and thus fertilize them. Many fish like the salmon return to their place of birth for laying eggs. The salmon eggs hatch in streams and from freshwater fish turn into saltwater fish in 1-3. years. Then, they remain in the sea up to 4 years. When they wish to reproduce, they return to their birthplace covering a distance of as much as 6000 km. They have to swim against the current and overcome all the obstacles in their way. Once at the destination they spawn. It is a mystery how the salmons find their birthplace. Scientists assume that they are guided by the magnetic field of the Earth.




    When it is too cold for flies


    You need: An empty pickle or jam jar with a screw cap, a housefly, alrefrigerator
    Do as follows: First catch a housefly.This is not as easy as is sounds because the housefly has an uncanny knack of flying away as soon as it senses anyone t. The best way is to approach it near it. with the jar or a cupped hand from the front. You can request an adult to help you. Catch the f ne fly in the jar, close the jar and put it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. This will not harm the fly, since it is used to low temperatures. Now take out the jar and open it. What does the fly do?


    What is the difference between reptiles and amphibians?

    Amphibians such as frogs and newts are more dependent on the aquatic habitat than reptiles. Their eggs are protected only by a thin membrane and are laid in water. Many of them go through several developmental stages, till they become adults . Unlike amphibians, reptiles such as tortoises, crocodiles or snakes have a scaly skin. Their eggs are covered by a hard calcite shell and are laid on land.




  • even kangaroos and koalas suckle their young ones? The young ones of these marsupials are born very small and live for long in a skin pouch of the mother, called sac.
  • the smallest mammal in the world, the hog-nosed bat, is just about 3 cm long? the speed of reptiles and amphibians depends on their body temperature? That is why they often lie in the sun to raise their temperature and 'fill up' energy.