Mystery Creature reveal – The Hairy Frogfish

Mystery Creature reveal – The Hairy Frogfish

What did you think of last week’s Mystery Creature? An unusual looking fish, I’m sure you’ll agree. Did you guess what it was? It was a hairy frog fish (Antennarius species)!

These amazing looking creatures (some call them ugly but I think they look cute – in an ugly kind of way) come in various shapes and colours. Like this one…


Image Credit: Silke Baron

They all have some distinctive facts in common, for example…

  • Frogfish tend to move slowly through the water, often they “walk” along the seabed, using their dorsal fins as feet, just like the epaulette shark, that featured here recently.
  • Many frogfish species have spiky structures all over their bodies, called spinules, which look quite like hairs. These can help protect them.
  • Frogfish like to blend into their surroundings, and they often hide in coral beds and in large patches of seaweed. Their ‘hairy’ bodies, help mimic these surroundings and keep them camouflaged. Some species are covered in algae, to further help with this.
  • Many species will also change the colour of their skin as another form of camouflage.
  • Frogfish are anglerfish, they have a little lure on the front of their heads, that acts like bait, attracting their prey in close enough for the fish to eat them.
  • They are prepared to wait for their dinner. Once they find a good place to hide they have been known to stay in that position for weeks at a time, until they manage to catch their prey.
  • Despite their slow movement and long waits in a stationary position, when they do strike to catch their prey, it is with incredible speed.
  • The wait is often worth it, as frogfish have large, extended mouths, and can catch and consume a creature as big as themselves. In fact, frogfish are carnivores and will even eat another frogfish if it comes too close.


Image credit: Steve Childs
  • It is not surprising therefore that they are solitary creatures.
  • Some species of frogfish can inflate, when threatened, similar to pufferfish, drawing in water to enhance their size.

Many divers and underwater enthusiasts can spend years waiting to spot one of these fish as they are so well hidden. They are certainly intriguing creatures.  If you have any more information or facts to add, just pop them in the comments below. Or if you have a creature you want to suggest for the Mystery Creature slot, let us know!

Mystery Creature – July 11, 2016

Mystery Creature – July 11, 2016

This is a wonderful looking fish, as soon as I spotted him on twitter, I knew he would be great for the Mystery Creature spot this week.

Do you know what this is?…

Mystery creature July11

Image credit: SteveChilds; Image source: wikicommons

Remember, you can ask questions and look for tips if you want, this could make a great challenge for the kids while on their Summer holidays.

Check back at the end of the week to find out what it is, and some very interesting facts about this amazing Mystery Creature!

Mystery creature revealed – the scorpion fly

Mystery creature revealed – the scorpion fly

This week’s Mystery Creature was certainly a bizzare looking insect; it looked like a hybrid of a fly and a scorpion, which is why it is aptly named as the scorpion fly. Scorpion flies come under the order Mecoptera, of which there are many families. This scorpion fly is a common scorpion fly (the Panorpidae family).

Well done to Sandra M. who rightly identified this week’s Mystery Creature!


P. Communis; Image credit: Mikkel Houmøller (Lostmonkey); Image source: wiki commons

There are nearly 600 species of scorpion fly worldwide.

The scorpion fly (sometimes called a scorpion wasp because of colouring) has some very distinctive features. Firstly, that scorpion-like tail, found only in males, which is not actually a tail at all, but the genitals of the insect! These scorpion-like tails also have notal organs to help hold a mate. The females body just tapers into a straight point, with no dramatically curving appendages!

The scorpion fly also has a very long face, forming a beak-like projection, with mouth parts (mandibula) at the end.

Both the male and female have patterned wings, with a delicate appearance. They are poor fliers and prefer short flights. The spend much of their time crawling among vegetation.

Although this is a foreboding looking insect, it poses no threat to humans. It usually feeds on other dead insects, rotting fruit and nectar.

The eggs of the scorpion fly are laid in the soil and the larvae live underground. They are scavenger feeders too and have a caterpillar appearance during their early stages of development.

Romance comes in an unusual form, the males will typically woo the female with a gift, which may be a piece of a dead insect or a drop of saliva!

They like to live in damp, shaded areas such as lightly wooded spaces, hedgerows or uncultivated patches of land. They are often spotted in nettle patches.

Scorpion flies are considered living fossils as their fossil records date back 250 million years.

Mystery creature – can you name this insect?

Mystery creature – can you name this insect?

Nature is truly amazing, isn’t it? Just looking at the diversity of creatures on this planet confirms that. This week’s mystery creature is a very bizarre looking insect, and an excellent example of just how creative mother nature really is.

Can you name it?


Image credit: Sebastian Wallroth;

Here is a clue: say what you see and you will probably work out the name of this insect! As always you can leave your comments, questions or guesses below. Remember to check back at the end of the week to find out for sure.

Update: Want to find out what it is? Here is the post that reveals what this insect is and some interesting facts about it!

Mystery Creature revealed – the binturong

Mystery Creature revealed – the binturong

How did you do with this week’s mystery creature? A cute but unusual looking animal, don’t you think? Some say it has a face like a cat and a body like a bear which is why it is commonly called the bearcat, but its proper name is the Binturong (Arctictis binturong).


Image credit: Pomax

The Binturong belongs to the viverridae family, making it a cousin to civets, genets, fossas and mongooses. These shy animals live in dense rainforests of Southeast Asia and tend to live solitary lives. They can grow to more than a metre in length; their strong, thick tails are about as long as their bodies. The females tend to be larger than the males, about 20% larger, and are the dominant sex of the species.

Binturong spend much of their time in the dense canopies up in the trees. Their thick tails are prehensile, and they use them like a monkey, to help them grip and hold branches when they move around. The top of their tails even have a short leather patch, to help with gripping.

Binturong move about the trees slowly and carefully, they are too large and heavy to jump from tree to tree and must instead climb down to the forest floor. Most of their time is spent in the trees, they even sleep up there.  They are mainly nocturnal animals, sleeping for most of the day and emerging at dusk to feed.  Although they eat some meat – such as birds and small mammals and insects, most of their diet consists of fruit and plants. They are good swimmers and will also feed on fish.

As with other members of the viverridae family, they have scent glands under their tails. To humans binturong smell like buttered popcorn and recent studies have identified the same compound, 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline(2-AP), to be found in both binturong urine and popcorn.

Binturong have a wide variety of vocal sounds; depending on its mood and what it wants to communicate it can make sounds like purrs, chuckles, growls, grunts  and hisses.

They walk like bears and humans, flat on both feet with an ambling appearance. Unlike bears and humans, they can turn their ankles 180 degrees, allowing their semi-retractable claws to grip the bark of trees, no matter what direction the animal is facing.

It is thought that females can delay implantation of their fertilised egg. This means that they can time the birth of their young to the most favourable season.

Due to their fruit rich diet, binturong play an important part in seed distribution within the tropical rain forests they inhabit. They are particularly important to strangled fig plants as their digestive systems contains rare enzymes, capable of breaking down the fig seed’s tough outer coating, allowing the seeds to be dispersed in the binturongs droppings.

Binturong have no known predators other than humans but are classes as vulnerable, with a population decline of more than 30% over the past 30 years.


Remember to check back tomorrow for a new mystery creature; I found the binturong a cute, and fascinating animal,  especially the fact that it smells like popcorn, what did you think?


Do bugs fart?

Do bugs fart?

Do bugs Fart?

That was a recent question from my three children, shouted in through an open door as they rummaged around in the garden. The answer is… yes they do! Most insects have micro-organisms (bacteria etc) that live in their digestive systems (just as we do); they do no harm and they help the bug by breaking down (digesting) their food. When this food is broken down gases are released, such as nitrogen, hydrogen, methane, carbon dioxide, oxygen and hydrogen sulphide. These gases have to go somewhere, and that usually means they get passed through the gut and out the insects anus!

Some bugs do more than just pass a bit of wind; check out these three extreme farting bugs… the Bombardier beetle, the Beaded lacewing larvae and termites…



Image credits: Bombardier Beetle: Cotinis; Beaded Lacewing: Cotinis; Termites: Scott Bauer

Remember to keep sending in your questions!

Mystery Creature of the week

Mystery Creature of the week

This week starts with a wet and humid day, not unlike the climate that this creature may experience… do you know what it is?

Mystery creature June132016

Image credit:Tassilo Rau

Remember, ask questions if you want some clues and be sure to check back at the end of the week to find out what the creature is and some very interesting facts about it.

If you want to know what this creature is, check out the ‘reveal’ post here.

Mystery creature revealed – the epaulette shark

Mystery creature revealed – the epaulette shark

We had lots of junior scientists having a guess at this week’s Mystery creature, how did you do? Most guessed it was a shark, but to be exact…

It was an epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum)

These small sharks are quite amazing and unique among their species; for one thing, they can walk on land!


Image credit: Jim Capaldi; Image source:Wiki commons

Usually less than one metre in length, these sharks are part of the carpet shark family. They are found in shallow coral reefs and waters off the coast of Australia. Although food can be plentiful in such waters, they have to contend with extreme tides and rapidly changing water levels. When the tide goes out, its larger cousins must retreat into deeper waters, but the smaller epaulette remains behind, left without competition to enjoy the bounty.

However, it is not as ideal as it sounds. Eventually, the water levels recede to dangerous levels. The epaulette shark can no longer swim and runs the risk of being stranded out of water, which would ultimately lead to its death. However, the clever little shark had adapted in two major ways, to overcomes this threat.

The shark requires water as a source of oxygen – to breathe. When the water levels reduce the shark survives by slowing its heart rate and organ use, thereby reducing its body’s demands for oxygen. In this way, it can survive 60 times longer without oxygen than humans can.

The epaulette has one other adaptation to allow it to survive when the tide is out, it can walk to the water! Using its fins as basic legs, it can crawl to a nearby rock pool with enough water to breathe and food to eat, until the tide returns.

Another example of practical and amazing adaptations in Nature. If you have any more examples you’d like to share just leave them in the comments below.

Mystery Creature of the week

Mystery Creature of the week

The Mystery Creature posts are back! And here is the first of the year… do you know what it is? It can do something that no other members of its species can, do you know what that is?

Feel free to have some guesses or ask some questions. As always, this post will be updated to reveal the creature’s name, and som unusual facts, at the end of the week.


Image credit: Citron

Looking for the answer? You’ll find it in this post.

Fifteen fantastic facts about frogs

Fifteen fantastic facts about frogs

We are used to seeing them at some stage of their life cycle, most of us remember watching them grow as tadpoles in our classrooms, and they are a common part of our ecosystem; but how much do you really know about these diverse and amazing creatures? Here are fifteen of our favourite frog facts … Read more