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Asian elephant Last Updated on 2010-02-19 23:35:43 One of the largest terrestrial mammals on Earth, the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) belongs to the Elephantidae family.  While this creature once roamed throughout much of the Asian continent, four subspecies currently exist as fragmented populations inhabiting portions of  Borneo (Elephas maximus borneensis), Sumatra (E. m. sumatranus), Sri Lanka (E. m. maximus), and southern Asia (E. m. indicus).In contrast to its African relative, the Asian elephant is slightly smaller; displays a less sloping back; has smaller, rounded ears; and its head region (rather than the shoulder area) constitutes the highest part of the body.  This elephant also has a single finger-like projection on the upper lip of the trunk rather than the two projections found on its African cousin.Asian elephants are highly intelligent, long-lived mammals that may reach up to 60 years of age in the wild.  They... More »
Annelida (Aquatic) Last Updated on 2010-02-19 07:15:44 These worms are commonly referred to as leeches. Leeches are very diverse in physiology; some freshwater species live in water with very low salt concentrations, while others can tolerate concentrations that are more severe than seawater. They can also survive severe fluctuations in oxygen levels. Because of the different habitat occupancy and lifestyles, leeches come in different shapes and sizes. There are a few characteristics that set them apart from all other worms. All have both an anterior and posterior sucker and are divided into 32 post-oral segments. The type and placement of eyes are used for classification. The musculature of leeches is modified from that of other worms. They posses the circular and longitudinal muscles of the other groups, but also have a set of diagonal and dorsoventral muscles. The result is a reduced coelom (and a loss of septa separating the coelom... More »
Arthropoda Last Updated on 2010-02-19 06:36:11 Arthropods first appeared over 560 million years ago and are now the most abundant and diverse group of multicellular metazoans on Earth with over a million species described, and millions more left to be discovered! Arthropods are bilateral animals with internal and external segmentation. Most have a distinct head region and regional specialization along the rest of the body. Each body segment originally had a pair of segmented appendages. They usually have a pair of compound eyes in addition to one or more simple eyes. Arthropods have a body which is covered by a well-developed exoskeleton, so they need to moult to increase in size. They have an open circulatory syetem and a complete gut. Their nervous system is very similar to that of worms with a dorsal brain and a pair of ventral nerve cords. Most arthropods reproduce sexually, but they may have direct, indirect or mixed... More »
Adaptations of desert amphibians and reptiles Last Updated on 2009-12-18 22:04:34 Amphibians and reptiles have many different adaptations that allow them to live in deserts, avoiding extremes in aridity, heat, or cold. The animals may be active only in certain seasons and at favorable times of the day. Many use the environment to actively regulate their body temperatures, preventing lethal extremes. And some are well adapted to the surfaces they live on—with modified appendages for burrowing or the capacity to run on, dive into, swim in or sidewind across loose sand.Before vertebrate animals adapted to specific terrestrial habitats, such as deserts, they first had to adapt to living on land. The primary adaptations to life on land occurred in the Paleozoic 400 to 360 mya (million years ago) with the evolution of amphibians. Amphibians, a name derived from the Greek word amphibios (a being with a double life), live in fresh water as larvae and can move onto land as... More »
San Solomon Springs, Balmorhea Texas Last Updated on 2009-04-22 16:51:39 Introduction San Solomon Springs, also know as Mescalero or Head Springs in the past, are the largest springs in Reeves County, TX (elevation 1020 meters, 3,346 feet). San Solomon Springs is a slightly warm (26 degrees Celcius, 79 degrees Farenheit) artesian spring. The average rate of flow is about 900 liters (238 gallons) per second, with a maximum flow of about 2000 liters (528 gallons) per second recorded in October, 1932. The flow of San Solomon Springs has declined a little over the last decades, but not nearly as much as other springs in the region. The spring is fed by both local and regional recharge. Because local precipitation is low, local recharge only occurs after rainstorms. The local flow makes up almost three quarters of the flow volume following large storms. The quality of water entering the springs from the local flow is different with more suspended particles,... More »