freshwater species of the week

The Mexican “Water Monster” Resurfaces: Freshwater Species of the Week

The last few weeks have been pretty eventful for the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), a critically endangered Mexican salamander. At the end of January the charismatic creature was feared to be extinct in the wild when a three-month survey in its natural habitat, Lake Xochimilco in Mexico City, turned up no axolotls, according to biologist Luis Zambrano…

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Weird Purple Frog Seduces Females From Underground

Meet the Indian purple frog, also known as the pig-nosed frog. Only formally discovered in 2003, the colorful amphibian is an endangered species native to the mountains of India’s Western Ghats. With a chubby, purple body and pointed, piglike snout, it’s unlike any other frog on Earth. Some of the purple frog’s unusual looks are adaptations…

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Thousands of Baby Turtles Hatch in Brazil: Freshwater Species of the Week

This week, scientists in Brazil weren’t kidding when they said that they “hit the mother lode.” They were referring to a mass hatching of an estimated 210,000 giant South American river turtles at the Abufari Biological Reserve. It’s one of the largest known hatchings for the species, Podocnemis expansa. Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society…

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Beware in the Bayou: Alligators and Crocodiles Can Climb

  You might think of crocodiles lurking in the water or perhaps sunning themselves on a riverbank, but it turns out these toothy reptiles’ domain extends to the upper branches of trees. A new study in Herpetology Notes documents the surprisingly common tree-climbing behavior in crocodiles and their close cousins, alligators. Even without any special anatomic adaptations for…

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Extinct “Devil Frog” Sported Spikes, Body Armor

The giant “devil frog” was even more terrifying than previously thought, a new study says. Recent fossil analysis shows that the predatory amphibian, Beelzebufo ampinga, was smaller than first described, but had spiky flanges protruding from its skull and plate-like armor down its back. (Also see “7 Demonic Creatures: Thorny Devil, Satanic Gecko, More.”) Initially estimated…

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First Fish That’s No Longer Endangered: Freshwater Species of the Week

This week, for the first time, a fish has been declared recovered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed this week that the Oregon chub (Oregonichthys crameri) “has recovered and no longer meets the definition of an endangered species or a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.” The silvery…

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New Species of River Dolphin: Freshwater Species of the Week

Scientists in Brazil proposed a new species of river dolphin this week, the first such designation for the highly endangered group in a century. The proposed new species of river dolphin, the Araguaian boto (Inia araguaiaensis), was found in the Araguaia River Basin in central Brazil. The marine mammals were found to be isolated from other…

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Repurposed Private Parts: 5 Unexpected Ways Animals Use Their Genitals

  Genitals are useful for transferring sperm, but why stop there? Some animals have evolved unusual and creative ways to use their naughty bits to trick predators or attract mates. Recently, scientists discovered that hawkmoths have an unusual defense against bat sonar—by rubbing their genitals together, the moths produce ultrasonic sounds of their own. These…

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New Species of Giant Air-Breathing Fish: Freshwater Species of the Week

Water Currents previously reported on Donald Stewart‘s ongoing efforts to reclassify a giant Amazonian fish as representing several distinct species. The work of the fish biologist at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is supported in part by National Geographic. Stewart’s latest work has just been published in the journal Copeia, and marks…

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Beaver Butts Emit Goo Used for Vanilla Flavoring

Just in time for holiday cookie season, we’ve discovered that the vanilla flavoring in your baked goods and candy could come from the anal excretions of beavers. Beaver butts secrete a goo called castoreum, which the animals use to mark their territory. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists castoreum as a “generally regarded as…

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Beaver Butts Emit Goo Used for Vanilla Flavoring

Just in time for holiday cookie season, we’ve discovered that the vanilla flavoring in your baked goods and candy could come from the anal excretions of beavers. Beaver butts secrete a goo called castoreum, which the animals use to mark their territory. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists castoreum as a “generally regarded as…

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

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Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

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