Thursday, March 23, 2017

7 animals you can only find in Russia



Russia contains numerous rare and unusual critters, endemic animals whose natural habitat is limited to areas within the country's interior. To see them, you might need to embark on a journey to some of Russia’s more remote regions. However, you will be rewarded not only with the beauty of forests and lakes, but perhaps also with the opportunity to touch the silky fur of these wondrous creatures.

1. Russian desman

Millions of years ago, when mammoths had not yet emerged on this planet, the desman was already here. The Russian desman seems to embody antiquity in a sense. Their limited eyesight makes it similar to a mole, while the shape of its tail and its lifestyle recall an Australian native – the platypus.

Today this unusual semiaquatic mammal inhabits the basins of the Don, Volga and Ural rivers. A desman’s fur remains dry even underwater because of the oily musk secreted by its glands. It was the strong aromatic properties of its musk and its unique fur that put the desman on the brink of extinction a few centuries ago, but now this animal is under protection.

2. Fresh water seals of Lake Baikal and Lake Ladoga

The only mammals to inhabit Lake Baikal and Lake Ladoga are its seals. The most charming residents of these freshwater lakes have become their unofficial symbols. The Baikal seal and the Ladoga ringed seal are certain to win any tourist's affection. These animals have whirlpool eyes that look straight into your soul, cute fluffy pups and a curious nature. Lake Baikal even features a sealarium where these clever creatures show off their graceful movements.

Seals are referred to in many ancient Russian stories and legends. The peoples of Chukotka have a tale about a great mother seal that gave birth to every living creature on earth.

3. Putorana snow sheep
The impenetrable Putorana Plateau is one of Russia's wildest and least accessible areas: you have to take a boat or fly in to get there. This land is home to the endemic Putorana snow sheep. If getting to the plateau is challenging in itself, seeing its highland inhabitant also requires a fair amount of luck. Brutal and graceful at the same time, this animal with its thick winding horns and cautious manners grazes among steep rocks at an altitude of 1,700 meters.

It is impossible to know why the Putorana sheep chose this morose plateau, where it is forced to survive under harsh conditions, surrounded by ubiquitous dangers. Probably, these timid creatures enjoy the remoteness and the lack of disturbances.

4. Ross's gull

It’s hard to believe, but this frail-looking bird can be found in the austere environments of the Russian Arctic, Eastern Siberia and the northern and cold Indigirka, Kolyma and Anadyr rivers. The Ross's gull was once food for the Eskimos, but now the hunting of this strikingly beautiful bird is prohibited. Its plumage combines the snow-white of the surrounding ice with pale pink feathers, which seem to have absorbed the shades of polar dawns and northern lights. These frost lovers spend their winters in the north by the Arctic Ocean, instead of heading south with other birds.

5. Amur lemming
This rare mammal resembles a guinea pig or an oversize hamster with mottled fur. They inhabit the taiga of Eastern Siberia and Kamchatka. To see an Amur lemming, you might have to spend hours wandering across mossy moors and marshes: These rodents dig deep holes resembling labyrinths in the soft moss. A lemming's daily ration exceeds its own weight, but an active lifestyle helps them stay fit.

6. Siberian crane
The Siberian crane is majestic with snow-white plumage and a long red beak. These rare birds can be spotted in Yakutia and near Yamal in Western Siberia. Khanty, an indigenous people of Western Siberia, worship the crane as a sacred bird. These careful cranes prefer to avoid humans and warn their fellow birds with a long shriek, so you can only see them perform their impressive ritual movements from a safe distance.

The Siberian crane is included on the Red List as a critically endangered species. In 2012, President Vladimir Putin participated in The Flight of Hope, an action aimed at promoting the protection of this species. Accompanied by young cranes, the Russian president flew alongside them on a motorized hang glider.

7. Barguzin sable
Lake Baikal's eastern shores are covered with thick taiga, where you can encounter a nimble critter with fluffy coffee-colored fur – the Barguzin sable. The species, named for the Barguzin River, is very curious and not afraid of humans. Lucky tourists might get close enough to pet a sable and hear it purr, just like a cat. Because of its fine fur with silvery undertones, the Barguzin sable is highly valued and nicknamed the "king of wild furs" or "soft gold."
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

5 animals that are almost immortal (and one that actually is)


The typical lifecycle of animals is familiar to us all. We’re born, we reach sexual maturity, we grow old and—eventually—we die. Old age, or ‘senescence’, is the gradual accumulation of cellular degradation and happens to all humans. The older we get, the more likely we are to die.

Yet there are some animals for whom this does not apply; animals that do not have any measurable decline in survival as they age, nor do they display any reduction in reproductive capability. This lack of the symptoms of ageing is called ‘negligible senescence’ and applies to many different species throughout the animal kingdom, including these five.

1. Aldabra giant tortoise Geochelone gigantea
As its name suggests, the Aldabra giant tortoise is one of the largest tortoises in the world. Very slow growing animals, the species does not reach sexual maturity until over 30-years-old. One individual named Adwaita died aged 255 years at the Alipore Zoological Gardens in Kolkata, India. Carbon dating of his shell revealed that he had been born around 1750.

2. Rougheye rockfish Sebastes aleutianus
Probably the longest-lived marine fish on Earth, the Rougheye rockfish certainly lives up to its Latin name—Sebastes comes from Sebastos, which is Greek for ‘magnificent’. They evade predators by hiding in caves and crevices on the seafloor, but one individual couldn’t evade fishermen off the coast of Alaska. However, it made history as it was subsequently discovered to be 205-years-old.

3. Red sea urchin Strongylocentrotus franciscanus
There is great variation in age among sea urchins – some are short-lived, surviving for four years, some live up to 50 years, but some are extremely long-lived. With the ability to regenerate damaged appendages and reproduce throughout their lifespan, some of the largest specimens of Red sea urchins can live to be up to 200-years-old. This was discovered by scientists using tagging studies in the field to monitor individuals, as well as radiocarbon analysis.

4. Ocean quahog clam Arctica islandica
An edible species, the Ocean quahog clam is harvested from the Northern Atlantic Ocean for food. They are easy to age thanks to growth rings on their shells and their age is impressive. One individual made it into the Guinness Book of World Records when it died in 2006. It was found to be 507-years-old, confirmed by carbon dating, making it the world’s oldest living animal.

5. Naked mole rat Heterocephalus glaber
The maximum lifespan of the Naked mole rat is over 30 years – while not sounding remarkable, it is when compared to other rodents, as it lives about nine times longer than similarly sized mice. It is the longest living rodent in the world. Breeding females are fertile until death and, unlike every other mammalian species, their mortality risk does not accelerate with age. As they are much more closely related to us than any other negligibly senescent organism, understanding how this evolved may improve our understanding of ageing in humans, or even help us to achieve negligible senescence ourselves.

6. Hydras
There is one animal that could be called immortal. Strictly speaking, no animal is truly immortal as all can be killed by accidents, predator attacks, disease or adverse environmental factors. Yet some animals don’t seem to age at all, and have a stable or decreasing rate of mortality as they grow older. These animals are said to be ‘biologically immortal’. The hydra are one such animal. Tiny, simple freshwater animals, hydras reproduce asexually by growing clones of themselves and can regenerate – if cut apart, each piece develops into a new hydra. Their cells continually divide, but do not undergo senescence. For obvious reasons, they too are becoming a model for research into ageing.
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Friday, March 17, 2017

5 Animals Who Love Yoga As Much As You Do


“Any time I practice yoga, my dog, Nahla, tries to join in. She loves to jump on the mat to stretch.” —Jeremy Huckins Portland, Oregon

“When my wife, daughter, and I saw this turtle, we thought it was a sculpture. But after a few minutes, it moved and then resumed its Upward Turtle Pose.” —Al Dorner, Yorktown, Virginia


“We were delighted to see this penguin in Cape Town, South Africa, join us and mimic our poses.” —Rachel Bates and Helen Leher, Boynton Beach, Florida

“I’ve created a yoga and meditation space in my home that’s filled with things I love, including my white betta fish, Whisper. It seems that Whisper also enjoys doing some morning asana.” —Tammie Jones, Redding, California

“I saw this Cat-Cow combination during a trip to Woodstock, Vermont. When you practice yoga regularly, you may start to see yoga reminders in unusual places.” —Sarah Deutsch, Arlington, Virginia




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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Top 5 insects you should be eating


Cape Town – Scientists have long argued the virtues of eating insects as an alternative source of nutrition. Not only are insects cheap, they are filled with proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.

There are close to 2000 different edible insects in the world according to a report on IFL science.

Here is a list of the top 5 insects we should eat.

Grasshoppers

These insects are filled with protein. 77% of its entire body is entirely made up of protein.

Known as chapulines in Latin America, they mainly eat beans, corn and other legumes.

Grasshoppers in Mexico are usually eaten with tortillas and avocado.

Palm grubs

Know as natural energy bars, palm bugs are weevils and are eaten in South Asia and the Americas, specifically in Paraguay.

These bugs are filled with unsaturated fatty acids. The body consists of 69% pure fat.

They can be cooked in their own fat or eaten raw.

Mopane worms

Mopane worms are a great source of iron. They have between 31 to 77mg of iron per 100g.

Found predominantly in Southern Africa, these insects are very good for increasing iron levels for people who have vitamin deficiencies.

Meal worms

Nutritionally meal worms could be compared to beef. In European countries, companies have started growing meal worms in order to be used as bird food.

But they are just as good for humans.

In the Netherlands companies are now rearing meal worms for human consumption.

Black soldier flies maggots

A Black soldier fly contains 42% protein and 35% fat.

These insects are mostly used in animal feed. They are particularly used in the poultry, trout and swine industry.

In China they are especially delicious when deep fried or dried.
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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

5 Terrifyingly Huge Spiders


These massive spiders can’t be dispatched by a shoe or rolled-up newspaper and are sure to give you nightmares—even if you're not an arachnophobe.

1. Poecilotheria rajaei

This recently announced new species of tarantula, found in Northern Sri Lanka, has a leg span of 8 inches—that's roughly the size of your face! It’s part of an arboreal group called tiger spiders, which are indigenous to India and Sri Lanka. A dead male specimen of P. rajaei—which was distinguished from other tiger spiders by the markings on its legs and abdomen—was first presented to scientists in October 2009 by a local villager; a survey of the area revealed enough females and juveniles that scientists are confident they've found a new species. “They are quite rare,” Ranil Nanayakkara, co-founder of Sri Lanka’s Biodiversity Education and Research, told Wired. “They prefer well-established old trees, but due to deforestation the number have dwindled and due to lack of suitable habitat they enter old buildings.” P. rajaei was named after a police officer who helped scientists navigate the area where it was found.

2. Theraphosa blondi


Though Theraphosa blondi is called the Goliath Bird-eating spider, it doesn’t actually eat birds. Reportedly, it got its name when an explorer saw it eating a hummingbird, but like other tarantulas, its diet consists mainly of insects, frogs, and rodents. But we’ll forgive you if you’re not comforted by that fact. After all, this spider can have a leg span nearly a foot across—the size of a dinner plate—and weigh up to 6 ounces, making it the largest spider in the world by mass. Its fangs, up to an inch long, can break human skin. (Though venomous, its poison won't bring down a human.) Native to South America, the spider makes noise by rubbing the bristles on its legs together; the sound can be heard up to 15 feet away.

3. Heteropoda maxima

Yet another reason to avoid dark caverns: Discovered in a cave Laos in 2011, the Giant Huntsman spider has a leg span of 12 inches. It’s just one of over 1000 species of Huntsman spider. These speedy arachnids can chase down their prey with ease and have legs that extend forward, like a crab’s.

4. Golden Silk Orb-Weaver

These arachnids, of the genus Nephila, have a fearsome relative: the largest fossilized spider ever found is an ancestor. Females of this family of spiders, which are found around the world, can have leg spans up to 6 inches (the males are smaller). Though these Orb-Weavers typically eat large insects, some individuals in Australia have been snapped eating snakes and birds that got caught in their strong, 5-foot-diameter webs.
 
5. Phoneutria nigriventer

Sure, Phoneutria nigriventer's nearly 6-inch leg span is scary—but there's something else about this spider that makes it even more terrifying: Its venom, a neurotoxin that can be fatal to humans. In fact, along with P. fera, this spider is the most toxic on Earth (thankfully, a good antivenom exists). Native to Central and South America, P. nigriventer is also called the Brazilian Wandering Spider, for its tendency to roam the forest at night, and the banana spider, both because it hides in banana plants during the day and sometimes stows away in shipments of the fruit. When threatened, the spider lifts its front two pairs of legs and sways side to side, like so:
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Sunday, March 12, 2017

5 Animals Humans Need For Survival


Every life on Earth is worth protecting, but there are a few that need some extra attention — we may not be able to live without them! 

1. Honeybees
Bees provide the world with something far more important than delicious honey: they provide pollination — which is what makes most of the plant life on Earth grow. It allows plants, flowers, trees and fruits to exist which, in turn, feeds both other animals and humans. Unfortunately, human interaction with nature has caused the bee population across the world to decrease by an estimated 250 billion bees.
2. Bats

Nowadays, when people think of bats they immediately equate them with vampires. But only one species of bat a ctually drinks blood, so there’s really no need to fear them. In fact, bats have a positive influence on life on the planet. Bats comprise one in every five mammals in the wild, and are one of the largest consumers of insects on Earth. That basically means that they keep the creepy crawlers from taking over! So when you lay your head down to sleep tonight, you can thank your friendly neighborhood bats for making sure you won’t wake up next to a spider in your bed.

3. Plankton

It’s a common misconception that plankton are only plants, but the term actually refers to any tiny living organism underneath the water that is virtually incapable of moving on its own. Why are plankton important? Because they’re the reason we can all breathe. Through photosynthesis and some healthy appetites, both phytoplankton and zooplankton play an important role in converting energy into oxygen and distributing it around the world. Take a deep breath and say thank you, because plankton are responsible for half of the Earth’s oxygen!

4. Primates

Our closest cousins in the animal kingdom are also some of the most vital animals on the planet. They may be our closet link when it comes to understanding human history, but their true worth lies in the ecological role they play in the world. In tropical and sub-tropical climates, primates are what is known as a keystone species. They essentially act as the forests’ gardeners, by dispersing seeds and pollen through their daily habits such as eating and — uh — defecating. Why is this important? Because tropical rainforests actually influence global rainfall patterns, so the trees that primates help grow actually work to sustain life on Earth.

5. Butterflies

Aside from looking absolutely beautiful and helping spread pollen through their wings, butterflies help predict climate change. Studies have indicated that European butterflies have steadily been moving north, and a large part of this is due to a change in temperature. Butterflies prefer milder climates and studies have shown that they are emerging earlier and navigating north sooner than normal. They provide a way for scientists to study the effects of climate change and provide great insights on how to prevent it.
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Saturday, March 11, 2017

5 Animals With Pockets


Animals (including us humans) are ingenious in a zillion unique ways. Here are five animals that come with built-in pockets.

1. Male Seahorse
Photo by romainguy/Flickr
Before seahorses breed they go on a multi-day date, during which they hold tails and swim and dance together. When the time is right, the female seahorse uses her ovipositor to squirt eggs into the male seahorse’s ventral “brood pouch.” The male is pregnant for 10 to 25 days until strong contractions allow him to release the fully formed fry. Directly after giving birth, this superdad is ready to onboard another set of eggs.

2. Marsupials
 
Photo by Jen M./Flickr
As you already know, marsupials — which include kangaroos, koalas, wombats and possums — have pouches called “marsupiums” for keeping their young protected and nourished. These built-in pockets are marvels of engineering. For example, koalas, who can’t reach into their back-facing marsupiums to clean them, have self-cleaning pouches. Right before the koala gives birth, she secretes an antimicrobial liquid in her pouch to prepare it for the arrival of the vulnerable, gummy-bear-like baby. BTW the pouch is the least weird aspect of marsupial reproduction; most marsupials have double-headed penises and triple vaginas.

3. Echidna
Photo by Laurence Barnes/Flickr
Echidnas (pronounced eh-KID-nehs), also called spiny anteaters, have spines and long, incredibly sensitive snouts. They live exclusively in Australia and New Guinea. Like platypuses, echidnas are monotremes: outside-the-box mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young. Echidnas have a temporary, “convertible” pouch for carrying their eggs and young. This pouch is formed by abdominal muscles contracting to create a pouch-like holder. When the female echidna lays an egg, she lies on her back, rolls the leathery egg down her stomach, and tucks it into her pouch. After about 10 days the baby hatches. The young echnidna, delightfully named a “puggle,” hangs out in the pouch until it begins to develop its spines, at which point it’s evicted by the mother for being too prickly.

4. Sea Otter
 
Photo by pling/Flickr
Yup, sea otters have pockets. Folds of loose skin across their chests create a pouch under each forearm to store stuff in. Sea otters often have a favorite rock for cracking open shellfish and clams, and they keep this rock in one of their pockets — typically, according to science, the left pocket. Sea otters also use their pockets to store food gathered on dives. (I know. As if sea otters weren’t already unbearably cute.)

5. Chipmunk

Many animals, including rodents, monkeys and platypuses, have cheek pouches for storing food. But of all Earth’s animals, chipmunks have the largest face pockets. When a chipmunk’s cheek pouches are full, they can reach the size of the whole rest of the chipmunk’s body.
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Thursday, March 9, 2017

10 Terrifying Animals You're Glad Are Extinct


Like humans, animals are always growing, changing, and going extinct. Throughout the course of the planet’s existence, there have been countless animals and creatures that have walked on the very ground we stand. As we know, there have been some incredible creatures, both big and small that were both frightening and fascinating. Had these animals lived while humans were alive, there’s no telling whether or not the human race would still be in existence. Over the course of time, elements change, environments change, and there are some animals that aren’t able to survive thanks to Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest.” Can you imagine living at the same time as the dinosaurs? That would have drastically changed the way we lived! But thanks to the meteor that hit the Earth, these dangerous creatures were wiped out from the planet. Even though these animals don’t exist anymore, thanks to technology in archaeology, we can now have a glimpse at what the past was like. However, some of the results might be truly terrifying.
In this video, you will meet ten terrifying animals that you would be glad that they are extinct. Whether they are merely scary looking or posed a potential threat to humans, these extinct animals are a sight to behold. Given that more animals are going extinct due to humans poaching or climate change, there will be more animals being added to this list before we know. It could be a sad thing, but for others, it’s a major relief
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Monday, March 6, 2017

The Giant Panda


The Bamboo Bear
Area: China

Habitat: Forests

Food: Bamboo, grasses, bulbs, some insects and fruit

Size: 5 feet long

Babies: Cubs are born hairless and with their eyes closed.

For a long time, scientists weren’t sure if giant pandas were bears or perhaps more closely related to raccoons. Now we know that giant pandas are indeed members of the bear family, similar to other bears in their general looks and the way they walk and climb.

Bamboo is the most important plant in a giant panda's life. They spend at least 12 hours each day eating bamboo. Pandas grasp bamboo stalks with their five fingers and a special wristbone. They use their teeth to peel off the tough outer layers of the stalk to reveal the soft inner tissue. They also eat the leaves.

Giant pandas are only about the size of a stick of butter at birth, and they're hairless and helpless. The panda mother gives great care to her tiny cub, usually cradling it in one paw and holding it close to her chest. For several days after birth, the mother does not leave the den, not even to eat or drink!
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Sunday, March 5, 2017

10 Animals That Came Back From Extinction


Takhi

It is known as true wild horse in the world they weigh around 300 kilograms. This species has 66 chromosomes as other common horses has 62 chromosomes. They originally lived in mongolian plains gradually moving to the gobi desert and they were last seen in 1969. They were believed to extinct due to loss of grassing land and hunting but thanks to ambitious breeding programmes that takhi’s are back.

Clarion Nightsnake

is a species of small colubrid snake endemic to clarion island initially described by a single specimen by william beebe in 1936. During the next several decades, scientists were unable to detect any trace of the snake in their field studies. After an intensive search in 2013, a team of scientists identified 11 snake that matched original description of the species. The snakes has the characteristics series of darker spots on their head and neck grows to be approximately 18 inches long. They usually lives on black lava rock habitat near the waters of sulphur gay.

Monito del Monte
 
one of the most impressive animal that came back from extinction, they are native only to southwestern south america, lives in the dense, humid forests of highland argentina and chile mainly in trees. The animal covers its nest with moss for concealment and for insulation and protection from bad whether. They are slightly bigger then common mouse and it uses appendages and free handed tail to climb.      

Coelacarth
 
constitute a now rare order of fish that includes two extent species in the genus. They were long lived fish believed to extinct. In 1938 it has discovered in columinal river in south africa proved that coelacarth came back from extinction, this lives in water of the deep 100 meter below the surface.   

Takahe

is a flightless bird indigenous to new zealand and belonging to the rail family. It was thought to be extinct after the last four known specimens were taken in 1898. However, after a carefully planned search effort the bird was rediscovered by geoffrey orbell near Lake Te Anau in the Murchison Mountains, South Island, on 20 November 1948. 

Bermuda Petrel
 
Commonly known in Bermuda as the cahow, a name derived from its eerie cries, this nocturnal ground-nesting seabird is the national bird of Bermuda and can be found on Bermudan money. It is the second rarest seabird on the planet and a symbol of hope for nature conservation. They are known for their medium-sized body and long wings. The Bermuda petrel has a greyish-black crown and collar, dark grey upper-wings and tail, white upper-tail coverts and white under-wings edged with black, and the underparts are completely white. For 330 years, it was thought to be extinct. The dramatic rediscovery in 1951 of eighteen nesting pairs made this a “Lazarus species”, that is, a species found to be alive after having been considered extinct. This has inspired a book and two documentary films. A national programme to preserve the bird and restore the species has helped increase its numbers, but scientists are still working to enlarge its nesting habitat on the restored Nonsuch Island. 

Pygmy tarsier
 
also known as the mountain tarsier is a nocturnal primate found in central Sulawesi, Indonesia, in an area with lower vegetative species diversity than the lowland tropical forests. The pygmy tarsier was believed to have become extinct in the early 20th century. Then, in 2000, Indonesian scientists accidentally killed one while trapping rats. The first pygmy tarsiers seen alive since the 1920s were found by a research team led by Dr. Sharon Gursky and Ph.D. student Nanda Grow from Texas A&M University on Mount Rore Katimbo in Lore Lindu National Park in August 2008. The two males and single female (a fourth escaped) were captured using nets, and were radio collared to track their movements. As the first live pygmy tarsiers seen in 80-plus years, these captures dispelled the belief among some primatologists that the species was extinct.    

Loatian Rock Rat
 
is a rodent species of the Khammouan region of Laos. The species was first described in a 2005 article by Paulina Jenkins and coauthors, who considered the animal to be so distinct from all living rodents, they placed it in a new family, Laonastidae. It is in the monotypic genus Laonastes. . The discovery of the Laotian rock rat means an 11 million-year gap exists in the fossil record where no diatomyids have been found.           

Cuban Solenodon


Since its discovery in 1861 by the German naturalist Wilhelm Peters, only 36 had ever been caught. By 1970, some thought the Cuban solenodon had become extinct, since no specimens had been found since 1890. This species of animals are polygamist which means they only meet up to mate and the male mates with multiple females. The males and females are not found together unless they are mating. The pair will meet up, mate, then separate. The males do not partake in raising any of the young.

The Caledonian Crested Gecko
 
This species was thought extinct until it was rediscovered in 1994.Along with several Rhacodactylus species, it is being considered for protected status by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. It is popular in the pet trade. The crested gecko has many naturally occurring color groups, some of which include: grey, brown, red, orange, and yellow of various shades. They have variable markings, which include spots, straight stripes, and tiger-like stripes. The colors are brighter and more prominent at night.The crested gecko has distinct structural morphs in head size and crest abundance. Geckos with a head length less than 1.3 times its width are considered “crowned”. The numbers and sizes of crests can vary; some geckos have crests that extend to the base of the tail and some lack crests on one side of their body.
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