Predatory fish Spectacled appearance

Long time resident of the Tropical Butterfly House, ‘Darwin’ the Spectacled Caiman, was surprised this week with the arrival of a second Caiman and the centre’s Animal Keepers are thrilled by what appears to be love at first sight.

Tropical House Keeper, Laura Martin, explains how visitors may tell the two apart, “’Darwin’ is actually a female (this was established after she was named!); females are smaller than males, reaching up to around 5 feet long, whereas males grow up to approximately 8 feet long. Fifteen year old ‘Pedro’ is only slightly longer head to tail than thirteen year old ‘Darwin’, but is a much ‘chunkier’ build, has more prominent tail stripes and is slightly lighter in colour.”

Found in Central and South America, the Spectacled Caiman is a relatively small species of crocodilian and is believed to be the most common. Their name relates to the bony ridge between their eyes, giving the appearance of spectacles. They inhabit rivers and lowland wetland areas and prefer fresh water but are also able to tolerate salt water; their adaptability is thought to be one of the reasons for the species’ success. Young Spectacled Caimans mainly feed on insects, crustaceans and molluscs, with adults feeding on fish, reptiles and water birds. Large adults are also known to prey on midsized mammals such as wild pigs.

“Safety is absolutely paramount when dealing with such a powerful predator, so the team were thoroughly briefed before entering the enclosure and knew to respect how potentially dangerous both of them could be.” explains Zoo Curator and Manager, Andrew Reeve. “Darwin has had the enclosure to herself for many years so was understandably territorial when Pedro was first released with her. There was a bit of hostility, as expected, for the first couple of hours, but they quickly settled down and seem to be very comfortable in each other’s company already.”

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Descended from Ancestor With Sixth Sense

2011-10-12 10:07:43 by iblisgaurdianangel

Most Vertebrates -- Including Humans -- Descended from Ancestor With Sixth Sense
ScienceDaily (Oct. 11, 2011) — People experience the world through five senses but sharks, paddlefishes and certain other aquatic vertebrates have a sixth sense: They can detect weak electrical fields in the water and use this information to detect prey, communicate and orient themselves.
A study in the Oct. 11 issue of Nature Communications that caps more than 25 years of work finds that the vast majority of vertebrates -- some 30,000 species of land animals (including humans) and a roughly equal number of ray-finned fishes -- descended from a common ancestor that had a well-developed electroreceptive system


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