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The Deadliest Snakes in the World

And an alarming number are found in Australia!

b-0960-az-13-03-06-20M, originally uploaded by Barbara J H


1) Fierce Snake or Inland Taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus ), Australia. The most toxic venom of any snake. Maximum yield recorded (for one bite) is 110mg. That would porbably be enough to kill over 100 people or 250,000 mice. With an LD50 of 0.01 mg/kg, it is about 10 times as venomous as a Mojave rattlesnake and 750 times as venomous as a common cobra. The Fierce Snake is native to the arid regions of central Australia, extending from the southeast part of the Northern Territory, and into west Queensland. The Fierce Snake can also be found north of Lake Eyre and to the west of the split of the Murray River, Darling River and Murrumbidgee River. Fierce Snakes are known to live in holes, and feed on small rodents such as mice and rats. Despite its name, Fierce Snakes are not known to be particularly aggressive, but docile. They will strike if provoked, however, injecting their incomparably toxic venom.No fatalities have been attributed to this species, and all known bites have been to people who keep them in captivity or actively seek them out in the wild.

Eastern Brown Snake, originally uploaded by wollombi.

2) Australian Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis ), Australia. One 1/14,000 of an ounce of this vemon is enough to kill a person. The Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis) – sometimes referred to as the Common Eastern Brown Snake is the world’s second most venomous land snake, native to Australia and may also be found on the peninsulas of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Eastern Brown Snakes are very fast moving and highly aggressive. When agitated, they will hold their necks high, appearing in a somewhat upright S-shape. The snake will occasionally chase an aggressor and strike at it repeatedly.

Blue Krait
3) Malayan or Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus ), Southeast Asia and Indonesia. 50% of the bites from this snake are fatal even with the use of antivenin treatment.

Kraits are ophiophagous, preying primarily upon other snakes (including venomous varieties) and are cannibalistic, feeding on other kraits. They will also eat small lizards.

All kraits are nocturnal. The snake is more docile during the daylight hours, becoming more aggressive during the night. However, they are rather timid and will often hide their heads within their coiled bodies for protection. When in this posture, they will sometimes whip their tail around as a type of distraction.

Deadly Taipan Snake-04+, originally uploaded by cindytoo.
4) Taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus ), Australia. The venom delivered in a single Taipan bite is enough to kill up to 12,000 guinea pigs. The common taipan is the third-most venomous snake on Earth and arguably the second-largest venomous snake in Australia (the first arguably being the mulga, or king brown, snake, Pseudechis australis). The danger posed by the coastal taipan was brought to Australian public awareness in 1950, when young herpetologist Kevin Budden was fatally bitten in capturing the first specimen available for antivenom research.

Tiger Snake, originally uploaded by Xenedis.
5) Tiger Snake (Notechis scutatus ), Australia.

All Notechis species have a very potent neurotoxic venom, which may cause neurotoxic, hemolytic, coagulopathic, and myolytic reactions; paralysis or death can ensue in as short as 30 minutes, but if it occurs it is usually on the timespan of 6-24 hours after the bite. Notechis has historically been a significant contributor to snakebite envenomation in Australia. Prior to the development of specific antivenom, Tiger Snake bite fatalities probably approached 60-70% in cases of severe bites. Specific antivenoms are available for the treatment of tiger snake bites. Fortunately the snake will generally flee if intruded upon, but will become aggressive if cornered.

Beaked Sea Snake
6) Beaked Sea Snake
(Enhydrina schistosa )

This is a species of sea snake.It is found in the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf (off Oman), south of the Seychelles and Madagascar, the seas off South Asia (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh), Southeast Asia (Myanmar (formerly Burma), Thailand, Vietnam), and Australia (Northern Territory and Queensland) and New Guinea.

Found in mangrove swamps.

Echis carinatus, originally uploaded by Drew Gardner.
7) Saw Scaled Viper (Echis carinatus ), Middle East Asia.

Echis carinatus is a venomous viper species found in parts of the Middle East and Central Asia, and especially the Indian subcontinent. It is the smallest of the Big Four dangerous snakes of India. Five subspecies are currently recognized, including the typical form described here.

This species is mostly crepuscular and nocturnal, although there have been reports of activity during daylight hours. [2] During they daytime they hide in all kinds of places, such as deep mammal burrows, rock fissures an fallen rotted logs. In sandy environments, they may bury themselves leaving only the head exposed. Often, they are most active after rains or on humid nights.

When alarmed, they put on a distinctive threat display.

They move about mainly sidewinding: a method at which they are considerably proficient and alarmingly quick. They are also capable of other forms of locomotion, but sidewinding seems to be best suited to moving about in their usual sandy habitats. It may also keep them from overheating too quickly, as they leave only two points of contact with the hot surface.

This species is often found climbing in bushes and shrubs, sometimes as much as 2 m above the ground. When it rains, up to 80% of the adult population will climb into bushes and trees. Once, it was observed how some 20 individuals had massed on top of a single cactus or small shrub.

Texas Coral Snake4, originally uploaded by The Horned Jack Lizard.
8 ) Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius ), North America.

The coral snakes are a large group of elapid snakes that can be divided into two distinct groups, New World coral snakes and Old World coral snakes. There are three genera among New World coral snakes that consist of over 65 recognized species.

Coral snakes vary widely in their behavior, but most are very secretive, fossorial snakes which spend the vast majority of their time buried in the ground or in leaf litter of a rainforest floor, only coming to the surface during rains or during breeding season. Some species, like Micrurus surinamensis are almost entirely aquatic and spend most of their lives in slow moving bodies of water that have dense vegetation.

Like all elapid snakes, coral snakes use a pair of small fangs, which are fixed in the front of their top jaw, to deliver their venom. Due to the time it takes for the venom take effect, coral snakes have a tendency to hold on to a victim when biting, unlike vipers which have retractable fangs and tend to prefer to strike and let go immediately. Coral snakes are not aggressive or prone to biting however, and account for less than a single percent of the number of snake bites each year in the United States. Most coral snake bites occur because of accidental handling of the snake while engaged in an activity like gardening.

Due to the small size of coral snakes, along with their having much smaller fangs than pit vipers, bites are frequently ineffective and have some difficulty penetrating shoes or even thick clothing. This along with the fact that coral snakes are quite shy and reclusive makes bites quite rare. However, coral snakes are highly venomous, being the only relative of the cobra found in the New World. Despite their relatively small size, their venom is a powerful neurotoxin, quite capable of killing an adult human. Any bite from a coral snake should be considered life threatening and immediate treatment should be sought. Often there is very little reaction around the bite area, as opposed to the pain and swelling usually associated with a viper bite, and systemic effects can delay manifestation for 8-24 hours. This potential delay in symptoms makes treating coral snake bites particularly tricky, and often results in preventative treatment whether one is displaying symptoms or not. Once the neurotoxin takes effect, it causes the neurotransmitters between the brain and muscles to malfunction. Initially symptoms are slurred speech, double vision, difficulty swallowing, but can quickly progress to muscular paralysis, and even respiratory or cardiac failure if not treated.

Boomslang, originally uploaded by wapstar.
9) Boomslang (Dispholidus typus ), Africa.

A boomslang, Dispholidus typus is a large, venomous colubrid snake native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is the only species in its genus. Its name means “tree snake” in Afrikaans and Dutch.Boomslangs are largely arboreal, are very fast moving, and are oviparous. Their diet includes chameleons and other arboreal lizards, frogs, and occasionally small mammals, birds and eggs from nesting birds, which they swallow whole.

Most members of the colubrid family are harmless, or have relatively weak venom, but the boomslang is an exception. It has a highly potent venom which it delivers through large, deeply grooved fangs that are (like in most other venomous colubrids) located in the rear of the jaw. This type of venomous apparatus is called opisthoglypha. The boomslang is the most dangerous of the snakes with this method of venom delivery, due to its relatively large fangs and its relatively anterior position of the fangs compared to other opisthoglyphic taxa. The bite of the boomslang can be fatal, and has been reported to be not unlike bites from vipers. In 1957, well known herpetologist, Karl Schmidt died after being bitten by a boomslang. D.S. Chapman states that between 1919 and 1962 there were eight serious human envenomations by boomslangs, two of which were fatal. The South African Vaccine Producers (formerly South African Institute of Medical Research) manufactures a monovalent antivenom for boomslang venom. The venom of the boomslang is primarily a hemotoxin. This means that the venom attacks and destroys the hemoglobin in the red blood cells, destroying the blood in its victim. The venom of a boomslang disables blood clotting process and the victim often dies out of numerous internal and external bleedings. Other symptoms include: headache, nausea, sleepiness and mental disorders. Being a relatively slow-acting venom, the symptoms may occur many hours after the bite. On one hand, this provides time for arranging the serum, while on the other hand it may lead victims to underestimate the bite (especially when, as with other snakes, not every bite injects venom).

An adult snake has 4-8 mg of venom. 5 mg is said to be enough to kill a man.

The boomslang is a timid snake, and bites generally occur only while attempting to handle, catch or kill the snake.

death adder – acanthophis antarcticus, originally uploaded by fraser baz.
10) Death Adder (Acanthopis antarcticus ), Australia and New Guinea.

Death adders are very viper-like in appearance, having triangular shaped heads and small subocular scales. They also have vertical pupils and many small scales on the top of the head. Like vipers, they have short, fat bodies (normally 50 – 90 cm (20 – 36 inches) long). Their fangs are also longer and more mobile than for most other elapids, although still far from the size seen in some of the true vipers. Despite their name and appearance, they are not vipers at all, but elapids (like all Australian venomous snakes). This is a case of convergent evolution.

It normally takes 2 – 3 years to reach adult size. Females are generally slightly larger than the males. They can also be easily distinguished from other Australian snakes because of a short spine protruding from their tails. Most have large bands around their bodies, though the color itself is variable. Colors are usually grey or red, but also include brown, greenish-grey, or yellow.

Death adders inject on average 40 – 100 mg of extremely toxic venom (0.4 – 0.5 mg/kg murine LD50, subcutaneous) with a bite. This makes an untreated death adder bite one of the most dangerous in the world (rated in top 10 in the CSL list).

Death adder venom is highly neurotoxic. It blocks the post-synaptic neuromuscular transmission from the acetylcholine receptor. Unlike other snakes of its type, it does not contain either procoagulants or myolysins, making treatment easier.

A bite from a death adder causes paralysis. While this paralysis is very minor at first, it can cause death from a complete respiratory shutdown in as little as six hours. Symptoms peak in 24 – 48 hours.

Symptoms of envenomation can be reversed through the use of death adder antivenom, or using anticholinesterases, which break the synaptic blockade by making acetylcholine more available to the brain.

Before antivenom was introduced, 50% of death adder bites were fatal. Now, with the antivenom, and due to the slow progression of envenomation symptoms, fatalities from death adder bites are very rare in Australia. In New Guinea, deaths from these snakes are still common.

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Emu

Emu 1, originally uploaded by Snelvis.

Australia – Broken Hill Road Trip – Driving from Broken Hill to White Cliffs, originally uploaded by Keegan and Sonja.

The Emu is Australia’s tallest native bird, reaching 1.6-1.9m when standing erect. It weighs 30-45kg, which is lighter than its closest living relative, the Southern Cassowary Casuarius casuarius.

 

Emu, originally uploaded by marj k.

 

 

Emus II, originally uploaded by jennofarc.

 

Emus are easy to identify. Adult Emus are covered with shaggy grey-brown feathers except for the neck and head, which are largely naked and bluish-black. The wings are greatly reduced, but the legs are long and powerful. Each foot has three forward-facing toes and no hind toe.

 

Emu chick (Dromaius novaehollandiae), originally uploaded by alumroot.

 

The Emu is found only in Australia. It lives throughout most of the continent, ranging from coastal regions to high in the Snowy Mountains. The main habitats are sclerophyll forest and savanna woodland. These birds are rarely found in rainforest or very arid areas. Emus were once found in Tasmania, but were exterminated soon after Europeans arrived. Two dwarf species of emus that lived on Kangaroo Island and King Island also became extinct.

emu family, originally uploaded by David Haberlah.

What’s black and white…?


z., originally uploaded by frischmilch.

 

There are four extant species, as well as several subspecies. Zebra populations vary a great deal, and the relationships between and the taxonomic status of several of the subspecies are well known.

The Plains Zebra (Equus quagga, formerly Equus burchelli) is the most common, and has or had about twelve subspecies distributed across much of southern and eastern Africa. It, or particular subspecies of it, have also been known as the Common Zebra, the Dauw, Burchell’s Zebra (actually the subspecies Equus quagga burchelli), and the Quagga (another, extinct, subspecies, Equus quagga quagga).

The Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra) of southwest Africa tends to have a sleek coat with a white belly and narrower stripes than the Plains Zebra. It has two subspecies and is classified as endangered.

Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi) is the largest type, with an erect mane, and a long, narrow head making it appear rather mule-like. It is an inhabitant of the semi-arid grasslands of Ethiopia, Somalia, and northern Kenya. The Grevy’s Zebra is one of the rarest species of zebra around today, and is classified as endangered.

Although zebra species may have overlapping ranges, they do not interbreed. This held true even when the Quagga and Burchell’s race of Plains Zebra shared the same area. According to Dorcas McClintock in “A Natural History Of Zebras,” Grevy’s zebra has 46 chromosomes; plains zebras have 44 chromosomes and mountain zebras have 32 chromosomes. In captivity, Plains Zebras have been crossed with mountain zebras. The hybrid foals lacked a dewlap and resembled the Plains Zebra apart from their larger ears and their hindquarters pattern. Attempts to breed a Grevy’s zebra stallion to Mountain Zebra mares resulted in a high rate of abortion.

 

Stripe convention, originally uploaded by Jean Marc Dieu.

 

Zebras are typically herd animals. They usually stand one to two meters tall, two to three meters long, and weigh 250-500 kilograms as adults (depending on the species). They are most notable for their black and white stripe pattern.

A zebra can travel at a top speed of fifty-five kilometres per hour, slower than a horse. However, it has much greater stamina. During the course of a day the plains zebra can walk around eighty kilometres.

 

Zebra’s eye [Portfolio Magazine], originally uploaded by markeveleigh.

 

They are black with white stripes[1]. These stripes are typically vertical on the head, neck, forequarters, and main body, with horizontal stripes at the rear and on the legs of the animal. The zebra crossing is named after the zebra’s white on black stripes.

Originally, most zoologists assumed that the stripes acted as a camouflage mechanism, while others believed them to play a role in social interactions, with slight variations of the pattern allowing the animals to distinguish between individuals. A more recent theory, supported by experiment, posits that the disruptive coloration is an effective means of confusing the visual system of the blood-sucking tsetse fly.

 

zebra baby, originally uploaded by photo707.

 

Happy, originally uploaded by hvhe1.

TORTOISE!!!!

TORTOISE!!!!, originally uploaded by Two years of travelling.

Giant tortoises are characteristic of certain reptilian tropical island wildlife. They occur (some species are now extinct) in such places as Madagascar, the Seychelles, Mauritius, Réunion, the Galápagos Islands, Sulawesi, Timor, Flores and Java, often reaching enormous size. However, giant tortoises also once lived on the mainland of Asia, as follows from fossil finds in the Siwalik Hills in India.

 

 

Santa Cruz – wild Galapagos tortoise, originally uploaded by Steve Makin.

These animals belong to the most ancient group of reptiles, appearing about 250 million years ago. In the Upper Cretaceous, 70 or 80 million years ago some already became gigantic and about 1 million years ago these reptiles reached the Galápagos Islands. Until 100,000 years ago most of the gigantic species began to disappear for unknown causes and only 250 years ago there were at least 20 species and subspecies in islands of the Indian Ocean and 14 or 15 species in the Galapagos Islands. From those, only one of the species of the Indian Ocean survives and 11 in Galápagos.

 

 

“Hey Baby, Come here oft…?” “Go Away Creep!”, originally uploaded by ARKNTINA.

They are commonly known as the world’s longest living animals, with an average lifespan of 177 years.

 

 

slow love, originally uploaded by KCA.

 

 

140894, originally uploaded by Andre Boffin.

 

 

Open Wide, originally uploaded by Picture Taker 2.

Baboons

 

Do NOT lower your windows, originally uploaded by Tom KS.

 

The baboons are some of the largest non-hominid members of the primate order; only the Mandrill and the Drill are larger. In modern scientific use, only members of the genus Papio are called baboons, but previously the closely related Gelada (genus Theropithecus) and two species of Mandrill and Drill (genus Mandrillus) were grouped in the same genus, and these monkeys are still often referred to as baboons in everyday speech. The word “baboon” comes from “babouin”, the name given to them by the French naturalist Buffon. Papio belongs to family Cercopithecidae, in subfamily Cercopithecinae.

 

Eritrea Erythrée Lafforgue 83, originally uploaded by Eric Lafforgue.

 

All baboons have long dog-like muzzles (cynocephalus = dog-head), close-set eyes, heavy powerful jaws, thick fur except on their muzzle, a short tail and rough spots on their rear-ends, called ischial callosities. These callouses are nerveless, hairless pads of skin which provide for the sitting comfort of the baboon (and other Old World monkeys). Males of the Hamadryas Baboon species also have a large white mane.

There is considerable variation in size and weight depending on species, the Chacma Baboon can be 120 cm (47 inches) and weigh 40 kg (90 lb) while the biggest Guinea Baboon is 50 cm (20 inches) and weighs only 14 kg (30 lb).

In all baboon species there is pronounced sexual dimorphism, usually in size but also sometimes in colour or canine development.

Baboons are terrestrial (ground dwelling) and are found in savanna, open woodland and hills across Africa. Their diet is omnivorous, but is usually vegetarian. They are foragers and are active at irregular times throughout the day and night. They can raid human dwellings and in South Africa they have been known to prey on sheep and goats.

Their principal predators are man and the leopard, although they are tough prey for a leopard and large males will often confront them.

Baboons in captivity have been known to live up to 45 years, while in the wild their life expectancy is about 30 years.

 

 

Young baboons, Serengeti, originally uploaded by Bob Duck.

 

Most baboons live in hierarchical troops of 5 to 250 animals (50 or so is common), depending on specific circumstances, especially species and time of year. The structure within the troop varies considerably between Hamadryas Baboons and the remaining species, sometimes collectively referred to as savannah baboons. The Hamadryas Baboon has very large groups comprised of many smaller harems (one male with four or so females), to which females from elsewhere in the troop are recruited while still too young to breed. The other baboon species have a more promiscuous structure with a strict dominance hierarchy based on the female matriline. The Hamadryas Baboon group will typically include a younger male, but he will not attempt to mate with the females unless the older male is removed.

Baboons can determine from vocal exchanges what the dominance relations between individuals are. When a confrontation occurs between different families or where a lower-ranking baboon takes the offensive, baboons show more interest in the exchange than exchanges between members of the same family or when a higher-ranking baboon takes the offensive. This is because confrontations between different families or rank challenges can have a wider impact on the whole troop than an internal conflict in a family or a baboon reinforcing its dominance.

 

 

“Does my bum look red in this?”, originally uploaded by Brian Ritchie.

 

Baboon mating behavior varies greatly depending on the social structure. In the mixed groups of savannah baboons, each male can mate with any female. The allowed mating order among the males depends partially on the ranking, and fights between males are not unusual.

There are however more subtle possibilities; males sometimes try to win the friendship of females. To garner this friendship, they may help groom the female, help care for her young, or supply them with food. Some females clearly prefer such friendly males as mates.

A female initiates mating by presenting her swollen rump to the male. But ‘presenting’ can also be used as a submissive gesture and is observed in males as well.

In the harems of Hamadryas baboons, the males jealously guard their females, to the point of grabbing and biting the females when they wander too far away. Despite this, some males will raid harems for females. In such situations it often comes to aggressive fights by the males. Some males succeed in taking a female from another’s harem. This is called a ‘takeover’.

Females typically give birth every other year, usually to a single infant, after a six month gestation. The young baboon weighs approximately one kilogram and is colored black. The females tend to be the primary caretaker of the young, although several females will share the duties for all of their offspring.

In mixed groups males sometimes help in caring for the young of the females they are friendly with, for instance they gather food for them and play with them. The probability is high that those young are their offspring. After about one year, the young animals are weaned. They reach sexual maturity in five to eight years.

In baboons males leave their birth group, usually before they reach sexual maturity, whereas females are ‘philopatric’ and stay in the same group their whole life.

 

 

Singer, originally uploaded by chi liu.

 

There are five recognised species of Papio, although there is some disagreement about whether they are really full species or subspecies. They are P. ursinus (Chacma Baboon, found in southern Africa), P. papio (Western or Guinea Baboon, found in Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea), P. hamadryas (Hamadryas Baboon, found in north-east Africa and into south-western Arabia), P. anubis (Olive Baboon, found in central African savanna) and P. cynocephalus (Yellow Baboon, found in Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia). Many authors distinguish P. hamadryas as a full species, but regard all the others as subspecies of P. cynocephalus and refer to them collectively as “savanna baboons”. This may not be helpful: while behaviorally and physically distinct from other baboon types, the Hamadryas baboon is known to hybridize with olive baboons, and recent phylogenetic studies of Papio show Hamadryas baboons to be more closely related to guinea and olive baboons than to chacmas.[2]

The traditional 5-form classification probably under-represents the variation within Papio. Some commentators[3] would argue that at least two more forms should be recognized, including the very small Kinda Baboon (P. kindae) from Zambia, the DRC, and Angola, and the Gray-footed Baboon (P. griseipes) found in Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and northern South Africa. However, current knowledge of the morphological, genetic, and behavioral diversity within Papio is too poor to make any final, comprehensive judgments on baboon taxonomy.

 

 

Dangerous Yawn, originally uploaded by Deeble.

 

Baboon information from Wikipedia

The Sumatran Tiger

Friday, originally uploaded by Arddu.

 

The Sumatran Tiger is a species that Steve Irwin was passionate about and chose to focus on with his Wildlife Warriors in the Asia region.

 

 

Wild Sumatran tiger on the prowl, originally uploaded by Wild Tiger.

 

The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The wild population is estimated at between 400 and 500 animals, occurring predominantly in the island’s national parks. Recent genetic testing has revealed the presence of unique genetic markers, indicating that it may develop into a separate species, if it is not made extinct.[2] This has led to suggestions that the Sumatran Tiger should have greater priority for conservation than any other subspecies. Habitat destruction is the main threat to the existing tiger population (logging continues even in the supposedly protected national parks), but 66 tigers were recorded as being shot and killed between 1998 and 2000—nearly 20% of the total population.

 

Sumatran Tiger, originally uploaded by BrianScott.

 

The Sumatran Tiger is the smallest of all tiger subspecies, and the Siberian Tiger is the largest. Male Sumatran Tigers average 8 feet in length from head to tail and weigh about 265 pounds. Females average 7 feet in length and weigh about 200 pounds. Its stripes are narrower than other subspecies of tigers’ stripes, and it has a more bearded and maned appearance, especially the males. Its small size makes it easier to move through the jungle. It has webbing between its toes that when spread, makes them very fast swimmers. It has been known to drive hoofed prey into the water, especially if the prey animal is a slow swimmer.

 

Sumatran Tiger Cubs @ the National Zoo, originally uploaded by Tiger Empress.

 

Tigers can breed at any time of year, though they typically breed during the winter or spring, and the gestation period is about 103 days. Normally they have 2 or 3 cubs, but can have as many as 6. The cubs are born with their eyes closed and weigh approximately 3 pounds (1.36 kg) each. Their eyes usually open by the tenth day, though some zoo born cubs have been recorded to have their eyes open at birth. They only consume milk for the first 8 weeks and after they can start trying harder food but still suckle for 5 or 6 months. The cubs first leave the den at 2 weeks old and learn to hunt at 6 months old. They can completely hunt for themselves at 18 months and at 2 years they are fully independent. They can live for about 15 years in the wild, and 20 in captivity.

Blue Morphos Butterfly

DSC_0057, originally uploaded by LJWhitmire.

A Morpho butterfly may be one of over 80 described species of the genus Morpho. They are neotropical butterflies found mostly in South America as well as Mexico and Central America. Morphos range in wingspan from the 7.5 cm (3 inch) M. rhodopteron to the imposing 20 cm (8 inch) Sunset Morpho, M. hecuba. The name Morpho derives from its use as an epithet of Venus.

Many Morpho butterflies are coloured in metallic, shimmering shades of blue and green. These colours are not a result of pigmentation but rather are an example of iridescence: the extremely fine lamellated scales covering the Morpho’s wings reflect incident light repeatedly at successive layers, leading to interference effects that depend on both wavelength and angle of incidence/observance. Thus the colours produced vary with viewing angle, however they are actually surprisingly uniform, perhaps due to the tetrahedral (diamond-like) structural arrangement of the scales or diffraction from overlying cell layers. This structure may be called a photonic crystal. The iridescent lamellae are present on the dorsal side of their wings only, leaving the ventral side a drab brown.

 

 

7th.to13th.Aug.2006.Vancouver Island & Back., originally uploaded by oscarromulus.

Morpho butterflies feed on the juices of fermenting fruit with which they may also be lured. The inebriated butterflies wobble in flight and are easy to catch. Morphos will also feed on the bodily fluids of dead animals and on fungi. Morpho butterflies may be important by their role in dispersing fungal spores.

The hairy brown caterpillars are nocturnal and feed on a variety of leguminous plants. In some species the caterpillars are also cannibalistic, a trait thought to be a population control mechanism. If disturbed, Blue Morpho caterpillars will secrete a fluid smelling of rancid butter. The tufts of hair decorating the caterpillars irritate human skin.

The entire life cycle of the Morpho butterfly, from egg to death, is approximately 115 days. The adults live for about a month. Their predators are few for the adults retain poisonous compounds accumulated by the feeding caterpillar – a process known scientifically as sequestering.

 

 

morphos, originally uploaded by moontrain.