Portal:Animals

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Animal diversity October 2007 for thumbnail.jpg

Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia (also called Metazoa). Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their lives. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and independently. Most all animals must ingest other organisms or their products for sustenance, with the exception of those that form symbiotic relationships with photosynthetic organisms.

Most known animal phyla appeared in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion, about 542 million years ago. Animals are divided into various sub-groups, some of which are: vertebrates (birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish); mollusks (clams, oysters, octopuses, squid, snails); arthropods (millipedes, centipedes, insects, spiders, scorpions, crabs, lobsters, shrimp); annelids (earthworms, leeches); sponges; and jellyfish.

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Meerkats in Namibia

Meerkat Manor is a British television programme produced by Oxford Scientific Films for Animal Planet International that ran for four series between September 2005 and August 2008. Blending more traditional animal documentary style footage with dramatic narration, the series told the story of the Whiskers, one of more than a dozen families of meerkats in the Kalahari Desert being studied as part of the Kalahari Meerkat Project, a long-term field study into the ecological causes and evolutionary consequences of the cooperative nature of meerkats. With the success of the programme in the UK, Animal Planet started broadcasting it on its national channels in Australia, Canada, and the US. It has since been rebroadcast in more than 160 other countries. Although the show faced criticism from viewers for not intervening when a meerkat was injured and faced death, as a whole Meerkat Manor enjoyed considerable success, and its experimental format broke new ground in animal documentary filming techniques. It was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards in 2007, and was a winner at the 2006 Omni Awards and at the 2006 and 2007 New York Festivals Award Galas.

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Lynx kitten
Credit: Bernard Landgraf

A Lynx is any of several medium-sized wild cats. Lynxes have short tails, and usually a tuft of hair on the tip of the ears. They have large paws padded for walking on snow, and long whiskers on the face. The lynx inhabits high altitude forests with dense cover of shrubs, reeds and grass.

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When the fox dies, fowls do not mourn.

—Anonymous

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A standing jaguar
The jaguar is a New World mammal of the Felidae family and one of four "big cats" in the Panthera genus, along with the lion, tiger and leopard of the Old World. The jaguar is the third-largest feline after the lion and tiger, and is the largest and most powerful feline in the Western Hemisphere. The jaguar's present range extends from Mexico (with occasional sightings in the United States) across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Physically, the spotted cat most closely resembles the leopard, although its behavioural and habitat characteristics are closer to those of the tiger. While dense jungle is its preferred habitat, the jaguar will range across a variety of forested and open terrain. It is strongly associated with the presence of water and is notable, along with the tiger, as a feline that enjoys swimming. The jaguar is a largely solitary, stalk-and-ambush predator, and is opportunistic in prey selection. It is also an apex and keystone predator, playing an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating the populations of prey species. The jaguar has developed an exceptionally powerful bite, even relative to the other big cats.

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