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Daredevils Facts

Two million chinstraps nest on the volcanic Zavodovski Island.  This is the largest penguin colony in the world.  The heat from the crater keeps the slopes free of ice and snow, so the penguins can nest earlier than those farther south.  They have one of the worlds most dangerous central heating systems.

Two million chinstraps nest on the volcanic Zavodovski Island.  This is the largest penguin colony in the world.  The heat from the crater keeps the slopes free of ice and snow, so the penguins can nest earlier than those farther south.  They have one of the world’s most dangerous central heating systems. (View larger version)

Photograph by Getty Images

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  • Gibbons are arboreal. They spend most of their lives in trees, and rarely come onto the forest floor.

  • They use a form of locomotion called brachiation, which involves swinging from branches 50 feet apart at speeds of up to 30 mph.

  • Because gibbons are fast and dextrous while swinging through the trees, almost no predators can catch them.

  • Unlike other apes, gibbons produce loud songs that transmit over long distances through dense forest vegetation.

  • Chinstrap penguins forage mainly on krill in the Antarctic.

  • Chinstrap penguins build circular nests from stones, and lay two eggs, which are incubated by the male and the female separately for shifts of 6 days each.

  • Chinstrap penguins chicks stay in the nest for 20–30 days and then go join a crèche. The chicks go to sea after they have gained their adult feathers at 50-60 days.

  • Chinstrap penguins leave their breeding colonies during winter, migrating north of the pack-ice and staying at sea until the next spring.

  • Salamanders have the most primitive body form of all amphibians.

  • Salamanders exhibit a wide variety of anti-predator mechanisms. Some species, e.g. fire salamander, uses bright colours to warn of noxious substances in their skin; others use tail autonomy to escape predators. If seized, the tail will drop off and wriggle allowing the salamander to either run away, or avoid being noticed while the predator is distracted.

  • Within a few weeks of losing a limb or the tail, a salamander may perfectly re-grow the missing structure.

  • The paradise tree snake is an adept climber. Its favored haunt is in the crowns of the coconut palm.

  • Paradise tree snakes can glide long distances. Scientists recorded the longest flight as about 79 feet.

  • It’s likely paradise tree snakes “fly” to escape from predators, or just to move from tree to tree without having to descend to the forest floor.

  • Flying snakes secrete mild venom that is only dangerous to their small prey.

  • There are eight species of pelicans. They are found on all continents except Antarctica.

  • Brown pelicans prefer shallow inshore waters such as estuaries and bays, and are never found more than 20 miles out to sea or inland on fresh water.

  • The diet of a pelican usually consists of fish, but they also eat crustaceans and occasionally smaller birds.

  • Pelicians catch fish by expanding the throat pouch, which they must drain of water before they can swallow.

  • A pelican's beak pouch holds about three gallons; the stomach only about one gallon.

  • Weddell seals inhabit the sea ice attached to the shore around Antarctica and nearby islands.

  • Weddell seals dive through breathing holes to forage below the ice, feeding primarily on fish and squid.

  • The Weddell seal is known for its very deep dives, which may reach some 2,300 ft.

  • Weddell seals can stay underwater for up to 80 minutes because of their blood and muscle chemistry.

  • The bald eagle became the national emblem of the United States of America in 1782 when the great seal was adopted.

  • Bald eagles are found throughout most of North America, from Alaska and Canada to northern Mexico, although the northwest coast of North America is their stronghold.

  • Although an eagle's eye is almost as large as a human's, its acuity is at least four times that of a person with perfect vision.

  • Some bald eagles migrate to follow seasonal food supplies. Migrating eagles ride thermals. An eagle can circle in a strong thermal to a high altitude. Then glide long distances until it finds the next column of rising air.

  • The torrent duck lives in fast-flowing mountain rivers and streams at up to 14,000 feet of elevation in the Andes.

  • The torrent duck dives, both for feeding and when disturbed. When threatened, it swims long distances with only head and neck above the surface. It is also able to swim under the surface and against the current for over one minute.

  • Although it looks like a sheep, the bharal behaves more like a goat.

  • Bharals are found between 9,000 and 20,000 feet in the Himalayas.

  • The bharals main defense is to remains motionless when approached. When pursued by a predator it bounds up the precipitous rock face.

  • Bharal are an important item in the diet of the snow leopard.

  • Barnacle geese frequently build their nests high on mountain cliffs, away from predators such as Arctic foxes and polar bears.

  • Outside of the breeding season the barnacle goose is highly gregarious, often feeding in dense concentrations on coastal grasslands during the winter.

  • Barnacle geese were once exploited by humans for food, eggs and their fluffy down.

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