...Fantazie je důležitější než znalosti. A. Einstein

Květen 2007

the lighthouse of Alexandria

30. května 2007 v 21:32 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only one had a practical use in addition to its architectural elegance: The Lighthouse of Alexandria. For sailors, it ensured a safe return to the Great Harbor. For architects, it meant even more: it was the tallest building on Earth. And for scientists, it was the mysterious mirror that fascinated them most... The mirror which reflection could be seen more than 50 km (35 miles) off-shore.
On the ancient island of Pharos, now a promontory within the city of Alexandria in Egypt.
Shortly after the death of Alexander the Great, his commander Ptolemy Soter assumed power in Egypt. He had witnessed the founding of Alexandria, and established his capital there. Off of the city's coast lies a small island: Pharos. Its name, legend says, is a variation of Pharaoh's Island, but it is more likely that the name is Greek in origin. The island was connected to the mainland by means of a dike - the Heptastadion - which gave the city a double harbor. And because of dangerous sailing conditions and flat coastline in the region, the construction of a lighthouse was necessary.
The project was conceived and initiated by Ptolemy Soter around 290 BC, but was completed after his death, during the reign of his son Ptolemy Philadelphus. Sostratus, a contemporary of Euclid, was the architect, but detailed calculations for the structure and its accessories were carried out at the Alexandria Library/Mouseion. The monument was dedicated to the Savior Gods: Ptolemy Soter (lit. savior) and his wife Berenice. For centuries, the Lighthouse of Alexandria (occasionally referred to as the Pharos Lighthouse) was used to mark the harbor, using fire at night and reflecting sun rays during the day. It was even shown on Roman coins, just as famous monuments are depicted on currency today.
When the Arabs conquered Egypt, they admired Alexandria and its wealth. The Lighthouse continues to be mentioned in their writings and travelers accounts. But the new rulers moved their capital to Cairo since they had no ties to the Mediterranean. When the mirror was brought down mistakenly, they did not restore it back into place. In AD 956, an earthquake shook Alexandria, and caused little damage to the Lighthouse. It was later in 1303 and in 1323 that two stronger earthquakes left a significant impression on the structure. When the famous Arab traveler Ibbn Battuta visited Alexandria in 1349, he could not enter the ruinous monument or even climb to its doorway.
The final chapter in the history of the Lighthouse came in AD 1480 when the Egyptian Mamelouk Sultan, Qaitbay, decided to fortify Alexandria's defense. He built a medieval fort on the same spot where the Lighthouse once stood, using the fallen stone and marble.

the colossus of Rhodes

30. května 2007 v 21:29 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
From its building to its destruction lies a time span of merely 56 years. Yet the colossus earned a place in the famous list of Wonders. 'But even lying on the ground, it is a marvel', said Pliny the Elder. The Colossus of Rhodes was not only a gigantic statue. It was rather a symbol of unity of the people who inhabited that beautiful Mediterranean island -- Rhodes.
At the entrance of the harbor of the Mediterranean island of Rhodes in Greece.
Throughout most of its history, ancient Greece was comprised of city-states which had limited power beyond their boundary. On the small island of Rhodes were three of these: Ialysos, Kamiros, and Lindos. In 408 BC, the cities united to form one territory, with a unified capital, Rhodes. The city thrived commercially and had strong economic ties with their main ally, Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt. In 305 BC, the Antigonids of Macedonia who were also rivals of the Ptolemies, besieged Rhodes in an attempt to break the Rhodo-Egyptian alliance. They could never penetrate the city. When a peace agreement was reached in 304 BC, the Antagonids lifted the siege, leaving a wealth of military equipment behind. To celebrate their unity, the Rhodians sold the equipment and used the money to erect an enormous statue of their sun god, Helios.
The construction of the Colossus took 12 years and was finished in 282 BC. For years, the statue stood at the harbor entrance, until a strong earthquake hit Rhodes about 226 BC. The city was badly damaged, and the Colossus was broken at its weakest point -- the knee. The Rhodians received an immediate offer from Ptolemy III Eurgetes of Egypt to cover all restoration costs for the toppled monument. However, an oracle was consulted and forbade the re-erection. Ptolemy's offer was declined.
For almost a millennium, the statue lay broken in ruins. In AD 654, the Arabs invaded Rhodes. They disassembled the remains of the broken Colossus and sold them to a Jew from Syria. It is said that the fragments had to be transported to Syria on the backs of 900 camels.
When Alexander died of a fever at an early age, his generals fought bitterly among themselves for control of Alexander's vast kingdom. Three of them,Ptolemy,Seleucus, andAntigous, succeeded in dividing the kingdom among themselves. The Rhodians supportedPtolemyin this struggle. This angeredAntigouswho sent his sonDemetriusto capture and punish the city of Rhodes. The war was long and painful.Demetriusbrought an army of 40,000 men. This was more than the entire population ofRhodes.

the mausoleum of Halicarnassus

30. května 2007 v 21:28 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Similar to the Great Pyramid, we are now visiting the burial place of an ancient king. Yet the Mausoleum is different - so different from the Pyramid that it earned its reputation - and a spot within the list - for other reasons. Geographically, it is closer to the Temple of Artemis... And it was the beauty of the tomb rather than its size that fascinated its visitors for years.
In the city of Bodrum (f.k.a. Halicarnassus) on the Aegean Sea, in south-west Turkey.
When the Persians expanded their ancient kingdom to include Mesopotamia, Northern India, Syria, Egypt, and Asia Minor, the king could not control his vast empire without the help of local governors or rulers -- the Satraps. Like many other provinces, the kingdom of Caria in the western part of Asia Minor (Turkey) was so far from the Persian capital that it was practically autonomous. From 377 to 353 BC, king Mausollos of Caria reigned and moved his capital to Halicarnassus. Nothing is exciting about Maussollos life except the construction of his tomb. The project was conceived by his wife and sister Artemisia, and the construction might have started during the king's lifetime. The Mausoleum was completed around 350 BC, three years after Maussollos death, and one year after Artemisia's.
For 16 centuries, the Mausoleum remained in good condition until an earthquake caused some damage to the roof and colonnade. In the early fifteenth century, the Knights of St Johns of Malta invaded the region and built a massive crusader castle. When they decided to fortify it in 1494, they used the stones of the Mausoleum. By 1522, almost every block of the Mausoleum had been disassembled and used for construction.
Today, the massive castle still stands in Bodrum, and the polished stone and marble blocks of the Mausoleum can be spotted within the walls of the structure. Some of the sculptures survived and are today on display at the British Museum in London. These include fragment of statues and many slabs of the frieze showing the battle between the Greeks and the Amazons.
The beauty of the Mausoleum is not only in the structure itself, but in the decorations and statues that adorned the outside at different levels on the podium and the roof. These were tens of life-size as well as under and over life-size free-standing statues of people, lions, horses, and other animals. Because the statues were of people and animals, the Mausoleum holds a special place in history as it was not dedicated to the gods of Ancient Greece.

the temple of Artemis at Ephesus

30. května 2007 v 21:25 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Is it simply a temple? How could it take its place among other unique structures such as the Pyramid, the Hanging Gardens, and the Colossus of Rhodes? For the people who actually visited it, the answer was simple. It was not just a temple... It was the most beautiful structure on earth... It was built in honor of the Greek goddess of hunting, wild nature, and fertility. That was the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.
The ancient city of Ephesus near the modern town of Selcuk, about 50 km south of Izmir (Smyrna) in Turkey.
Although the foundation of the temple dates back to the seventh century BC, the structure that earned a spot in the list of Wonders was built around 550 BC. Referred to as the great marble temple, or temple D, it was sponsored by the Lydian king Croesus and was designed by the Greek architect Chersiphron. The Temple was decorated with bronze statues sculpted by the most skilled artists of their time: Pheidias, Polycleitus, Kresilas, and Phradmon.
The temple served as both a marketplace and a religious institution. For years, the sanctuary was visited by merchants, tourists, artisans, and kings who paid homage to the goddess by sharing their profits with her. Recent archeological excavations at the site revealed gifts from pilgrims including statuettes of Artemis made of gold and ivory... earrings, bracelets, and necklaces... artifacts from as far as Persia and India.
On the night of 21 July 356 BC, a man named Herostratus burned the temple to ground in an attempt to immortalize his name, which he did indeed. Oddly enough, Alexander the Great was born the same night. The historian Plutarch later wrote that the goddess was 'too busy taking care of the birth of Alexander to send help to her threatened temple'. And when Alexander the Great conquered Asia Minor, he offered to rebuild the destroyed temple, but the Temple was not restored until after his death in 323 BC. The temple was eventually restored and is labeled 'Temple E' by archeologists.
When St Paul visited Ephesus to preach Christianity in the first century AD, he was confronted by the Artemis' cult who had no plans to abandon their goddess. And when the temple was again destroyed by the Goths in AD 262, the Ephesians vowed to rebuild. By the fourth century AD, most Ephesians had converted to Christianity and the temple lost its religious glamor. Ephesus was later deserted, and only in the late nineteenth century has the site been excavated. The digging revealed the temple's foundation and the road to the now swampy site. Attempts were recently made to rebuilt the temple, but only a few columns have been re-erected.

the statue of Zeus at Olympia

30. května 2007 v 21:23 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
This is the statue of the god in whose honor the Ancient Olympic games were held. It was located on the land that gave its very name to the Olympics. At the time of the games, wars stopped, and athletes came from Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and Sicily to celebrate the Olympics and to worship their king of gods: Zeus.
At the ancient town of Olympia, on the west coast of modern Greece, about 150 km west of Athens.
The ancient Greek calendar starts in 776 BC, for the Olympic games are believed to have started that year. The magnificent temple of Zeus was designed by the architect Libon and was built around 450 BC. Under the growing power of ancient Greece, the simple Doric-style temple seemed too mundane, and modifications were needed. The solution: A majestic statue. The Athenian sculptor Pheidias was assigned for the 'sacred' task, reminiscent of Michelangelo´s paintings at the Sistine Chapel.
For the years that followed, the temple attracted visitors and worshippers from all over the world. In the second century BC repairs were skillfully made to the aging statue. In the first century AD, the Roman emperor Caligula attempted to transport the statue to Rome. However, his attempt failed when the scaffolding built by Caligula's workmen collapsed. After the Olympic games were banned in AD 391 by the emperor Theodosius I as Pagan practices, the temple of Zeus was ordered closed.
Olympia was further struck by earthquakes, landslides and floods, and the temple was damaged by fire in the fifth century AD. Earlier, the statue had been transported by wealthy Greeks to a palace in Constantinople. There, it survived until it was destroyed by a severe fire in AD 462. Today nothing remains at the site of the old temple except rocks and debris, the foundation of the buildings, and fallen columns.
The statue was so high that visitors described the throne more than Zeus body and features. The legs of the throne were decorated with sphinxes and winged figures of Victory. Greek gods and mythical figures also adorned the scene: Apollo, Artemis, and Niobe's children. The Greek Pausanias wrote:
On his head is a sculpted wreath of olive sprays. In his right hand he holds a figure of Victory made from ivory and gold... In his left hand, he holds a sceptre inlaid with every kind of metal, with an eagle perched on the sceptre. His sandals are made of gold, as is his robe. His garments are carved with animals and with lilies. The throne is decorated with gold, precious stones, ebony, and ivory.

the hanging gardens of Babylon

30. května 2007 v 21:22 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Fruits and flowers... Waterfalls... Gardens hanging from the palace terraces... Exotic animals... This is the picture of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in most people's minds. It may be surprising to know that they might have never existed except in the minds of Greek poets and historians!
On the east bank of the River Euphrates, about 50 km south of Baghdad, Iraq.
The Babylonian kingdom flourished under the rule of the famous King, Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC). It was not until the reign of Naboplashar (625-605 BC) of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty that the Mesopotamian civilization reached its ultimate glory. His son, Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC) is credited for building the legendary Hanging Gardens. It is said that the Gardens were built by Nebuchadnezzar to please his wife or concubine who had been 'brought up in Media and had a passion for mountain surroundings'.
While the most descriptive accounts of the Gardens come from Greek historians such as Berossus and Diodorus Siculus, Babylonian records stay silent on the matter. Tablets from the time of Nebuchadnezzar do not have a single reference to the Hanging Gardens, although descriptions of his palace, the city of Babylon, and the walls are found. Even the historians who give detailed descriptions of the Hanging Gardens never saw them. Modern historians argue that when Alexander´s soldiers reached the fertile land of Mesopotamia and saw Babylon, they were impressed. When they later returned to their rugged homeland, they had stories to tell about the amazing gardens and palm trees at Mesopotamia.. About the palace of Nebuchadnezzar.. About the Tower of Babel and the ziggurats. And it was the imagination of poets and ancient historians that blended all these elements together to produce one of the World Wonders.
It wasn't until the twentieth century that some of the mysteries surrounding the Hanging Gardens were revealed. Archaeologists are still struggling to gather enough evidence before reaching the final conclusions about the location of the Gardens, their irrigation system, and their true appearance. Some recent researchers even suggest that the Hanging Gardens were built by Senaherib, not by Nebuchadnezzar II (ca. 100 years earlier).

the great pyramid of Giza

30. května 2007 v 21:21 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
It is the one and only Wonder which does not require a description by early historians and poets. It is the one and only Wonder that does not need speculations concerning its appearance, size, and shape. It is the oldest, yet it is the only surviving of the Seven Ancient Wonders. It is the Great Pyramid of Giza.
At the city of Giza, a necropolis of ancient Memphis, and today part of Greater Cairo, Egypt.
Contrary to the common belief, only the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), not all three Great Pyramids, is on top of the list of Wonders. The monument was built by the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty around the year 2560 BC to serve as a tomb when he dies. The tradition of pyramid building started in Ancient Egypt as a sophistication of the idea of a mastaba or 'platform' covering the royal tomb. Later, several stacked mastabas were used. Early pyramids, such as the Step Pyramid of King Zoser (Djoser) at Saqqara by the famous Egyptian architect, Imhotep, illustrate this connection.
The great pyramid is believed to have been built over a 20 year period. The site was first prepared, and blocks of stone were transported and placed. An outer casing (which disappeared over the years) was then used to smooth the surface. Although it is not known how the blocks were put in place, several theories have been proposed. One theory involves the construction of a straight or spiral ramp that was raised as the construction proceeded. This ramp, coated with mud and water, eased the displacement of the blocks which were pushed (or pulled) into place. A second theory suggests that the blocks were placed using long levers with a short angled foot.
Today, the Great Pyramid is enclosed, together with the other pyramids and theSphinx, in the touristic region of theGiza Plateau. Also in the area is the museum housing the mysteriousSun Boat, only discovered in 1954 near the south side of the pyramid. The boat is believed to have been used to carry the body of Khufu in his last journey on earth before being buried inside the pyramid. It may also serve him as a means of transportation in his afterlife journey according toAncient Egyptian beliefs.
Some of the earliest history of thePyramidcomes from a Greek traveller namedHerodotusof Halicarnassus. He visited Egypt around 450 BC and included a description of theGreat Pyramidin a history book he wrote. Herodotus was told by his Egyptian guides that it took twenty-years for a force of 100,000 oppressed slaves to build the pyramid. Stones were lifted into position by the use of immense machines.

black-tailed prairie dog

30. května 2007 v 21:12 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Black-TailedPrairie Dog
Scientific Name:Cynomys ludovicianus
Home:Grassy rolling plains of the western US from Montana south to Mexico
Description:Four sharp teeth, golden brown fur, powerful short legs and arms, four inch tail, about a foot tall when standing

Despite their doggy name, prairie dogs are members of the squirrel family. These ground-dwelling squirrels dig a complex series of tunnels deep into the ground -- called a town! Hundreds of prairie dogs live together in towns that can cover hundred of acres of land! One town discovered in the 19th century was as big as Belgium! All the town members feed on the grasses, roots, leaves and flowers that grow nearby. They don't drink a lot -- these creatures get all the water they need right from the plants they eat! It's a good thing -- the prairie can be a dry place. Prairie dogs depend on each other and their burrows to survive. Deep beneath the earth you're safe from prairie fires, coyotes, and hawks!
Prairie dogs don't just let any stranger into their homes, so they "kiss" and "hug" when they meet to identify each other as family!
No two burrows are alike! Prairie dogs dig tunnels as deep as fifteen feet deep, and make sure they have enough room for everyone in th family. Each tunnel is unique, but all burrows have an entrance, an exit, rooms for nesting, and a "flood room" -- a room dug into the ceiling at the bottom. If the burrow fills with water, the flood room forms a pocket of air for waiting until the water drains away!
Members of a prairie dog town take turns keeping watch! If the watch dog sees danger, they sound an alarm call by stretching their heads into the sky and barking! No wonder they got the name "little dogs" by early settlers! An alarm call sends all of the prairie dogs into the burrow to hide until the coast is clear.

american alligator

30. května 2007 v 21:11 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
American Alligator
Scientific Name:Alligator mississippiensis
Home:Wetlands of Southeastern US
Description:Eyes and nostrils on top half of head, large, long tail, greenish-black with soft white belly, broad snout, very short legs on long body, up to 18 feet (5.5m) long total
The American alligator is a cunning reptilian hunter with powerful jaws, sharp teeth, and great camouflage -- this creature looks like a log! Alligators have shorter, broader snouts than crocodiles, and they also lack fangs that stick out with jaws closed. The American alligator sleeps during the day while basking in the sun, then waits silently all night to ambush its prey. Slow moving fish, egrets, deer, and even turtles might become an alligator's dinner with one swift lunge. These skillful water predators have hardly changed in 65 million years!
Mom alligators build a nest mound for her eggs that keeps the eggs at a constant temperature. She watches over her brood until they hatch, and then some -- she may staywith her babies for up to 2 years!
Alligators have a third, sideways eyelid that protects their eyes underwater while still making it possible to see.
If you were an alligator, you could eat your cheeseburger underwater without choking! A wide flap of skin at the back of an alligator's throat keeps an alligator from getting water in its lungs while swallowing underwater!

polar bear

30. května 2007 v 21:11 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Polar Bear
Scientific Name:Ursus maritimus
Home:All around the North Pole on sea ice, islands, and coasts
Description:White-furred, long-legged, huge, one-ton bear
Polar bears are the biggest carnivores on land! They're twice as big as a tiger, and the ultimate polar predators. Hunting alone for anything from seals to large fish, or scavenging for dead whale or walrus, the polar bear uses a sense of smell 100 times better than ours. A clever polar bear technique for catching a seal requires long hours by a break in the ice, waiting for the seal to come up for air so he can grab it. Polar bears can run at speeds close to 40 mph. Some polar bears never step on land, though, and move from one ice floe to another. Even though they are amazing swimmers, with water-repellent coats and partially webbed paws, the bears prefer to use chunks of ice as rafts to get around! The cold, windy, and ice-covered terrain of the Arctic is a polar bear paradise!
Polar bears hiss like cats when they're mad!
Winter weather calls for some serious insulation. Polar bears have a 4-inch thick layer of blubbery fat to keep them warm! A polar bear's body heat is so well-contained that heat-sensitive cameras can't detect a bear sleeping on the ice!
Like all bears, polar bears love to play! These intelligent creatures will often use ice ridges as water slides, and take turns sliding down for a big SPLASH!

snow leopard

30. května 2007 v 21:10 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Snow Leopard
Scientific Name:Panthera uncia
Home:At high altitudes in coniferous forests of the Himalayan and Altai mountains to Mexico
Description:Soft gray fur with dark black-brown spots, a yard-long furry tail, large paws
Adapted for the extreme weather conditions of freezing snowy peaks and rocky terrain, these rare creatures hunt alone high in the mountains for ibex, wild mountain sheep, musk deer, small goats and often tinier mammals during the warmer daytime hours. Unlike most big cats, the snow leopard doesn't roar, and feeds crouched over her dinner, like small cats do. Snow leopard young are born up to four at a time in a warm den lined with mama leopard's fur.
Snow leopards have been spotted at heights as much as 6000 meters in summer. That's only a couple thousand meters short of climbing Mt. Everest!
Just JUMP! Snow leopards are superb jumpers and leapers. They can spring and pounce on prey that's up to 45 feet away!
Furry feet help snow leopards stay on top of the snow by providing a greater surface area -- like snow shoes! The fur keeps snow leopard paws warm and dry, and provides some snow-traction too!

king penguin

30. května 2007 v 21:10 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
King Penguin
Scientific Name:Aptenodytes patagonica
Home:Barren coasts of the sub-Antarctic islands
Description:Blue-black back with white belly, golden swish outlined in bold black on sides of head, almost three feet tall
Penguins are amazing fishing acrobats! The king penguin, second in size only to the huge emperor penguin, is one of the biggest birds around. Swimming at speeds of 6 mph, king penguins use their wings as flippers to fly through the water, and then hop out onto the rocky shore. Baby chicks are born from their greenish-white eggs nearly naked, but quickly become covered in a brown woolly fuzz to keep them warm.
Unlike many other penguins, the king penguin runs with its feet and doesn't hop while on land!
King penguins do not build nests, but tuck their single egg under their bellies while resting it on their feet! Mother and father penguin take turns keeping the egg warm in the cold!
Nesting colonies of as many as 10,000 penguins will form on shore, and each bird keeps its neighbor at an exact, but short, distance away. In these close quarters, coming too close gets a nasty jab or flipper slap!

southern elephant seal

30. května 2007 v 21:10 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Southern Elephant Seal
Scientific Name:Mirounga leonina
Home:The rocky shores of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands
Description:Huge four ton, silvery-skinned, sea mammals with stout squared-off head, a small trunk-like nose, and flippers
The southern elephant seal gets its name for being super-big and having a nose with a small trunk! Males, also called bulls, use these trunks to fight for breeding rights. The heavy-weights of the seal family, elephant seals can barely move on land -- flippers make these creatures swift and powerful swimmers, but they aren't strong enough to lift a seal body off the ground much. Large fishes, squid and an occasional penguin fall prey to elephant seals, who have few, if any predators. Beach parties of hundreds of seals sunbathe on the shores together!
When bull elephant seals fight, they will often bend their bodies into a U, balancing on their chests in shows of strength! The bulls are as much as three times as big as elephant seal cows!
The biggest elephant seal ever was over 20 feet long, and when it raised up on its flippers, it stood 10 feet tall! That seal could slam dunk with its trunk!
Beachmaster seals are the bulls that have fought and won breeding rights to whoever happens to be on the beach -- sometimes beachmasters end up fighting and gaining a harem of over 50 cows!

black-browed albatross

30. května 2007 v 21:09 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Black-browed Albatross
Scientific Name:Diomedea melanophris
Home:Sub-antarctic waters or nesting on the islands of South Georgia, 'les Kerguelen, Heard, MacDonald and MacQuarie
Description:Mostly white with yellowish-orange webbed feet, very long wings, gray highlights, bright yellow beak
Of the 13 kinds of albatross, the black-browed albatross is one of the smallest. Despite being called "gooneys" or "mollymawks" by sailors because of their clutsy landings, albatrosses are amazing and beautiful in the sky. The black-browed albatross lives a roaming life over the sea, flying thousands of kilometers before setting foot on land, so being an excellent and efficient flyer is a must. Sometimes these birds will eat what they find floating about, or small squid and fish, but the black-browed albatross's primary food is krill, the tiny shrimp that baleen whales also call their favorite! The black-browed albatross will cover an area that spans 900km in diameter regularly looking for delicious krill!
When an albatross comes in for a landing, it will lower its webbed feet and use them like brakes to slow down its flight!
The black-browed albatross will make its nest of dirt and moss on small, rocky islands with millions of other Antarctic seabirds, like penguins! This makes for some crowded quarters. Although the albatross won't mind a rock hopper penguin right next to its nest, the other albatrosses better watch out. Black-browed albatrosses will keep their nests a regular distance apart -- 1.55m -- that's exactly how close they can get before making each other angry. Hey! Everybody needs their space!
Albatrosses will fly for miles without flapping their wings! They soar and glide on the winds above the sea, making a slow, zigzag path in the sky. Instead of flying in the direction they want to go, they fly left and right, swooping up and down. The zigzag takes them in one direction, but they seem to be taking their time -- actually, an albatross is just letting the wind do all the work!


30. května 2007 v 21:08 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Scientific Name:Hippopotamus amphibius
Home:The rivers, lakes, swamps, and wallows of Africa
Description:Barrel-shaped, blue-gray body with pink belly, large head, stumpy legs.
The Hippopotamus, whose name means "river horse", is a plant-eating water-loving giant. A relative of camels, pigs, and deer, the hippo has two lives in one! The center of a hippo's day life is water. Like a hippo pool-party, sometimes hundreds of hippos, will share a territory of water during the day. Whether it's mating, playing, fighting or giving birth, hippo's all wet. The hippo's night life begins a few hours after sunset, when all the hippos file out of the water to graze on land by the light of the moon.
Hippo-Talk? Hippos make a of variety grunts, growls, screams and other sounds underwater to communicate with each other!
So many hippos may use the same path out of the water at dusk that it will become worn five or six feet deep. It's practically a hippo tunnel!
Hippos have huge mouths and teeth, even though they eat grass. A bull hippo's canines can grow to 28 inches long, and their mouths can open four feet wide!
Only a hundred years ago, Hippos existed in great numbers, covering a huge range. There were Hippos all along the Nile! Today an estimated 150,000 wild hippos live in sub-Saharan Africa.
People believed for a long time that hippo's pink sweat was blood. This substance not only cools a hot hippo down, but may also fight skin infections and disease.
Hippos are very territorial, and will fight other creatures and each other to hold their ground. Hippos may look half-asleep in the water, but don't get too close! Hippos like their space, and are powerful, quick fighters in the water.
Hippos spend two-thirds of the day in the water before going off to find grass. While grazing, Hippos stick to themselves, but usually return to the same pool before sunrise. If there's no grass near the water, the Hippos will travel several miles each night to food.


30. května 2007 v 21:08 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Scientific Name:Suricata suricatta
Home:South African savanna
Description:One foot tall with tan or gray fur, dark brown bands on back with black tipped ears and tail
The Meerkat is a mongoose of the African grasslands. Like other Mongooses, Meerkats hunt with amazing agility. Delicacies such as bugs, lizards, and small rodents prove easy prey for this predator. Meerkats differ from most mongooses because they live in large social communities of more than one family. Using their sharp claws, they dig huge burrows with tunnel systems for the colony. They all watch out for each other, and are often seen on their hind feet with their noses in the air, keeping watch.
Meerkats are one of the few predators in the world to attack with absolutely no warning signs. This hunter's trademark move is the ultimate surprise sneak-attack!
Stinger-lickin'-good! Meerkats eat poisonous scorpions by quickly biting off their stingers, and then eating the rest!
When the sun rises, all the meerkats will come out of their burrow to stand up and catch some rays!


30. května 2007 v 21:07 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Scientific Name:Acinonyx jubatus
Home:Speeding across all parts of Africa where there aren't a lot of trees
Description:Long and lanky cat with dark spots and yellow-gray fur. Head seems small for its body.
Bursts of high speed give the cheetah a great advantage as a predator. A cheetah hunts gazelles, impala, wildebeest, and other animals that all know how to move fast. If the cheetah wants to survive, it needs to be even faster. If the cheetah catches dinner she'll hide it away, but sometimes her prey gets away, or even TAKEN away by vultures and other carnivores. After all that running, a cheetah gets so tired, she won't be able to hunt again until the next day.
Cheetah moms chirp to their cubs! Cheetah cubs have a grayish puffy mane of three-inch hair until they are three months old that makes them look much bigger than they are. These playful babies get into lots of trouble, so looking bigger to a predator comes in handy.
Male cheetahs will defend a home territory in groups. Female cheetahs, on the other hand, usually live a solitary life, and like the freedom of being off on their own with their cubs.
When the sun rises, all the meerkats will come out of their burrow to stand up and catch some rays!
How does the cheetah run so fast?
A cheetah fulfills its natural need for speed with a well-equipped body. Cheetah's have a light skeleton, and a tail for balancing the act of high-speed leaping. The cheetah also maximizes every step it makes while on the run with an amazing 23 foot stride -- all made possible by a very flexible backbone that stretches every leap out to cover the most ground.
Cheetah claws don't retract into their paws like other cats' claws. Cheetahs leave their claws.

plains zebra

30. května 2007 v 21:07 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Plains Zebra
Scientific Name:Equus burchelli
Home:Savanna grasslands of eastern Africa
Description:Sleek, plump, short-legged horse with broad black and white stripes, black nose, and a short, bristle-like mane that stands up
The plains zebra grazes two-thirds of the day on red oat grass, leaves, bark, roots and stems. Excellent hearing and vision help a zebra to keep alert for predators like lions and hyenas. Zebras stay in family groups of a stallion, or male, and several mares, but different families will come together in huge herds of hundreds of zebras. Herds will mingle with wildebeests, ostriches, and antelope while they graze, and even come to depend on them as additional protection against predators! Zebras are always busy and alert, and very noisy - - they make a lot of sounds!
Zebras are only about four feet tall at the shoulder!
Zebras communicate with each other! Mother zebras whinney when seperated from their foals, or babies, and nicker to warn of danger. The zebra alarm is a yelping bark they all make as they run away!
Stripes make a zebra feel right at home -- zebra stripes help to keep zebras in close-knit groups! Stripes may also help to confuse predators, but they encourage zebras to make friends with each other!

flying fox

30. května 2007 v 21:06 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Flying Fox
Scientific Name:Pteropus scapulatus
Home:Tropical rainforests of northeastern Australia and Southeast Asian islands, high up in the trees
Description:Small, dog-like face and eyes, reddish brown fur, leathery black wings, black nose, wing span up to 79 inches, weighs up to 53 oz.
Unlike their smaller cousins, the bats, flying foxes roost outside in the sun rather than in caves. High above the rainforest floor, camps of flying foxes hang upside-down together, sometimes in groups of as many as a million! These camps can be loud with bickering shreeks and calls. Flying foxes use their excellent eyesight more than echolocation, or bouncing sounds, to locate their food at night. These creatures are frugivores -- that means they eat fruit! They also eat flowers and pollen, and help to pollinate flowers in the same way bees do. Flying foxes have a long bristly tongue that's great for lapping up juicy fruity food, and for licking and grooming themsleves and their friends!
Flying foxes open and stretch their mouths in a big yawn before they go to sleep!
Imagine trying to clean yourself while hanging upside-down. It can be tough, so flying foxes help each other out, and in the process, make friends! These social creatures will lick and groom each other to express affection, and often nuzzle snouts!
Male flying foxes get a girl's attention by singing loudly and flashing bunches of hair on their backs! Female flying foxes think these hairy backs are the latest hot flying fox fashions!


30. května 2007 v 21:06 | frotix |  cizí jazyky
Scientific Name:Macropus rufus
Home:The open arid plains and woodlands of central Australia
Description:Long, hind, hoppin' limbs, short arms, large heavy tail, red fur on backs of males, gray fur on females, white furred bellies on both.
Red kangaroos are famous for their hoppin' style and being the biggest marsupials around. Herbivores that graze mostly on grass, the red kangaroo congregates in groups of up to ten to feed together. These groups are based more on being in the same place than close family ties. Mother and joey stick together for years after the baby has left mama's pouch. Joeys are born as small, bean-sized hairless babies that climb up and into the safety of the pouch. That's where he continues to grow. After 33 weeks, a joey becomes too big to be carried around, but many try to climb back in until they get the message from mom that taxi-time is over!
At top-speed kangaroos may make 12 foot leaps and reach a velocity of 30 mph! Even a lazy, SLOW hop can be as far as six feet! The long, heavy, and powerful kangaroo tail makes it all possible by providing balance and stability. Only tree kangaroos move their hind feet independently of one-another. The red kangaroo can't walk, it only hops!
Bucks, or male kangaroos, aren't much for fighting to protect the herd -- when trouble comes, the whole herd scatters off in all directions! But when it comes to breeding rights, bucks KICKBOX! The two opponents clasp arms and try to kick each other in the belly!
To keep from getting too hot, kangaroos take naps in the afternoons, and do most of their grazing by night. But the best stay-cool secret of these creatures is the SPIT BATH! Kangaroos will drool and lick saliva all over their faces and bodies to cool down!