In Otter News has hit a milestone: 800+ fans! Thank-you all for your support and readership over the years. I hope to keep growing and learning more about animals with all of you for years to come.
To celebrate 800 fans, and since this is Humpday, here’s the Top 8 Animals with Humps. Can you guess what they’re all going to be?
1. The Camel. You can’t start a list of “animals with humps” without the one that put Humpday on the map.
The two species of camel are the dromedary, which inhabits the Middle East and the Horn of Africa; and the bactrian, which inhabits Central Asia. Both species have been domesticated; they provide milk, meat, and hair for textiles, and are working animals with tasks like human transport.
Camels do not directly store water in their humps as was once commonly believed. The humps are actually reservoirs of fatty tissue. Concentrating body fat in their humps minimizes the insulating effect fat would have if distributed over the rest of their bodies, helping camels survive in hot climates.
2. The Humpback Whale. You can’t spell humpback whale without hump.
The humpback whale is a species of baleen whale. Adults range in length from 39–52 ft and weigh about 79,000 lb. The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is known for breaching and other distinctive surface behaviors, making it popular with whale watchers. Males produce a complex song lasting 10 to 20 minutes, which they repeat for hours at a time. Its purpose is not clear, though it may have a role in mating.
Found in oceans and seas around the world, humpback whales typically migrate up to 16,000 mi each year. Humpbacks feed only in summer, in polar waters, and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth in the winter when they fast and live off their fat reserves.
Like other large whales, the humpback was a target for the whaling industry. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, its population fell by an estimated 90% before a 1966 moratorium. The population is now at 80,000.
3. The American Bison. A true American icon.
The American bison is the largest terrestrial animal in North America. They are known for living in the Great Plains as grazing nomads, traveling in large herds. They are good swimmers and can cross rivers over half a mile wide. They can move at speeds up to 35 mph and can cover long distances at a lumbering gallop.
The species was hunted close to extinction during the 19th and 20th centuries, but have since rebounded. The American bison is no longer listed as endangered, as their population sits at about 500.000 today.
4. The Moose. The largest deer in the world.
Moose are distinguished by the leaf-shaped antlers of the males. They inhabit forests in the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. Most moose are found in New England, the northern border states, and Alaska in the US; and also in Canada, Scandinavia, Latvia, Estonia, and Russia.
Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. Unlike most other deer species, moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between males competing for a female.
5. The White Rhinoceros. The square-lipped pachyderm.
The white rhinoceros or square-lipped rhinoceros is the largest living species. In males, the head and body length is about 12.5 feet long, the shoulder height is about 6ft tall, and he weighs about 5000lbs. Its distinctive horns are made of keratin, the same substance our fingernails are made of. This differs from the horn of deer, which are made of bone.
The white rhinoceros uses its wide mouth for grazing the grasslands and savannahs of southern Africa. It is the most social of all rhino species and live in herds. They produce sounds which include a panting contact call, grunts and snorts during courtship, squeals of distress, and deep bellows or growls when threatened. They can charge at 31 mph, so don’t tempt them!
6. The Zebu. The Brahman cattle of South Asia.
Zebu are characterised by a fatty hump on their shoulders, a large dewlap and sometimes drooping ears. They are adapted to the harsh environment of the tropics, including resistance to disease, and tolerance of intense heat, sun, and humidity. Zebu are farmed as draught oxen, as dairy cattle and as beef cattle.
Zebu cattle are thought to be derived from Asian aurochs (the animals that were domesticated into cows and cattle.) Archaeological evidence including pictures on pottery and rocks suggest that the species were present in Egypt around 2000BC. There are some 75 known breeds of zebu, split about evenly between African breeds and South Asian ones.
7. The Humphead Wrasse. The fish with a hump.
The humphead wrasse is a species of fish mainly found on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region. They’re opportunistic predators, and prey on mostly fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Males are typically larger than females and are capable of reaching lengths of up to 6.5 feet from tip to tail and weighing up to 400lbs.
The humphead wrasse is long-lived, but has a very slow breeding rate. Individuals become sexually mature at four to six years, and females are known to live for around 50 years, whereas males live a slightly shorter 45 years. Humphead wrasses are able to change their gender as well, with some members of the population becoming male at about 9 years old. The factors that control the timing of sex change are not yet known.
8. The “Hump-Shelled” Animal. Last but not least: animals like the Turtle, the Tortoise, and the Snail are included here because their shells give them humps, so I feel they deserve mention.
Turtles and tortoises are both reptiles, but are in different families. The major difference between the two is that tortoises dwell on land, while turtles live in the water.
Their upper shell is called the carapace. The lower shell that encases the belly is called the plastron. The carapace and plastron are joined together on the animal’s sides. The inner layer of a turtle’s shell is made up of about 60 bones that include portions of the backbone and the ribs. Tortoises, being land-based, have rather heavy shells. In contrast, aquatic and soft-shelled turtles have lighter shells that help them avoid sinking in water and swim faster.
As a snail grows, so does its shell. The shell grows by the addition of new calcium carbonate, secreted by glands located in the snail’s body (in the part we don’t see, under the shell). The new material is added to the opening of the shell. Therefore, the center of the shell’s spiral was made when the snail was younger, and the outer part when the snail was older. When the snail reaches full size, it builds a thickened lip around the shell aperture, and at this point the snail stops growing, and begins it’s adult life.
Happy Humpday (^_^)
“2011 Trampeltier 1528″ by J. Patrick Fischer – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2011_Trampeltier_1528.JPG#/media/File:2011_Trampeltier_1528.JPG
“Camels in Dubai 2″ by Imre Solt – Dubai construction update Part 3 Page 21 at Post 418. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Camels_in_Dubai_2.jpg#/media/File:Camels_in_Dubai_2.jpg
“Humpback stellwagen edit” by Whit Welles Wwelles14 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Humpback_stellwagen_edit.jpg#/media/File:Humpback_stellwagen_edit.jpg
“Humpback Whale underwater shot”. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Humpback_Whale_underwater_shot.jpg#/media/File:Humpback_Whale_underwater_shot.jpg
“American Bison AdF” by Arturo de Frias Marques – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:American_Bison_AdF.jpg#/media/File:American_Bison_AdF.jpg
“Muybridge Buffalo galloping” by Eadweard Muybridge, Waugsberg. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Muybridge_Buffalo_galloping.gif#/media/File:Muybridge_Buffalo_galloping.gif
“Moose superior” by USDA Forest Service – http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/image/viz_nat4.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Moose_superior.jpg#/media/File:Moose_superior.jpg
“Cow moose” by Veronika Ronkos – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cow_moose.jpg#/media/File:Cow_moose.jpg
“Waterberg Nashorn2″ by Ikiwaner – Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Waterberg_Nashorn2.jpg#/media/File:Waterberg_Nashorn2.jpg
“RLPark SouthAfrica”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RLPark_SouthAfrica.jpg#/media/File:RLPark_SouthAfrica.jpg
“Bos taurus indicus” by Scott Bauer, USDA ARS – This image was released by the Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bos_taurus_indicus.jpg#/media/File:Bos_taurus_indicus.jpg
“Female zebu cattle” by Mammalwatcher – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Female_zebu_cattle.JPG#/media/File:Female_zebu_cattle.JPG
“Cheilinus undulatus by Patryk Krzyzak”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cheilinus_undulatus_by_Patryk_Krzyzak.jpg#/media/File:Cheilinus_undulatus_by_Patryk_Krzyzak.jpg
“Humphead wrasse melb aquarium”. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Humphead_wrasse_melb_aquarium.jpg#/media/File:Humphead_wrasse_melb_aquarium.jpg