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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Asia's Wildlife Quiz

Where does the world’s largest butterfly live? Which mammal holds the record for gliding? What rainforest bird uses “cosmetics”? Explore the wildlife on this quiz.

1. The world’s largest salamander grows up to six feet long and is native to parts of Asia. Where is it found?

The mountains of northeastern, central and southern China. Go to 4.
On a few small, arid islands east of Bali. Go to 9.
2. Correct. The deadly king cobra, which is widely distributed through Southeast Asia, often grows to 12 feet long – the longest on record was 18 feet. It is also one of the few nest-building snakes. If you haven’t caught any red herrings, you’ll have followed the faster route through our quiz – only 18 steps (1-4-15-10-11-18-7-16-13-6-20-12-21-27-25-26-28-2).
3. Wrong. Found in Southeast Asia’s forests, the flying lemur has a broad fold of skin extending from the forelegs all the way to the tail. However, this membrane wasn’t enough to give the flying lemur the record. Flap back to 13 and try again.
4. Correct. The Chinese giant salamander is an amphibious creature resembling a lizard but with smooth, moist skin rather than scales. It feeds on small animals. Now slide on over to 15 for another discovery.
5. No. Though the reticulated python, found in Indonesia and the Philippines, is the world’s longest snake – regularly exceeding 20 ½ feet, according to The Guinness Book of Animal Records – it’s not venomous. Ssssssslither back to 28.
6. Correct. This two-foot-long animal, which is found in many parts of Asia, has a fold of skin connecting the forelegs to the hind legs, enabling it to glide for remarkable distances through the hillside forests it inhabits. According to The Guinness Book of Animal Records, the giant flying squirrel made the longest recorded glide of any mammal with a distance of 1476 feet. Leap over to 20.
7. Coral reefs stretching from the Maldives in the Indian Ocean to the Solomons in the South Pacific cover a quarter of the globe. This area is among the most biologically rich in the world; conservation experts call it the “rainforest of the sea” because a staggering diversity of sea life depends on the corals for housing, breeding grounds and food. But this stretch of reef is suffering massive destruction by a deadly enemy. What is it?
Starfish infestations. Go to 24.
Global warming. Go to 30.
Fishing practices. Go to 16.
8. No. The flying fox, distributed widely across the region, is a flapper rather than a glider, undertaking powered flight. With a maximum wingspan of 5 ½ feet, it is actually the world’s largest bat. It is also known as the fruit bat. But for the gliding distance record, try another mammal. Back to 13.
9. Wrong. That’s where the Komodo dragon lives. A huge lizard first discovered in 1912, it typically grows up to ten feet long and weighs around 300 pounds. It feeds on such animals as deer and pigs, and has even attacked humans. Flee to 4 to find the salamander.
10. You’re right! Fly down to 11.
11. In the early 1900s, butterfly fanciers were startled to hear that a previously unknown specimen had been found in New Guinea. What was it?
Queen Alexandra’s birdwing. Go to 18.
Queen Carola bird of paradise. Go to 23.
12. Correct. Although the pale blue gray baiji, with its long, narrow beak, is officially a protected species, its numbers have plummeted because of pollution, overfishing, collisions with boats and injury by fishing hooks. During the past five years, biologists have tried to capture baiji for breeding programs, but have caught just one – which has since died. A survey of a 430-mile stretch of the Yangtze in 1995 located just five baiji, and the total population is believed to number fewer than 100. Head to 21.
13. What mammal holds the record for the longest unassisted glide?
Giant flying squirrel. Go to 6.
Flying fox. Go to 8.
Flying lemur. Go to 3.
14. Wrong! Back to 15.
15. The great hornbill, a large black and white bird that lives in Asia’s rainforests, has been said to use “cosmetics”. This is because:
It stains its head feathers and huge curved bill with the purple and red juices of fig and palm fruits. Go to 17.
It paints its bill, casque, head and wings with a yellow oil from a gland at the base of its tail. Go to 10.
It forages for food in the grass, which stains its bill green. Go to 14.
16. Sadly, true. Fishing practices have severely damaged corals. Since nets snag and tear on coral, and using lines with baited hooks is time-consuming and difficult, fishermen in many parts of Southeast Asia have adopted two ways of stunning fish. One is dynamite fishing, but even more widespread, especially in the Philippines and Indonesia, is cyanide fishing. Typically, divers squirt into the water cyanide solutions that stun the big reef fish popular with affluent diners in places like Hong Kong but kill corals and smaller marine life. Swim upstream to 13.
17. Sorry. Back to 15.
18. Correct. This brilliantly colored creature is the world’s largest butterfly, with a wingspan of up to 11 inches. Its survival is threatened by deforestation, but its fortunes have recently been boosted by schemes to “farm” the birdwings for sale to international collectors. Flit over to 7.
19. Wrong. One of the world’s smallest primates, at just four to six inches long, the Philippine tarsier is quite common. With large, google-like eyes, it is unique to the Philippines. Go to 26 for the right answer.
20. Of the 40 or so kinds of dolphins in the world, one Asian species looks destined to become the first known to be wiped out. Which is it?
The Irrawaddy dolphin. Go to 22.
The Chinese white dolphin of the Pearl River mouth in and near Hong Kong. Go to 31.
The baiji of the Yangtze River. Go to 12.
21. What long-snouted creature has been described as the “the grotesquehonker of the Bornean swamps”?
The tapir. Go to 29.
The proboscis monkey. Go to 27.
22. No, this gray to slate-blue, beakless dolphin – which ranges from the east coast of India, through Indo China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to northern Australia – is thought declining. But with over 1000 known Irrawaddy dolphins, this species is in good shape compared to the bai… OOPS! Take your clue back to 20.
23. No. Though the name “bird of paradise” refers to an African flower and a New Guinean bird, it does not refer to a butterfly. Look to 18 for the answer.
24. Wrong. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has suffered extensive damage from infestations of Crown of Thorns starfish, which feed on living coral. But starfish have had relatively little impact elsewhere. Back to 7.
25. Which Philippine species was believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered in February 1992?
The Philippine tarsier. Go to 19.
The Cebu flowerpecker. Go to 26.
26. Correct. This tiny bird – one of the 170 bird species that are unique to the Philippines – was discovered in 1906 and described as “rare and strictly confined to forest.” Deforestation of country including Cebu and Panay was severe over the next few decades, and an ornithologist who surveyed the island in the 1950s concluded the flowerpecker was extinct. It was rediscovered in 1992, living in less than one square mile of forest. It is regarded as critically endangered. On to 28.
27. Right on the nose! This large monkey has a nose that can grow to seven inches long. Zoologists are puzzled about the nose’s function, but it has been suggested that it amplifies the male’s long drawn out honking call. Swing over to 25.
28. What’s the world’s longest venomous snake?
The king cobra. Go to 2.
The reticulated python of Southeast Asia. Go to 5.
29. A large, hoofed, hog-like mammal with a long flexible snout, the tapir sounds like a good candidate for this title but unfortunately it’s the wrong answer. First, it lives in forests, not swamps; second, its home in Asia is peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra, not Borneo; and third, it doesn’t honk. Back to 21.
30. No. Corals are sensitive to even small temperature changes – bleaching and eventually dying if the water is too warm – and the World Wide Fund for Nature is concerned corals worldwide could one day suffer due to global warming. However, Asia’s corals face an even deadlier problem at the moment. Go back to 7 and try again.
31. No. This dolphin, which is slightly pink in color and also known as the Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphin, is scarce, but with an estimated population of between 100 and 200, it is less threatened than its cousin further north… but enough clues already! Leap back to 20.
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