On this adventure you'll use webcams to take a close-up look at animals large and small. Webcams are digital video cameras that feed images through the Web as they happen. Visit grizzly bears in Washington state and ants in the United Kingdom — all without leaving your computer!
First stop: animals that spend a lot of time in water. Visit the penguins in the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. They live on land and in the water. These flightless birds are probably descendents of flying ancestors. What animals live only in water? Sharks for one! Did you know the only true bone in a shark's body is in the roots of its teeth? The rest of the skeleton is made of cartilage, a strong, flexible substance like your fingernails.
Now visit the large mammals. Mammals are warm-blooded animals like pandas — humans are mammals too. When pandas, like those that live at the Atlanta Zoo in Georgia, are born they weigh about four ounces — a quarter of a pound — but when they're full grown they reach weights of between 180 and 270 pounds! That's as big as a very large man.
Did you know grizzly bears can weigh up to 1,300 pounds? When it comes to size though, elephants win. They are the largest land animals in the world. Have you heard the saying "an elephant never forgets"? That may not be true, but elephants, like the ones found at Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington DC, are very intelligent and seldom forget a trick once they've learned it. While elephants are the biggest, cheetahs are the fastest land animals reaching speeds of 70 miles per hour — that's like an extremely fast moving car.
It's time to visit the smaller animals. Take a close-up look — it's ants! Ants first emerged on Earth more than 100 million years ago. Guinea pigs are small animals that some people keep as pets, but they aren't really pigs; they're rodents like mice.
Finally, look up. What birds do you see? Hawks and peregrine falcons are birds of prey, which means they hunt for meat. They have curved talons — or claws — and sharp, hooked beaks to help them catch their meals. Some birds of prey are known to roost on city buildings, like the falcons that call the Eastman Kodak building in Rochester, NY home.
What if a camera could follow an animal in nature? Surprise, it can! Scientists use crittercams, small lightweight cameras that are attached to animals, to get an animal-eye view of life in the wild. Now that really is a wild idea!