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Tuesday
Oct102017

Animal  Architects

Some animals take shelter in holes in trees, others in caves, but many hard working creatures build their own homes from materials they find in their environment. In this article we take a closer look at these animal architects and the amazing structures they are able to construct!

Bowerbird

Bowerbirds are found mainly in New Guinea and Australia and make this list because of their unusual courtship behaviour. Male bowerbirds display some seriously impressive construction skills when they’re trying to impress females, by building ‘bowers’ (hence the name) out of dead twigs. These structures vary slightly depending upon which species of bowerbird built them, some are more hut-like, while others are more tunnel-like. The birds don’t stop there, though! The males then go on to decorate their masterpieces with colourful objects they find lying around their territory, such objects can include flowers, stones, berries and even human litter such as plastic and glass. It is thought that both the males and females have preferences for the colour of decorations, so the males better hope they pick the right colour to impress the ladies!

Flickr | dougPaper Wasps

Paper wasps are so named as they build nests made out of chewed wood and salvia, which results in a paper-like finish, there are approximately 300 species of paper wasps worldwide. These nests are water resistant and house the wasps’ eggs and larvae during their development into adult wasps. The nests made by these wasps are made up of hexagonal chambers with an open base; they are usually built in sheltered areas such as under the branch of a tree. The nests are generally attached to the branch or other site via a single stalk in the centre of the nest.

Flickr | RoadsidepicturesWeaver Bird

Another type of bird to make this list is weaver birds, these small passerines are related to finches and are found in sub-Saharan Africa as well as tropical Asia. Weaver birds are known for building impressive nests either on their own or sometimes forming huge colonies of nests. Some of these nests are almost perfectly spherical, while some have long tunnel entrances pointing down towards the ground. The remarkably neat nests are made from a variety of materials, including grass, leaves and twigs. Astonishingly, some social weavers can build nest complexes that house up to 300 pairs of birds and their offspring!

Flickr | Kishore BhargavaTermites

Termites are famous for their nests; the most well-known type is the characteristic termite mounds, these mounds can be home to as many as several million individuals! Termites build their nests out of faeces (nice), as well as soil and chewed plant material. Some mounds, known as cathedral mounds can easily be 3m tall and are a very impressive sight. However, the internal structure of these mounds is also remarkable, as the insects form a network of tunnels within the mound that acts as ventilation for the nest below. Some termites even go as far as aligning their nests north-south, which is thought to aid in temperature regulation of the colony. The nests heat up rapidly in the morning, but then due to the position of the sun remain at a relatively constant temperature throughout the rest of the day.

Flickr | brewbooksCoral

Coral polyps are tiny animals, no more than a few centimeters long, these animals secrete calcium carbonate to form an exoskeleton at their base.  The polyps live in colonies and their calcium carbonated out shells join together to form the coral structures that make up a reef. Reefs are huge structures, the largest of which is the world famous Great Barrier Reef situated off the north-east coast of Australia. These reefs in turn become habitats for thousands of other marine animals and are some of the most important ecosystems within the world’s oceans.

Flickr |TchamiSo there you have 5 animals that display amazing constructions skills, from impressing potential mates to completely transforming entire ecosystems, these animal architects are truly amazing!

By Gabrielle Brooks - Online Journalism Intern

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