Have you ever wondered how a fly might connect a fly with a flamingo apart from sharing the letter F? Well, flamingos actually consume fly larvae making them intrinsic partners in the biodiversity-ecosystem (although the fly might not be too happy about it).
Read on to discover many animals that start with the letter F, some you probably know very well, and others you may be meeting for the first time. How did the fiddler crab get his name? And is the flat-headed cat as self-explanatory as the name suggests? Let’s take a deep dive into the animal alphabet.
Scientific name: Paralichthys
Often known as larval flounder, these intricately patterned fish are born with one eye on each side of their head, but they then undergo an incredible transformation: as they evolve from the larval to juvenile phase through metamorphosis, one of their eyes migrates to the other side of the body. The end result of this process is both eyes are then on the side which faces up.
To make matters more complicated, the side to which the eyes migrate depends on the particular species. Fish spawn is the dietary staple of the flounder, along with crustaceans and small fish. Flounder will generally reach a length of 22–60 centimeters (8.7 — 23.6 in), and as large as 95 centimeters (37 in).
Scientific name: Lampyridae.
Fireflies are not actually flying but beetles and so it should come as no surprise that their life cycle is that of a beetle, not a fly! During their fairly short lives, they will undergo a complete metamorphosis. When mating is complete, the female will lay her fertilized eggs on the ground. Around three or four weeks later, the eggs will hatch. There are some other firefly species that have aquatic larvae. In this species, the female oviposits on visible sections of aquatic plants. The larvae will then descend into the water when they are fully hatched.
Scientific name: Phoenicopterus roseus
When it comes to flamingos, it’s all about strength in numbers. ; they live in colonies whose population can number in the thousands. These huge groups solve 3 problems in one go: avoidance of predators, food consumption optimization, and more effective use of nesting sites. Flamingo colonies split into breeding groups which consist of around 15-50 birds. You may have seen these elegant birds performing the most intricately synchronized rituals together.
Scientific name: Falconiformes.
The falcon is a variably sized powerful bird that can reach a maximum speed of 390 kilometers per hour. They are mostly mid-grey with some lighter or brownish colors on their upper sides. It is the thin, tapered wings, which enable the falcon to fly at high speed and change direction rapidly. In their first year of flying, falcons have longer flight feathers, and this makes their appearance more like that of a general-purpose bird such as a broad wing. Flying is much easier because of this and they will progress to acquiring the skills required to be effective hunters as adults.
Scientific name: Fringillidae
These passerine songbirds belong to the family Fringillidae. They enjoy eating seeds, grasses, fruits, and berries. Finches are a diverse family of birds found all over the world. Generally identified by their stout, cone-shaped bill and intricate, melodious song. The male finch has bold, patterned plumage whereas the female is darker and more muted. The finches’ nesting habits can vary depending on the species, but there are universal similarities. One of these is building nests in either natural or artificial cavities, which can even include old woodpecker holes, hanging plants, and birdhouses.
Scientific name: Vulpes vulpes
The familiar fox has been depicted in art and culture for hundreds of years. Whether portrayed as sly, cheeky, or lovable, they have definitely been part of the human story for a long time. Not only the most common but widespread species of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) with about 47 identified subspecies. Foxes are mostly smaller than other members of the family Canidae such as wolves and jackals, the Raccoon dog is one of the only Canidae that they outsize. The largest species is the red fox, and males weigh on average between 4.1 and 8.7 kilograms and enjoy an omnivorous diet.
Scientific name: Exocoetidae
The much-marveled flying fish inhabits every ocean on earth but they are particularly fond of tropical and warm subtropical waters. You can generally find them in the epipelagic zone, which is the top layer of the ocean and down to a depth of around 200 m (656 ft). Several morphological features enable the flying fish to leap majestically above the surface of the ocean. Completely broadened neural arches are one such feature. The fish’s skeleton requires these insertion sites for connective tissues and ligaments.
Scientific name: Chrysopoeia
How did this fascinating Chrysopoeia gain the name Flying Snake? Well, using ridge scales along its belly, he climbs and pushes against the rough bark of tree trunks. This allows it to move vertically up a tree. Reaching the end of the branch, its tail dangles down allowing it to make a J-shape bend. Estimating the level of inclination it needs to use to control its glide path, it will also choose a precise landing site. Selecting a destination, it gains momentum by thrusting its body out, up, and away from the tree, pulling in its stomach, and finally splaying out its ribs. This effect has been called a ‘pseudo concave wing’. This is all done whilst undulating level to the ground which will stabilize its direction and ensure a safe landing.
Scientific name: Pteromyini
The flying squirrel’s name is not to be taken too literally. They are not able to fly like birds or bats; what they are able to do is glide in between the trees. They do achieve lift within the course of these flights which have been recorded to 90 meters (300 ft). Once in midair, the direction and speed which the animal is able to obtain will depend upon the positions of its limbs, and this factor is governed by its tiny wrist bones! During an afternoon glide, the squirrel will project from the wrist using a specialized cartilage unique to this mammal.
Scientific name: Diptera
Exponential human and ecological importance may not be the first thing to spring to mind when pondering the humble fly unless you have had a cursory look at the history of Diptera. A vital pollinator, second only to the bees and their Hymenopteran family. Agreed, flies can be annoyances to people and animals in parts of the world where they swarm in large numbers, but counter this with the fact that they are the only pollinators of chocolate on the planet. Their bad public image becomes even more questionable when we learn that more than 100 cultivated crops are pollinated by a range of flies, including apples, strawberries, carrots, onions, and bell peppers. Not to mention black pepper and coriander.
Scientific name: Siphonaptera
You are more likely to know Siphonaptera as the common flea. This family contains 2,500 species of tiny flightless insects which, much to the chargrain of many farmers and animal carers, live as external parasites on birds and mammals. You may have heard that fleas live by sucking the blood of their hosts like mini-Dracula. In fact, their bodies are flat to help them embed themselves into their unsuspecting host’s fur or feathers. Another often-told tale that happens to be true is that they can leap 50 times their body length. To add to this grizzly picture, flea larvae do not possess limbs at all and simply have chewing mouthparts to feed on whatever organic debris is left on their hosts’ skin.
Scientific name: Balaenoptera physalus
The fin whale is anywhere from light grey to brown dorsally and white ventrally. The head is remarkably two-tone as the left side is dark grey, while the right side has an intricate design of light and dark. The fin whale is a prolific species and is found in all the world’s major oceans. It enjoys water all the way from tropical to polar. Only the extreme ice packs at the north and south poles are a no-go area for this magnificent aquatic mammal. The densest populations are found in cool, temperate waters. The incredible fin whale has 56–100 grooves on its underside that allow the throat area to open fully when it is eating.
Scientific name: Cryptoprocta ferox
This slender, long-limbed carnivore is often described as a smaller version of the cougar because it seems to have many cat-like features. The males are a little larger than the females, in fact, mature fossas have a head-body length of 70–80 cm (28–31 in) and weigh between 5.5 and 8.6 kg (12 and 19 lb). Extremely agile, with semi-retractable claws and flexible ankles, it is able to not only climb up and down trees head-first, but also jump from tree to tree.
Scientific name: Chlamydosaurus kingii
Also known as the frill-lizard or frilled dragon, this lizard is native to northern Australia and southern New Guinea. It is especially unique as the only member of the genus Chlamydosaurus. Its colloquial name is self-explanatory and refers to the large frill around its neck. This frill ordinarily stays folded back against the lizard’s body. Luckily, it is very arboreal as it likes spending most of its time up in the trees. When it comes to diet it enjoys a variety of insects. When the weather is damp, it tends to spend more time near the ground and you are not very likely to see it during drier seasons when it seeks shade in the higher branches of the upper canopy.
Scientific name: Podargiformes
You’re probably wondering where this lovely bird gets its name. Well, it’s rather literal – they are named for their rather large, flat bill and huge frog-like gape. This is very useful for capturing insects. Australia and New Guinea, are home to three Podargus species that are able to take larger prey and small vertebrates (frogs, mice, etc.) They are rather weak flyers and they lay across tree branches resting during the day. They are kept safe whilst lazing around due to highly camouflaged plumage. The parental labor is split equally with eggs (laid in the fork of a branch) incubated by the female at night and the male during the day.
Scientific name: Pteropodidae
Fruit bats fall under the umbrella of the Megabat and in some areas they are known as the Flying Fox! They have excellent vision and they vary in size depending on the location. This tends to lead to confusion as they are frequently misidentified as other types of bats! An example of this stark difference in size is some Fruit Bats are no more than 2 inches long while others are more than 16 inches in length. By the same token, some of them only weigh an ounce or two and others weigh in at a very impressive couple of pounds. The most amazing feature is that the wing length of the Fruit Bat can reach more than five feet.
Scientific name: Minuca pugnax
The fiddler crab is sometimes referred to as the calling crab and as a member of the extremely large family of semi-terrestrial marine crabs, Ocypodidae, it is well known for its sexually dimorphic claws, these differ from male to female; the males’ major claw is much larger than the minor claw, while the females’ claws are both the same size. Within this umbrella family of crabs, are a much sparser number of ghost crabs and mangrove crabs. If you want to find a fiddler crab, look along sea beaches and brackish intertidal mud flats, lagoons, swamps, and any number of brackish or saltwater wetlands. The fiddler crab is named because of the male’s particularly large claw which he uses to defend his burrow and also to attract a mate.
Scientific name: Dicaeidae
This lovely bird has an even lovelier nickname: the ‘Spectacled Flowerpecker’—this is thought to be a newly discovered bird species from the island of Borneo. It was only identified in the Danum Valley of Sabah, Malaysia in 2009 which is really rather recent. This delightful family shows little variation in their build but many have particularly vivid plumage. Their digestive systems have evolved to cope efficiently with mistletoe berries. Their tubular tongues enable them to consume nectar and they also enjoy berries, spiders, and insects.
References for Animals that start with the letter F:
Why not take a look at Animals That Start With the Letter P