Caiman crocodilus lives in Central and South America. A bony ridge that looks like a pair of glasses gives these caimans their name. Caimans lay hard-shelled eggs in nest mounds constructed of plant debris on the banks of rivers and marshes. The female, and sometimes the male, guard the nest. The young vocalize before and after hatching to attract the parents, who may assist them as they emerge from the nest mound.
Caimans feed primarily on small animals like fish and frogs. They use their teeth to hold, not chew, their prey. Our caiman eats fish, mice, and chicken parts.
Chelys fimbriata is found throughout the Amazon basin. This aquatic turtle is a weak swimmer and only surfaces to breathe. It is never seen basking, and rarely swimming or floating. The word matamata appears to be of Brazilian origin and means “skin.” The matamata is also known by another name, la fea, meaning “the ugly one.”
This turtle’s strange appearance evolved as an adaptation allowing it to ambush prey. Its bumpy shell, fringes and ridges provide perfect camouflage within the leaf litter at the water’s edge, as it waits for fish to come close. Algae even grow on its shell! Eardrums (tympana) allow the turtle to detect vibrations in the water and hear prey approaching. It strikes at prey with its long neck and wide mouth, sucking the prey in and swallowing it.
When it comes to camouflage and mimicry, stick insects are among the most fantastic.
Their shape, color, and even behavior resemble their host plant.
Their long body, knobs, bumps, and swaying motion help them blend with plants. Their eggs even look like the host plant’s seeds! Some stick insects are over 30 cm long.
A stick insect can “fake-out” a predator by playing dead and falling from its perch or shedding a limb. In some cases, stick insects reach such numbers that they defoliate trees.
How do you avoid tripping if you have 200 pairs of legs? The millipede has evolved gaits like scuttling and undulating to keep its legs in order. The millipede’s body is designed to burrow in leaf litter or under rocks in search of moist habitat. Several pairs of legs move at one time, acting like a miniature “bulldozer.”
Millipedes are important decomposers, preferring partially decomposed leaf material to fresh leaves because the plant’s distasteful chemicals have already begun to break down. Their defense relies on thick, calcium-rich cuticles and the ability to roll up. A few species have defensive chemical secretions to repel predators.