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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life and Literature Conference Attendee Interviews: Part 3

Now we present the next 3 of 17 conference attendee interviews from the Life and Literature conference. All of these interviews are available on the Life and Literature website.

Don't forget to share your thoughts about Life and Literature via our Titan Pad discussion pages, and also take a look at conference notes and speaker presentations on the website. If you attended the Life and Literature conference, be sure to take the survey, which will be closing November 30th.

We would like to extend a special thanks to Jennifer Rubin, Matthew Regan, and Bianca Crowley for conducting these interviews, and to all those who participated and shared their valuable thoughts with us.

Natalia Zamora:



Alex Asase:



Marty Schlabach:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Life and Literature Conference Attendee Interviews: Part 2

Continuing with our posting of the Life and Literature conference attendee interviews, below you will find the next 3 out of the 17 interviews, all of which are available on the Life and Literature website.

Don't forget to share your thoughts about Life and Literature via our Titan Pad discussion pages, and also take a look at conference notes and speaker presentations on the website. If you attended the Life and Literature conference, be sure to take the survey, which will be closing November 30th.

We would like to extend a special thanks to Jennifer Rubin, Matthew Regan, and Bianca Crowley for conducting these interviews, and to all those who participated and shared their valuable thoughts with us.

Ely Wallis:



Sue Ann Gardner:



Chris Wildrick:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Life and Literature Conference Attendee Interviews: Part 1

As we continue to explore the various outcomes of the Life and Literature conference, two common questions we receive are, "Who was at the conference" and "What did they have to say about it or BHL?" If you are also asking yourself these questions, then you're in luck! While at the conference, we conducted interviews with several of the attendees, asking them these very things. And we've made these interviews available on the Life and Literature website.

This week on the BHL blog, we'll post a few of the 17 interviews each day, giving you the chance to get to know the thoughts and opinions of those at Life and Literature. And if these interviews stimulate ideas and opinions about the conference or BHL in you, be sure to share those on our Titan Pad discussion pages! Don't forget that conference notes and speaker presentations can also be found on the website. If you attended the Life and Literature conference, be sure to take the survey, which will be closing November 30th.

We would like to extend a special thanks to Jennifer Rubin, Matthew Regan, and Bianca Crowley for conducting these interviews, and to all those who participated and shared their valuable thoughts with us. Enjoy the first 3 of the 17 interviews below, and see them all on the Life and Literature website.

George Dyson:



Edward Valauskas:



Lucy Waruingi:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Book of the Week: Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! We wanted to celebrate the holiday with an appropriate item from our collection. What did we find? Five Hundred Questions and Answers! On Poultry Raising (1899), by James Wallace Darrow. It features everything you could possibly need to know about raising poultry, with categories structured around feeding and care, diseases, eggs, poultry buildings, incubators, and, as you might expect, an entire chapter devoted to turkeys, ducks and geese! For our post, in case you're considering raising your own turkey for next year, we thought we'd share some of our favorite tidbits of information from the book. Have a lovely, relaxing holiday and enjoy our holiday-themed Book of the Week!

Feeding and Care:

Onions and Eggs: "My fowls love onions, but it is said that onions give the eggs an onion flavor? Do they?"

"No; onions do not affect the flavor of the eggs. Onions have been fed for weeks at a time along with other food, with no taint perceptible in the eggs. It would be just as reasonable to say that chicks hatched from eggs laid by onion eating hens would smell and taste of onion!"

Diseases:

1) Apoplexy: "I have lost some chickens that acted as though they had a spasm. On examining them [I] found the skin had turned a dark red. They were taken suddenly, and tried to stand on their heads. I feed a warm feed in the morning, oats at noon, corn at night. What is it?"

"This was probably apoplexy - a sudden rush of blood to the head, and a rupture of a blood vessel there. The remedy is prevention. You have probably been overfeeding, and should give only two meals per day. Reduce the grain feed and give steamed clover or some such bulky feed instead. Above all make them work for their food by obliging them to scratch it up. Exercise is one of the best preventives of disease."

Eggs:

Should Eggs Rest: "Does it injure eggs to ship them long distances, and how long should they rest before being put in incubators?"

"There is a foolish notion prevailing among some fowl breeders, that eggs which have been shipped a distance should rest a day or two before being placed in an incubator. As soon as the hens are ready to set, or the incubator ready for work, place the eggs under or in at once; they will rest as comfortably in either place as elsewhere, in fact, better; for everybody knows that the fresher the eggs the more chicks they will yield, and the healthier the chicks."

Poultry Houses:

The Best Poultry House: "Which is the best plan for a poultry house?"

"A poultry house is like a dwelling house - no two persons will agree. Much depends on climate, lay of the land, soil, etc. The most potent factor is the 'pocket-book,' as no matter what the plan may be, it must correspond with the contemplated cost. Hence, we can only reply that there is no best poultry house."
Incubators and Broiler Raising:

Handling: "Does it do harm to handle the eggs, such as testing them, or changing them from one machine to another after they have been in the incubator for three days?"

"No. Not if they are handled carefully and not exposed to cold air too long. In testing eggs in a cool room it is well to warm a couple of blankets folded to be a little larger than the egg tray. Cover the untested eggs with one warm blanket and spread the other over another tray and slip the eggs under as fast as tested. In this way chilling the eggs can be avoided."

Miscellaneous:

Highest Egg Record: "Please give me the highest egg record for a hen in one year?"

"In England 280 is claimed, but we have no records, and cannot state. Be satisfied with 150 or even 100."

Turkeys:

Fattening Turkeys: "State the best feed to fatten turkeys."

"To fatten turkeys give them their accustomed range and all the cooked corn, meal and potatoes they will eat up clean twice a day; plenty of grain at night and milk to drink at all times. Mix a little pulverized charcoal in the food once a day. Three weeks of this feeding and your turkeys will be in the best possible condition for the table; that is, if they have been growing and in good condition from the start. Remember that no amount of stuffing for a few weeks just before killing will make a prime, extra-large, table or market bird out of a turkey that has been starved and stunted."

Happy Thanksgiving! :-)

(Image comes from: Bilder-atlas zur Wissenschaftlich-populären Naturgeschichte der Vögel in ihren sämmtlichen Hauptformen (1864), fig. 233)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Post Life & Literature: Themes and Outcomes

If you happened to be living under a rock for the past two weeks and missed our blog posts, tweets, and posts on Facebook, you might have missed the fact that last week was the Life and Literature Conference, an event hosted by BHL with the express purpose of generating conversations about the priorities for biodiversity literature digitization, particularly as it pertains to BHL, for the next 4-5 years. The conference, which took place November 14-15, 2011, in Chicago, IL, brought together interested parties in a variety of disciplines, including science, education, informatics, and the humanities. Lively discussions and insightful presentations ensued both days, with dozens of live tweets (hashtag #lifelit) constantly streaming for those who could not participate in person.

The conference was divided into four panel discussions, followed on the second day by break-out sessions that allowed attendees to delve deeply into the various topics discussed during panel sessions, ultimately leading to an outline of the various areas deemed most important for BHL to focus on in the next 4-5 years. The four panel sessions included "Research, Informatics, and the Published Record;" "Publishers, Aggregators, and Authors - New Models and Access;" "Learning and Education;" and "Building Collaborative Networks for Science and the Humanities through Scientific Literature." A synopsis of the four panels can be found on the Life and Literature site, as well as a list of each of the presenters and their biographies. Session presentations are being loaded to the BHL wiki and can be accessed on the Presentations page. Notes from the sessions can be found on the Life and Literature website. You can also view interviews of conference attendees on the website.

In order to facilitate a discussion with the audience during panel and breakout sessions, BHL staff used an application called Titan Pad, which provides a collaborative environment that allows anyone to access a document to view, edit, or make comments in real time. There were Titan Pad pages for each of the panels and breakouts, and live notes, as well as live discussion, occurred via those avenues. These pages remain live, and we encourage anyone interested to continue the discussion in the weeks to come!

While many ideas and themes resulted from the discussion generated at the conference, perhaps the most recurring topic involved the connection between science and the humanities. Presentations by speakers at the Humanities panel highlighted some of the possible intersections between art and science, and each breakout session touched upon the various ways that BHL could partner with the humanities and make the biodiversity illustrations already in BHL more accessible. The BHL Flickr site, which currently houses more than 20,000 images, was a huge success, and attendees discussed additional ideas about how BHL could further promote its illustrations and engage the arts and humanities communities. Such ideas as specific image searching interfaces, image-specific collections, and collaborations with artist communities were discussed, and BHL staff outlined some art-related grant projects currently in the works.

The winner of the Life and Literature Code Challenge was also presented at the conference. The Code Challenge asked users to create applications that would use, disseminate, or display BHL data in new and meaningful ways. The winner? Ryan Schenk, with his application Synynyms. Synynyms works as a taxonomic name aggregator, finding all of the different names given to a species over the years and displaying the frequency of each name variety throughout history. The names are provided by the Encyclopedia of Life, and the publications come from, you guessed it, BHL! Congratulations to Ryan, and thanks for sharing such an awesome tool with us!

Last, but certainly not least, two new members of the BHL family were announced, Cornell University Library and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Libraries. With these new members joining the fold the BHL consortium is now 14 members strong! Stay tuned for more information about BHL's newest members to come in future posts.

The Life and Literature conference was also surrounded by a variety of other important BHL meetings, including a BHL Global Meeting (see previous post on the event), a BHL Staff meeting, and a meeting devoted to a discussion on the digitization of biodiversity literature in Africa. Watch for posts on the latter two meetings in the days to come.

As we think about the outcomes of the conference, we are excited to explore the possibilities for the future and inform our development through user feedback. For BHL to serve its purpose, it must meet the needs of its user community, and events like Life and Literature allow us to gather and assess those needs. However, if you couldn't make it to Life and Literature, or if you did but still have more thoughts on BHL's future, you can still share them! Contribute your ideas through our Titan Pad discussions, by submitting feedback to our website, or posting your ideas via twitter (@biodivlibrary) and Facebook! We're waiting to hear from you, and thanks to everyone who made Life and Literature such an exciting and successful venture!

(Images: All images courtesy Martin Kalfatovic. Top: BHL Buttons presented at the Life and Literature Conference; Middle: George Dyson delivering the second plenary speech at Life and Literature; Bottom: SUE - the largest, most complete T-Rex skeleton ever discovered, on display at the Field Museum, the Life and Literature Conference venue)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Life & Literature Future Framing for BHL



14-15 November, 2011, Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois, USA. http://www.lifeandliterature.org.

A quick overview from Second Global BHL Planning Meeting...

We just had the Second Global BHL Planning Meeting in Chicago Field Museum this past November 13, 2011 with representatives of all BHL Programs, except our colleagues from Bibliotheca Alexandrina, who couldn’t attend this time. During the meeting, each of our BHL Programs shared their progress since our (last Global Meeting on September 2010) and it was definitely a year of new and valuable achievements for all.




For BHL-US/UK, beyond an increasing access to constantly growing content, an improved appearance that includes a whole new logo, and the novel Flickr account, now with more than 20,000 images, turned into a fundamental component of our outreach activities to new communities. Also, the election of a new Executive Committee and the incorporation of new library partners were part of the good news of this year. Our Australian colleagues launched their new appealing website) to contribute content about Australian species to the Atlas of Living Australia project and are now getting ready to start digitizing and sharing their content from BHL-Australia. Our colleagues from BHL-China have come a long way this past year integrating BHL-China with the numerous projects on biodiversity they have in all their country’s provinces. BHL-China node hosted colleagues from BHL-US/UK last year for (technical meetings), and continued digitalization of valuable Chinese material, now shared also through BHL-US/UK. BHL-Europe is ready to launch by the end of this year their new portal that will aggregate content from European libraries, increase support to species names and allow for a powerful new Advance Search interface. Likewise, our colleagues from SciELO-Brazil have been contributing their information to BHL's citation repository, Citebank and are now setting up the equipment and workflows to inaugurate their new digitization facilities by April next year.


We also discussed and reviewed the Vision of BHL as a global unified network where its member institutions share their leadership and coordinate within the nodes, engaging with other organizations related to our field to become the recognized reference tool for biodiversity literature. We all agreed on more and better communications between the nodes and defined ways to coordinate this. Also, as part of the review of the governance structure of BHL, it was decided to form a Coordinating Committee that would establish the by-laws and tackle some of the challenges and issues addressed during the meeting and support the implementation of the way forward. It was also decided to hold a Technical Meeting in conjunction with our Global BHL Meeting next year.




As the meeting came to an end, all participants were looking forward for another new exciting year, initiated with the Life and Literature Meeting the following two days, as a source of valuable input from colleagues, users and staff on the areas and activities that BHL should focus and prioritize for the following 5 to 7 years!


William Ulate, Global BHL Project Coordinator

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Book of the Week: Burroughs and the Nature Essay

If you were asked who Henry David Thoreau is, chances are you'd have a least a general idea along the lines of an author who wrote, among other things, works centered around natural history themes. If we ask you who John Burroughs is, however, would you be able to confidently respond? The fact is, John Burroughs is recognized as "the most important practitioner after Thoreau of that especially American literary genre, the nature essay." Given the nickname "The Grand Old Man of Nature," Burroughs was a "virtual cultural institution" of the American Conservation Movement by the turn of the century. He authored many natural history titles that his biographer Edward Renehan described as the works of "a literary naturalist with a duty to record his own unique perceptions of the natural world." However, though his style perfectly harmonized with the cultural movement occurring during the time of his career, he has become relatively obscure in our present day.

Though Burroughs was first published in 1860, he worked as a clerk and federal bank examiner, writing only on the side, until the 1880s. It was not until 1871 that, encouraged by friend Walt Whitman, Burroughs published his first nature-oriented work entitled Wake-Robin. In 1874, Burroughs purchased a 9-acre farm in New York, where he grew many crops, including fancy table grapes, while he continued to write and work as a bank examiner. In 1895, he built a cabin near Riverby, where he grew celery and entertained visitors.

Burroughs wrote many popular nature works about such locales as the Catskills, Peekamoose Mountain, Mill Brook Ridge, and the Delaware River. He was very active in the debates of the "Nature Fakers Controversy," which "highlighted the conflict between science and sentiment in popular nature writing." A new style of nature writing took hold in the late nineteenth century in which "the natural world was depicted in a compassionate rather than realistic light." Burroughs was against "fantastical representations of wildlife," and published an article in 1903 entitled "Real and Sham Natural History" to express his views.

This week, we feature a book by John Burroughs all about squirrels and other "fur-bearers." Descriptively named Squirrels and Other Fur-Bearers (1900), this works contains fifteen illustrations completed after Audubon. Besides squirrels, it features chipmunks, skunks, raccoons, porcupines, and more. We selected some of our favorite illustrations from the book and included anecdotes from Burroughs about the species. You can see all of the illustrations from our Book of the Week on our Flickr account, and be sure to check out the book in BHL to learn more about the critters, including an enigmatic chapter entitled "A Life of Fear."

Red Squirrel: "The red Squirrel is more common and less dignified than the gray, and oftener guilty of petty larceny about the barns and grain-fields...At home, in the woods, he is very frolicsome and loquacious. The appearance of anything unusual, if, after contemplating it a moment, he concludes it not dangerous, excites his unbounded mirth and ridicule, and he snickers and chatters, hardly able to contain himself...There is something very human in this apparent mirth and mockery of the squirrels. It seems to be a sort of ironical laughter, and implies self-conscious pride and exultation in the laughter. 'What a ridiculous things you are, to be sure!' he seems to say; 'how clumsy and awkward, and what a poor show for a tail! Look at me, look at me!' - and he capers about in his best style."

Skunk: "The secretion upon which he relies for defense, and which is the chief source of his unpopularity, while it affords good reasons against cultivating him as a pet, and mars his attractiveness as game, is by no means the greatest indignity that can be offered to a nose. It is a rank, living smell, and has none of the sickening qualities of disease or putrefaction. Indeed, I think a good smeller will enjoy its most refined intensity. It approaches the sublime, and makes the nose tingle. It is tonic and bracing, and, I can readily believe, has rare medicinal qualities. I do not recommend its use as eye-water, though an old farmer assures me it has undoubted virtues when thus applied. Hearing, one night, a disturbance among his hens, he rushed out to catch the thief, when Sir Mephitis...discharged the vials of his wrath full in the farmer's face, and with such admirable effect that, for a few moments, he was completely blinded...But he declared that afterwards his eyes felt as if purged by fire, and his sight was much clearer."

Muskrat:"It sometimes looks as if the muskrat were weather-wise and could forecast the coming season. I doubt if a long series of observations would bear out the truth of this remark, yet I have noticed that in his nest-building he sometimes hits the mark with surprising accuracy...In the fall of 1880, while the weather-wise were wagging their heads, some forecasting a mild, some a severe winter, I watched with interest for a sign from my muskrats. About November 1, a month earlier than the previous year, they began their nest, and worked at it with a will...When the cold wave struck us, about November 20, my four-legged 'I told-you-so's' had nearly completed their dwelling...I approached their nest at this time, a white mound upon the white, deeply frozen surface of the pond, and wondered if there was any life in that apparent sepulchre. I thrust my walking-stick sharply into it, when there was a rustle and a splash into the water, as the occupant made his escape. What a damp basement that house has, I thought, and what a pity to rout a peaceful neighbor out of his bed in this weather, and into such a state of things as this!"

Porcupine: "One day my boy and I encountered a porcupine on the top of one of the Catskills, and we had a little circus with him; we wanted to wake him up, and make him show a little excitement, if possible. Without violence or injury to him, we succeeded to the extent of making his eyes fairly stand out from his head, but quicken his motion he would not, - probably could not.

"What astonished and alarmed him seemed to be that his quills had no effect upon his enemies; they laughed at his weapons. He stuck his head under a rock and left his back and tail exposed. This is the porcupine's favorite position of defense. 'Now come if you dare,' he seems to say...

"With a rotten stick we sprang the animal's tail again and again, till its supply of quills began to run low, and the creature grew uneasy. 'What does this mean?' he seemed to say, his excitement rising...When we finally drew him forth with a forked stick, his eyes were ready to burst from his head. In what a peevish, injured tone the creature did complain of our unfair tactics...His game after we led him forth was to keep himself as much as possible in the shape of a ball, but with two sticks and a cord we finally threw him over on his back and exposed his quill-less and vulnerable side, when he fairly surrendered and seem to say, 'Now you may do with me as you like.' Then we laughed in his face and went our way."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

BHL and Our Users: Robin Everly & the Smithsonian Institution Libraries

This week, we feature one of the librarians at BHL partner institution, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Robin Everly, the Botany-Horticulture librarian for the Smithsonian, has played an extremely active role in the development and dissemination of BHL for the past several years. She has a unique perspective on the project, playing the role of both user (to perform library-related job requirements) and member of the team developing BHL. We are excited to share her interesting viewpoint on our blog!


What is your title and institutional affiliation (or alternative place of employment)?


I’m the Branch Librarian for the Botany-Horticulture Library at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Currently, I’m also serving as Board President of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries (CBHL) through May 2012.


How long have you been working in a library environment?



Pretty much my entire working life. In high school, I worked as a page for my local public library. Although I have a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Maryland, the jobs I applied for had to do with handling and organizing scientific information. Included in this mix were working at the National Cancer Institute’s then called Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, which handled drug development; a short lived pesticide risk assessment position; and working as a database indexer for the AGRICOLA database at the National Agricultural Library (NAL). While working at NAL, I decided to make working in the information field official by getting an MLS. My goal was to work as a science reference librarian, and its one of the best decisions I ever made.

When did you first discover BHL?


As a botanical librarian working at the U.S. National Arboretum, I would use Botanicus, a database developed at the Missouri Botanic Garden. Around 2007 or 2008, I kept hearing about the Biodiversity Heritage Library database and wondered how it differed from Botanicus. In January 2008, I attended a presentation by Martin Kalfatovic and Suzanne Pilsk on BHL at NAL and learned what I thought were pretty ambitious plans for getting more content. There I also learned about plans for BHL to eventually have the majority of botanical literature in it and for Botanicus to hold a certain subset.


It’s hard to believe that BHL has only been around for the last 5 years or so. It’s made such a huge impact on taxonomy –both botanical and zoological; timewise,it feels like it has been around a lot longer.


What is your current level of involvement in BHL?


I serve on the BHL Collections Committee, which has a member from each BHL library on it. I represent the Smithsonian Institution Libraries on the committee. I’m also on an in-house SIL taskforce group which meets at least once a month. Plus, I’m also a big advocate of the data base and try to promote it whenever I can to our library visitors and staff here at the Smithsonian.


What is your opinion of BHL and what impact has it had on your duties as a librarian?


BHL is a wonderful project. In my opinion, it’s the librarians’ and libraries’ way to contribute to plant and animal conservation. It’s a project that helps researchers based in the developing world - where most plant biodiversity is found - conduct their research more quickly and easily. Since most of the printed taxonomic literature is in North America and Europe, this project brings the literature, literally to a researcher’s fingertips at his/her desktop, anywhere in the world you have an internet data connection. And the best part is: it's freely available. Our foreign visitors are especially impressed with the database and all the books and journals that are available on line. I only heard compliments about the database when I was at the recent International Botanical Congress in Melbourne, Australia. It’s very gratifying to get such a positive response from your users on a product developed partly at your institution.


As a librarian, it has made my job easier because I don’t need to request an article or book through interlibrary loan if it is in BHL; I just send the requester the URL. Also, if the print copy is fragile, acidic or even brittle, it allows for that copy to be handled only under special circumstances. The electronic copy is serving as a kind of “preservation tool” in this case. BHL is organized in such a way that it is easy to explain to a user how to search it and find the information they need.


Years ago, I went into science because I wanted to be a researcher involved in animal conservation. Although I have never achieved that goal, by participating in BHL as a librarian, I’m helping the researchers who are involved in both plant and animal conservation conduct their research. I found this a very rewarding part of my job.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book of the Week: Voyages to South America

This week for our book of the week, we feature a title that Charles Darwin himself called "one of the great monuments of science in the 19th century." The book? Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale (1835-47), by Alcide Dessalines d'Orbigny. The work chronicles d'Orbigny's travels to South America for the Paris Museum from 1826-1833. As a result of this voyage, d'Orbigny returned to Paris with more than 10,000 natural history specimens.

Alcide d'Orbigny was a French naturalist born in 1802 that studied a variety of fields including zoology, paleontology, geology, archaeology, and anthropology. He was born to a ship's physician and naturalist, which made his choice of occupation a natural one. When his family moved to La Rochelle in 1820, d'Orbigny's interest in natural history was nourished as he began to study the marine fauna in that area. Shortly thereafter he moved to Paris, where he closely studied the work of Georges Cuvier.

d'Orbigny's mission to South America included visits to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. d'Orbigny described some of the 10,000 specimens he collected in our book of the week, Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale, which was published in 90 fascicles. As mentioned, Darwin highly praised the work, and d'Orbigny even named select species after him. For instance, the common name of Rhea pennata is Darwin's Rhea.

After 1840, d'Orbigny focused his attention on fossils, publishing two important titles on the subject between 1840 and 1850. In 1853, he became a professor of paleontology at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. The position of Chair of Paleontology was created especially for him, and his geological timescales and strata are still used today as chronostratigraphic reference.

For our post, we're featuring some of the species that d'Orbigny described as a result of his voyage to South America, particularly those contained in v.9 of the title. You can see all of the images from this volume on our Flickr site, and be sure to check out a few of the other volumes from the title that we have in BHL.

Geoffroy's Cat (Leopardus geoffroyi): A wild cat found in Southern and Central South America that is about the size of a domestic house cat. While fairly abundant, issues over land-use changes in its habitat, as well as intense international fur trade in the 1960s-80s, results in this species being listed as "Near Threatened" by the IUCN.

Xantho planus: A crab species of the family Xanthidae, the largest crab family in terms of species richness, with 572 species and 133 genera. Species of Xanthidae are commonly called mud crabs, pebble crabs or rubble crabs. They are poisonous, containing a toxin, similar to that produced by puffer fish, for which there is no antidote and which is not destroyed by cooking.

Porcupine River Stingray (Potamotrygon hystrix): This species is found within marshy, freshwater zones of the Paraná-Paraguay River basin. When it remains perfectly immobile, partially covered by sand, and exercising homochromy (a process of protective coloration that allows the animal to blend into its environment), this species is practically undetectable to the eye. Its tail contains 1 or more spines, which are covered in a toxic mucus that inflicts painful wounds.

Blue-banded Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus coeruleicinctis - Top Figure): This species of Toucanet lives in Bolivia and Peru. Members of the Toucan family, Toucanets are near-passerine or high land-birds, meaning that they are arboreal birds believed to be related to true passerines. Passerines, which are of the order Passeriformes, include more than half of all bird species, with over 5,000 identified species. This is approximately twice as many species as that contained in the largest mammal order, Rodentia, and, with over 110 families, it has the second most families of any order of vertebrates, after Perciformes (bony fish).