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Natural World


Some species that inhabit West Africa's coastal waters:

A possibly unknown species of freshwater elephantfish (Mormyridae), a family widespread in West Africa.

These fish use their mouthparts to feed on small invertebrates buried in muddy substrates.

(Click on photo for more info.)

Odontomachus assiniensis species of Trap-Jaw Ant is widespread through Guinea, Ghana and Cameroon. [Photo: Wikipedia]

Above:  Tragocephala nobilis , a West African longhorn beetle.

Above: Tragocephala nobilis, a West African longhorn beetle.

Photos of Cubitermes termite nests found in Cameroon and farther east in the Congo basin. These nests resemble giant mushrooms.

(Click on photo for more info.)

A close-up look at the little-known Unicorn Chameleon (Chameleo owenii) of West Africa.

A chameleon in the middle of the Ténéré desert.

From Scientific American blog: "How the Western Black Rhino Went Extinct" [below]:

The Liberian Tree-Hole Crab (Globonautes macropus) is an endangered freshwater crab that lives, strangely enough, in the canopy of the Upper Guinea Forest of West Africa:

“It was less powerfully built than the male gorilla, but as powerful as either the chimpanzee or nshiego mbouve. When it was brought into Obindji, all the once exclaimed, “That is a kooloo-kamba.”

Then I asked them about the other apes I already new; but for these they had other names, and did not at all confound the species. For all these reasons I was assured that my prize was indeed a new animal, and not a variety of any of those before known.”
— Paul Du Chaillu, “Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa” (1861), p. 272

  A new, much larger variety of chimpanzee was recently discovered in northern Congo in the Bili region. These chimps walk with their back straight and nest on the ground, unlike other chimpanzees. It's claimed they attack and kill large carnivores for food.

This has renewed the debate among scientists about genetic variation among the great apes. It began in the 1860s when explorer Paul Du Chaillu described a hybrid species he called the koola-kamba -- a cross between chimpanzee and gorilla. 

It would seem the great apes exhibit greater variety than was originally believed.  Since they inhabit remote, dense jungles, much remains to be learned. They may hold clues about how humans came to emerge.  (By Paris A. Walker)

Above: a chimpanzee photographed by George Grenfell. From: "George Grenfell and the Congo (Vol. 1)" by Sir Harry Johnston, 1908.

A Liberian postage stamp featuring the koola-kamba.

Read an excellent article by Glenn Scherer about trafficking of ape parts in Cameroon:

In Cameroon a gorilla appeared in a photo that won Wildlife Photographer of the Year in the US. This gorilla was rescued by our contributor, Ape Action Africa! [See Contributors page.]

Warning: the eight-inch (20 cm) long polydesmid millipede of West Africa can exude hydrogen cyanide from pores along its body.

How could we not also mention the giant African centipede? This one was photographed crossing a path near Kindia, Guinea. It's a foot long (30.4 cm).


For fans of giant bird spiders, an excellent article on the West African Togo Starburst Baboon Tarantula, native to West Africa. (Click on either photo.)

Above: the spectral beauty of  Heteroscodra maculata .

Above: the spectral beauty of Heteroscodra maculata.

Below: the Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator) of West Africa reaches a length of nearly 8 inches [20.3 cm]. Despite its size, it is not highly venomous.

Above: the Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator) of West Africa.

Above: the Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator) fluoresces bright blue in ultraviolet light.

Below: the Deathstalker (Leiurus quinquestriatus) is one of the world's most dangerous scorpions. Its neurotoxic venom can cause agony and death by pulmonary edema. It inhabits desert and scrubland habitats in Mali and arid parts of West Africa, further north to Algeria, particularly Egypt; its range extends to the Middle East. It is aggressive and nervous.

Above: the Deathstalker scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus)

Above: Leiurus quinquestriatus

The Deathstalker's venom has been found to latch onto cancer cells and make tumors glow brightly. Click below to learn about potential applications in medicine.

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Below: Goliath beetles can be found in West Africa's tropical forests where they feed primarily on tree sap and fruit. Their weight makes them among the largest insects on Earth. Five species are known. The larvae can reach 10 inches in length [250 mm] and weigh over four ounces [115 grams]. 

Above: Goliathus albosignatus. [Source: Wikipedia]

Above: Goliathus giganteus. [Source: Wikipedia]

Above: Goliath beetle and mouse.

Above: a Goliath beetle larva.

Above: the various colorations of Goliathus species, subspecies and forms.

Below: the giant blue earthworm (Microchaetus rappi) of Africa is a large earthworm in the Microchaetidae family, the largest of the segmented worms (commonly called earthworms). It averages about 1.36 m (4.5 ft) in length, but can reach a length of 6.7 m (22 ft) and can weigh over 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). [Source: Wikipedia]

Below: the Gaboon viper is also indigenous to West Africa.

Gaboon Viper (Bitis gabonica)

West African Gaboon Viper (Bitis gabonicus rhinoceros).

The Gaboon viper is venomous and has the longest fangs of any snake. In this video it can be seen moving along the forest floor, its typical environment.

Below: facts about the West African lion, a subspecies native to the region. 

Above: virtual recreation of Orthoceras, an extinct marine species that lived in Africa. They grew to 60 feet [18.3 m] in length.

This site is published by Paris Alexander Walker of Santa Monica, California.

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