Friday, December 2, 2011

One of my Favorite Animals

I've drifted off the biomimicry topic the last few posts and it is time to get back to it!  Today I want to talk about one of my favorite animals, the okapi...  Side note: (for those of you remembering my love of frogs and horses, the specific order of my favorite animals goes 1. Frogs 2. Okapi 3. Horses.)  Okapi's have a very striking coat and body.  They have a reddish brown body, zebra striped legs, and a giraffe shaped head.  The Okapi isn't related to zebras, deer, or horses.  Their closest relative is the giraffe.  If you look at their head you can see a distinct relation in the shape and they have a long dark blue tongue just like giraffe's. 

The Okapi's unusual coloring is actually  ideal for its' environment.  Okapi's live in dense rainforest, where there is little sunlight except for the traces that weave through the dense upper canopy.  This creates stripes of light across the jungle floor that blend in nicely with their legs.  Their body is a dark reddish brown that blends in with the rest of the forest and doesn't attract much attention.  Other striped jungle animals like the Tiger utilize the same strategy of wearing stripes to mimic lighting in the dense jungle.

One of the most unique features of the Okapi is their large ears.  Okapis make lots of noise but our human ears cant detect them.  They are at a ultra low frequency, while predators hear at higher frequency.  By having low vocals they can communicate with one another without predators listening in.  This has evolved mostly for mother Okapi's and their babies.  At the beginning of the day the mother Okapi will hide the new baby while she goes off to find food and water.  She doesn't go out of earshot so if baby Okapi needs her she can come back.

Now what are some possible uses for humans if we had Okapi ears?  Well due to their ability to hear low frequencies, Okapi's can hear earthquakes.  If humans could make a small ear sized device, everyone could have their very own earthquake detection device!

Try to keep in mind that every animal and creature has evolved their specific features for a purpose.  If an animal looks strange their must be a reason!  Happy reading,

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