After three years I went to visit my family in Iran. We traveled to the city of Mahmood Abad in the north of Iran and had the most amazing time together. One night as I was walking on the shore of the Caspian Sea with my sister, I saw distant lightning. I ran to the hotel, grabbed my camera and tripod, and came back. I took many long exposures, but it was only in the second shot that I captured the biggest, most beautiful, and the last lightning of that night..
(text/photo: Amir Ali Sharifi) (via: National Geo)
A hidden camera captures a fleeting glimpse of an Asiatic cheetah. Only a few dozen survive in a remote corner of Iran. Worldwide cheetah numbers have plunged from an estimated 100,000 in 1900 to fewer than 10,000 today.
(photograph by Frans Lanting)
From “Cheetahs,” National Geographic, November 2012
It is primarily found in highland streams that are surrounded by arid scrubland, but can also be found in ponds and pools. Water is absent from its habitat for a significant part of the year, during which this species is known to estivate. It is considered critically endangered due to its tiny range (it inhabits an area of less than 10 km²), continuing habitat loss, and the illegal capture of salamanders for the wild animal trade. It has been estimated that the entire wild population numbers fewer than 1,000 adults.
This species reaches 131 mm in total length, making it the smallest species of Neurergus. Endemic to Iran, in the southern Zagros Mountains. Known from only a few remote mountainous localities in Lorestan Province. Terrestrial habitat includes open woodlands. N. kaiseri is a stream-breeder, as are the other species in the genus.
Courtship takes place on land close to the water, with females entering the water to deposit eggs. The female deposits eggs singly in the water, on rough surfaces such as stones, away from the light but not always on the underside. The larvae metamorphose in about two months in the wild. Both the breeding period and larval development period are considerably shorter for N. kaiseri, which relies on water resources with unstable availability, than for the other Neurergus stream-breeding species…
N. kaiseri are native to the Luristan Province of Iran, at an altitude of 750-1200 m (2400-4000 ft). Unlike the other Neurergus, which live in cold climates and inhabit cold mountain streams, N. kaiseri come from a hot dry climate. They reproduce in winter during periods of rain, which are followed by long periods of hot dry weather in which the animals estivate. It is estimated that water is present in their habitat for 3 months of the year or less. Unlike the other Neurergus, They are reported to use ponds and vernal pools, in addition to streams. However, their wild habitat has not been well studied…
Also known as the Brown Sand Boa, the Indian Sand Boa is a species of burrowing Boa (Sand Boa, subfamily Ericinae) found in India, Pakistan, and Iran. This is the largest species of Old World Sand Boa. They reach an average length of about 2 ft and a maximum length of 3 ft. Coloration ranges amongst shades of brown from medium brown to reddish or yellowish brown. E. johnni has smooth scales, small eyes, a wedge shaped snout with a large shield like scale for digging into loose soil, and a blunt tail (which may confuse predators as to which end of the animal is the head).
This species is oviviviparous (retain the eggs and then give birth as the young hatch from the egg membrane), as are most of the Boas. They’re found in arid and semi-arid habitats with loose sandy soil. They’re are known to prey on small mammals and snakes, which they subdue through constriction.
This species is being depleted at an alarming rate in the wild from over collecting for the pet industry. Its conservation status needs further research.
(top photo: individual in Bannerghatta Rehab Center, Bangalore, India, by Grande Illusion)
The myth of the camel spider is largely propagated in Arab countries and is not well known in western countries such as the United States. The real truth about the camel spider is that it really isn’t a spider, but rather an order of non-spider arachnids called Solifugae. (photo location: Hormozgan, Iran)
* The myths about this animal state that they reach massive proportions, they can run at vehicularly high speeds, and that they are incredibly venomous. They have no venom. While they are fast for an invertebrate, they travel at a maximum of a little less than 10 mph for a short distance. Most of them are fairly small, and the largest species has a leg spread that reaches only 12 cm (6 cm body length). (though even that size is in dispute, they may actually reach a much smaller max size)
Although it it looks very normal at first glance, Iran’s Secret Toad-Headed Agama has a very unique defense mechanism. When frightened, it unfolds two flaps of skin on the sides of it’s mouth that are bright red, hisses and bares it’s teeth.
Persian Viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) - photo: Steven C. Anderson
P. urarachnoides, a recently described species from Iran, is the only known snake that has a tail that mimics centipedes. It uses this tail ability to lure prey, a practice known as caudal luring. While other vipers use caudal luring, this species has possibly the most elaborate tail lure of any snake. Although the diet of this snake is not well known, it is assumed that the target of such a lure is specific, an animal (like a bird or shrew) that preys mostly on centipedes.
This video shows caudal luring, through use of its highly specialized tail ornament, by the recently described viper from Iran, Pseudocerastes urarachnoides. This video was produced by Behzad Fathinia. The behavior and habitat are described in a soon-to-be published paper: Notes on the Natural History of Pseudocerastes urarachnoides (Squamata: Viperidae) by Behzad Fathinia, Steven C. Anderson, Nasrullah Rastegar-Pouyani, and Hasan Jahani. Russian Journal of Herpetology (in press)