Zoology

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Harris, Ernest James

Ernest James Harris was an accomplished entomologist known for his work on breeding Biosteres arisanus, a species of wasp that parasitizes fruit fly eggs. Thanks to the work done by Harris, B. arisanus has been bred on a large scale for the purposes of pest eradication. More than twenty nations have adopted use of the “Harris strain” of the wasp for fruit fly eradication. Harris was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. Ernest J. Harris was born on May 24, 1928. His parents had a farm in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), where Harris’s interest in insects first developed. After graduation, he attended Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). There, he majored …

Insects

Insects account for over half of all species described thus far worldwide, and they are the dominant form of life in terrestrial environments. It is estimated that 35,000 to 40,000 species of insects live in Arkansas, including around 10,000 species of beetles, around 9,000 species of flies, nearly 8,000 species of bees and wasps, and around 5,000 species of moths and butterflies. The remainder make up small orders such as the bristletails, mayflies, dragonflies and damselflies, cockroaches, mantids, termites, stoneflies, grasshoppers and crickets, earwigs, stick insects, book and bark lice, chewing and sucking lice, and true bugs and lacewings and their relatives. It is still not uncommon to find species in Arkansas that are unnamed and new to the scientific …

Ivory-billed Woodpeckers

aka: Campephilus principalis
Long believed to be extinct, the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) was rediscovered in the Big Woods of east Arkansas in 2004. More than sixty years after the last confirmed sighting in the United States, a research team announced on April 28, 2005, that at least one male ivory-bill survived in the vast bottomland swamp forest. Published in the journal Science, the findings included multiple sightings of the elusive woodpecker and frame-by-frame analyses of brief video footage. The evidence was gathered during an intensive year-long search in the Cache River and White River National Wildlife Refuges in eastern Arkansas, involving more than fifty experts and field biologists working as part of the Big Woods Conservation Partnership, led by the Cornell Laboratory …

James, Douglas Arthur

Douglas Arthur James served as a professor of biological sciences at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) from 1953 to 2016. He was considered the authority of the birds of Arkansas, co-authoring Arkansas Birds with Joseph C. Neal in 1986, and became one of the state’s leading conservationists in the second half of the last century, helping to start the Arkansas Audubon Society in 1955 and the Arkansas Audubon Society Trust in 1972. He arranged the first meeting of what would become the Ozark Society, which was responsible for saving the Buffalo River from damming. Starting with studies of scrubland birds in northwestern Arkansas, James expanded to studying scrubland birds in Africa, Nepal, and Belize. He was …

Lampreys

aka: Jawless Fishes
Lampreys are primitive jawless fishes in the Family Petromyzontidae, Order Petromyzontiformes, Class Petromyzontida, and Superclass Cyclostomata. The common name “lamprey” is almost certainly derived from the Latin lampetra, which likely means “stone licker” (lambere “to lick” + petra “stone”). They are also sometimes called lamprey eels, although they are not eels. Instead, lampreys are the direct descendants of the first armored jawless fishes or ostracoderms, which first appeared over 400 million years ago during the Silurian and Devonian periods. Today, there are only two remaining groups of jawless fishes: the lampreys and the hagfishes (Order Myxiniformes, Class Myxini). Hagfishes, which resemble lampreys, are the sister taxon of lampreys based on DNA evidence. There are about forty-two living lamprey species in …

Leeches

Leeches are segmented worms belonging to the Phylum Annelida, Class Clitellata, Subclass Hirudinida. Leech classification is primarily based on the presence or absence of setae (bristles) and the morphology of the mouth, proboscis (feeding organ), jaws, and suckers. Leeches are thought to have evolved from certain oligochaete worms; however, the systematics and taxonomy of leeches are in need of review. Twenty-two species within five families (Erpobdellidae, Glossiphoniidae, Haemopidae, Hirudinidae, Piscicolidae) have been reported from northern Arkansas, but, as of 2018, there are no summaries of leeches from the southern part of the state. Leeches are bilaterally symmetrical, with thick muscular bodies. Usually, they are dorsoventrally flattened and segmented. Some leeches are long and worm-like (ranging in size from about seven …

Lice

Lice belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, Order Phthiraptera, with four suborders: Anoplura (sucking lice), occurring on mammals exclusively; Rhynchophthirina, parasites of elephants and warthogs; Ischnocera, which are mostly avian lice, though one family parasitizes mammals; and Amblycera, a primitive suborder of chewing lice, widespread on birds but also infesting South American and Australasian mammals. The chewing lice (suborders Rhynchophthirina, Ischnocera, and Amblycera) were previously combined in the order Mallophaga, which did not reflect natural grouping. There are nearly 5,000 described species of lice, with about 4,000 being parasitic on birds and 800 on mammals, within about twenty-six families of described species of phthriapterans. Many mammal species can be infested by sucking lice, including seals and walruses. These “marine …

Mammals

Arkansas’s assemblage of mammals contains both domesticated and wild species, as well as humans. The agriculture and pet industries within Arkansas are enhanced by domesticated mammals. Wild mammals can be grouped into two categories: game (species with hunting seasons) and non-game (species without hunting seasons). All mammals are classified into the class Mammalia. Mammals—along with birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles—belong to a large group known as the vertebrates (animals possessing a backbone). Mammals share common features with each other, including being homeothermic (constant internal body temperature), having hair, having mammary glands (milk-producing structures in females), and being able to give live birth. Some mammals found outside of Arkansas, such as dolphins and whales (order Cetacea), have very small amounts of …

Mayflies

aka: Ephemeropterans
Mayflies belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, and Order Ephemeroptera. They are a small, wide-ranging, primitive order of insects that is well known to entomologists, biologists, naturalists, and fly fishermen. There are approximately 3,000 species of mayflies described worldwide; these are grouped into over 400 genera within forty-two families. As of 2019, approximately 676 species within twenty-one families were recognized from North America. The southeastern United States has nearly 400 mayfly species, which is more than half of those known from the United States and almost half of those known from North America alone. No single study summarizing mayflies exists specifically for Arkansas, but an investigation from 2010 noted about 117 species of mayflies reported from the state. The …

Millipedes

There have been around 7,000 species of millipedes (sometimes spelled millipeds) described scientifically, with a projected estimate of possibly 80,000 total species occurring around the globe. Around 900 species have been described from the United States and Canada. However, the family Parajulidae, the largest group from North America, has not been studied thoroughly, suggesting that numerous more species exist in North America. Arkansas has a diverse array of millipede species. Some of them are fairly common, while others are rare. Millipedes—their name meaning “thousand feet”—make up a group of invertebrates (lacking a backbone) in the phylum Arthropoda. Within the Arthropoda phylum, millipedes belong in the subphylum Myriapoda, which includes four classes: Chilopoda (centipedes), Diplopoda (millipedes), Paurapoda (paurapods), and Sumphyla (symphylans). …

Mites

Mites are small arthropods (Phylum Arthropoda) belonging to the Class Arachnida (Subclass Acari) with two or three Superorders as follows: Acariformes (or Actinotrichida), Parasitiformes (or Anactinotrichida), and Opilioacariformes. There are four Orders, Mesostigmata, Prostigmata, Orbatida, and Astigmata. Among the more well-known mites are ticks (Ixodida). There are an estimated 48,200 species of described mites. The phylogeny of the Acari is still debatable, and several different taxonomic schemes have been proposed for their classification. The diversity of the Acari is extraordinary, and its fossil history goes back to at least the early Devonian Period (about 419 million years ago). Mites are very common in Arkansas, with chiggers being a particular pest of humans during warmer months. Historically, references to mites/chiggers go …

Moles

The mammalian family Talpidae includes seventeen genera and forty-two species of moles worldwide in the order Eulipotyphla. Of these, there are four genera and seven species in North America alone. Moles are found in most parts of North America, Asia, and Europe. The family contains all the true moles, and some of their close relatives—including desmans, but these are not normally called “moles” and belong to the subfamily Talpinae. Those species called “shrew moles” denote an intermediate form between the moles and their shrew ancestors. There are three subfamilies of moles, including the Scalopinae (New World moles) with five genera, Talpinae (Old World, desmans, and shrew moles) with nine genera, and Uropsilinae (Asian shrew-like moles) with a single genus. The …

Monogeneans

The class Monogenoidea is a fairly large group of parasitic flatworms belonging to the phylum Platyhelminthes. Monogeneans are generally found on bony fishes in freshwater and marine habitats. Although some are endoparasites in the urinary bladder and eyes, most monogeneans are ectoparasites that attach to their host’s skin or gills by a special posteriorly positioned attachment organ called a haptor. The class contains about nine orders, fifty families, and 4,000–5,000 species. The genus Dactylogyrus is one of the largest genera, with nearly 1,000 species. Some taxonomists divide the Monogenoidea into two or three subclasses based on the complexity of their haptor. Those in the subclass Monopisthocotylea have one main part to the haptor, often with hooks or a large attachment …

Mullets

aka: Gray Mullets
aka: Flathead Gray Mullets
Fishes commonly known as mullets, of the Family Mugilidae and Order Mugiliformes, are a group of more than seventy mostly marine species within some fifteen to twenty-five genera. The genus Mugil is cosmopolitan in distribution except in upper latitudes, and at least five species occur in North America. The latest evidence suggests that mullets are most closely related to atherinomorph fishes (silversides and topminnows). Although most mullets are strictly marine, the striped mullet (Mugil cephalus) has the physiological ability to travel between freshwater and salt water, spending much of its life in streams. It is a cosmopolitan resident of estuaries, temperate and tropical oceans, salt marshes, and shoreline areas along the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia south to Mexico and Brazil. …

Myxozoans

Myxozoans are a group of microscopic, oligocellular, obligate endoparasites that belong to the Phylum Cnidaria, which also includes sea anemones, box jellies, corals, true jellies, sea pens, and hydrozoans. There are two parasitic classes, the Malacosporea and Myxosporea, and more than 2,200 nominal species of myxozoans classified into sixty-four genera and seventeen families. Myxozoans were, for years, placed within their own phylum (Myxozoa). Similarities to cnidarians had been noted at various times but not firmly until 2007. Although morphological and genetic evidence support placement of the Myxozoa as cnidarians, and this taxonomy has been followed by some authorities, others have not reached the same conclusion; exactly where the Myxozoa fit in this taxonomic scheme is not yet entirely known. Less …

Nematodes

aka: Roundworms
The phylum Nematoda includes three classes (Anoplea, Chromodorea, and Rhabditida), sixteen to twenty orders, and about 27,000 described species (and possibly up to one million) of mostly dioecious, elongate, bilaterally symmetrical pseudocoelomate worms. They can be found in abundance in nearly every habitat on Earth, with a diverse array of species existing in both marine and terrestrial habitats. Most are free-living, with less than half considered to be parasitic. Nevertheless, many species threaten the health of plants and animals (including humans) on a global scale. Nematodes are variable in size from less than one millimeter to more than one meter in length. They have been in existence for an estimated one billion years, having evolved from simple animals some 400 …

Nematomorpha

aka: Horsehair Worms
aka: Hairworms
Horsehair worms belong to the phylum Nematomorpha and are typically obligate parasites of terrestrial arthropods (e.g., beetles, crickets, cockroaches, locusts, grasshoppers, and mantids). As adults, however, they are free-living in aquatic environments. These worms are sometimes found in coiled clusters termed “Gordian knots” from the intricate legendary knot of Greek mythology. Another myth is related to the common name given these worms, “hairworms” or “horsehair worms,” originating from the idea that horse hairs that fell into water became worms. This belief was not disproved scientifically until American anatomist and paleontologist Joseph Leidy (1823–1891) noted in 1870 that horse hairs placed in water for many months did not come to life. The first published report of a horsehair worm from Arkansas …

Nemertea

aka: Ribbon Worms
The phylum Nemertea is an invertebrate phylum that contains over 1,000 species within 250 genera of mostly marine organisms known variously as ribbon, proboscis, or nemertean worms. Only a few taxa inhabit freshwater, and there are several terrestrial species. Most are free living; however, a few are known to be parasitic. The name means one of “Nereis” (unerring one), which refers to the unerring aim of the proboscis. Ribbon worms are unique in having an eversible muscular proboscis that is used for grasping prey. It lies free inside of a cavity above the alimentary canal known as the rhynchocoel. This muscular tube can be swiftly thrust out to catch prey items. This phylum is also occasionally called the Rhynchocoela, which …

Northern Snakehead

aka: Channa argus
aka: Snakehead
The northern snakehead (Channa argus) is a modern bony fish belonging to the family Channidae. It is native to China, eastern Russia, and parts of the Korean peninsula. The fish was discovered in Arkansas in 2008, leading to attempts to eradicate it. The northern snakehead has an elongate body, with long dorsal and anal fins, and a truncated tail. Coloration is dark tan to brown with darker spots laterally, extending above and below the midline. The jaws have sharp, pointed teeth. The fish can reach a size of one meter and weigh as much as eight kilograms. The northern snakehead breathes with gills but also possesses a suprabranchial organ, which consists of chambers filled with folded tissue that allow atmospheric …

Official State Dinosaur

aka: Arkansas Dinosaur
aka: Arkansaurus fridayi
In August 1972, Joe B. Friday discovered the remains of the right hind foot of a dinosaur in a shallow pit on his land in Lockesburg (Sevier County). He found the bones in rocks belonging to the Lower Cretaceous Trinity Group, which consists of deposits of clay, sand, gravel, limestone, and the evaporite minerals gypsum and celestite. Friday donated the bones to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville, where they are kept in the University Museum Collections at the Arkansas Archeological Survey. UA professor James Harrison Quinn gave the bones the informal name “Arkansaurus fridayi” in 1973. He cleaned and assembled the bones and compared them to the feet of two similar-appearing dinosaurs previously described in the scientific literature. He …

Opalinids

Opalinids are a small group of peculiar cosmopolitan organisms that belong to the kingdom Protista. Recent classification places the opalinids as heterotrophic stramenopiles (heterokonts) within the phylum Placidozoa, class Opalinea, and order Slopalinida. There are over 200 species, and, although opalinids are typically endocommensals (that is, living within the host without affecting it) in the large intestine and cloaca of anurans (frogs and toads), they have also been reported from fish, salamanders, reptiles, and some invertebrates (mollusks and insects). They are of no medical or economic importance, but they are interesting because their reproductive cycles are apparently controlled by the host’s hormones. In addition, opalinids are routinely encountered in dissections of frogs in college biology laboratories, and most students are …

Opossums

aka: Possums
aka: Didelphis virginiana
Arkansas opossums (commonly referred to as “possums”) are of the Virginia opossum species Didelphis virginiana and can be found in both rural and urban habitats. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission tracks opossum populations and oversees an opossum hunting season during the winter months. As the only marsupials found in North America, opossums have existed for 70–80 million years. They are highly adaptable omnivores who eat a variety of foods including insects, rodents, berries, grasses, leaves, and carrion. The females can have twenty to twenty-five babies in one litter and carry their young in their pouches for up to three months. Opossums have opposable thumbs on their rear feet and can also grasp with their tails. Contrary to popular belief, …

Ozark Cavefish

aka: Amblyopsis rosae
The Ozark cavefish (Amblyopsis rosae) is found in the Springfield Plateau of the Ozark Mountains. Its geographic distribution covers approximately 8,200 square miles (21,000 square kilometers), comprising an area drained by the White River on the south and the east, the Neosho River (Arkansas River basin) on the west, and the Osage River (Missouri River basin) to the north. This species has been reported in at least fifty-two caves over three states: Missouri, Arkansas (originally in ten but now in seven sites in Benton County), and northeast Oklahoma. It has been proposed that there are two subspecies of this fish: Amblyopsis rosae whitae for the White River drainage region and Amblyopsis rosae arkansasus for the middle Arkansas River drainage region. …

Ozark Hellbender

aka: Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi
The salamander called the Ozark hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi) is one of two subspecies of hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis). Historically, the eastern hellbender (C.a. alleganiensis) is found throughout much of the upland areas of the United States east of the Mississippi River; it also inhabits northern portions of the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. The Ozark hellbender occurs in several southern-flowing streams of the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and has a very restricted range in Arkansas, occurring only in the upper reaches of the Spring River, in portions of the Eleven Point River in Randolph County, and in the White River at Batesville (Independence County) and near the town of Norfork (Baxter County). The hellbender, North America’s largest salamander, sometimes grows to …

Ozark Pocket Gopher

aka: Geomys bursarius ozarkensis
The Ozark pocket gopher is a small mammal that belongs to the family Geomyidae (pocket gophers) and the order Rodentia (rodents). It is endemic to Arkansas, occurring in Izard County. The common name “pocket gopher” comes from the fur-lined cheek pouches that these animals use to carry food. Two species of pocket gophers live in Arkansas. Geomys bursarius can be found from southern Manitoba southward through the central plains of the United States toward Arkansas and Texas, with the subspecies G. b. ozarkensis found in the southwestern one-third of Izard County in Arkansas. Although a few individuals have been captured on the southern side of the White River in adjacent Stone County, no current population resides in any other county …

Paddlefish

aka: Spoonbill Catfish
Paddlefish belong to the family Polyodontidae and order Acipensiformes. There are six known species—four are extinct (three from western North America, one from China) and known only from fossil remains, while two extant species include the paddlefish (Polyodon spathula), which is native to the Mississippi River basin in the United States, and the gigantic critically endangered Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) endemic to the Yangtze River Basin in China, where they lived primarily in the broad-surfaced main stem rivers and shoal zones along the East China Sea. Paddlefish are basal Chondrostean ray-finned fish; they are archaic and have been referred to as “primitive fish” because they have evolved with few unique morphological changes since the earliest fossil records of the late …

Parasitic Crustaceans

The Subphylum Crustacea (Phylum Arthropoda) represents a diverse group of animals with members within several classes and orders, including the Amphipoda, Branchiura, Cirripedia, Copepoda, Isopoda, and Tantulocarida. (The Pentastomida, composed of parasites, are sometimes included in this subphylum and sometimes considered a separate phylum.) There are two classes with parasites: the Maxillopoda and Malacostraca. The majority of crustaceans are aquatic, living in either marine environments or fresh water, but a few groups have adapted to a terrestrial existence, such as some species of crabs and woodlice. Most crustaceans move about independently and live a free existence, although some are parasitic (about 30,000 named species) and live attached as ectoparasites to their hosts, including fish, sea, and whale lice, as well …

Passenger Pigeons

aka: Ectopistes migratorius
The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was a North American bird species in the order Columbiformes (pigeons and doves) that became extinct in the early twentieth century. The fate of the passenger pigeon serves as a graphic lesson in the misuse of natural resources, as the species went from an almost indescribable abundance to extinction in only a few decades. The decline came primarily as a result of relentless persecution of its breeding colonies by market hunters, largely for meat, with no (or ineffectual) regulation that might have maintained a stable population. The passenger pigeon had the same general body shape as the common and familiar mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) but was larger and somewhat more colorful, with areas of slate-blue …

Pentastomes

aka: Tongue Worms
The phylum Pentastomida (some consider it a class) includes four orders, seven families, and about 144 species, including eight extinct species from the Paleozoic Era. They are wormlike obligate parasites, meaning that they cannot complete their life cycle without a host. As adults, they inhabit the respiratory tract (lungs and nasal passages) of vertebrates. Four species are known from intermediate host insects (three coprophagus cockroaches and one coleopteran). In addition, fishes are common intermediate hosts for pentastomes occurring in crocodilians and piscivorous chelonians, and rarely for some species of snakes. Definitive hosts include amphibians (few hosts) but mainly reptiles (lizards, snakes, freshwater turtles, and crocodilians), the latter making up about seventy percent of hosts. The most common genera of reptilian …

Pillstrom Tongs

Pillstrom Tongs were invented by Lawrence G. Pillstrom MD for the safe capture of snakes for scientific research. The company eventually began shipping these unique, safe herpetological tools all over the world. They are used by zoos, animal control agencies, specialty animal handlers, collectors, and others. The company expanded upon the line of original snake tongs and modified them to be used for hunting frogs, pruning trees, cooking outdoors, picking up aluminum cans, and more. In 1953, as a young student at what is now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Pillstrom began some early studies and medical research of snake venom and its effects. As a key part of his doctoral work, …

Pirate Perch

The pirate perch (Aphredoderus sayanus) belongs to the order Aphredoderiformes (or by some sources, Percopsiformes) and family Aphredoderidae. There are two subspecies, A. s. sayanus and A. s. gibbosus. It is the only living member of the family and ranges from the Atlantic and Gulf slopes from Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New York south to the Gulf of Mexico and west to the Brazos River drainage, Texas. In Arkansas, A. sayanus occurs throughout the Coastal Plain physiographic region extending westward into the central areas of the state. It is quite rare in the Ozark uplands, and there are no records from the northwestern part of the state. The Aphredoderidae contains one fossil genus, Trichophanes, with possibly two of three valid …

Proturans

aka: Coneheads
Proturans belong to the Phylum Euarthropoda, Class Entognatha, and Class Protura. The Protura constitute a taxon of hexapods that were previously thought to be insects and now are considered as a class on their own. Proturans are cosmopolitan in distribution (except for both polar regions and snow zones of mountains) with more than 800 described species belonging to three distinct orders (Acerentomata, Eosentomata, and Sinentomata) and seven families (Acerentomidae, Antelientomidae Eosentomidae, Fujientomidae, Hesperentomidae, Protentomidae, and Sinentomidae). As of 2019, seventy-six genera are known worldwide, with nearly 300 species contained within the single cosmopolitan genus, Eosentomon. There are about twenty-six species in North America, though there is no exact number of species reported, to date, from Arkansas. However, four species of …

Razorback Hogs

Arkansas was known for its razorback hogs long before the University of Arkansas mascot came into being. These wild boars were called razorbacks because of their high, hair-covered backbone and ill-mannered temper. The razorback hog was considered ruthless and dangerous when backed into a corner. The true wild boar, also called the European or Russian boar, is not native to the United States. Christopher Columbus introduced their domesticated ancestors to the New World in 1493. Wild boars are thought to have arrived with explorer Hernando de Soto, who brought the original thirteen grunting hogs to the new world in 1539, though this theory has lately been cast into doubt by Charles Hudson, who reconstructs de Soto’s path in his book, …

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers

aka: Picoides borealis
With the exception of the recently rediscovered ivory-billed woodpecker, red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) are the rarest of Arkansas’s nesting woodpeckers. A century ago, the bird was common in mature, open pine stands. Its natural range included millions of acres of pine habitat throughout the southeast United States. An estimated ninety-nine percent of suitable habitat was lost because of logging, wildfire suppression, conversion to agricultural lands, and urbanization. Best estimates range-wide indicate an original population numbering over four million. By the time the bird was declared endangered, it had declined to an estimated 10,000. The Arkansas population dwindled to under 400 birds. The red-cockaded woodpecker was designated as endangered on October 13, 1970. It received formal legal protection with the passage …

Reptiles

Arkansas’s reptilian biodiversity includes four groups—turtles, lizards, snakes, and the American alligator—each with a sharply different body morphology. By closely examining the morphology of these varied groups within the class Reptilia, today’s phylogenetic taxonomists (individuals who study the evolutionary relationships among species) have found that members of this class share several recently derived features (such as skull characteristics) with birds. Because of this modern understanding of the evolutionary relationships among reptilian ancestors and their descendents, which include dinosaurs and birds, some taxonomists have proposed a new class (Eureptilia) to include dinosaurs, birds, crocodylians, all of their close diapsid relatives (including lizards and snakes), and a number of extinct groups. However, the classical taxonomic designation for the class Reptilia includes turtles, …

Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary

Opened in 1990 by Scott and Heidi Riddle, Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary, located on 330 acres outside of Greenbrier (Faulkner County), provides a permanent home for African and Asian elephants in need of sanctuary for any reason, regardless of age, sex, species, health, or temperament. Elephants come from private owners, circuses, or zoos. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit sanctuary—which raises money through grants and donations—houses up to a dozen elephants at any given time, with three baby elephants born at the facility as of 2010. Maximus, an African elephant born at the sanctuary in 2003, starred in Animal Planet’s television show Growing Up Elephant. Scott and Heidi Riddle met while both were working at the Los Angeles Zoo, and they married …

Salmonids

aka: Trout
aka: Salmon
Salmonids include chars, graylings, salmon, trout, and freshwater whitefishes, all of which belong to the superorder Protacanthopterygii, order Salmoniformes, family Salmonidae, three lineages or subfamilies (Coregoninae, Thymallinae, and Salmoninae), eleven extant genera, and about 120 species. There are thirty-nine species known in North America. The family is widely distributed, with various species found north of the equator in Asia, Europe, and North America. Some important North American genera include Coregonus, Oncorhynchus, Prosopium, Salmo, Salvelinus, and Thymallus. Although no members are native to Arkansas, salmonids have been introduced, primarily for purposes of sports fishing. The family initially appears in the fossil record in the middle Eocene (48 to 38 million years ago) from fossils found in central British Columbia, Canada. A …

Sculpins

aka: Cottids
Sculpins belong to the order Scorpaeniformes and superfamily Cottoidea. There are about 11 families, 149 genera, and 756 species. They reach their maximum diversity in the northern Pacific Ocean. The family Cottidae is the largest family, with approximately 258 species; the second-largest family is the Agonidae (marine poachers), with 47 species. The most speciose genus, Cottus (freshwater sculpins), is confined to North America and Eurasia. It includes about 68 taxa that are native to the Northern Hemisphere (Palearctic and Nearctic realms). There is fossil material similar to Cottus that dates to at least the Miocene Epoch (23 to 5.3 million years ago). Most sculpins are generally less than 15 centimeters (6 inches) in length, although a few species can reach …

Shrews

Shrews are very small, secretive, mouse-like mammals that inhabit moist, shady woodland areas. Generally, they have long, flexible, pointed snouts and very small eyes and ears. Their fur is soft and dense, and most species have prominent scent glands. All shrews belong to the Family Soricidae (subfamilies Soricinae, Crocidurinae, Myosoricinae) and Order Eulipotyphia, which also includes moles, shrew-like moles, desmans, gymnures, hedgehogs, and solenodons. True shrews, talpids, and solenodons were formerly grouped in the clade Soricomorpha; however, Soricomorpha has been found to be paraphyletic (descended from a common evolutionary ancestor or ancestral group, but not including all descendant groups). Members of this order are nearly cosmopolitan in distribution, with the exception of Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, extreme southern South America, …

Southern Cavefish

aka: Typhlichthys subterraneus
The southern cavefish (Typhlichthys subterraneus) is one of the two species of blind cave fishes found in Arkansas. The other is the Ozark cavefish. The southern cavefish is found in the subterranean waters of two major non-overlapping ranges separated by the Mississippi River: in the Ozark Plateau of central and southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas and in the Cumberland and Interior Low plateaus of northwest Alabama, northwest Georgia, central Tennessee, and Kentucky. They are usually found at considerable depths (mostly between 175 and 240 meters below the land surface). This species, which can grow as long as ninety millimeters, has a large, broad head. The caudal fin has from zero to two rows of sensory papillae (one on the upper …

Speckled Pocketbook

aka: Lampsilis streckeri
The speckled pocketbook is a bivalve mollusk belonging to the family Unionidae, commonly referred to as freshwater mussels, naiads, or clams. Each freshwater mussel is composed to two halves (valves) of a hard outer shell with the living animal (soft tissues) residing securely inside. The speckled pocketbook, scientific name Lampsilis streckeri, was described as a species new to science in 1927 by Lorraine Screven Frierson, a naturalist and landowner/merchant/planter residing south of Shreveport in the company town of Frierson, Louisiana. Frierson named the species in honor of his friend, colleague, and fellow naturalist John K. Strecker of Waco, Texas. Adults may reach a length of slightly more than 3.5 inches (or more than 90 millimeters), with a maximum life expectancy …

Sponges

The phylum Porifera, which contains the sponges, is a highly successful group of metazoan animals that includes about 8,600 living species of marine and freshwater forms as well as some that inhabit brackish waters. The majority are marine, but there are about 150 species of freshwater sponges, including twenty-seven to thirty species found in North America north of Mexico. The family Spongillidae is the most speciose and widespread group of freshwater sponges and includes twenty-two genera and more than 130 species from a wide variety of habitats. Seven species of freshwater sponges have been documented in Arkansas. Sponges are an ancient group of asymmetrical invertebrates with a fossil record preceding the early Cambrian period (541 million years ago), and even …

Stoneflies

Stoneflies (Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, Order Plecoptera) are a group of aquatic insects well known to fishermen and biologists worldwide. The name Plecoptera means “braided-wings” from the Ancient Greek plekein and pteryx, which refers to “wing.” The name refers to the complex venation of their two pairs of wings, which are membranous and fold flat over their body. Generally, stoneflies are not strong fliers, and several species are entirely wingless. Stoneflies are called “indicator species” because finding them in freshwater environments generally indicates relatively good water quality, as they are quite intolerant of aquatic pollution. They are also prized and imitated by anglers as artificial tied-flies in trout fishing, particularly on Arkansas rivers such as the Eleven Point, Spring, and …

Strepsiptera

aka: Twisted Wing Parasites
aka: The Stylops
The order Strepsiptera, or twisted wing parasites, belongs to the class Insecta, phylum Arthropoda. It is a very small, cosmopolitan order of bizarre parasitoids containing about 624 named species of minute endopterygote insects with nine extant families. They parasitize thirty-four families and several orders of Insecta, including Blattodea (cockroaches), Diptera (flies), Homoptera (leafhoppers), Mantodea (mantises), Hemiptera (true bugs), Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets), Zygentoma (silverfish and firebrats), and Hymenoptera (ants, bees, and wasps). Three species of strepsiptera (halictophagids) have been reported from Arkansas hosts (all leafhoppers, Cicadellidae). Strepsiptera have two major groups: the Stylopidia and Mengenillidia. The former, which has endoparasitic females with multiple genital openings, includes seven families: the Bohartillidae (one extant and two fossil species), Corioxenidae (forty-six extant and …

Striped Bark Scorpions

aka: Centruroides vittatus
The striped bark scorpion, Centruroides vittatus, is the only scorpion species recorded from Arkansas, where it is most abundant in the western part of the state. It is the most widely distributed scorpion species in the United States, having been recorded from Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana west to eastern Colorado and New Mexico and south to northeastern Mexico. The front body region, which bears the yellowish-brown pedipalps (pincers) and legs below, has a somewhat triangular median dark spot on top pointing backward and extending beyond the eyes. The wide body region that follows has a distinctive pair of broad, dark, longitudinal bands on top. The slender tail-like postabdomen is uniformly yellowish brown, except for the tip of the stinger, which …

Sturgeons

Sturgeons (primitive Acipenseriform) are an ancient group of fishes dating back to the Triassic Period some 245 to 208 million years ago. True sturgeons appear in the fossil record during the Upper Cretaceous (101 to 66 million years ago). There are about twenty-five species of sturgeons, and all belong to the Family Acipenseridae, Order Acipenseriformes. Sturgeons can be found in subtropical, temperate, and sub-Arctic rivers, lakes, and coastlines of North America, with the greatest diversity in Eurasia. In North America, there are eight species that range along the Atlantic Coast from the Gulf of Mexico to Newfoundland, as well as along the West Coast in major rivers from California and Idaho to British Columbia, Canada. The family contains four genera …

Suckers

aka: Catostomid Fishes
Suckers belong to the Family Catostomidae, Order Cypriniformes, and Class Actinopterygii. There are about seventy-two species and thirteen extant genera of these benthic (bottom-dwelling) freshwater fishes. In Arkansas, there are eighteen species in eight genera. Suckers are Holarctic in distribution and primarily native to North America north of Mexico, but the longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus) occurs in both North America and northeastern Siberia from Alaska, and the Asiatic Sucker (Myxocyprinus asiaticus) is found in the Yangtze River basin in China. Sucker-like fossils are known from Eocene epoch (56 to 33.9 million years ago) deposits from central Asia, and the fossil genus Amyzon, with Ictiobus and Myxocyprinus affinities, occurs in middle Eocene and Oligocene Epoch (33.9 to 23 million years ago) …

Tarantulas

Tarantulas are the largest spiders in Arkansas and are among the most recognizable. Tarantulas are relative newcomers to Arkansas, having arrived in the state about 8,000 years ago. At that time, the climate of North America was much warmer and drier than it is today. Because of higher temperatures and lower amounts of rainfall, habitats more typical of the southwestern United States and the Great Plains expanded eastward into Arkansas and Missouri. Along with drier habitats came many of the animals associated with them, such as tarantulas and scorpions. As the climate became cooler and wetter about 4,000 years ago, these species did not retreat west. Instead, they became isolated within suitable patches of open, dry habitat surrounded by increasing …

Temperate Basses

aka: Moronids
The temperate basses are freshwater, brackish water, and marine species belonging to the Order Perciformes and Family Moronidae. They are represented by two genera and six species—the North American and northern African Morone (four species) and European Dicentrarchus (two species). In North America, two popular freshwater game fish species, white bass (Morone chrysops) and yellow bass (M. mississippiensis), are native, whereas two others, the anadromous striped bass (M. saxatilis) and brackish water white perch (M. americana), have been successfully introduced into several U.S. states. In Arkansas, M. chrysops, M. mississippiensis, M. saxatilis and, rarely, M. americana are found in various watersheds. In addition, hybrid M. saxatilis × M. chrysops have been cultured and stocked in several Arkansas reservoirs. Morphologically, in …

Thomas, Ruth Harris

Ruth Harris Thomas was a highly regarded amateur ornithologist whose column on birding in Arkansas was published by the Arkansas Gazette for about forty years. Her column not only documented area birds, but it also contributed to a growing appreciation for birds, birding, and habitat conservation. Ruth Harris was born in Kentucky on August 25, 1900, to Charles O. Harris and Columbia B. Cox Harris. She had two brothers. Majoring in English and journalism, Harris graduated from Louisiana State University in 1923, where she also edited the student newspaper. She moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the autumn of 1923 to work as a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette newspaper. In 1927, she married Maine native Stanley Powers Rowland …