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Sandiego - Zoo glossary
Category: Animals and Nature > Animal Glossary
Date & country: 27/09/2013, US
Words: 320


Aerial roots
Any root exposed to the air.

Aggression
An unprovoked attack made by an animal.

Aggressiveness
The tendency for an animal to attack.

Alarm signal
A communication made by animals to alert others to the presence of a predator or a potential predator. May be visual, vocal, olfactory, etc.

Albino
An animal or plant that has less pigment than normal. An albino animal usually has skin that appears white or transparent; white or nearly colorless hair, feathers, or scales; and pink or blue eyes with a deep-red pupil. An albino plant has less of the chemicals that give plants their normal colors.

Algae
Organisms that occur in most habitats, from marine and freshwater to desert sands, and from hot springs to snow. They vary from small, single-celled forms to complex multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps. Algae are important as primary producers of organic matter at the base of the food chain. They also provide oxygen for other aquatic life.

Alpha male or female
The strongest male or female of a species in a small geographic area.

Altricial
Helpless at birth, requiring complete parental care. This term is used to describe some bird species, such as parrots, that need time to grow their feathers and gain strength in their wings to fly.

Ambush
A method of attack. The attacker hides from its prey until the prey gets close enough to attack, surprising the prey. Tigers, pythons, and rattlesnakes are examples of ambush hunters.

Anatomy
The structure of an organism or of its parts.

Animal Kingdom
Every animal (from butterflies to basset hounds to black bears to you) belongs to this scientific grouping.

Antenna
A long, thin feeler on the head of an insect, spider, or crustacean. Antennae (two or more antenna) are used as sensing organs, usually for touch.

Anthropomorphic
To refer to animal behavior in terms of human behavior.

Antivenin
An antitoxic serum used in the treatment of snakebites.

Antlers
Growths on the head of a deer that shed every year and are made of bone-like material.

Aquatic
Able to live in water, as a fish or turtle.

Arboreal
Able to live in trees, like a parrot or iguana.

Artificial insemination
The introduction of sperm into the female reproductive tract by other than natural means.

Artiodactyla
Scientific order of even-toed ungulates, such as antelope and goats.

Bachelor herd
A group of non-breeding males of the same species that forms its own herd away from the main herd that contains the females.

Backbone
The column of bones (spine) in the back of many animals. It supports the body. An animal with a backbone is called a vertebrate.

Bacteria
Any one of a group of very small living things. Bacteria are so small that they can only be seen through a microscope. Some kinds of bacteria cause disease. Others do useful things, like making soil richer.

Binocular vision
Two-eyed vision that allows animals to judge distance.

Biodegradable
An item that can readily decompose, or break down, by natural biological processes.

Biodiversity
Having many different life forms within a given area.

Biologist
Someone who studies life and living things.

Biology
The study of life and living things. Biology deals with how plants and animals live and grow, how they are made, and where they are found.

Biosphere
The portion of the Earth in which living systems occur.

Bipedal locomotion
Literally, moving on two feet. Usually refers to walking or running on the hind legs.

Bird of prey
A bird that hunts and eats meat; also known as a raptor. Birds of prey use their talons to catch their food and their strong, curved beaks for tearing food into bite-sized pieces. Falcons, hawks, eagles, and owls are birds of prey.

Blastocyst
The early stage in the development of the mammalian embryo (often the point at which development is arrested in delayed implantation).

Blowgun
A long, narrow pipe through which darts or pellets may be blown.

Blubber
A thick layer of fat that whales, sea lions, polar bears, and other marine mammals have. Blubber helps to keep the animal warm.

Body language
The gestures, movements, and mannerisms by which both humans and many animals communicate with others.

Botany/Botanist
The study of plants./One who studies plants.

Brachiate
To move by swinging arms from one hold to another. Monkeys use brachiation to move from branch to branch.

Browse
Verb-To eat shoots, twigs, and leaves of trees and shrubs. A giraffe uses its long tongue to browse on leaves high up in trees. Noun-Leafy plant material animals eat.

Burrow
Noun-A hole in the ground made by certain animals, like rabbits.Verb-To dig a hole in the ground.

Bushmeat
Wild animals that are killed by people for food.

Camouflage
The color or pattern of an animal's covering that is similar to the animal's surroundings, and therefore helps hide it. May also be related to smell, as in lions rolling in elephant dung to camouflage their scent.

Canine
An animal taxonomic group that includes dogs, wolves, foxes, and jackals.

Canine teeth
In mammals, the teeth next to the incisors that are used for holding prey and/or tearing meat.

Canopy
The second-highest, spreading, branchy layer of trees in a rain forest.

Captive propagation
The encouragement of breeding and reproduction among animals (particularly endangered ones) in a protected, captive setting for conservation purposes.

Captivity
The maintenance of animals not in the free, wild state.

Carapace
The shell covering the back (top) of a turtle, crab, or other animal.

Carcass
A dead body. Tasmanian devils and vultures are some of the many animals that feed on a carcass.

Carnivore
A meat-eating animal; one who eats the flesh of other animals.

Carnivore diet
Carnivore diet consists mostly of ground beef and beef heart. It also contains additional amino acids, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. 61.8 tons of carnivore diet are used in one year at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park!

Carrion
The remains of a dead animal that is then eaten by other animals, such as vultures and hyenas.

Casque
An enlargement of the back surface of the upper bill of a hornbill bird.

Caudal
Referring to the tail.

Cay
A small, low island or emergent reef of sand or coral.

Chelonian
A turtle or tortoise.

Chromosomes
Located in the nucleus of each cell of an organism, these structures carry the genes, or genetic information, of the individual.

Chrysalis
A protective covering for an insect pupa or for the pupa of a butterfly.

Cloaca
A body opening that serves both for excretion and for the reproductive organs in reptiles, amphibians, and birds, as well as many fish and some invertebrates.

Clutch
The number of eggs produced or incubated at one time by an animal.

Cocoon
A silky covering spun by the larvae of many insects, such as silkworms, that protects them while they are in the pupal stage.

Cold-blooded
An animal whose body temperature changes with the temperature of the air or water around it, as a turtle or fish.

Colony
A group of the same kind of animal species living together.

Colostrum
Milk fluid of mammals formed during the first few days after giving birth. It is particularly rich in proteins, including antibodies.

Community
A group of living things that are generally found together within an ecosystem.

Competition
A situation that occurs when living things occupying the same area need the same resources for survival.

Compost
A mix of decaying plants and other organic matter added to soil in order to enrich the soil for planting.

Conditioning
Training an animal to accept a certain pattern of behavior.

Coniferous
A cone-producing tree or shrub with needle-like leaves.

Conspecific
Of the same species.

Constrict
To squeeze.

Constrictor
A snake that kills its prey by grabbing the animal and quickly wrapping two or three coils around it. The force of constriction (squeezing) prevents the prey from breathing, and it usually dies within seconds. The snake can then relax its grip and swallow

Consumer
One that uses economic goods. For example, humans are consumers of coffee, seafood, and forest products such as wood. Also, an organism that gets its food by eating other organisms or parts of organic matter.

Contour feathers
The shorter feathers of a bird (not on the wings or tail) that define the bird's shape.

Courtship
All behavioral patterns leading to breeding or pair formation.

Crepuscular
Active mainly at dawn and dusk.

Crustacean
An animal that has a hard shell and lives in water. Crustaceans have hinged legs and bodies. Shrimps, crabs, and lobsters are all crustaceans.

Cud
The portion of food that is brought up into the mouth of a ruminating animal from its stomach. Cows, goats, and giraffes are some of the many animals that chew cud.

Cursorial
Having limbs adapted for running.

Deciduous
Trees that lose their leaves each year.

Decomposer
An organism that eats dead plants and animals. A decomposer may also eat the waste of other organisms. Decomposers are very important for any ecosystem, providing plants with essential nutrients, and keeping dead matter and waste from piling up.

Deforestation
The process of destroying forest habitat(s).

Dewlap
Loose skin on the lower neck of animals such as eland, rabbits, and iguanas.

Digitigrade
Walking on the toes, or digits (such as elephants and rhinos).

Dimorphism
The differences in form, color, or structure between animals (or plants) of the same species.

Disperse
To scatter or spread widely, as in dispersing seeds.

Diurnal
Awake and active during the day, asleep at night.

Domestic
Describing an animal kept by people as a pet, for work, or other reasons. Sheep and goats found on farms are domestic, those found in the wild are not.

Dominance
Having the most influence, usually in herd, group, or pack animals.

Dorsal
Referring to features on the back or along the spine of the animal.

Double clutching
Removing newly-laid egg(s) from a nest, sometimes causing the female to lay replacement eggs.

Droppings
The dung, or fecal matter, of animals.

Drought
An extended time when little or no rain falls, causing a water shortage for plants and animals.

Echolocation
A means by which bats and certain other animals can find their way, find food, or avoid obstacles by emitting a series of sounds, often inaudible to humans, which echo back from an object and are received by the ear.

Ecology
The study of animals, plants, and their environment (the world around them).

Ecosystem
All living things depending on one another to survive in a certain area.

Ecotourism
Ecologically-sensitive travel that combines the pleasures of discovering and understanding flora and fauna with opportunities to contribute to their protection.

Ectotherm/Ectothermic
A cold-blooded animal; that is, an animal whose body temperature varies with the temperature of its surroundings. Ectotherms cannot produce their own body heat./To be an ectotherm.

Egg tooth
A hard, sharp prominence on the tip of the beak of baby birds and reptiles with which they break through the eggshell.

Emergent layer
Widely scattered tall trees that break through the canopy of a tropical rain forest.

Enclosure
A space in a zoo where animals live and are cared for.

Endangered
Animals or plants that survive in such low numbers that they could become extinct in a few years unless something is done to help the populations increase.