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        Defensive Adaptations | Gorongosa Park

        Not all animals run and hide when they're about to become prey. Many species have evolved defensive adaptations or behaviors that help them survive or out-smart even the hungriest predators.

        African Tarantula

        Tarantulas, known in southern Africa as baboon spiders, may look frightening but are generally harmless. Their main line of defense is not their venom, but tiny urticating hairs that cover the entire body. Spiders are one of the most abundant and biologically successful groups of animals on the planet, and some say that you are always within 3 feet of a spider. In Gorongosa it is probably 2 feet: this place is teeming with these wonderful predators.

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        Plated Lizard

        A plated lizard (Gerrhosaurus major)

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        Armored Katydid Molting

        Even an insect as massive and heavily sclerotized as this Armored katydid (Enyaliopsis petersi) from Gorongosa is utterly helpless and vulnerable during its molting process. During my last visit to the park this majestic species was so abundant that in a single night I could see 30-50 individuals.

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        "Mombasa Train" Millipede

        Although the lowlands of Gorongosa are rather dry, they support an impressive fauna of millipedes. Huge spirobolids, known in parts of East Africa as "Mombasa train", can be seen during the day on Acacias and other trees.

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        Armored Katydid

        Enyaliopsis petersi, a katydid endemic to central Mozambique. Is there a more beautiful sound than a night chorus of insects? I think not. My cabin in Gorongosa is surrounded by dry woodland savanna, just the habitat for the cute and chunky Enyaliopsis, and as soon as it gets dark they start singing. These katydids have an interesting defense mechanism _ if threatened they squirt the attacker with their own blood. It is quite startling, but other than this these insects are completely harmless.

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