Jesse Elop
Author for A-Z Animals

Jesse Elop is currently a student at the University of Oregon studying biology and anthropology. He loves studying animals, particularly monkeys and apes. His favorite animals are bonobos, mandrills, and dogs, including his three-year-old pup named Rosie.


What is a Keystone Species? Picture

All animals and plants are important to their environment, but are some more important than others? Every ecosystem consists of complex interactions between plants, animals, and abiotic (nonliving) factors that keep the system in balance. If a very important species was removed from its ecosystem, is that enough for the entire ecosystem to collapse? What […] Read More


Discover the World’s Largest Gecko! Picture

Geckos are a very interesting group of lizards that are incredibly diverse. They are widespread in the wild and are also common household pets. Although a pet gecko can seem small, some species can reach incredible sizes! This article will break down all things gecko and investigate the world’s largest gecko! What is a gecko? […] Read More


Discover the World’s Largest Gorilla! Picture

Gorillas are beautiful animals of enormous size! They are easy to recognize as they thump their chests with muscular arms and grin to reveal huge canine teeth. These amazing creatures are very closely related to humans and demonstrate a high degree of cognition and sociality. Gorillas are the ultimate combination of brain and brawn! This […] Read More


Discover the Largest Grizzly Bear Ever! Picture

Grizzly bears have a reputation as ferocious, horrifying predators that most people try to avoid in the wild. Even their taxonomic name, Ursus arctos horribilis, translates to horrible bear. The incredible size, speed, strength, and senses of grizzly bears make them very capable and very dangerous. Which brings up the question just how big can […] Read More


Discover the Largest Komodo Dragon Ever! Picture

Ever wonder what inspired King Kong? Despite its gorilla-like appearance, inspiration for the fictional beast came from Komodo dragons studied on a 1926 expedition to Komodo Island! Komodo dragons are incredibly interesting animals that many admire for their various unique characteristics. Their phenomenal size, venomous bites, and other fascinating adaptive traits make them a marvel […] Read More


Discover the Largest Lobster Ever Caught! Picture

Think of a fancy, white tablecloth, candlelit dinner. Is there a lobster on the table? Lobsters are very interesting, and very tasty, animals! They are an important commercial product and are important contributors to their ecosystems around the world. Their heavily muscled tails and large pincers make them easy to recognize both in the wild […] Read More


The 5 Most Interesting Insects in North America! Picture

Have you ever had a tiny animal buzz by your head, tickle the back of your neck, or crawl out of your shoe? Well, it may have been one of the 900,000 different species of insects! Many people turn away in disgust at the sight of various bugs and insects. Unfortunately, they may not realize […] Read More


Discover the 5 Largest Land Mammals in North America! Picture

In North America, bigger is usually better. Both Canada and the United States are amongst the 10 largest countries in the world by area! In these big countries, there are many very big animals. From bison grazing in golden plains to polar bears traversing barren ice fields, incredibly large animals are found throughout North America. […] Read More


Discover the Most Interesting Reptiles in North America! Picture

In the animal kingdom, reptiles have always been especially interesting. Clever behaviors, fascinating adaptations, and vibrant colors all make this class of animals incredibly unique. Reptiles come in a broad range of shapes and sizes, scaling from one inch long to 10 feet long! Reptiles exist on every continent besides Antarctica, including North America. A […] Read More


What do Coyotes Eat? Picture

Coyotes are fierce predators adapted to many climates. Coyotes, Canis latrans, evolved 380,000 years ago and are descended from a long line of predatory canines. They prey on a number of different animals and are influential members of whatever ecosystem they inhabit. So, what unfortunate creatures fall victim to the vicious coyote? Here we will […] Read More


Where Do Bears Hibernate? Picture

How long can you stay in bed? The average person sleeps for 9 hours a day, the average dog sleeps 11 hours a day, and the average cat sleeps for 16 hours a day. Bears typically hibernate for 7 months! Hibernation, however, is very different from sleeping. During hibernation, an animal’s metabolic rate, heart rate, […] Read More


Are Whales Mammals? Picture

When people first think of mammals, they often think of elephants, monkeys, bears, and other land-dwelling animals. There are, however, many species of marine mammals as well. The class Mammalia accounts for an estimated 6,495 species!  These diverse species inhabit every terrestrial biome and every ocean around the world. Mammals come in a great variety […] Read More


Can a Human Outrun a Bear? (Do NOT Try This!) Picture

Can you outrun a sloth? Probably. Can you outrun a cheetah? Probably not. Can you outrun a bear? That is a little trickier to answer. Most species of bears are quite heavy which could slow them down, however some species are known to be successful predators which may indicate they hunt at high speeds. There […] Read More


Discover the Oldest Dog Alive Today! Picture

In 1789 the first recorded use of the phrase “a dog is a man’s best friend” came from King Frederick of Prussia, likely referencing his beloved Italian greyhound. Ever since, the phrase has become incredibly common because it has always held true. People’s infatuation with dogs has only grown with each generation. In fact, according […] Read More


What do Insects Eat? Picture

Insects compose around 90% of all animal species! There are about 6 million species of insects alive today! These various species exist throughout every continent including Antarctica. Many animals and carnivorous plants feed on insects. Insects have a very high nutritional value based on their content of protein, minerals, and fats relative to their size. […] Read More


Monkeys vs. Apes: The 5 Main Differences Picture

From Curious George to King Kong, monkeys and apes have always been fan favorites. The majestic silverback mountain gorilla and the tiny pygmy marmoset, despite their incredible differences, are all somehow related. Monkeys and apes belong to the taxonomic order Primates. Although primates have many similarities, there are some important distinguishing characteristics between monkeys and […] Read More


Ape vs. Gorilla: The Main Differences Explained Picture

With terminology like “ape”, “great ape”, “monkey”, “primate”, and “gorilla” all meaning distinctly different things, it is hard to keep track of what’s what. In this article we’ll examine the key differences that distinguish other apes vs. gorillas. There are so many levels of classification for different animals and different groupings that it can become […] Read More


How Old is the Oldest Neanderthal? Picture

Where do humans come from? Did we exist thousands of years ago? Millions of years ago? These complicated questions have driven scientific exploration for generations, and many are still unanswered. The field of evolutionary anthropology is dedicated to fitting together the puzzle pieces of the human lineage. Anthropologists use fossil evidence, geological and ecological information, […] Read More


The World’s 10 Largest Monkeys Picture

Monkeys come in all shapes and sizes and exist around the world. Most monkeys live in Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America. While many hang from branches and leap from tree to tree, several monkey species are terrestrial as well. Some wild monkeys even spend their time in human-populated areas! Monkeys are also great […] Read More


Discover the Largest Polar Bear Ever Recorded Picture

Polar bears are not only the largest bears in the world, but they are also the largest carnivores on land! These magnificent creatures are admired for their beautiful white coats and their particularly adorable little cubs. Interestingly, a polar bear’s famous white fur has no white pigment. The outer layer of fur is called guard […] Read More


Discover the World’s Largest Lions! Picture

A male lion, with its formidable size and flowing mane, is a majestic animal rightfully known as king of the jungle. Female lions are similarly ferocious and are amongst the most skilled hunters in the animal kingdom. These beautiful yet deadly cats are apex predators  that dominate the ecosystems the inhabit. Lions have been studied […] Read More


The World’s 5 Largest Squid Picture

In Nordic folklore, seafaring pirates feared the unknown monsters of the ocean, especially the Kraken. This enormous squid-like creature was said to have engulfed entire ships in treacherous waters bringing the crews down with it. Although the infamous Kraken only exists in maritime storytelling, it is speculated that it was inspired by some very large, […] Read More


The World’s 12 Largest Butterflies Picture

            Butterflies are not only one of the most beautiful creatures on earth, they also have an incredibly important ecological role as pollinators and have been significant in human culture for thousands of years. Paintings of butterflies in Egypt have been dated to 3500 years old and butterflies are described in song and poetry around […] Read More


The World’s 9 Largest Jellyfish Picture

Jellyfish are incredibly unique creatures that have been the focus of scientific curiosity for hundreds of years. Based on recent discoveries in the fossil record, it has been determined that jellyfish have existed on earth as far back as 500 million years. Today there are over 2,000 recognized species of jellyfish that inhabit every ocean […] Read More