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Today’s Guardian has a fun quiz – can you name the 10 real animals, and spot the five fictional red herrings?

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The team with a landed Great White Shark

The team with a landed Great White Shark

I’m currently absorbed by the new series of ‘Shark Men’, which follows a group of marine biologists and fishermen who haul in (live) great white sharks to take samples and radio-tag them before releasing the sharks back into the wild to relay back their secrets via satellite.

Great white sharks are very under-researched and simple questions about their lives, such as where females give birth to their young, are still mysteries. The Shark Men aim to answer some of these questions and, as well as tagging, they take blood samples for testing hormone levels, DNA samples, and photos for ID referencing the sharks in future. It certainly makes for compelling watching – and I’d love to be a member of their crew; talk about a job where you’d be jumping out of bed with excitement every morning!

Shark Men California is on National Geographic Wild in the UK, daily at 5pm (repeat at 8pm) – and here‘s a clip of the old series to whet your appetite.

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Following the April Fools’ tradition, there have been a number of animal-related spoofs released on April 1st in recent years. Here are the few I’ve spotted:

– Gorillas at Port Lympne wild animal park have their behavioural enrichment taken to new levels by the introduction of iPads.

– Maintenance workers at the Tower of London unearth what could be a unicorn skeleton.

– Do you want to know what your pet is saying? Use the handy Google Translate app.

And my all-time favourite – flying penguins; you’ve got to love the BBC’s special effects team for their ingenuity [you can also click through to another video showing how they made the penguins fly]

If you know of any others, it would be great to hear about them!

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I’ve been catching up today on the BBC’s latest documentary series ‘Madagascar’ on iplayer. As the name suggests, David Attenborough is exploring the island of Madagascar in a three-part series.

As usual with the BBC the episode is full of beautiful photography with sweeping vistas and rare species. 80% of Madagascar’s plant and animal species are endemic – meaning they are not found anywhere else in the world – including the 80 species of lemur inhabiting Madagascar’s various ecosystems, and some really weird and wonderful looking bugs and reptiles such as the pygmy chameleon who is the world’s smallest reptile and is about the size of a passing ant.

I also always enjoy the BBC’s ‘behind the scenes’ sections that explain how the wildlife photographers got their footage – it’s incredible the lengths these men and women go to, and what they will put themselves through, to get a 30 seconds recording of a rare animal performing some behaviour never previously seen.

Highly recommended series – watch it if you can.

BBC2 – Madagascar

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