Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Word of the Day -- Crepuscular

Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight (i.e. dawn and dusk).

The word crepuscular is derived from the Latin crepusculum, meaning "twilight". Its sense accordingly differs from diurnal and nocturnal behavior, which respectively peak during hours of daylight and dark. The distinction is not absolute however, because crepuscular animals may also be active on a bright moonlit night or on a dull day. The use of the terms is often careless; for example, some animals that are casually described as nocturnal are in fact crepuscular.

Special classes of crepuscular behaviour include matutinal (or "matinal") and vespertine, denoting species active only in the dawn or only in the dusk, respectively. Those that are active during both morning and evening twilight are said to have a bimodal activity pattern.

A number of familiar mammal species are crepuscular, including some bats, hamsters, housecats, stray dogs, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, and rats. Other crepuscular mammals include ocelots, prosimians, red pandas, bears, deer, moose, chinchillas, the common mouse, skunks, Australian wombats, wallabies, quolls, possums and marsupial gliders, spotted hyenas, bobcats, tenrecidae, capybaras, African wild dogs, sitatunga, and the extinct Tasmanian tiger. Crepuscular birds include the Common Nighthawk, Owlet-nightjar, Chimney Swift, American Woodcock, and Spotted Crake.

Many moths, beetles, flies, and other insects are crepuscular and in particular, vespertine.

I have no idea what a quoll is, might be a new word of the day very soon. But for now, the dreaded Archer ocelot...

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