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In-depth animal info


Learn more about the animals featured in Discover the Wonder exhibits.

Summer of Wonder Animals

Bonnethead Shark

Online Learning Center

Cartilaginous Fishes | Sharks

Bonnethead Shark buttonLink

Bonnethead sharks are the smallest of the 10 hammerhead shark species. The head shape of these sharks is unique among the species. Unlike most species that have straight heads with notched edges, those of bonnetheads are smooth and rounded between the eyes. These sharks are highly migratory. Although they are common, coastal inshore sharks, only one unprovoked attack on a human has been recorded.


Pacific Cownose Ray

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Cartilaginous Fishes | Rays

Pacific Cownose Ray buttonLink

Cownose rays belong to the family Myliobatidae, which also includes eagle and manta rays. They have the familiar winged shape of many species of large rays. This species has a distinguishing characteristic, its rostrum, the basis for its common name, cownose. The pectoral fins separate at the front of the head into two lobes with a center crease which, combined with the indented notch in the ray’s cartilaginous skull, give the rays a cow-like appearance. The species is migratory, usually traveling in schools.


Southern California Steelhead

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Bony Fishes, marine

Southern California Steelhead buttonLink

Steelhead are members of the salmon family that includes all salmon species, trout, and char. Southern California steelhead are the only members of the salmon family native to Southern California. They are anadromous fish, that is, they hatch and live for a part of their life cycle in fresh water, migrate to the ocean where they spend to mature, and return to a freshwater stream, usually the one where they were hatched, to spawn. Unlike their salmon relatives, they usually do not die after spawning.

At one time steelhead spawned in the majority, if not all, of California’s coastal rivers. Now the number in Southern California has declined 99% and some runs are extinct. Southern California steelhead are now listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The southern California population has declined from about 40,000 steelhead to less than 500.


Atlantic Horseshoe Crab

Online Learning Center

Arthropods | Invertebrates

Atlantic Horseshoe Crab buttonLink

The horseshoe crab is not really a crab. It is more closely related to scorpions, spiders, and mites than to true crabs, lobsters, and shrimp. It is often described as an armored box that moves or a blue blood living fossil” or ancient mariner because its basic body shape that has not changed in over 420 million year. It is a “blue blood” in the truest sense. Its blood turns blue when exposed to air due to presence of a copper containing molecule, hemocyanin. Hemocyanin carries oxygen in the crab’s its blood as hemoglobin does in humans.


Guam  Kingfisher

Online Learning Center


Guam Kingfisher buttonLink

Native to the island of Guam, the Guam Kingfisher is now extinct in the wild. It exists only in a captive breeding program in some U.S. zoos and aquariums and one on Guam.

These brilliantly-colored birds are members of the tree kingfishers (Alcedinidae). The Guam Kingfisher called the Sihek in Chamorro in the native language of Guam, is one of three species of Micronesian Kingfishers, The other two species occur on the islands of Pohnpei where the birds seem to be thriving, and Palau where the population is declining. The kingfishers in these three different geographic locations were considered to be subspecies until 2015 when the taxonomy was changed and each was named a separate species..