Tiny big shots - Zooom the Matterhorn

Tiny beings, big shots

Animals on Gornergrat

Under the magnifying glass: the Gornergrat's tiniest residents.

It is often hard to tell what makes a species unique, especially when it is extremely small. Using a magnifying glass you can view the glacier fleas’ and Matterhorn bears’ microcosm.

Glacier flea — spring-loaded

The Gorner Glacier, where almost no living creature ventures to go, is home to the glacier flea. People call it a ‘flea’ because it makes such enormous jumps, but in fact, it belongs to the springtail family. If meltwater suddenly appears, it has to get out of the way quickly. Can you spot the two-pronged jumping fork with which it flicks itself into the air?

Matterhorn Bear — a bear that can fly?

Yes, because the Matterhorn Bear is a moth. Like many species in the tiger moth subfamily, it has ‘hairy’ caterpillars that are popularly known as ‘woolly bears’. So ‘bear’ appears in the name. And ‘Matterhorn’ because that is where it was discovered; indeed, it only lives in the central Alps. So it is a real rarity, which you can’t see anywhere else.

Yellow Tiger Moth — night feeder

Like the Matterhorn Bear, the Yellow Bear, as the Swiss call it, is a tiger moth. It hides from predators during the day, then searches for food under the cover of darkness. It is found at the edges of scree and other areas of rubble, especially near glaciers.

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