#11 Minecraft Super-Animal

10 Points

Get inspired by the awesome forces of NZ animals and plants and harness their super powers to create the ultimate super-animal in Minecraft! Like this 'Kiwi-atara!!'

Read the instructions

See also

 

 

What to do

Your mission is:

Make a super-animal in Minecraft inspired by NZ nature. Check out the notes for the tool list you need (above) and get building!
giantweta2

1. NATURAL SUPER POWERS

Thanks to the adaptive awesomeness of nature, animals and plants have heeeeeaps of different ways to protect themselves from predators including: hard shells, thick skin or bark, horns, prickles, poisonous venom, stings, sharp claws, camouflage, extreme eyesight or hearing, and many others!

They also have just as many ways of preying on other animals and plants: speed, vision, craftiness, super-strength and camouflage! 

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2. SHARP DETAILS

Explore your backyard and take note of the flora (plants) and fauna (animals).

What do they use to attack or defend? How do they hide? Feed? Kill? Shelter? Take photos of the animals or plants whose super powers inspire you. The thorns on this bush lawyer leaf are sharp enough to pop a balloon.

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3. GOOGLE THE WILD THINGS

Head back inside and jump online to get inspired by the outdoor oddities you found – for example, how does stinging nettle sting? (It’s much more pleasant to find out by googling this than by touching them!)

Is an earwig a wig for an ear… or an ear for a wig? Can you hypnotise a koura (pictured)? 

Rancraft Penguins Mod 4

4. BE A MOD SCIENTIST

Once you’ve finished your research, log into Minecraft and utilise your favourite super powers you spotted outdoors – to build a mighty Minecraft creature indoors!

See how many awesome abilities you can squeeze onto one animal, then UPLOAD a screen grab of your mega-beast to Wild Eyes

Make sure you upload photos of the most exciting things that inspired you in your backyard: thorns, bark, beaks ... slime etc!

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WILD FACTOR

Have your mega-beast go head to head against your friends’ creations, and find out who has the best offence and defence powers! Is yours a Transformer or a backyard Frankenstein? 

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IT'S ALIVE!

If you're feeling super inspired then bring your backyard Minecraft Frankenstein (aka super animal!) to life by building a model of it.

Check out this model of a Minecraft kiwi made from toilet roll tubes and cardboard. (If you have kiwi in your backyard you definitely get Wild Eyes bonus points!)

What's happening?

BACKYARD BEASTS

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– Polly want a cracker?

As you may have noticed, animals have different shaped bodies, teeth, fur, limbs, ears and noses. But it’s not just so that we can tell them apart! Scientists call these features adaptations, which have evolved to help them survive (the animals, not the scientists).

For example, kākā parrots live in the canopy (tree tops) of a forest and have a super strong curved beak that can crush large seeds like a walnut cracker (or actual crackers, like here!).

He slimed me!

In your backyard you can find a whole national park’s worth of wild and wacky adaptations – from armour-plated battle slugs (snails!) to ferocious fake eyes (kahukura / red admiral butterflies). 

This photo is of bioluminescent (glow-in-the-dark) mucus from a native worm which is squirted from pores on worm's body when it’s disturbed! Māori used the worms as fish bait!

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– Slime and shine!

WAR OF THE WEIRDO WALKING WORMS

These guys are super-weird prehistoric walking worms who spit on their prey before devouring them – and they might be living in your park or local reserve! Velvet worms aka peripatus senses prey with their antennae, then squirts slime from special shooters on the sides of their head!! The sticky slime traps the victim (sort of like Spiderman), which the worm then devours with its jaws (nothing like Spiderman).

They can spit their deadly slime more than 5cm… which is pretty awesome, considering they’re only about 4cm long themselves! How far can you spit lying down like a worm (do not test this inside!).

 

GUARDIANS OF THE KĀREAREA

Having these critters and their super powers in our backyards is really important, and not only because we may one day need to harness their abilities to create a native super-army. It’s also good because they are part of New Zealand’s natural heritage and by finding out about them, we’re in a better position to help look after them!

Which means we can have awesome animals like this supreme sky hunter back in town. 

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– Getting up close with a kārearea (NZ falcon) at Wingspan, Rotorua

PARK LIFE

A heap of our most endangered animals and environments are found in and around our towns, and your local park, coast or backyard can be a secret hideout for them! With a bit of help we can all get along. In Northland dogs get kiwi aversion training, in Wellington people are learning not to feed kākā nuts ...

If you're lucky one of these creatures might be a part of your super-animal.

kiwi aversion training dog

– Canines for kiwi!

We can all get along

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– Walk on the wild side with kororā

So get your eco-hero cape on, fly outside with your wild eyes and see if you can find them hanging out in the rocks and trees! Did you know that hundreds of kororā (blue penguins) are swimming in Wellington and Auckland harbours every night? 

If you live near kororā nests you can help out these submarine super-divers by keeping dogs on leads and cats inside at night.

Inspiration

FAST FOOD

A NZ praying mantis holds its deadly ‘raptorial’ forelegs up against its chest and when an unsuspecting fly comes by, the mantis lunges out and chucks its forelegs at them!

It’s ultra-fast-food – only taking 1/20th of a second before the prey is trapped in the mantis’s vice-like grip and BOOM: lunch is served!

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– Sashimi fly for lunch

BLOW-HARD OR BLOW HOME

Sometimes you’ve just gotta look like somebody that shouldn’t be messed with, and that can be enough! Garden regulars, the tree weta, have heaps of thick spikes on their back legs and the adult males of tree weta develop massive heads and jaws (a bit like your Dad?).

When they’re disturbed, they put on a scary dance show – lifting their spiny hind legs to scare away their predator. It’s the weta version of a haka: used to intimidate and challenge the opposition!

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– An All Blacks haka, not a weta haka

Too ugly to eat

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– Big ugly!

Many ugly things in nature are designed to ward off threats: do you think of snakes, scorpions, jellyfish, or spiders as cute? Again, their first line of protection is to look like something that shouldn’t be messed with! 

Take the giant weta: at 71 grams they're the biggest insects in the world. They don’t have a lot of super-powers but they do have an excessive amount of UGLY. Māori called them ‘wetapunga’ and made them the atua (god) of all things ugly!

BLOW HARDER

Tūi don’t dance, but they do inflate their chests to show their rivals just how bad they are. They look like black volleyballs and will happily take on much bigger birds like magpies and kākā!

But in terms of puffing, they’ve still got a long way to go before they get as good as the pufferfish.

STOMACH SUCKING MONSTER

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– I vant to suck your stomach!

This little insect looks 'armless enough but the brown solider bug has an attack mechanism that would do any super-animal proud. The wee critter plunges its beak into its prey, and sucks out their body fluids! One of their victims are monarch butterfly caterpillars.

HIGHTAILING IT AWAY

NZ’s geckos and skinks (mokomoko) don't just talk the talk: they bring some full-on D to the game. When threatened by predators, they can ditch their tails at an point, which thrashes around on its own for a bit while its former owner legs it out of there! 

The tail then grows back over the next few years, good as new! It’s the lizard version of Sonny Bill Williams leaving a tackler behind holding just his shorts! 

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– The endless tail of the Otago skink

MOST EXTREME

Ditching your tail? Tu meke! Pretty crazy way to escape, right? (I prefer to keep mine: I need it for gliding over the Southern Alps.) Check out some more extreme self-defense mechanisms!

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