Gila woodpecker

John Cancalosi/Still Pictures

This native of the Sonoran desert in the southwestern United States chisels a nest into the cool, moist saguaro - a distinctive, slow-growing, tree-size cactus - to protect its young. The woodpeckers only use these nests for a year, but the abandoned holes provide useful habitats for creatures such as lizards, insects and other birds.

 

Wild Bactrian camel

Fritz Polking/Still Pictures

At over 2 metres tall, the wild Bactrian camel of northwest China and Mongolia can drink up to 135 litres of water daily, allowing it to walk up to 160 kilometres without a drink as it migrates among feeding areas. Though the Bactrian camel has been domesticated for millennia, its wild cousin is critically endangered, and fewer than 1,000 survive.

 

Triops

Tim B. Graham/USGS

Magically appearing in post-rainfall puddles, these tiny crustaceans live in the deserts of nearly every continent on Earth. Their lifespan typically lasts 20 to 40 days, during which they hatch, feed, and lay eggs that stay dehydrated in suspended animation - for years, if necessary - until the next rain starts the process all over again.

 
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