10 Surprising Animal Facts

animal facts

They are wild, they are unusual and they are not human. Animals fascinate us in ways that even we have trouble comprehending.

Here is a list of ten animal facts that will not only amaze you, they will teach you something you did not know about the animal kingdom.


Elephants Are Empathetic Beings

Elephants can express emotion. They are joined by dolphins and chimpanzees that can do the same. Observations by a Colorado State University doctoral student showed that elephants show respect for their elders. Even after death.The student, Shifra Goldenberg, watched the final days of one such elephant in Kenya. Once Queen Victoria, as she was known, died in 2013 of natural causes, her family members were all nearby.

A few weeks later, Goldenberg returned to the elephant carcass and found elephants from three different families inspecting the bones. The unusual ritual of elephant behavior was thought to be a sign of them showing their respect to the elder who had passed.Tests have also shown that elephants can distinguish between the bones of their own and those of other mammals. It shows that there is an emotional trigger that fire somewhere inside an elephant.


Blue Whale’s Tongue Weight

blue whale

It kind of sounds logical that the largest animal known to inhabit the planet is going to have some record-breaking body parts. When you consider that the average Blue Whale can grow to 100-feet in length and weigh an astonishing 200-tons, you have to think that their tongue is going to also have a significant amount of super-size to it. But can the Blue Whale tongue weigh as much as an elephant?

Let’s do some math. Many elephants can grow to weigh up to 15-thousand pounds. That’s for males. Females can tip the scales to about 8-thousand pounds. And to be fair, baby elephants weigh between 198 and 264-pounds at birth.So, as you can see, we are definitely stretching the limits of size and we haven’t even looked inside the mouth of a single Blue Whale. So, let’s just cut to the chase and dive right in.


Mountain Lions Are Sneaky Hunter

mountain lion

Mountain lions (A.K.A Cougar) are sneaky. They hunt at night or at dusk or dawn. It is because of this that they can remain mostly undetected. If you happen to be on the menu of a cougar, it is going to happen fast. They can leap 40-feet in distance and as high as 15-feet. They kill prey by aiming for the base of the skull and breaking the neck rendering the kill unable to fight back or escape. It’s a rather brutal method but proves to be very effective.

As for the dietary choices of the average cougar, the majority of what they eat is large mammals such as deer or elk. But they have ventured out of that particular part of the food chain in include rabbits, beaver, coyotes, porcupine, mice, raccoons and squirrels. Humans are not typically on the list however, hungry or young cougars have had nasty encounters with humans. Not all of them have been good for the cat. Some not so good for the human.

But generally speaking, you won’t normally see one unless is happens to be stalking prey near you or its mating season. Cougar tend to keep to themselves not interacting with other members of their species until it is time to mate. Then the males go on and do what males typically do. The females end up stuck raising the young and the average litter can range from one to six cubs. Two cubs is usually the norm.


Mantis Shrimps’ Super Color Eye Vision

We see the world very differently than other creatures do. That’s because humans have three photoreceptors – red, green and blue. Dogs on the other hand, have just two photoreceptors – green and blue. Birds have four photoreceptors – ultraviolet, red, green and blue. Butterflies have five. Octopuses don’t actually have color vision but they have the ability to detect polarized light.

The Mantis Shrimp takes the top honor in the vision test comparison. That’s because they have up to 16 photoreceptors. They can see UV, visible and even polarized light and are believed to be the only animals on the planet who can detect circularly polarized light. That’s light waves that rotate in a circular motion. They have depth perception in single eyes and can move each eye independently.

What sets the Mantis Shrimp apart from the rest of the living world is that they have compound eyes. It is an eye that contains tens of thousands of photoreceptor cells. The eyes of these creatures are more or less similar to the eyes of flies. Each row detects a certain wavelength of light or polarized light. It is actually rather complex and you can bet that the average Mantis Shrimp has no idea how fascinating their eyes are to us.


Cuttlefish Can Change Color Really Fast


Sea life has adapted nicely to the point where camouflage is used. In fact, the fish and other swimming bodies on the sea floor would end up a snack for a larger species if it wasn’t for the ability to blend into the surroundings. Cuttlefish are one such example but these masters of disguise have turned this whole hiding right in front of you activity into far more than a survival tactic. They have created an art form of their own.

Cuttlefish have an unusual super power. In complete darkness they can assess the contrast, texture and color of their surrounding and disguise themselves to match it in just seconds. The skin of the Cuttlefish can be compared to a color television screen in that it can combine all the colors of the spectrum and recreate colors, patterns and even subtle changes in those colors and patterns. These are the real copycats.

But that’s not all. Cuttlefish can do an extra special trick. They can actually change the sculpture of their skin with bands of circular muscle. In other words they can perform shape shifting moves. When they do this cuttlefish can assume shapes of kelp or rock. Sure, it may not sound too spectacular but when you are prey, if you can transform your body to look like a rock or something other than prey, you get to live a little longer on the sea floor.


Cephalopods Are Quick Learners


Cephalopods are cuttlefish, squids and octopuses. What makes them so freakin smart is things they do that humans can’t. For example, cephalopods are color blind in that they cannot see with their eyes but they can with their skin. The cuttlefish skin has gene sequences that are normally in the retina of an eye. It may help to explain how these sea creatures can change color and use all kinds of camouflage but can’t see color with their actual eyes.

Researchers also determined that octopuses play. A test pitted eight octopuses with a number of floating empty pill bottles to see if they would do anything interesting with them. Two of the octopuses repeatedly blew the bottles into the jets of their holding tanks which pushed the bottles up and around the rest of the tank. The scientists deducted that the octopuses were playing a game just like two children would with a ball and water sprinkler.

The neurons of the average cephalopod present another interesting situation. About three-fifths of them are not in the brain but are located in the arms and tentacles of the sea creature. That relates to the color changing that they can do. But it also gives them a jump on learning tasks. An example of this is octopuses can be taught to open a jar in order to retrieve a meal. They can also open child-proof caps which shows that food is still a huge motivator.


The Sweat Color Of Hippopotamus

hippo red sweat

Imagine if you sweat a red liquid that covered your body and acted like a sunscreen. Would you want to have such a bodily function? Well, that is precisely what happens to hippos. They secrete a reddish liquid that is sticky and as the viscous liquid polymerizes, it changes color. First it’s red and then it turns brown. The ‘blood sweat’ actually sticks to the hippo body because it contains a high concentration of mucous.

The compounds identified in the hippo sweat are acidic, which protects the animal from infection. The red and pink pigments are apparently amino acid metabolites. What that means is that the pigments act as a shield as they will absorb ultraviolet radiation. The red pigment offers an added level of protection as it acts as an antibiotic. So, hippo sweat is actually keeping the hippo protected and safe from the effects of the sun.


Alligators Have No Definitive Lifespan


Some organisms have no symptoms of aging. It’s called negligible senescence. These organisms do not show measurable reductions in reproductive capability or function with age. Plus, death rates in organisms that are said to have negligible senescence do not increase as the age as opposed to senescent organisms. In other words, ageless critters don’t have the problems that come with aging that non-ageless critters encounter.

There are many examples of species that do not appear to age. They include turtles, tortoises, sturgeon, alligators and rough eye rockfish. Scientists also feel that possibly the lifespan of some of these negligible senescence species have no lived long enough to actually show signs of aging. Clearly, many of these species can live far longer than humans and maybe a few generations longer than humans before showing signs of aging.


Pigs Can Mutate

pig mutation

A former captive pig, if allowed to roam in the wild, will revert to being a wild pig. That’s the short version. As it turns out, in the state of Michigan in the United States there is a feral swine problem. What makes this interesting is that the majority of the feral swine were once Eurasian and other exotic boars that had escaped from game ranches. The escape is easy when fences designed to contain deer are not the same as required to keep pigs inside.

A wildlife biologist for the Michigan State Department of Natural Resources says that the conversion takes just a few weeks. That’s the conversion from penned pig to wild boar. The biologist, Kristine Brown, says the pigs ‘turn’ wild as a defense mechanism that gives them a fighting chance at survival in the wild. Plus, once feral, the pigs will eat anything they can get their mouths around.


Immortal Jellyfish

immortal jellyfish

Turritopsis dohrnii is a jellyfish that can live forever. In fact, it is officially recognized as the only immortal creature on the planet. It works kind of like this: once they reach a certain stage in their lives they go back in time and stay there without any further aging. The actual timeline shows that once this jellyfish propagates, it sidesteps the dying part by reverting to a sexual immature stage. By doing this, they don’t have to grow further.

Once locked in the immature stage, these jellyfish retract their tentacles, shrink their bodies and sink to the ocean floor to more or less start their lives over again. It’s an endless cycle of growing to sexual maturity, mating and then stepping back to immaturity to repeat the steps all over…again and again. While that may sound like a roller coaster ride you can never exit, it keeps the jellyfish from aging to the point where it dies.

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