And you thought humans were weird

13 08 2011

Well we are. But turns out animals are too. A couple of these came across my desk in the last few days so I hunted down a few more for your enjoyment and edification (and mine too).

Herring. (Sorry, no photos of herring farting available at time of going to print)

1. Herrings communicate by passing gas (just like teenagers)

Brown Trout (aka another fish picture)

2. Female brown trout fake orgasms with males that they don’t actual want to breed with. Apparently they want them to ejaculate prematurely and therefore unsuccessfully so they can move onto a better male fish. There are so many comments to be made but I am not going there.

3. Cattle all face north-south when they are eating. Of course the ability to sense the earth’s magnetic field is not limited to the bovine species – bees, whales, birds, many other animals also use the magnetic field to navigate or migrate. Not sure about the eating thing though.

4. Stingrays have managed to get pregnant without males. This one was on the news recently, the Sea Life London Aquarium had a couple of female stingrays in a tank, no male stingrays for at least a couple of years – and the two females have just given birth to seven live babies. The second coming perhaps?

5. Dracula ants practice cannibalism. They chew holes into and suck the blood of the larvae. Apparently the larvae can survive this. Still, my children think they have it tough! (Green-lipped mussles also eat their own young, as do crocodiles. Thanks your lucky stars you are human, children!)

6. Naked mole rats can run backwards as fast as they can run forwards (me too, but that’s only ‘cos I can’t run very fast in either direction)

Armadillo Lizard

7. Lizards. Well, where to begin. We have lizards that can drop their legs and/or tail if they are nabbed by a predator. The Horned lizard can squirt foul-tasting blood from its eyes up to 5m to deter predators (I am taking someone else’s word for it that is is foul-tasting, I have not tested it myself). And then there is the whole frill-neck thing. But most amazing of all, tha Armadillo lizard (pictured) which bites its own tail as a defensive posture when threatened.

8. Flatworms are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female genitalia. But unlike snails, which can inseminate each other at the same time (and didn’t even rate a separate mention in this list), Flatworms fence to see who will be the male and who will be the female in any match. The fence with their penises. The aim is to pierce the skin of the other flatworm to “win” – and there is a whole new take on Freudian theory there.

9. Competition for female attention in Anglerfish (Ceratiidae) is fierce. You would probably guess this from their hideous and rather vicious appearance, but it is worse than that. In fact it is fair to say that male anglerfish are unable to live without a female – their alimentary tract is insufficient to allow them to feed, so their only option is to mate as quickly as possible, whether the female is ready or not. A successful male anglerfish, having located an appropriate partner, bites into her skin, releasing an enzyme which dissolves him, leaving only a pair of gonads attached parasitically to the female fish. When the female is ready to mate, she has a ready partner already biologically attached to her.

10. Blue whales have been singing deeper every year since we have been recording them. I have no idea what this means – perhaps there is a Hawthorn effect happening and they are trying to confuse us. It is working.

11. The wood frog freezes solid every winter and thaws out in spring. Their unique physiology (which must surely include antifreeze of some sort) prevents the sort of cellular damage that we mammals would suffer. So next time you complain about being cold, stop and think. It could be worse.

That’s it for this round. No doubt as soon as I have posted this I will get sent something else weird and wonderful.

No animals were harmed in the making of this blog.




One response

13 08 2011

My saturday night is complete for knowing these things

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