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20 Surprising Facts About The Animal Kingdom

20 Surprising Facts About The Animal Kingdom

The complexities of the animal kingdom never cease to amaze and, after millions of years of evolution, many species have adapted in ways which belittle human endeavors. Whether it’s effortlessly flying, breathing under water, or simply being alien in appearance, these 20 animal facts will remind you of the amazing world beyond human society.

1. Dolphins use biological sonar

    Dolphins have remarkable eyesight and can hear frequencies ten times over what an average adult human can. Its sensory abilities are so evolved that it can monitor its environment to an incredible degree. Senses such as echolocation (biological sonar), and what is believed to be an ability to navigate by the Earth’s magnetic field, are so powerful a dolphin could, literally, “see” through you if you were swimming with one.

    2. Orcas are highly cultural

      Orcas have the second heaviest brain in the oceans. In 2010, neuroscientists examined the brain of a dead killer whale. Following MRI scans, and observation in the wild, this much is clear: they have the ability to learn local dialects, each pod has its own language, they teach and learn complex hunting methods, and pass on individualistic behaviors. Biology professor Hal Whitehead, in 2001, stated he believes orcas to be the most cultural species other than humans.

      3. Cats can rehydrate by drinking seawater

        A cat’s kidneys are so efficient it’s possible for them to exist on a diet of meat, and they can rehydrate by drinking seawater. Their carnivorous ways, however, are mandatory. It is a struggle for them to digest plants, although they can often be observed chewing on grass.

        4. Snake charming secrets

          The ancient practice of snake “charming” is famous in India, but the music has nothing to do with the apparent hypnoses. The highly venomous Indian cobra is used for the performance. Cobras can’t hear music – the snake is actually in a defensive stance. They view the charmer and the pungi (instrument) as a threat, and move their head in time with the charmer’s motions.

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          5. Hamsters aren’t nocturnal

            Chronobiology examines how creatures react to solar/lunar rhythms. Hamsters rise at anti-social human hours, and it is common belief they are nocturnal. However, it is now widely considered they are crepuscular (active between twilight) as their peak activity can be observed during dawn and dusk.

            6. Coconut Crabs aren’t from another planet

              Startling images of these large creatures have been appearing across the Internet. Rest assured, the Coconut Crab is a hermit crab of sorts which, due to its imposing size, makes it alien in appearance.

              6. Jurassic Park isn’t possible

                If you enjoyed Michael Crichton’s novel, or the film adaptation, the sad news is the science in Jurassic Park can’t happen. A recent study titled The Absence of DNA in Sub-Fossil Insect Inclusions Preserved In ‘Anthropocene’ Colombian Copal highlights the disappointing fact that insects preserved in amber are simply too old to have any DNA present. Still, at least Jeff Goldblum exists.

                7. Blobfish aren’t ugly

                  Blobfish recently won the inauspicious “World’s Ugliest Animal” competition. The deep sea fish are often brought to the surface by fishing trawlers, but it’s worth noting they look markedly different in their environment (artist’s impression above), which can be 3,900ft under the ocean.

                  8. Great White Sharks are highly enigmatic

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                    Despite modern research methods, these remarkable sharks remain puzzling. They lead solitary lives and swim enormous distances, making it difficult for scientists to observe them. Due to this it is still largely unknown how the species reproduces. Despite the fear they provoke, great whites are vital to the ocean’s ecosystem, but over-fishing could be pushing them towards extinction.

                    9. Panda Ants have a secret

                      These small insects are wasps. Ants evolved from wasps, and panda ants are part of the family of Mutillidae, which is made up of around 3,000 different species of wasps. The different species are often referred to as Velvet Ants, presumably as the wingless females resemble large ants. They also pack a nasty sting and are regarded as “cow killers.”

                      10. Adélie penguins once outraged the British

                        Adélie penguins appalled Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 British Antarctic Expedition. Scott dismissed them as “fatuous” in his diary, whilst George Murray Levick’s notes on the their aggressive procreation methods were considered too indecent for publication. The behaviour was described as “astonishing depravity” by Levick, who cited “hooligan males” as the worst offenders. His findings were only officially released in 2012.

                        11. Honey Badgers are remarkably tenacious

                          Despite their diminutive appearance honey badgers have been observed fending off a pride of lions, invading bees’ nests, attacking poisonous snakes, defeating monitor lizards, and battling with hyenas. They’re equipped with tough skin, endless energy, and since they’re so aggressive, few predators hunt them. As a consequence honey badgers are classed as “Least Concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCEIAwatlV8

                          12. A Rattlesnake’s rattle is interlocked keratin

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                            The legendary “rattle” is made up of hollow segments which are interlocked by keratin. A rattlesnake can contract its muscles in its tail to make the segments vibrate against each other, which makes the sound. This process of muscle contractions shakes at 50 times per second, and can go on for three hours.

                            13. Hibernating animals aren’t sleeping

                              Hibernating creatures should be distinguished from merely sleeping. The process is known as torpor and is a state of decreased physiological activity; this is achieved by lowering body temperature and metabolic rates. Many animals enter long bouts of hibernation for seasonal reasons, whilst others have bouts of daily torpor.

                              14. Cats could help astronauts

                                During exhalation and inhalation cats purr between the frequency of 25 and 150 Hertz. This is considered the sound range which can promote healing in damaged muscles and bones. Scientists at the University of California have consequently postulated purring could alleviate muscle atrophy and bone density loss. Dr. Leslie Lyons suggested this could be useful for astronauts who have spent long periods of time in zero gravity, where muscle atrophy is a serious problem.

                                15. The nimble moth

                                  This picture by Jerry Strzelecki displays the very unique Hummingbird Hawk-moth. It’s a species of Sphingidae, which are a family of the moth kingdom. It’s earned its name, unsurprisingly, due to its similarity to the hummingbird. It can hover, and hums as it does, making this moth one nifty little creature.

                                  16. Courtship displays can be flamboyant

                                    The Superb Bird of Paradise of New Guinea has an exceptional courtship display. As seen in the BBC’s Planet Earth, the male makes a clearing for its “dancefloor”. It then proceeds to dance around a female in a flirtatious pursuit similar to many Friday nights in cities across the world.

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                                    17. The Shoebill is “Statue-like”

                                      The distinct looking Shoebill can be seen in human culture as far back as Ancient Egyptian artwork. Due to their stoic habit of remaining silent and standing still for prolonged amounts of time, they have earned a reputation in Africa for being statuesque.

                                      18. Some scorpions can live for 25 years

                                        The lifespan of these predatory anthropods varies for each species, but some have been known to live for 25 years. Surprisingly, despite there being 1,300 known species, less than 30 have venom powerful enough to kill a human.

                                        19. There is a sting pain index

                                          The Schmidt Sting Pain Index was developed by entomologist Justin O. Schmidt. Following incidents whilst researching he developed an index noting the respective agonies of insect stings, releasing a paper in 1990 titled  “Hymenoptera Venoms: Striving Toward the Ultimate Defense Against Vertebrates”. He cites the Bullet Ant (pictured) and pepsis wasp as the worst stings he suffered.

                                          20. Jellyfish have 24 eyes

                                            Jellyfish have been part of the world’s oceans for over 500 million years. As noted by Current Biology, they also have 24 eyes “of four different types, including eyes structurally similar to those of vertebrates.” Despite this, their visual ability is restricted to basic object avoidance, meaning it is unclear why they have so many eyes.

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                                            Alex Morris

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                                            Last Updated on November 11, 2019

                                            How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

                                            How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

                                            Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

                                            To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

                                            Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

                                            1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

                                            Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

                                            Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

                                            To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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                                            2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

                                            Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

                                            If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

                                            Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

                                            3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

                                            Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

                                            Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

                                            4. Feed Your Brain

                                            Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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                                            This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

                                            Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

                                            Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

                                            5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

                                            According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

                                            Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

                                            Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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                                            6. Write it Down

                                            If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

                                            It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

                                            You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

                                            7. Listen to Music

                                            Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

                                            8. Visual Concepts

                                            In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

                                            Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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                                            Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

                                            9. Teach Someone Else

                                            Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

                                            Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

                                            10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

                                            Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

                                            So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

                                            Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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                                            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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