For many of us, animals hold a special place in our hearts. Whether they are our dogs, cats, fishes, or our lions (for some). These creatures possess very unique abilities, some can fly, some can electrocute, some can explode, and some are capable of sending ultrasonic signals. But can animals that can live without oxygen? can animals live forever? According to recent studies, Earth is home to over 2 million animal, plant, and microbe species and scientists say there are millions more to be discovered. With such a variety of species, you are sure to find some pretty interesting facts about each of these animals. But here we have compiled a small list of 10 fascinating facts about animals (and mammals) that you might not know!
10. Extreme Dimorphism
Have you ever noticed a peacock and a peahen? The male (peacocks) can sport a flamboyant and magnificent trail of feathers while the female (peahens) carry a more unobtrusive appearance. This is all thanks to a condition known as ‘Sexual Dimorphism”.
Sexual Dimorphism is a condition in which males and females of the same species can differ in size, coloration, markings, and also behavior. Although humans are sexually dimorphic to a certain degree as well, the differences between us and our counterparts are not that extreme. However, many cases of extreme sexual dimorphism exist in the animal kingdom.
One example of this is the size difference between the bizarre-looking male and female Angler Fish. An average female angler fish can grow up to 1 foot in length, whereas the male barely even reaches half an inch.
Another weird fact about this lovely couple is that when a young male angler fish runs into a cute female angler fish, the tiny male parasite latches on to her with his teeth. He then stays there until his body and his organs psychically fuse with the female’s body leaving only his testes which she then uses to give birth.
9. Virgin Birth
Speaking of birth, a virgin birth for humans would be nothing short of a miracle right? But it’s actually pretty common with animals. There are over 70 vertebrate animals which can give birth without fertilization. While some species are fully asexual and don’t require a companion, there are other species have two males that fertilize the egg. Many notable examples that have been documented of this are hammerhead sharks, lizards (yes, we know they are asexual), snakes, saw-fish, and also komodo dragons.
This process is known as parthenogenesis or simply reproduction without fertilization. not to be confused with hermaphroditic species which can also reproduce by themselves. Hermaphroditic species are able to reproduce due to their ability to produce both male and female gamete. During parthenogenesis however, a female gamete develops a new being without the need of being fertilized by a male gamete.
Whats interesting is that parthenogensis can actually be a choice for some of these animals. A stick figure example of this is the female giant Australian Prickly Stick insects which can choose to mate with the male Prickly Sticks at will. It was widely believed by scientists that parthenogenesis occurred due to males being rare or absent. However in 2015, researchers discovered something different – that sex became very costly for females prickly sticks which led them to reproduce on their own!
8. Octopuses Mind, Heart, and Body
The most well known defining characteristics of an Octopus is its’ 8 arms (not tentacles) or that its appearance is arguably similar to that of the legendary Kraken. However, an interesting fact many people don’t know about these cephalopods is that they have 3 hearts. Octopuses have one main heart which keeps the blood flowing to it’s organs and also two smaller ones that pump blood to its gills. Although these intelligent creatures are blessed with 3 hearts, they appear to have a weak vascular system and a relatively short life-span.
Another interesting fact about the octopus is that nearly two thirds of the octopuses neurons lie their arms instead of their brain. Which means they are able to perform multiple tasks with their arms at once without much effort. Such as preying on a crab and catching a shrimp at the same time!
7. Immortal Animals
Another ability that animals possess that we humans wish we had, immortality. Of course these animals aren’t actually immortal as they can also die. However, if they can survive disease and avoid being eaten by a predator then they can definitely live for a very long time. They are able to achieve this amazing feature because their cells age at a unbelievable slow rate and theoretically, they can live forever.
One example of this is the Immortal Jellyfish, which can endlessly cycle between child and adult forms. Basically, after most jellyfishes mate, tiny larva forms however that larva doesn’t simply grow into an adult jellyfish. The larva actually plumps down on a hard surface until it turns into a polyp or a soft-bodied structure. The polyp then keeps creating tiny replicas of itself which then produce tiny male and female jellyfish.
Whats fascinating is that although many jellyfishes can reverse their development during this process, they lose the ability to do so once they become sexually mature. But The Immortal Jellyfishes are immune to this fundamental rule, which is how they get the ‘Immortal’ in their names. Even once the Immortal Jellyfishes reach sexual maturity, they are able to revert back to being an infant polyp and evolving into adulthood again. Bearing an unusual resemblance to the fiery mythical creature the Phoenix, which reincarnates from its own ashes.
6. Glow in the Dark Animals
Are we having a glow-in-the-dark party? maybe not… but some animals are! Although they can be easily recognized through their pair of pincers (or pedipalps) and whip like tail, scorpions can also be easily spotted – because of their ability to glow!
When put under a UV (ultraviolet) light, these predatory arachnids glow a vibrant blue-green color.Although No one knows exactly why they fluoresce. Scientists have suggested a number of theories – that it is a defense mechanism against predators, it can help them find each other, and even that it protects them from sunlight.
Another interesting thing scientists noticed was that right after the scorpion sheds it shell, it doesn’t glow until the new cuticle has hardened. So if your ever out in the desert and wanting to spot these cool species, make sure to take a UV light!
5. Cows Have Best Friends
If we can have best friends then why cant cows? Actually, scientists have discovered that cows do in fact have best friends and show signs of being stressed when they are separated from them.
This delightful discovery was made by scientist scientist Krista McLennan while she was obtaining her PhD from NorthHampton University. She believes her findings can help farmers all over the world improve milk yields.
The research was conducted by measuring the heart rates of cattle while they were being placed in different scenarios. When placed with a random individual, the cattle would get stressed in terms of its heart rate rising. However when placed with a friend, the cattle would be a lot more relaxed.
So, cows like to be social… and make a friend every once in a while. Whats wrong with that?
4. Animals Have Panoramic Eyesight
Cute, fuzzy, and Easter eggs are some things that come to mind when we see a bunny. But one little known fact about our furry little friends is that rabbits actually have panoramic eyesight and can see nearly 360 degrees! The rabbit’s visual system allows them to quickly sense predators in almost all directions, as well as far above their heads.
As rabbits are often prey to much bigger animals such as hawks, eagles, and foxes they have to constantly be aware of their surroundings in case a predator tries to attack them. Although these small mammals have exceptional field-vision, they pay for this incredible feature by having a small blind spot right in front of their face.
Interestingly, they don’t have clarity in their vision, but are able to identify their favorite person through scent, body movements, and general sense of shape. So next time you are going at your rabbit with a box and its trying to run away, you know why!
Of course, rabbits are not the only animals on Earth that have exceptional eyesight. Chameleons are able to move each their eyes independently from the other eye and also have a 360 degree field-vision. But whats even more fascinating about this camouflaging lizard is that it can see ultra-violet light and also see tiny insects as far away as 5 to 10 meters.
3. Dolphins Don’t Sleep or Drink Water
Dolphins are said to be some of the brightest and most intelligent beings on earth after humans (and maybe chimpanzees). For example, they have been known to recognize themselves in mirrors, solve problems, mimic other dolphins, and also use their fins to wave at their trainers.
What sets dolphins apart is that they have managed to ‘solve’ sleeping. We as humans need sleep to rejuvenate, grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones. However, the same is not true for Dolphins and other cetaceans such as porpoises, orcas and whales.
Instead, they are able to go into an odd form of sleep known as “unihemispheric slow-wave sleep” or simply, deep sleep. Basically, a dolphin is able to shut down half (or one hemisphere) of its brain and then closes the opposite eye. The half that is not in this state of deep sleep then takes on the role of managing breathing functions and keeping alert of surroundings. During a 24 hour period, each hemisphere of the brain usually gets about 4 hours of sleep.
Another fascinating fact about dolphins is that they don’t drink sea water because of a simple reason: It’s too salty. Consuming seawater would make them severely ill and can potentially even lead to death. Instead, dolphins obtain all the water they need from the food they ingest (usually fish and squid).
2. Exploding Animals
It is generally considered that humans are the only beings that use themselves as weapons while ending their own lives. However this is not true – although uncommon, a form of animal suicide also exists.
For example the Malaysian Ant, which has earned its reputation to be titled as the “Exploding Ant”. Considered soldier ants, these guys take their duties very seriously when going on a suicide missions. If their colony is threatened, the Malaysian ants are able to self-destruct violently as an act of defense.
In order to achieve this method of self-destruction, these tiny ants aggressively contract their abdominal muscles which causes their poison-fulled mandibular glands to burst. Although these ants eventually end up exterminating themselves, at least they do it defending their colony.
1. Discovering New Species
Fascinated by curiosity, many scientists have traveled to every corner of the world in pursuit of discovery. However, unexplored biodiversity still exists all over the earth. Sometimes, there are unidentified species living right under our noses!
In 2004, marine biologists found Osedax mucofloris or the bone-eating, snot-flower worm well, eating bone. In 2007, postgraduate student, Bill Peterman found a patch-nosed Salamander because of a mix-up with directions and in 2008, a new species of frog (Rana kauffeldi) was discovered in New York City of all places.
Every year, about 10,000 to 20,000 species are currently identified, with about half of them being insects. Thanks to technology, we are now identifying these species through their DNA sequences and able to properly identify specifically which genus they fall under.
In case your wondering, there are still some places that are rich with undiscovered species, such as the the deep blue sea and also tropical forests. Although reaching the ocean floor might seem like a far stretch, next time your in a tropical forest, be sure to net some insects! You might be holding a species no one knows about!
Source(s): ZME Science, Science Direct, Ansci Wisc, Smithsonian, Softpedia, BBC, BoredPanda, Daily Mail, Rabbit Health Central, Mom.me, Live Science, Animal Behaviour, CBS, One Green Planet, Understand Dolphins, ScientificAmerican, Mirror, AtlasObscura, petdnamemorial (Featured Photo)