Thursday, December 10, 2015

Amazing Animal Facts - Reindeers!

It's that wonderful holiday time of year again! Growing up, I always wondered if reindeer (besides those which pull Santa's sleigh) existed. They do! Indeed, here are some interesting facts about reindeer:
  • In America, reindeer are commonly known as caribou. They're called caribou for when they're in the while, but are known as reindeer when they're domesticated. In Europe, they are called reindeer all the time.
  • Reindeers are usually 4 - 5 feet tall excluding their antlers. Their antlers can almost double their size, as they can grow up to 3 feet tall!
  • Reindeer are the only type of deer in which the males and the females both grow antlers.
  • Reindeer can run up to 50 mph - just fast enough to help them get a running start before flying!
  • Reindeer may be known for Rudolph's red nose, but even more impressive than that is the fact that reindeer eyes turn blue in the winter! This change helps reindeers capture more light during the dark winter months, especially in the Artic. Scientists believe reindeers are the only known mammal to undergo such a change.
So if you ever see one of these guys in the wild, don't be afraid just because it's eyes are blue. Instead, be amazed by it's uniqueness!

And the next time you see a caribou, you should wonder - is it really one of Santa's? Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Amazing Animal Facts: Turkeys!

Gobble, gobble - it's turkey time again! In light of the recent holiday, I got to wondering - are there any interesting facts about turkeys? It turns out there are! Here are just a few:

  • A male turkey's gobble is distinctive to each bird, and can be heard from a mile away.
  • Did you know a wild turkey can fly up to 55 mph?! I had no idea! Of course, they can only fly that speed for a short distance, but still - that is amazing!
  • Ancient Mexican civilizations are believed to see the turkey as a sacred animal.
  • The color of the turkey's head and throat will change based upon his mood.
  • Last but not least: It is rumored that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to become America's national bird rather than the bald eagle.
That's right - this beautiful guy almost became our national bird:

Monday, September 21, 2015

Amazing Animal Videos: Octopuses

When researching animals for my first novel, Acea and the Animal Kingdom, one of my favorite animals to research was the octopus. Here some just some of the amazing facts about octopuses that I uncovered:

  • Octopuses are considered the most intelligent of all invertebrates.  To test this - the next time you visit an aquarium, ask them about the attempts the octopus will make to try to escape. Every one that I've visited has said they constantly have to change the way they feed an octopus and play with it, because it will figure out ways to escape from it!
  • They can solve problems, such as unscrewing a lid to get prey from a container. Perhaps this is another example of the first fact, but either way - if you're trying to hide from an octopus, don't hide in a container with a lid in it.
  • Octopuses have three hearts - two pump blood through each of the two gills, while the third pumps blood through the body.
  • Octopuses are venomous, but only the small blue-ringed octopuses are known to be deadly to humans.
  • Octopuses have four pairs of arms.
  • An octopus can lose an arm to escape a predator's grasp and re-grow it later with no permanent damage.
  • This is my favorite: Octopuses can fit through anything that their beak can. This is because their beak is the only bone/hard part of their body.
Now for some cool videos!

Can you spot the octopus in this picture? Click through to watch an amazing video to see where it's hiding:

This octopus is an escape artist: (click for video)

Think that was impressive? This popular video shows an octopus escaping from an even smaller hole:

Last one - here's the amazing Indonesian Mimic Octopus: (click for video)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Amazing Animal Fact: Parthenogenesis

Today's blog entry is the first to not specifically discuss a specific animal.  Rather, it's an extremely unique phenomenon that some animals can experience called parthenogenesis.

What is parthenogenesis? It's a form of asexual reproduction in which offspring develop from unfertilized eggs without any male contribution.  Think of it as a "virgin birth" that has been observed to occur in some insects, fish, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and snakes. It's rare, and biologically amazing.

The most recent example of parthenogenesis occurred with a captive female yellow-bellied water snake at the Missouri Department of Conservation's Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center. For as unique of a phenomenon as parthenogenesis is, this water snake has done it twice! The first time in 2014 where two snakes were born, and again this year. Sadly, this year's offspring did not survive.  It will be interesting to see if the 2014 offspring exhibit the same ability for parthenogenesis (if the offspring were female).

Prior to this water snake's ability for repetitive parthenogenesis being exhibited, the only other snake known to do so is the Brahminy blind snake.

So, here's the real question: As cool as this is, do we really want to know that snakes can reproduce asexually? Ah!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Amazing Animal Facts: Grasshoppers

It's that time of year again where grasshoppers are coming out. I've certainly got my fair share in my backyard. So it's left me wandering - what are some interesting facts about these little guys? Here are just a few:

  • They can leap 20 times the length of its own body!
  • Tucked under their wings are membranes that vibrate in response to sound waves, meaning their ears are on their abdomen!
  • Grasshoppers existed long before dinosaurs! Fossil records show they first existed during the Carboniferous period more than 300 million years ago!
  • Grasshoppers eat about half its own body weight in plants per day, meaning a swarm will devour crops.
  • Grasshoppers and locusts are the same thing.
  • Their musical "stridulating" will sing your children to bed.

Okay, I made that last one up - darn!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Amazing Alligator Recently Caught

A large alligator was caught recently in Alabama. The reports indicate it's second largest one caught. Either way, it's impressive. It's 13.5 feet long and 920 pounds. It reportedly took six people to wrestle it into the boat. The largest one ever was caught just about a year ago by Mandy Stokes and weighed 1,011.5 pounds. Amazing!

Just seeing this photo makes you wonder if dinosaurs really are extinct...

Friday, August 21, 2015

Amazing Animal Facts: Chickens

Next time you visit a farm, remember these amazing facts about chickens:

1) The are the closest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus Rex!
2) They are believed to have over two-thousand different noises that they make for communicating.
3) Only chickens with red ear lobes lay brown eggs.
4) Think chickens only lay white or brown eggs? Wrong. Different breeds lay different colored eggs. For example, the Ancona breed lays purple eggs, and other breeds lay green, blue and many other colored-eggs!
5) Still wondering whether the chicken or the egg came first? Scientists believe the answer is ..... drum roll please... the egg! This is because the first chicken likely hatched from an egg laid by a species of animal that was not quite a chicken. Reptiles laid eggs long before chickens, and thus evolution plays a part in debunking this riddle.

So, did the T-Rex really have feathers? The real question we should be asking is: if a chicken were the size of a T-Rex, who would be eating who?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Largest Great White Shark Ever Filmed - Part 2

In following up with the prior post showing the largest great white shark ever filmed, this is the 2nd part of the video.  I'll just let the video speak for itself.  Happy swimming!

Amazing Animal Fact: Houseflies

House flies aren't the type of animal which I would expect to be associated with many amazing animal facts. After all, they're just houseflies - how interesting can they be?

Well, as a matter of fact, they are amazing! One amazing fact is that houseflies always hum in the key of F! So next time you're looking to tune an instrument to F, just find a housefly!

But, to me, the most amazing animal fact about houseflies is that they have a very short lifespan - around 14 days. Why is this amazing? Because the houseflies that keep "bugging" me (pun totally intended) at my house have definitely been annoying me for much longer than 14 days. That means that the houseflies at my place are super-houseflies. Now that's amazing.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Amazing Sea Life Video

What this sea animal can do is simply amazing, fascinating, and straight out of a sci-fi movie.  So maybe the Predator movie isn't really as fictional as we thought it was.  Seriously, this is the coolest animal trait I've seen in a while.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Amazing Animal Fact: Great White Shark

In light of the many recent (and unfortunate) attacks by sharks, and to honor shark week, here's an amazing and terrifying fact about great white sharks: they can reportedly detect a single drop of blood in 25 gallons of water! Even more terrifying? They can detect small amounts of blood from up to 3 miles away!

Between this and the video from my earlier post showing just how large a great white shark can get, I think I'll be swimming indoors for a while....

Friday, July 17, 2015

Amazing Animal Video: Albino Kangaroo!

Here's a Krazy Kangaroo video - this is a baby albino kangaroo just seen to the world for the first time. Amazing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Amazing Great White Shark Video

On the 40th anniversary of Jaws, have we finally found the giant beast? This fantastic video is claiming to show the world's largest great white shark ever to be filmed! Amazing! Who's up for a swim?