Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Naked Mole Rats:AMAZING Animal

While, it's debatable whether naked mole rats are cute or not, one thing about them is not debatable: the are among the most fascinating animals known to man!

Here are just a few of the amazing facts about naked mole rats:

  • They can survive up to 18 minutes without breathing! They do this by switching from using one source of energy to another. They essentially break down types of sugar differently to survive once they run out of oxygen!
  • They are resistant to pain! Their pain-signalling is non-functioning, but not so much that it's a danger to them.
  • They defy the biological way of aging! Studies have shown that their risk of aging does not increase as they get older. Their bodies don't show biological signs of aging. In fact, they are the longest living rodent species, at 30 years old.
  • They are resistant to cancer!
  • Their front incisor "teeth" can be moved separately or work together like chopsticks.
  • Their colonies can span 6 football fields in length!
  • They are only 1 of 2 mammal species which are eusocial - meaning they have a social hierarchy typically found in insect species. There is a queen leader who is protected by her soldiers. The queen has fought her way to the top.
  • They live most of their lives in darkness underground
If any one of these characteristics was to be found in one animal, that animal would instantly be unique. But the fact that all of them are containing within this cute, cuddly animal (sarcasm) makes the Naked Mole Rat one of the most interesting animals in the world!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Black Cats: Bad Luck or Good Luck?

When our family went to the pumpkin patch this last weekend, we passed a black cat right away at the entrance. No joke! Does this mean our visit was instantly spelled with bad luck? Actually....

Most cultures view black cats as good luck! 
  • The Egyptians and Russians revered all cats as good luck.
  • Most of England and Ireland also saw black cats as good luck.
  • In parts of old England, giving a cat to a bride meant good luck (seriously?).
  • In Scotland, if a black cat arrived on your door, it meant you might win a jackpot (come here, kitty kitty....)
  • In Germany, you have to pay attention. If the black cat crosses from right to left, that's bad. But left to right is good!
  • In Japan, owning a black cat was a good thing for single women, as it was thought of as attracting suitors.
Sometime in the Middle Ages, Europeans began to associate black cats with witchcraft. This could have been due to the elderly woman who would feed cats being among those often accused of as witches. 

We own a cat. It's not black, but it doesn't have to be - sometimes just the look it lets me know it's up to no good.....

Bonus Fact: The gene mutation that makes a cat black also makes it immune to more diseases. There's a thought that the same mutation in human affects the same genethat can offer HIV resistance.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Amazon's Most Dangerous Animal Is....

Which of the following animals do you think is the most dangerous animal of the Amazon Rainforest?

If you had a tough time guessing, it's because all four of those animals are widely regarded as the top four most dangerous animals in the Amazon.  But the answer is....


Those little guys come in several colors, with gold and blue often being the most prevalent (and dangerous).  Though they're small, just touching their skin can kill you! Actually - the poison in their skin is so deadly that it can kill 10 adult humans!

Their brilliant color is actually a warning to their potential predators. The poison can cause naseau, muscle paralysis, and death. Interestingly, if bred in captivity they're not likely to be poisonous. This is because their poison comes from their diet while in the wild - eating other dangerous creatures like termites, centipedes, and ants. Leimadophis Epinephelus, a special kind of snake found in Amazon rainforests is the only natural predator of poison dart frogs.

Stay away!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy July 4th - Bald Eagle Facts!

Celebrate the Fourth of July by impressing folks at your bbq with some impressive facts about America's symbol - the Bald Eagle!

They are America's symbol because some of them are naturally born with the American flag design on their wings.

Ok, not really - so here are some REAL facts:

Bald Eagles hold the record for largest bird nest. On average, their nests are 2-4 deep and 4-5 feet wide. But one found in St. Petersburg, Florida earned the record for largest bird nest - at 20 feet deep and 9.5 feet wide. It weighed over two tons!

They mate for life! And they share parenting duties, too - taking turns incubating eggs and feeding their young. They normally pair up around 4-5 years old and can live into their 30's. Romantic, right?

Their eyes are AMAZING. They have a set of eyelids which are a see-through membrane. So they can close that eyelid to protect their eyes, and still see! They also can see ultraviolet light. They can also spot a rabbit at 10,500 feet away!

Eagle talons are reportedly the strongest talons of any bird! They've been tested to have an average crush rate of over 800psi - the strong of any bird!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Because I Can't Wait for Jurassic World .... Dinosaurs!!!

I am a HUGE dinosaur person! I've always loved them. At the beginning of my first book, Acea and the Animal Kingdom, Acea would spend his recesses in elementary school digging through rocks at his playground looking for dinosaur fossils. This was actually me. I used to come back to class with pockets full of rocks that I thought were fossils or footprints. Naturally, dinosaurs were then featured prominently at the end of my trilogy in Acea and the Adventure Thru Time.

So, I can't wait for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom to come out! Part of it is nostalgia with wanting to re-live my memories of being enthralled with Jurassic Park as a kid. But the other part of it is that it's just way awesome to see dinosaurs on the big screen!

In anticipation of JW, we went to our local dinosaur museum (Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point, Utah).  We loved it!  We'll skip to animal facts for today - and instead just post some pics of the dinosaur fossils we encountered:

One of the coolest things we did was cleaning fossils of fish - real fossils that came from a Wyoming quarry. I'd been wanting to go to that quarry for a while now, and so getting to finally see those fish fossils in person was great. And we got to keep them!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Worm from Hell? It's the Hyrdothermal Worm!

Ever watched tremors and wondered if worms like that really exist? They don't. But something that's just a creepy-looking-cool does exist: the Hydrothermal Worm!

The little guys are ... well ... little! The below image is zoomed in 525 times and was taken by an electron microscope. They are actually about the size as bacteria. But most people will never encounter these things, so no need to fear. They are deep sea creatures that live primarily next to hydrothermal vents deep in the sea.

Still ... there's something about this picture that makes me thing "Worm From Hell."

(Photo credit: Philippe Crassous & FEI)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Amazing Fact of the Day: Ostrich Eyes

Amazing Animal Fact of the Day:

An Ostrich eyeball is about as big as a billiard ball. Their eyes take up so much room in the skull that each eyeball is larger than the size of the Ostrich's brain! They may be good a running, but they're not very good at outsmarting predators due to that small brain. They tend to run in circles!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Longest Living Animal Is...

What's the longest living animal ever discovered? The answer may surprise you!

Most people would probably think it's a Galapagos Tortoise, whose lifespan is over 100 years. But you'd be wrong.

Image result for galapagos tortoise

Before we get to the winner, the runner-up is the Greenland Shark. The oldest recorded living Greenland Shark was 392 years old! They live in the Northern Atlantic Ocean and live on average of 200 years. They don't reach their adult size until 100 years old! 

Though it's the runner up of all animals, it does win the award for longest known living vertebrate animal.

Image result for greenland shark

The winner is .... the Ocean Quahog Clam!  

The animal can live over 400 years on average, and the oldest known living one was discovered at 507 years old!!! It was given the name 'Ming' because it would have been alive during the Chinese Ming Dynasty. Like the Greenland Shark, these Clams also live in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. 

This is Ming:

Ming clam shell WG061294R.jpg

But I have a feeling that once the Loch Ness Monster is caught, we'll have a new winner!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Monarch Migration Madness!

I'm about to tell you one of the most fascinating animal facts I've heard in a long time. And it's about the Monarch Butterfly.

Every year, all Monarch Butterflies migrate south for the winter. They do this for 2 reasons: they can't survive the cold weather in the northern climates, and their larval foot plants that they eat don't grow in the winter.  So they fly south, to these locations (Mexico, S. California, and S. Florida):

Obviously butterflies aren't the only animal to fly south for the winter. So no big deal, right? Well - this is where their migration becomes unique and fascinating:

Every year, the Monarch migration to each location is 2,500 miles away. And every year the butterflies return to the same exact tree - again - 2,500 miles away. However, by the time that they reach that same tree, it is no longer the same butterfly that is doing the migration from the prior year. By the time the next year's migration occurs, the migrating butterfly is four generations younger than the last year's migrating butterfly!!!

Think about that. In one year, the Monarch goes through four generations of butterflies. And the new butterflies are migrating to the exact same tree 2,500 miles away that their great-great grandparents migrated to. Exact same tree. This is one of nature's most fascinating animal facts - and mysteries!

By the way! The Living Planet Aquarium in Salt Lake City, Utah now has an interactive butterfly exhibit! My kids loved it!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hilarious Panda vs. Snowman Video

I'm not sure who wins this hilarious battle.... (fun starts at about 50 seconds)

(Source: Toronto Zoo)