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!