Category Archives: Animals

Working for Figurative Peanuts and Literal Beer, the Fascinating Story of Jack the Signal”man”

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For most people, saying  “a monkey could do my job” is a roundabout way of saying that their current position of employment isn’t exactly that mentally taxing. For James Wide though, it was more of a statement of fact because for 9 years in the late 19th century, his job of railroad signalman at Uitenhage station in South Africa was literally done […]

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The Amazingly Tough Hero Shrew

hero-shrew

At only a few inches long and with no distinguishing external physical features to speak of, Scutisorex somereni, better known as the Hero or Armoured Shrew, is seemingly an unremarkable creature. That is, until you accidentally step on one. You see, the Hero shrew can comfortably survive being stood on by a typical adult human without any injury. The secret to […]

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The Toughest Known Creature on Earth and Beyond

targigrade

It is surely the stuff of science fiction: An extraordinary being arrives on Earth that can withstand a tortuous array of conditions: boiling, freezing, tremendous atmospheric pressure, near total dehydration, and exposure to massive amounts of ionizing radiation. While many joke that “cockroaches would be the only thing to survive an extreme global nuclear war”, in fact, cockroaches would not. […]

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The Wild and Wacky World of Mating in the Animal Kingdom

gay-dog

Karen A. asks: How prevalent is homosexuality in animals? Are there any animals besides humans that have members that are exclusively homosexual? While it is sometimes claimed that only humans engage in bisexual or homosexual relationships, this is far from the truth and the practice is actually quite common in the animal kingdom. For example, nearly 10% of male sheep […]

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That Musky Smell

musk-deer

Prized since ancient times for its alluring fragrance, today musk can mean any of a number of substances used to scent perfumes. However, while in our modern era most musk is synthetically produced, when it first came on the scene, musk was only found in a scrotum-like sac on the bellies of male musk deer. Musk deer are found throughout […]

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How Do Other Animals Deal with the Umbilical Cord and Placenta When the Baby is Born?

horse-birth

Brandi N asks: How do other primates deal with the umbilical cord and placenta when the baby is born when they don’t have any sort of medical help to make sure everything’s handled right? Other than certain modern humans, some marine mammals (like whales and dolphins), chimpanzees and a few domesticated animals, mammal mothers typically eat the afterbirth. While most […]

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Why Gnats Swarm

gnats

Gerry D. asks: Why do nats swarm in a ball in the air? A common sight in the spring and summer, the seemingly unprofitable and pointless habit of gnats to hover in a cloud is, in fact, the single most productive thing they’ll ever do with their short lives. Although there are a wide variety of non-biting, but eminently annoying, […]

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