Category Archives: Animals

WWII Files: Pigeon-Guided Missiles and Bat Bombs

pigeon-missile

Today I found out about Project Pigeon and Project X-Ray, WWII plans to use pigeons to guide missiles and (literal) bat bombers. The man behind Project Pigeon was famed American behaviorist and Harvard professor B.F. Skinner, who teamed with the U.S. Army to develop such a system.  Pigeons were trained using operant conditioning, a type of learning pioneered by Skinner […]

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What’s Wrong with Giant Pandas?

giant-panda

With the possible exception of boozy, reckless ingénues, there is no animal more bent on its own ruin than the giant panda. With its low population (only 1600 remain in the wild and 300 in captivity) and self-destructive lifestyle, giant pandas are in danger of extinction. Luckily, scientists and conservationists are hard at work unlocking the secrets of panda behavior […]

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Do Moths Really Eat Clothes?

clothes-moth

Gracen asks: Do moths really eat clothes? The common “clothes moth”, “clothing moth” or to give its street name, Tineola bisselliella, doesn’t actually eat clothes. In fact, clothing moths don’t even possess the ability to eat- they don’t have a mouth. Once they become a moth, rather than waste their time eating, they simply mate, the female lays her eggs, […]

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Whales Don’t Spray Water Out of Their Blowholes Nor are Their Throats and Blowhole Connected

humpback-whale

Myth: Whales spray water out of their blowholes. Contrary to what you may have seen in such movies as Pixar’s otherwise extremely entertaining Finding Nemo, whales don’t  spray water out of their blowholes.  Further, the whale’s trachea doesn’t connect to the esophagus of the whale; so when Dory and Marlin went down the whale’s throat, in real life, they’d have […]

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The Parasitic Sacculina That Bends Its Host to Its Own Will

Sacculina_carcini

Falling into the category of “you can’t make this up,” is the parasitic barnacle Sacculina. Shedding its hard shell and injecting itself into the body of a host crab, Sacculina becomes its puppet master, preventing the crab from molting, growing, regenerating, digesting and reproducing. Instead, the reprogrammed crab directs all of its energy to nourishing the Sacculina and caring for […]

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The Bear Who was Officially a Member of the Polish Army During WWII

Wojtek

After being invaded by Germany in the west and later by Soviet Russia in the east, the Polish government fled Warsaw but continued to fight from abroad. After Germany attacked Russia, the Russians decided to release their Polish prisoners of war, who then began re-forming into an army. In April 1942, several of these Polish units landed in Persia and […]

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