July 27, 2013

Fascinating Facts about Animals

Let us remember that animals are not mere resources for human consumption. They are splendid beings in their own right, who have evolved alongside us as co-inheritors of all the beauty and abundance of life on this planet.  ~~  Marc Bekoff, Animals Matter: A Biologist Explains Why We Should Treat Animals with Compassion and Respect
The word “animal” is often used in a derogatory way by humans; who just so happen to be animals, too. Hopefully these fascinating facts will highlight the magical qualities of our fellow inhabitants of Earth; from honeybees to whales. 

v Elephants can smell water up to 3 miles away. They live in matriarchal societies with strong social bonds that endure for decades. Elephants grieve at the death of a family member or friend. An elephant’s trunk is a multi-tasking instrument used for breathing, smelling, touching, grasping and making sound. With their trunk, elephants can lift up to 770 pounds, but their trunk can also be used for delicate tasks like wiping an eye. The elephant’s trunk is used to suck up water to drink and to spray on their body. When under water, an elephant uses his/her trunk as a snorkel. Touching is an important form of communication among elephants. Individuals greet each other by stroking or wrapping their trunks.

v Honey bees know the world is round and can calculate angles. Honey is made by bees for bees and without destroying any kind of life. They are the pollinators of over 60 kinds of plants or crops thereby essential to human existence. We can plant flowers that attract bees.

v Hummingbirds have wings that beat up to 200 times every second. They are such accomplished athletes; the only birds able to hover as well as fly backwards, and upside down. Hummingbirds are able to remain in the same place in still air as long as they wish.

v Dolphins illustrate altruism. They will stay with injured or ill dolphins, even helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface if needed. Nor is this altruism limited to their species. They have helped protect humans from sharks, and a dolphin in New Zealand was noted helping to guide a Sperm Whale and her calf out of shallow water to safety. Most dolphins have acute eyesight, both in and out of the water. They can hear frequencies ten times or more above that of humans. Dolphin clicks are among the loudest sounds made by marine animals. Bottlenose dolphins communicate through sounds, whistles, and body language. They don't have vocal cords but they produce sounds using six air sacs near their blow hole. Like we have names, each animal has a uniquely identifying signature whistle.

Summer and Beautiful; photo credit Gentle World
v Dogs differ extensively in size and appearance. The smallest known adult dog was a Yorkshire terrier, who weighed only 4.0 ounces (113 grams). The largest known dog was an English Mastiff weighing in at 343 pounds (155.6 kg). A dog can identify a sound's location much faster than a human can, as well as hear sound at four times the distance. Dogs have a sense of smell ranging from 100,000 to 1,000,000 times more sensitive than a human's; and up to 100 million times greater in bloodhounds. To locate a smell, a dog uses his/her wet nose to determine the direction of an air current containing the smell.

v Cows are devoted mothers and have been known to walk for miles to find their calves. Cows have almost total 360-degree panoramic vision. They also have an excellent sense of smell; being able to detect odors 5-6 miles away. They can hear both high and low frequency sounds beyond human capability. The oldest cow on record, Big Bertha, was born in Ireland, and died 3 months shy of her 49th birthday. A cow's natural lifespan is 20-25 years, but cows farmed for food are slaughtered after only 3 to 9 years. Like all animals, cows value their lives and don't want to die. There are documented stories of cows who went to great lengths to fight for their lives, to escape the slaughterhouse.

v Lobsters can live up to 60 years. Lobsters can show us a thing or two about aging! They may not slow down, weaken, or lose fertility with age, and older lobsters may be more fertile than younger lobsters. This may be due to an enzyme that repairs DNA sequences. Lobsters grow throughout life, and are able to add new muscle cells at each molt.
A Monarch on my hand; photo M. Butterflies Katz
v Butterflies, of some species, can migrate over long distances, such as the Monarch butterfly journey from Mexico northward 3000 miles. A butterfly's sense of taste is 200 times stronger than ours. A caterpillar’s host plants often have toxic substances in them and caterpillars perform a magic trick; they seize these substances and retain them into adulthood, making them unpalatable to birds and other predators. The metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly has fascinated humankind. After emerging from the pupa, their miniature wings begin to transform into the large ones usable for flight. At this time, their wings undergo rapid mitosis and absorb a great deal of nutrients. A newly emerged butterfly needs to spend 1-3 hours drying and inflating his/her wings, and during this time he/she is extremely vulnerable to predators. (This is the time when we can help protect them from wasps by bringing them to safety, before releasing them for their first flight.)

v Pigs - Newborn piglets learn to run to their mothers' voices and to recognize their own names. I kid you not, pigs love tummy rubs! A mother pig “sings” to her piglet while nursing. Recommended Bestseller: The Pig Who Sang to the Moon 

v Rabbits can see behind themselves without turning their head. Free-living rabbits live around 10 years, while domesticated rabbits can live 16 years, and the longest on record is 18 years. Domesticated rabbits should never be let out in the wild, because they won’t be able to survive. Rabbits can live in a home or protected porch, and be litter-box trained.

v Horses are outfitted by nature with the unusual built-in trait of being able to sleep both standing up and lying down. The oldest horse on record (that’s verifiable) was "Old Billy", Born in England in 1760, who lived to the age of 62. Horseback riding often causes the horse back pain.

v Chicken language has meaning; with different alarm calls depending on which type of threat. Female chickens literally practice a method of birth control. Chickens have been known to eject sperm after mating with lower-status roosters. Technically known as "seminal evacuation", if the female chicken is unable to withstand a rooster's sexual force, the sperm of a socially subordinate rooster is likely to get ejected.

v Hippopotamuses are the second largest land animal, second to elephants, and amazingly they can run faster than a human.

v Sailfish, swordfish and the shortfin mako shark have all been clocked at swimming 50-60 mph.

v Penguin males alternate incubating the single egg laid by his chosen mate for life.

v Lions roar to warn off intruders or gather scattered members of the pride. The sound can be heard from a distance of 5 miles.

v Goldfish are the only animals that can see both infrared and ultraviolet light.

v Mice have a remarkable adaptability to almost any environment, one of the most successful mammals living on Earth today. Mice in the wild are nature’s architects, building intricate burrows that have long entrances equipped with escape tunnels and routes.

v Hamsters are generally strictly solitary. Hamsters are excellent diggers, constructing burrows with one or more entrances. In the wild, the burrow offers stable climate conditions by buffering extreme temperatures. The burrow also protects against predators. A burrow includes a steep entrance pipe, a nesting chamber, a food-storage chamber, and a branch for urination - in other words; an entrance lobby, a bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom!

v Galapagos Tortoises has a potential life span of 175+ years.

v The tuatara is a reptile that is unique to New Zealand. Tuatara may have the slowest growth rates of any reptile, continuing to grow larger for their first 35 years. The average lifespan is about 60 years, but they can live to be well over 100 years old. Some experts believe some tuatara have lived as long as 200 years, but sadly in captive situations.

v Male seahorses produce offspring! The female seahorse deposits eggs into a pouch on the male, who births them, and then daddy takes off for good!

v Mockingbirds (Northern) can imitate other birds, other animals and even mechanical sounds such as car alarms. As convincing as these imitations may be to humans, they often don’t fool other birds.

v Bald eagles can swim. They use an overhand movement of the wings that is similar to the butterfly stroke.

v Goats are inquisitive, intelligent and readily revert to the wild (become feral) if given the opportunity, which is rare for domesticated animals.

v Sheep are known to self-medicate when they have some illnesses. They will eat specific plants when ill that can cure them. Sheep have very good memories. They remember up to 50 sheep and human faces for up to 2 years, and they do this by using a similar neural process and part of the brain that humans use to remember. Healthy lambs can stand within minutes after birth and are able to move with the herd almost immediately.

v Rats like playing collectively and love to sleep curled up together. They take care of the injured and sick rats in their group.

v Ducks have waterproof feathers. There is a special gland that produces oil near the tail that spreads and covers the outer coat of feathers. Beneath them are fluffy and soft feathers. These feathers are meant to keep ducks warm.

v Turkeys can change color with the turkey's mood, with a solid white head and neck being the most excited. Turkey heads can be red, white, pink, blue, or gray. Free-living turkeys can adapt to virtually any dense native plant community as long as openings are widely available, such as forests with open meadows.

v Whales are cetaceans, along with dolphins and porpoises, and are descendants of land-dwelling mammals. They went through major anatomical changes until their features eventually became adapted to ocean-life. Like all mammals, whales breathe air, are warm-blooded, nurse their young with milk from mammary glands, and have body hair.

v Cats can have a litter of kittens that was fathered by more than one cat. Cat nose pads are uniquely different, like fingerprints in humans.

A forest deer and Golden Rees
v Deer come in over 90 species; ranging from the 20 pound Northern Pudú to the 1,000 pound moose. A fawn will take his/her first steps in the first 20 minutes of life. Mule deer living in a forest know the difference between those who would harm them and those who would not. They run, in a state of fear, from hunters. They lay beside humans that don’t harm animals.

v The Kaibab Squirrel lives in the Kaibab Plateau in the Southwest United States, in an area of 20 by 40 miles (30 by 60 km). The squirrel's habitat is confined entirely to the Ponderosa pine forests of the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and the northern section of Kaibab National Forest. This species is not found anywhere else in the world! The Kaibab squirrel is an example of evolution occurring through geographic isolation. They have a black body with a white tail.

vHumans hold many amazing traits and characteristics. Our lifelong identification number; our fingerprint, already exists at six months into the growth and development of a fetus! Humans live longer than most other animals. Jeanne Calment (1875–1997, 122 years, 164 days) was the oldest person in history whose age has been verified by modern documentation. Humans have shown superhuman cognitive abilities. Some humans have photographic memories and have accomplished amazing feats with memory. For example, Stephen Wiltshire is capable of drawing the entire skyline of a city after a helicopter ride - and - John von Neumann, was able to memorize a column of the phone book at a single glance. Source link  Promethea Olympia Kyrene Pythaitha (born March 13, 1991) is an American child genius with an IQ of 173. She started reading at age 1, began learning college-level calculus at age 7, and at age 13 became the youngest student to complete work for a bachelor's degree. Kim Ung-yong (born March 7, 1963 is a Korean civil engineer and former child prodigy. He started speaking at the age of 6 months and was able to read Japanese, Korean, German, English and many other languages by his third birthday.

If only the human race could apply their intelligence to realize that other animals are also amazing, that this world is their world, too, and that we need to wake up and see that humans CAN live without intentionally harming other animal species. 
Nonhuman animals are not “lesser than” us. They are different. I see all animals (human and the others) as equal in one important way…having the inherent right not to be exploited by humans, since we CAN live without intentionally harming conscious beings, as exemplified by many long-term vegans. If these fascinating facts came from animal research – they are not nearly as valuable as the simple truth that other animals are obviously conscious, with the capacity to feel, and especially to feel fear and pain. They want to live. No studies are needed; that’s all we need to know. 

“Do unto animals as you would have them do unto you.” Light; gentleworld.org


VNN said...

Wonderful and uplifting! You are such an amazing voice for the voiceless. Thank you for all you do for our fellow Earthlings!

Anonymous said...

"If these fascinating facts came from animal research – they are not nearly as valuable as the simple truth that other animals are obviously perceptually-aware, with the capacity to feel, and especially to feel fear and suffering. They want to live. No studies are needed; that’s all we need to know."

So, so, SO well said!