Are you a curious science-lover who enjoys reading fascinating facts? Do you ever wonder why animals do certain things?
If this sounds like you, then you’ll definitely enjoy these interesting animal facts selected from the book Imponderables written by David Feldman!
#1. Do most dogs have black lips?
Have you ever noticed what colour your dog’s lips are? More importantly, did you even know that your dog has lips? Well, it’s true!
However, not all dogs have black lips or noses. The colour which you see is actually pigmentation or melanin, which is essential in shielding a dog from the sun’s harsh rays. The most common nose and lip colours for dogs are dusty brown, grey and black. The darker the colour, the more melanin and protection the dog has.
#2. Why do dogs walk around in circles before settling down?
Have you ever wondered why dogs circle a spot before they finally lay down? Well, some biologists and dog experts suggest that dogs do this to define their area of power. They also believe that dogs in the wild do this to stamp down the grass to create a comfortable spot to sleep on.
That’s not all. According to dog writer Elizabeth Crosby Metz, it’s also a way to spread their scent all around their nesting site so that newborn pups can easily find them.
#3. Why do horses sleep standing up?
Horses can sleep while standing up and while lying down. Usually, they tend to sleep standing up most of the night as this allows them to quickly escape a predator’s attack. This method of sleeping is made possible by a horse’s ‘stay apparatus’ — a system of interlocking ligaments and tendons that allows an animal’s entire body weight to be easily supported without putting any strain on its muscles.
Nonetheless, horses still do need to sleep lying down for a short while (around 2 to 4 hours) so that they can get deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
#4. Can elephants jump?
Although there have been a few sightings of elephants jumping in the wild, this is very rare as an elephant’s physiological features make it hard for it to jump.
According to Mark Gruntwald from the Philadelphia Zoo, the bone structures of elephants are designed in a way that make it difficult for them to bend their legs enough to create a force that can lift themselves up. They also weigh too much to be able to support themselves when they land on all fours. Luckily, elephants don’t need to run and leap to escape predators as they are large in size and move in protective herds.
#5. Why do cows lick their nostrils?
This may seem like a gross habit but there are actually several important reasons a cow does this. Typically, cows have tiny glands within their nose called nasolabial glands. These glands secrete mucus to keep their nose constantly moist, which often leads to a sticky mess.
Since cows can’t use handkerchiefs, they use the tip of their tongue to lick and clean their watery nose. Once its nose has been wiped, the cow brings the secretion back into its mouth and swallows the mucus filled with microbes. The chemical properties within the secretion then behave like saliva and aids with digestion.
#6. Why do snakes flick their tongue out?
You may think that a snake is trying to attack if they flick their tongue out at you, but believe it or not, they’re actually trying to taste the air. Ssssay what..?
Since a snake has poor eyesight and limited hearing, its tongue is actually an invaluable sensory organ for these slithery creatures. While they may have nostrils, their tongues are also used to detect the scent of nearby prey or predators. When its tongue is darted out, it collects odour moisture particles that are floating in the air and brings it back into its mouth.
The snake then uses its Jacobson’s organ (a patch of sensory cells within the nasal) to send sensory information to its brain, which allows it to interpret smell.
#7. Why do mosquitoes like some people more than others?
Nope, it definitely isn’t just in your head.
Mosquitoes do prefer certain people more than the others, according to Dr. Jonathan Day, a medical entomologist and mosquito expert at University of Florida. Some factors that make you a delicious target to mosquitoes are your blood type, high resting metabolic rates, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) your body releases, the colour of your clothing, your movement and the unique chemicals that your body produces.
Some of these winged biters may prefer blood type O more and they are attracted to certain body chemicals such as lactic acid. People who don’t get bitten usually produce body chemicals that either repel mosquitoes or mask the odours that attract them. Mosquitoes also use CO2 and movement to identify bite targets and they gravitate towards dark colours — so avoid wearing dark colours if you don’t want to be an obvious target to these bloodsuckers!
#8. Do fish pee?
The answer is yes — but not all fish do it the same way.
According to Robert R Rofen of the Aquatic Research Institution, fish urinate through their gills and skin — similar to how humans sweat. While marine fish only produce a little urine and lose it through osmosis, freshwater fish produce a lot more and release it through their “urinary pore”.
According to biologist Glenda Kelley, freshwater fish need to produce a lot of dilute urine in their kidneys to prevent from becoming waterlogged. Saltwater fish, on the other hand, drink a lot of sea water which needs to be constantly excreted through their gills.
We hope you’ve learnt a lot from this fact-filled article. If you know of any more quirky animal facts, feel free to share them with us in the comment section below!