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10 Amazing Animal Facts

The animal kingdom has long been a mysterious one for humans and every day we learn something new about it. This is a list of ten little known facts about animals.

10. Crocodiles Eat Stones

Croc

The stomach of a crocodile is a rocky place to be, for more than one reason. To begin with, a croc’s digestive system encounters everything from turtles, fish and birds to giraffes, buffaloes, lions and even (when defending territory) other crocodiles. In addition to that bellyful-o’-ecosystem, rocks show up too. The reptiles swallow large stones that stay permanently in their bellies. It’s been suggested these are used for ballast in diving.

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9. Whale Milk is 50% Fat

Whale

Nursing a newborn is no “small” feat for the whale, whose calf emerges, after 10 to 12 months in the womb, about a third the mother’s length (that’s a 30-foot baby for the Blue whale). The mother squirts milk into the newborn’s mouth using muscles around the mammary gland while the baby holds tight to a nipple (yes, whales have them). At nearly 50 percent fat, whale milk has around 10 times the fat content of human milk, which helps calves achieve some serious growth spurtseas much as 200 pounds per day.

8. Birds Recognize Landmarks

Eagles-Birds Mg0752

Can you imagine a road trip vacation without missed exits, stubborn drivers or map-folding disasters? Of course noteyou’re not a bird. Pigeons can fly thousands of miles to find the same roosting spot with no navigational difficulties. Some species of birds, like the Arctic tern, make a 25,000 mile round-trip journey every year. Many species use built-in ferromagnets to detect their orientation with respect to the Earth’s magnetic field. A November 2006 study published in Animal Behaviour suggests that pigeons also use familiar landmarks on the ground below to help find their way home

7. Beavers have Longer Days in Winter

Beaver-T0269

Beavers become near shut-ins during winter, living off of previously stored food or the deposits of fat in their distinctive tails. They conserve energy by avoiding the cold outdoors, opting instead to remain in dark lodgings inside their pile of wood and mud. As a result these rodents, which normally emerge at sunset and turn in at sunrise, have no light cues to entrain their sleep cycle. The beaver’s biological sense of time shifts, and she develops a “free running circadian rhythm” of 29-hour days.

6. Mole-Rats are not Blind

Molerat

With their puny eyes and underground lifestyle, African mole-rats have long been considered the Mr. Magoos of rodents, detecting little light and, it has been suggested, using their eyes more for sensing changes in air currents than for actual vision. But findings of the past few years have shown that African mole-rats have a keen, if limited, sense of sight. And they don’t like what they see, according to a report in the November 2006 Animal Behaviour. Light may suggest that a predator has broken into a tunnel, which could explain why subterranean diggers developed sight in the first place.

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5. Baby Chicks are Altruistic

Babybirds Miller 061705

It’s a mistake to think of evolution as producing selfish animals concerned only with their own survival. Altruism abounds in cases where a helping hand will encourage the survival of genetic material similar to one’s own. Baby chicks practice this “kin selection” by making a special chirp while feeding. This call announces the food find to nearby chicks, who are probably close relations and so share many of the chick’s genes. The key to natural selection isn’t survival of the fittest animal. It’s survival of the fittest genetic material, and so brotherly behavior that favors close relations will thrive.

4. Many Fish Swap Sex Organs

Dsc00535 School Fish

With so many land creatures to wonder at, it’s easy to forget that some of the weirdest activities take place deep in the ocean. The strange practice of hermaphroditism is more common among species of fish than within any other group of vertebrates. Some fish change sex in response to hormonal cycle or environmental changes. Others simultaneously possess both male and female sex organs.

3. Giraffes have Unique Blood Flow

Giraffes

The stately giraffe, whose head sits some 16 feet up atop an unlikely pedestal, adapted his long neck to compete for foliage with other grazers. While the advantage of reach is obvious, some difficulties arise at such a height. The heart must pump twice as hard as a cow’s to get blood up to the brain, and a complex blood vessel system is needed to ensure that blood doesn’t rush to the head when bent over. Six feet below the heart, the skin of the legs must then be extremely tight to prevent blood from pooling at the hooves.

2. Elephants are Smart

Lgelephantsonroad

Elephants have the largest brain, nearly 11 pounds on average of any mammal that ever walked the earth. Do they use that gray matter to the fullest? Intelligence is hard to quantify in humans or animals, but the encephalization quotient (EQ), a ratio of an animal’s observed brain size to the expected brain size given the animal’s mass, correlates well with an ability to navigate novel challenges and obstacles. The average elephant EQ is 1.88. (Humans range from 7.33 to 7.69, chimpanzees average 2.45, pigs 0.27.) Intelligence and memory are thought to go hand in hand, suggesting that elephant memories, while not infallible, are quite good.

1. Parrots Understand

Redloredparrots

Parrot speech is commonly regarded as the brainless squawking of a feathered voice recorder. But studies over the past 30 years continually show that parrots engage in much more than mere mimicry. Our avian friends can solve certain linguistic processing tasks as deftly as 4-6 year-old children. Parrots appear to grasp concepts like “same” and “different”, “bigger” and “smaller”, “none” and numbers. Perhaps most interestingly, they can combine labels and phrases in novel ways. A January 2007 study in Language Sciences suggests using patterns of parrot speech learning to develop artificial speech skills in robots.

Source: LiveScience

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Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • joshward

    man this was really interesting i mean we take parrots for granted because we are so used to them but i mean if a dog or cat could say a word it would be considered a fluke of nature or something

  • 2overpar

    there is a typo on the last line of #9.

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  • I used to have a parrot a long time ago when I was about 8 years old. I remember when we had company that knocked on the front door, the parrot would say “Go away B*tch!” And it was also very annoying, and it cussed me out well over 10 times.

  • Lal

    Ah, I love livescience. They have a lot of good lists too.

  • Very interesting!! Please include some more amazing facts on living world.

  • fishing4monkeys

    Wow i’m surprised this list didn’t get more comments…

  • I’ve seen this at livescience.com

  • JamesW

    Ghidoran, do you derive your name from Ghidorah?

  • Yes.

  • Good Wolf

    If you are talking about intelligent birds then your notable exception is Crows! Crows ability to problem sove in novel senarios has continually astounded science each time they are tested! They are second only to us when it comes to tool making and using, and have the ability to ‘congure’ up new solutions is something that they only share with us! sereously SMARTEST ANIMAL IS A NEW CALEDONEAN CROW!!! Google it, i dare you.

  • Good Wolf

    woops i beter clairfy. ‘Conjure’ up spontaneous solutions to new problems and thereby bypassing trial and error is somthing they only shae with us

  • Dendi

    Many thanks, I very interesting browe your web. thank

  • CJ

    A Mole-Rat is the ugliest thing iv ever seen!!

  • Copaface

    Not happy with the lack of comments on this one
    It is rather interesting :D

  • SarahJ the 2nd

    baby whales can gain 200 pounds a day? that’s incredible! as my boyfriend put it “thats like half of you!” (it’s not btw)

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  • Sunny

    I love this list. Intersting and best one I have ever seen

  • nicoleredz3

    I had a parrot named Tom, who used to cuss at me, everytime I ventured downstairs and passed near him… They say male parrots hate human men; same goes with female parrots…

  • Ysidro

    Molerats would not have “developed” eyesight but rather have kept it to a limited degree when evolving into their current eusocial, burrowing, icky cute species.

    And that picture of a whale is an orca which isn’t really a whale. Don’t know what the fat content of an orca’s milk is…*googles* OK 48 to 28% depending on how much time has passed. Your off the hook. This time. ;)

  • Will Trame

    That mole rat is one ugly sucker.

    I knew someone who owned a foul mouthed parrot. Whenever people got together for a picnic or dinner party, the bird would start squawking, swearing like a sailor for the most part. Naturally, the bird had to be put down.

    Good list; very informative.

    • r.

      Well…that’s a shame. I would have loved to have had that bird just for family get togethers. Especially for my extremely uptight and self-righteous siblings.

  • shishir raj kolachhapati

    thank u very much for your interesting & knowleddefull information

  • Angie

    There are a lot of grammatical errors and typos in this list… Although it doesn’t
    take away from the intrigue, it does (for me at least) put a very small strain on the credibility of info. Only because the author was obviously careless in the process. I hope you don’t take offense to my comment, and the list was very interesting, but I took time to comment only to share a bit of constructive criticism. That said, I found the bit about the parrot to be really neat. I don’t usually think of birds as being particularly smart, and even with number 8 about their remarkable sense of direction and memory, it gives a new meaning to the term “bird brain”! I definitely learned some new things! I hope to see a follow up list for this one, but please take your time, proof read, and spell check! God, I hope I don’t sound like a raging b*tch!!! Peace

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  • Kate

    YO! I’m using this for website for school work

  • Emma Tameside

    These are some fantastic facts! Extremely informative too. I’ve been reading all about animals today, as I recently joined a community to stop animal cruelty. It’s amazing the ittle facts you don’t know about animals.

    Thank you for sharing and keep up the good work! You can count me down as a regular reader.

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