Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Top ten best ever amazing (and surprising) nature facts!

Top ten best ever amazing (and surprising) nature facts!

DK's remarkable Natural History Book
DK's remarkable Natural History Book
I've recently been enjoying reading the nature section of Miles Kelly's Science Encyclopedia, as well as DK's remarkable The Natural History Book. Both are very informative and beautifully illustrated. Here are some incredible facts I'd like to share to help remind you just how amazing the natural world is - it's a real pity we seem to be destroying it!

Older than Civilisation Itself?

'Tjikko': World's Oldest Tree
'Tjikko': World's Oldest Tree
The world’s oldest tree is ‘Tjikko’, a spruce in Sweden. It first prouted nearly ten thousand years ago when Britain was still joined to Europe by the ice age! As for sprouting, lotus seeds have been known to germinate after being buried underground for 400 years!
However, as Tjikko continues to slowly grow, half of the world’s remaining rainforest will be cut down by 2030, while in the past 40 years alone it is believed humans have reduced the world’s flora and fauna by HALF. Tragic.

A Real Flower Bed!

The biggest flower head belongs to the Puya Raimondii plant in Bolivia, which can reach over two and a half meters, meaning the world’s tallest man can lie down on one and still not touch the edges.

Favourite Foods

Tomato - a berry not a vegetable!
Tomato - a berry not a vegetable!
Rice grains are actually grass seeds, and people around the world eat more than 600 tonnes of it every second!
Some people believe tomatoes to be the most popular vegetable in the world, yet they are not a vegetable but a fruit. They are a type of berry. Tomberry anyone?

Animal Communication: Scouse Crows?!?

Lemurs have different types of calls to indicate varying types of danger, such as whether it’s coming from the ground, the trees or the sky (Harpy Eagles like to catch and eat lemurs). Bees ‘dance’ around flowers to tell each other where the pollen is, while crows have 300 different kinds of croaks, though crows from other areas might not understand them (like speaking Scouse in America?).

Dragonfish uses light to attract prey
Dragonfish uses light to attract prey
At the bottom of the ocean, the only light is that which is generated by mysterious sea creatures attempting to communicate, such as the dragonfish or the cookie cutter shark, while the lantern fish’s whole body glows in the dark.

Small but Deadly

tiny pygmy shrew
The tiny pygmy shrew - a deadly hunter
The smallest land mammal in the world is the pygmy shrew. Shrews like to eat slugs, worms, snails and spiders. Yuck!!! They weigh less than 2 grams and are barely 6cm long, including the tail! Apparently, their saliva contains a toxin which poisons their prey.

Powerful Predators

An adult male lion can eat up to 30kg of meat in one ‘sitting’ – then doesn’t need to eat for several days afterwards. I wish I could do that!

nile crocodile
Nile Crocodile - easy to 'shut up'
A Nile crocodile has one of the most powerful bites in the world, at an astonishing 2000kg per square cm! However, the muscles they use to open their mouth with are so weak that you can hold it shut with an elastic band.

Bat-tastic Bat Caves

Mexican free-tailed bats form some of the largest colonies in the animal kingdom, numbering up to 10 million in a single cave!!!

'Lazy Tree Huggers'

koala bear baby mother's back
Koala bear baby on its mother's back
A baby koala spends the first half year of the lives in their mother’s poach, then another half year on her back. After that, they spend the rest of their lives sleeping for 18 hours a day. Nice.

High (and fast and far) Flyers

Ruppell’s vulture flies higher than any other bird, at up to 37,000 feet – which means you might even see one when looking out of an airplane window. Arctic terns fly the farthest, covering 40,000km a year and reaching nearly 1,000,000km in a lifetime! The fastest bird is the peregrine falcon which swoops down on its prey at speeds of over 300km per hour!

Reptile Skin – something we have in common!

Gecko giving a 'hi 5' with its sticky toes
Gecko giving a 'hi 5' with its sticky toes
The skin of reptiles is made of the same stuff as our finger nails – keratin. Speaking of reptiles, the beloved gecko (I say beloved because they eat mosquitoes) has about half a million tiny hairs on the skin of each of their feet, and on each of those hairs are thousands of microscopic ‘stickers’ hence their ability to walk on walls and even ceilings.

David Attenborough: Arkive
David Attenborough: Arkive
I hope you enjoyed learning something from these amazing facts. Nature is truly wonderful. I hope you can enjoy any nature around you, even if it's just a bird in a tree or a 'mooch' around a garden.
If you want to see more, perhaps visit a zoo or natural history museum, like the fascinating Clore Centre in the World Museum, Liverpool. Or if you prefer to discover things from the comfort of your own home, you can learn all kinds of things at the great David Attenborough's nature website, 'Arkive'.

If you have any other cool natural facts, please share them with us...

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