Animals Food Misc Musings

Inside Every Fig is a Dead Wasp

figsFigs are not technically a fruit, they are actually more like an inverted flower. These are known as a syconium where flowers and seeds are borne. Due to the fact that the flower is inverted, most pollinating insects cannot get to the pollen. Without pollination the fig tree wouldn’t be able to reproduce.

This is where the fig wasp comes into play. The fig tree and the fig wasp (Blastophaga psenes) have evolved a mutual relationship. The fig tree can only be pollinated with the help of the fig wasp and the fig wasp can only reproduce inside a fig syconium.

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Animals

Slugs Have 27,000 Teeth

SlugThere are around 30 different species of slug in the UK, which provide a  food source for other predators such as birds, hedgehogs and even toads. Slugs have an important role in the ecosystem and are key composters which help to break down decomposing vegetation. However they are notorious for being able to chomp through garden plants and vegetables in a very short period of time. They do this using their teeth!

Slugs average approximately 27,000 ‘teeth’. They need so many teeth  because instead of chewing their food, they have a ribbon-like flexible band of microscopic teeth called a radula. This acts like a circular saw — cutting through vegetation and eating it as they go. When their teeth wear out new rows of teeth move forward and replace them.

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History

The 1875 Great Whiskey Fire of Dublin killed 13 people, all of which died from alcohol poisoning

In 1875 a fire broke out at Malone’s malt house and store house on Chamber Street in Dublin. The fire ignited over 5000 barrels of whiskey which exploded and left the contents pouring into the streets. The incident claimed the lives of 13 people, however, no one died due to the flames or smoke inhalation – all 13 people died from alcohol poisoning.

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Animals

Dolphins Sleep with One Eye Open

dolphin.jpgDolphins and whales often sleep with one eye open in order to avoid being eaten by sharks. The ability to stay partially conscious also allows them to continue to get air while sleeping.

How dolphins handle this is to put one half of their brain to sleep, while the other half is still conscious and functioning.  They then alternate which side is sleeping periodically. They stay in this state for approximately eight hours a day.  Doing this allows them to be conscious enough to control their breathing and periodically swim to the surface and get air, while still giving their brain the rest it needs.

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Animals

In Switzerland it’s Against the Law to Own a Single Guinea Pig

guinea piggoo.jpgSwitzerland has strict animal rights legislation that ensures “social rights” for certain pets, this means that certain animals which are classed as sociable creatures must be accompanied by at least one other of the same species when purchased at a pet store.

Guinea pigs are covered by this legislation, when buying a guinea pig you must also buy a companion of the same species for it to socialise with. This legislation is still valid if one of the pair happens to outlive the other, as such “Rent-A-Guinea Pig” services have become available in Switzerland, where when one of the pair dies, a substitute companion can be rented to ensure that the social life of the Guinea pig remains in tact for the rest of his life. The rented Guinea pig can then be returned to the owner.

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Misc Musings Planet Earth

You Would Not Sink in Lava

Golum in LavaContrary to what you might have seen in movies, if you jumped into lava you would not sink. Lava is nothing like water. Lava is a term used for molten rock on the surface of the earth and is incredibly dense, over 3 times the density of water.

Water has a density of 1000 kg/m3 and Lava has a density of 3100 kg/m3

Humans have a density of around 1010 kg/m3 which is very similar to water and this is the reason that we can float and not sink in water. However lava has a density much higher than our own so we would not sink or float, we would be stuck on the surface.

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Animals History

Pablo Escobar’s Bloat of Hippos

pablopotamusWhen he died in 1993, Pablo Escobar was one of the wealthiest men in the entire world. He made Forbes’ list of international billionaires for seven years straight. His drug empire was worth an estimated $30 billion and, by the end of the 80’s, he supplied 80% of the worlds cocaine.

With this wealth he owned an estate in Antioquia in Columbia. This estate held a private airport, a bullring, a cart racing track, sculpture garden, a collection of dinosaur skeletons and a private zoo filled with various exotic animals including elephants, zebras, giraffes and four hippos, three females and one male.

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Misc Musings

You Can’t Smell Gas

gas_flame

Natural Gas is odorless. It is comprised mainly of methane which does not smell, however when you turn on the gas on your stove it gives off a very strong stench!

This is because of a chemical known as Mercaptan (also known as Thiol). This is added to Natural gas in order to make it smell! It is a harmless gas which is a waste product of normal metabolism and is found naturally in living organisms.

The chemical features very few useful qualities, bar one, it gives off an incredibly pungent smell. Even in the smallest quantities the human nose can still detect it. It is the world’s smelliest substance and is unbearable in its concentrated form.

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Animals

Why are Flamingos Pink?

FlamingosFlamingos are one of the most iconic creatures in the animal kingdom, easily identified by their bright pink plumage. However when Flamingos were first brought to zoos from the wild, the keepers were dismayed to find they lost their bright pink colour and turned a grey/white shade.

It turns out the secret to the flamingo’s pink feathers comes from their diet. In the wild flamingos eat algae and invertebrates that contain things called carotenoids. Carotenoids contain pigments which dissolve in the flamingos fats and are then deposited in the growing feathers of the flamingo giving them their colour. If this is removed from the diet of the flamingo then the colour will be lost and feathers come through as their natural grey colour.

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