When 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.
Flamingos 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.
Dolphins are mammals, which means, like us, they require fresh water to survive. But how to do they get water? They live in the sea, which contains a large amount of water but unfortunately this is salt water, which for mammals can cause kidney damage and dehydration if drank in excess. They actually obtain their water through eating other animals such as fish and squid whose bodies contain a high amount of fresh water. They eat them whole and as they are broken down inside the dolphin the water is released and absorbed.
But how do they get fresh water before they can hunt?
In Hawaii in the 1800’s the sugar industry was facing problems from the growing rat population which was eating through their sugar plantations and costing them a lot of money. In order to try and control the rat population, a predator was introduced to the islands, in 1833 Mongooses, which are originally native to India, were let loose in the fields of Hawaii to end the rat threat to the agriculture.
However this decision seemed to be incredibly misinformed, rats are a nocturnal animal which means they are only active at night and spend the days hidden away in nests, however the Mongoose is diurnal, which means they only hunt in the daytime and nest at night so the two animals would never encounter each other!
It is called the Schmidt Pain Index and is the work of Justin O. Schmidt, who has been stung by 78 types of venomous insect and documented his experiences.
The stings are ranked from 0, which is quite harmless, to a 4 which is excruciatingly painful. Alongside the numerical rating of the stings, Schmidt also writes a sentence or two about his experience, for example the Bullet Ant, rated the highest on the scale, features the following sentence: “Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail grinding into your heel.”
The Bullet Ant is rated highest on the pain index, as it is not only excruciatingly painful but the pain can remain just as intense for up to 5 hours after being stung and can remain for up to 24 hours.
Terminal Velocity is a phrase used to describe the maximum constant speed that a falling object can reach before it cannot accelerate any further. This happens when the air resistance pushing the object up becomes equal to the force of gravity pulling the object down. The terminal velocity of a human being is 120mph, as such, should you manage to reach this speed while falling and hit the ground you would most likely end up in a bad way.
However, an ant is so light that should you choose to throw one off the top of a skyscraper and it reached its terminal velocity, it would only be travelling at 3.9mph, due to its size and weight the air resistance acting against the ant is so strong that gravity cannot physically pull it down to earth any faster. Due to the slow speed and the ant’s strong exoskeleton which braces it for impact, they do not suffer any damage from falling at any height and the impact would have been the same as if it had fallen a few centimetres.
Ants are one of the oldest species of insect on Earth and inhabit almost every landmass today. It is an interesting fact that the total biomass of all the ants on the earth is roughly equal to the biomass of all the humans, how can this be when they are so tiny? Simple, there are around 1.5 million ants on the planet for every human and over 12,000 different species, for every single acre of land in the rainforest there are estimated to be 3.5 million ants.
One of the more interesting species of ant are the Cephalotes ants, more fondly known as the door-headed ants. These ants make their nests in holes in trees formed by wood boring beetles, however there are other ants and insects that also want to live inside these nests or even eat the ants, that’s why they need a door to keep other nosy insects out. The ants don’t use a block of wood like we do, they use their own heads.