Animals Planet Earth

What is The Schmidt Sting Pain Index?

Angry-HornetIt 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.

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Animals

Ants Can Fall from Any Height Without Dying

AntTerminal 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.

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Animals

There is a Species of Ant that has a Door for a Head

Door Head AntAnts 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.

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Animals

There is a Species of Jellyfish that is Biologically Immortal

JellyfishJellyfish are very bizarre, they have no eyes, no heart, no brain and are very simple organisms. They are similar to bacteria in that they do not “think” but more react to stimuli in order to escape or feed. In nature, there is one Jellyfish that is weirder than all the rest and that is called  Turritopsis Dohrnii or more commonly dubbed “The Immortal Jellyfish”.

Whilst the Jellyfish itself may be quite a simple organism, its life cycle is not. In the development of a full adult jellyfish, the organism goes through several very distinct and different phases in its life. The Jellyfish life starts, as with ours, with a sperm and an egg, once the egg has been fertilized and has developed, the jellyfish hatch as Planula Larva and swim out on their own. These are tiny oval shaped organisms with small hairs called cilia which help propel them through the water. This stage of life is fairly short-lived and after a few days the Planula Larva drops to the bottom of the ocean floor and attaches itself to the rock and transforms
into what is called a Polyp.

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Animals History

The Tower of London Used to be Home to a Polar Bear

blairslondontower28The first record of wild animals at the Tower of London was in 1210 during the reign of King John. The monarch would receive the animals as gifts from other powerful rulers at the time, often to impress others or to show the wealth and strength of the ruler. The exotic animals were sent to London from all over the world and kept in the Tower of London as a symbol of power as well as for the curiosity and entertainment of the court.

King Henry III was particularly credited with establishing the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London. In 1235 he was given 3 lions as a wedding gift by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III, he was also presented with a polar bear from King Haakon of Norway in 1251, the bear was given a particularly long leash to enable him to swim and catch fish in the Thames river. One of the more unusual animals was a large male African Elephant which was presented to King Henry III from King Louis IX of France in 1255, being the first of its kind to reach the shores of Britain, this large and unusual creature was said to cause quite a stir and the people of London flocked to catch a glimpse of the giant grey beast.

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Animals

In 1932 Australia Waged a War against Emus

emuIn the wake of World War One, Australia rewarded its Veterans with the Soldier Settlement Scheme, this was where soldiers were given small grants of agricultural land to grow crops. The soldiers were given low-interest loans and provided with building supplies for the farmhouse, shed and fences and were able to pay off the loans once they had become fully established and started selling produce.

Some veterans settled in Western Australia on the fringes of the habitat of Emus, which are large flightless birds similar to ostriches which are native to Australia. They have long necks and legs and are known to grow up to 2m (6ft) in height and can run up to 40 mph, covering 9 foot in a single stride. They also weren’t opposed to wandering into the farmers fields and gobbling up their crops, to the point where the Australian government changed the Emus status from “endangered” to “vermin” as they continued to invade the veterans agricultural land in the wake of the first world war.

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Animals

The Real Winners of the Falklands War, Were the Penguins

cute-penguin-34

The 19th Century was a popular time for the whaling industry, particularly on the Falklands Islands. Whalers needed fuel in order to render whale blubber into whale oil, which would then be sold. But a lack of trees in the area meant that using wood to keep a fire going would not be not a sustainable option. However, there was another plentiful resource that made a suitable fuel; penguins.

This is an unfortunate truth. Penguins have highly flammable fat under their skin and they are quite docile in nature, making them easy to catch. Whalers burned them by the thousands, and the population of penguins in the Falklands Islands plummeted until there was a devastating change to their environment in the 1980’s; the Falklands War.

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Animals History

The Canary Islands Were Not Named After Birds

Canary (Serinus canaria)The Spanish name Islas Canarias (Canary Islands) is derived from the Latin Canariae Insulae which translates to “Isle of Dogs”. The Romans sent an expedition to the islands in 40 BC under the command of King Juba II of Mauritania in Western Africa and upon arriving at the first island (which is now known as Gran Canaria) they discovered the land to be overrun by packs of large wild dogs. These dogs were presented to King Juba and he decided to name the islands “The Islands of Dogs”, a name which has been kept to this day.

Canaries, the small, yellow birds are actually named after the islands as they were indigenous to the region and not the other way around. They were eventually brought to the rest of the world by the Spanish in the 17th Century. The Canary Islands national flag still features Dogs that the islands were named after.

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Animals

There is a Centipede in South America that Eats Bats

Megarian-Banded-Centipede-Scolopendra-cingulataWhat is the difference between a Centipede and a Millipede? Not just the number of legs as the name might suggest. There are many differences between the two, the main one being that Millipedes are scavengers and feed primarily on decaying organic matter and also eat the roots and leaves of plants, however Centipedes are a predator.

Centipedes come equipped with modified front legs, which are loaded with a deadly venom that they can use to hunt and kill small creatures, most common centipedes (like the ones you might find in your garden) use this venom to hunt small insects and arachnids. However, there is a type of centipede in South America called Scolopendra gigantea or as it is more commonly known; the Amazonian Giant Centipede, which is the largest of all centipedes, known to grow to up to 35cm long (the length of a man’s arm!). These terrifying creatures are known to thrive in dark caves and feast on lizards, frogs, mice, snakes and even birds and bats.

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Animals Food

The Greenland Shark is so Slow it Can Only Eat Something if it is Asleep, Dead or Wanders into its Mouth

6376473_origOne of the most peculiar animals I have come across is the rare Greenland Shark, these massive creatures can grow up to 24 feet long and live in the cold Arctic waters around Greenland, Iceland and Canada where temperatures can be as low as -1°C.  To preserve their energy in these cold waters they swim very slowly at less than 1 mile an hour, exerting their energy they can achieve a burst of speed that reaches 1.7 miles per hour but as their main prey, the Seal, can swim at speeds of around 6 mph, this doesn’t do the shark much good!

Due to the slow swimming speed of the shark, trying to grab a meal is quite an issue, researchers have learned that they are most likely ambush predators, waiting until their prey is asleep (usually Seals in the water) and then slowly approaching. They have also been found to be scavengers and eat carrion (dead and decaying flesh of animals) and they are not picky eaters either. Researchers have found many different and unusual animals in the stomachs of Greenland Sharks including polar bears, horses, moose and even an entire reindeer!

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