10 Animal Facts You Probably Didn’t Know Part IV

10 Animal Facts You Probably Didn’t Know Part IV

More Nature Knowledge

1. Octopuses have three hearts

Octopus_vulgaris_2

First of all, yes, that is the plural of octopus. And they do, indeed, have three hearts. Two of them carry blood beyond the gills while the third heart maintains a steady blood flow to the organs. This heart actually stops beating while the octopus swims.

2. Elephants use their trunks like snorkels

Photo: Lee Berger via Wiki Commons

Photo: Lee Berger via Wiki Commons

What can’t elephants do with those things? Well, we already established that elephants don’t use their trunks like straws and suck in water through them (except in cartoons), but they can use them as snorkels when crossing a lake or river. Sometimes, elephants submerged all the way until only the tip of their trunks remains above water.

3. The sea otter can drink sea water

Photo: Mrkoww via Wiki Commons

Photo: Mrkoww via Wiki Commons

This is unusual behavior among marine mammals, but it is not exclusive to the sea otter. It doesn’t have to do it regularly as the sea otter usually gets its water content from prey. However, in a pinch, the sea otter’s kidneys are capable of extracting fresh water from salty sea water.

4. Sloths only come down from the trees to poop

Photo Ontley via Wiki Commons

Photo Ontley via Wiki Commons

The sloth is an adorable, but weird creature. Given how slow it is, it’s a wonder that it has survived this long. The only advantage it has is the safety of the tree tops. However, for reasons we’re still not sure of, the sloth abandons its safe haven, climbs down to the ground and becomes completely vulnerable, all in order to take a bathroom break.

The sloth has to do this about once a week but we’re not really sure why. Some think sloths want to fertilize their trees while others claim the colonies of moths that typically live in the sloth’s fur will “jump ship” and leap on the poop to lay their eggs. Whatever the reason, most experts agree there is some kind of symbiosis at work here and that sloths are getting something in exchange for all of their hard work.

5. The mangrove killifish can go two months without water

Photo: Montykillies via Wiki Commons

Photo: Montykillies via Wiki Commons

Fish are supposed to need water in order to survive. That’s like Animal Facts 101, but the killifish didn’t get the memo. They have all kinds of quirks that allow them to survive in water-poor environments. Some species of killifish live in Africa and have an incredibly short life cycle that only lasts for the rainy season. During the dry season, all that’s left are the killifish eggs that stay in a dormant state until the water comes back.

Even weirder is the mangrove killifish. For starters, it’s the only known vertebrate hermaphrodite in the world that can fertilize itself. This means that the mangrove killifish is capable of producing clones that are genetically identical. It’s also able to breathe through its skin, not just the gills. This allows the killifish to last for up to 66 days without water during the dry season which is why you can sometimes find this fish in trees.

6. Gorillas sleep in new nests every night

Photo: Andrew Doherty via Flickr

Photo: Andrew Doherty via Flickr

These nests can be either on the ground or in trees depending on the location (and silverbacks typically sleep on the ground since there aren’t many trees that can take their weight). Each gorilla is responsible for building its own nest except for infants that still sleep with their mothers. The oddest thing about it is that gorillas will still build a new nest every night even if it’s close to the nest they slept in the previous night.

7. Groups of penguins called rookeries can contain thousands of individuals

Penguin rookery

All species of penguin are social animals that prefer to live in groups. However, some of the larger species like the emperor penguin spend most of their time in giant groups called “rookeries”. Thousands of penguins can be part of the same rookery, but their unique calls prevent the mates and their offspring from getting lost among the sea of birds.

8. The water deer has tusks instead of antlers

Water deer

Deer are known for their stunning pairs of antlers that they proudly display on their heads, but not all species have them. Musk deer don’t have antlers, instead sporting long, elongated tusk-like teeth and, as their name suggests, a musk gland. Because of this they are not considered to be part of cervids or true deer.

Even so, there is a type of true deer that lacks the signature antlers – the water deer. It comes in two subspecies – the Chinese and Korean varieties – and both have tusks instead of antlers despite being labeled cervids. In modern times, the water deer has made its way to parts of Europe and America where, due to its unique look, it is commonly referred to as the vampire deer.

9. There is a slug named after a “Game of Thrones” character

Photo: Youtube

Photo: Youtube

A new sea slug described in 2013 was named Tritonia khaleesi in honor of Daenerys Targaryen from “Game of Thrones. The researchers made this decision after the slug’s pale plums reminded them of khaleesi’s long, blond hair.

10. Giraffe fur smells bad but keeps away parasites

Photo: Peter Halasz via Wiki Commons

Photo: Peter Halasz via Wiki Commons

We’ve noticed for a long time that giraffe fur can smell really, really bad, especially on the older males, but we weren’t really sure why. As it turns out, the fur is full of chemicals that come with all kinds of benefits. The chemicals contain antibiotics and parasite repellents, but come with the unpleasant side effect of a pungent odor that we find really unappealing.

 

Want more animal facts? Click for Part 1 or Part 2 or Part 3.