The animal kingdom is full of surprises. Animals have evolved to perfectly suit their surroundings, from the way they communicate to the food that they eat to the way they find a mate.
Some animal behaviors are just downright wacky. Did you know that wombats have cube shapes poops? Keep reading to find out why. I promise it’s not because they have cube-shaped butts. Also, read on to find out which creature vomits by expelling its entire stomach.
Pigeons Can Detect Cancer
Pigeons can be trained to do some crazy things. Through some good ol’ classical conditioning, pigeons can learn to tell the difference between paintings by Pablo Picasso and paintings by Claude Monet.
Pigeons can also be trained to read histology slides and detect the presence of breast cancer cells about as well as the average pathologist. The next time you call someone a “bird brain,” you may want to rethink the meaning of that phrase.
Sea Otters Have Super Dense Fur
Sea otters hold hands while they sleep so they don’t drift away from each other. They also have the densest fur in the entire animal kingdom. That super thick fur helps keep them warm in frigid waters. These marine mammals don’t have blubber or a thick fat layer like seals and sea lions.
They have to constantly groom themselves to keep their fur in good condition. Otters also have little folds of skin under their armpits where they can store leftover bits of food.
Wombats Poop Cubes
Wombat poop is cube shaped. That’s right, cubed poop. No, they don’t have a square shaped anus, but their intestines aren’t exactly perfectly cylindrical either. Their poop is square because of the wombat’s slow digestive process. Their scat becomes super dry and compacted, which is why it comes out looking oddly geometric.
Wombats are little marsupials from Australia. These little creatures are herbivores, which means that they like to snack on grass, plants, and seeds.
An Ostrich’s Eyes Don’t Leave Much Room For Its Brain
An ostrich eye is bigger than its brain. An ostrich’s eye is about the size of a billiard ball. The eye takes up so much room in an ostrich’s skull the there’s barely any room for a brain. That might be why ostriches aren’t very good at outsmarting predators.
They’re good at running quickly, but sometimes they end up running in a circle. Ok, maybe we can go back to using that “bird brain” insult.
Binturongs Smell Like Popcorn
Bearcats (also known as binturongs) smell like buttered popcorn. These tree-dwelling mammals are native to South and Southeast Asia.
Their musk glands release a distinctive buttery and salty odor. This odor may exist to attract animals of the opposite sex, although it’s more likely that the pleasant smell (that actually comes from their urine) is a byproduct of other biological processes. If you have to smell like something, delicious buttered popcorn isn’t a bad choice.
Baby Porcupines Get Their Quills Very Quickly
Porcupine needles are only soft and pliable for the first 30 minutes of the porcupine’s life. Pretty soon after a baby porcupine has been born, its spines will begin to stiffen and become prickly. Within a few days, their quills are fully developed.
Those spines are the porcupine’s only defense against a world of predators. Little ones have to grow up and grow quills fast if they want to survive. You definitely don’t want to get in an angry porcupine’s way.
Fifty Percent Of Orangutans Have Broken Bones
Have you ever wondered how orangutans can swing around in the jungle so easily without getting injured? Well, they do get injured. Quite regularly, in fact. Around 50 percent of orangutans have fractured bones because they fall out of trees so often. Luckily, their bones can heal pretty well without medical intervention, and they can get right back to swinging.
Orangutans who live in captivity don’t get injured as often because they don’t have access to super tall trees.
Frogs Expell Their Stomachs Instead Of Vomiting
Frogs can’t vomit. If a frog has to vomit because it’s eaten something that it can’t digest, it will just vomit its entire stomach. This is called full gastric eversion.
After the stomach is expelled and emptied (the frog will use it’s front legs to remove food from the stomach hanging out of its mouth), the frog will tuck its stomach back into its body. This is a whole new kind of disgusting. Regular vomit might just be less gross.
Giraffes Have Black Tongues
If you’ve ever seen a giraffe’s tongue, you’ve probably noticed that it’s very long and very dark. In fact, giraffes have black tongues. Some scientists think that giraffes have black tongues so they won’t get sunburnt while they’re eating from tall trees. Melanin (the pigment that makes skin darker) absorbs the sun’s UV rays so that DNA doesn’t have to.
That’s why you’ll never see a giraffe with a sunburnt tongue. They have built-in sun protection.
Octopuses Have Three Hearts
An octopus has three hearts. Two of the hearts pump blood to their gills, while the third heart pumps blood to the rest of their body. Humans only have one heart, but our hearts have four chambers. The right side of our hearts pumps blood into our lungs, and the left side pumps blood into our bodies— so in a small way, we’re kind of like octopuses.
Octopuses also have a beak under their bodies in the middle of their mouths.
Tigers Have Striped Skin
Tiger’s don’t just have striped fur, they also have striped skin. A tiger’s stripes help disguise the outline of their body. The black stripes look like shadows as they pass through long grass while stalking prey.
Tigers usually prey on deer and wild boar. The striped pattern on their fur helps them blend in so they can sneak up on unsuspecting prey. A tiger’s stripes are like its fingerprint. No two tigers have the same stripe pattern.
Butterflies Taste With Their Feet
Butterflies don’t have taste buds on their tongues, so they taste with their feet. Butterflies can’t really bite or chew. They mostly just suck up nectar from plants with their long tongues.
When they land on a plant, they use their feet to figure out if what they’re standing on is something they’d like to eat for lunch. We’re pretty lucky we don’t taste with our feet, though. so don’t have to know what the inside of our shoes tastes like.
Vampire Bat Saliva Has Anticoagulant Properties
Vampire bat saliva keeps blood from clotting. Vampire bats live off of the blood of other animals. When they bite an animal, they want that animal’s blood to flow freely. Luckily (for them), evolution gave them a neat adaptation.
Their saliva works as an anticoagulant. Anticoagulants stop blood cells from sticking together. That way the bats can drink blood to their hearts’ content. Who knew blood was so delicious? The bats certainly seem to like it.
Tortoises Come In Different Colors Depending On Where They’re From
Toirtises from hotter places are lighter in color. If you live in a cold climate, you’re probably used to seeing tortoises that are dark brown or even black in color. If you live in a warm climate, you’ll notice that the tortoises in your area (like the African spurred tortoise) are more of a light tan color.
That’s because light colors reflect heat and dark colors absorb it. Turtles in cold areas need all the help they can get to keep warm.
Stingrays Never See Their Food
Stingrays never see what they eat. Their eyes are located on either side of their heads and their mouth is located underneath their bodies. Their sense of smell is much better than their sense of sight, though, so they use smell to find food.
Their undersides are white so that they blend in with the ocean’s surface, and their tops are darker so that predators attacking from above can’t see them against the ocean floor.
Penguins Are Excellent At Co-Parenting
Penguin parents take turns sitting on their eggs. When the male penguin leaves the nest to find food, it’s often hard for them to find their way back to their partners. The male penguins will let out a scream that their female partners recognize.
Then the females will scream back so the males know where to go. Each penguin has a unique call that can be identified by other penguins amid all of the screaming.
Llamas Bite Off Each Other’s Testicles During Mating Season
llamas are quite competitive when it comes to mating. Male llamas will actually bite off the testicles of other male llamas to get rid of their competition.
I don’t think that kind of behavior would fly in the human dating scene, although it’s even surprising that it’s acceptable for llamas. I guess you just really don’t want to get in between a male llama and the lady llama he’s trying to make babies with. Stay safe, boys.
Hippos Have Red “Sweat”
Hippos have red sweat that kind of looks like blood. This “blood sweat” doesn’t come from sweat glads, so it’s not actually sweat. The substance comes from mucous glands that are located all over the hippo’s body. The red mucus helps protect hippos from sunburn and it keeps their skin moist.
Imagine how much money you would save on sunscreen and moisturizer with that unique adaptation? You would constantly be red and slimy though, so maybe spending money on creams isn’t so bad.
Horned Lizards Shoot Blood Out Of Their Eyes
Speaking of blood-like substances, horned lizards can squirt actual blood from their eyes. When a horned lizard feels threatened by a predator, it can squirt a continuous stream of blood from its eyes as a defence mechanism. This is the stuff that horror movies are made of, people. Nature is full of spooky creatures.
Why blood? Why can’t these lizards squirt something nicer from their eyes, like rainbows or something? I guess that wouldn’t be very frightening.
Killer Whales Can Learn New Languages
Killer whales can learn to speak dolphin. Each killer whale pod actually develops its own unique dialect. Killer whales from different groups don’t even speak the same language. However, scientists published a study in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America that revealed that when housed with dolphins, orcas were able to pick up the dolphins’ language.
Now we just need killer whales to learn to speak human languages. Now that would be surprising.