It's a big, wild world out there. The more we find out about it, the more questions we have. It seems that we never stop learning interesting new tidbits of trivia about science, nature, and animals, and every little nugget of information paints the world in a slightly newer shade than we had previously seen. Some facts are scary, some funny, some utterly fascinating, and many hard to believe. But every single one drives home the point that we live in an amazing world.
These are the most amazing things we found out about that world in 2021.
- 1576 VOTES
Mantis Shrimp Have The World's Fastest Punch
The mantis shrimp may not look like one of the more aggressive characters under the sea, but these mean little crustaceans can pack a punch. A simple locking ratchet mechanism in its upper forearm allows it to store energy and then shoot it forward in an impressive jet, snapping out with more acceleration than a .22 caliber bullet and delivering over 1,500 Newtons of force.
Mantis shrimp have been known to use this punch to crack crab shells and break aquarium glass. Not only that, the shrimp's forearm club moves so quickly that it lowers the pressure of the water in front of it, causing it to boil. The release of bubbles when the water pressure normalizes unleashes a great amount of energy, as well, and is called cavitation.
- 2661 VOTES
Overgrazed Acacia Trees Can Send Chemical Signals To Other Trees That Turn Them Lethal
In 1990, Wouter Van Hoven, a zoologist from Pretoria University, investigated the deaths of a herd of 3,000 antelope on a South African game ranch. While observing both the antelope, called kudu, and giraffes, he noticed that the giraffes ate only a few acacia leaves from one tree and avoided anything downwind. The kudu ate everything in sight.
Van Hoven eventually realized that acacia trees send a chemical signal to other trees. The signal is ethylene and can travel up to 50 yards, or 150 feet, warning other acacia trees. Within five to 10 minutes, the "warned" trees boosted tannin levels in their leaves, rendering them poisonous to eat. If the kudu kept eating these leaves, they perished.
- 3405 VOTES
Botfly Eggs Can Get Under Human Skin - Without The Host Ever Going Near A Botfly
Botflies are possibly one of the most disturbing creatures on the planet, mainly because they are parasites whose larvae grow either in the gut or flesh of the host. Unsuspecting travelers to South and Central America often bring home a stowaway along with their souvenirs, but it isn't until the larva starts causing an infection and pain - as it continues to grow and move inside the skin - that the human host becomes aware something is up.
Adult botflies are bumblebee-sized, and hard to miss if one were laying eggs on your skin. However, they are much stealthier than that, "sticking" their eggs onto a mosquito that then carries the eggs to an unlucky victim, either animal or human.
The warmth of the host's skin, combined with the hole made by the mosquito that stopped to get a drink, creates a perfect "welcome home" situation for a larva. So yes, botfly eggs can, quite easily, get under your skin (with larvae living there for months) without you ever encountering a botfly.
- 4317 VOTES
The Blue Whale's Throat Is Smaller Than Your Head
You can cross “getting eaten by a whale” off your list of fears, but only if that whale is blue. Although they’re the largest known living creature on Earth and boast hearts that are as big as a car, blue whales have throats that are on average only 4 to 8 inches in diameter.
For comparison, human throats are about 1 inch in diameter. That’s why blue whales have a diet mostly made of krill - tiny shrimp-looking creatures - and tend to avoid eating humans.
- 5565 VOTES
Rain Once Fell On Earth For About 1 Million To 2 Million Years Nonstop
Around 232 million years ago, rain fell almost everywhere during a span known as the Carnian age. After millions of years of dry climates, Earth entered this wet period, and stayed in it for nearly 2 million years.
Scientists think the Carnian episode contributed to the evolution of dinosaurs because of massive geological changes that took place.
- 6397 VOTES
Male Koalas Have A Double-Headed Member
The privates of a male koala are forked at the end, extending out into two heads. Why? Scientists still aren't quite sure.
The unusual arrangement may be related to the fact that female koalas have three vaginas: two used for fertilization and one for birthing. Kangaroos, wombats and Tasmanian devils also have this structure.