Monday, December 10, 2012

23-Fact Tuesdays: Polar Bear Celebrations, Eccentric Artists, and Unicorn Horns!

Welcome to our third "23-Fact Tuesday" which are never on Tuesdays.  I believe that this one is actually closer to a Tuesday than we ever have been before, however, so that's got to count for something!  I'd also like to thank Mona Kamath for her help on this post!  Enjoy!

1.  Despite the fact that polar bears are generally solitary, they gather annually in places like the city of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, where they congregate together prior to the freezing of the sea ice.  When they gather in groups like this, the group is called a "Celebration." 

2.  The eccentric and incredibly odd (though undeniably gifted) artist Salvador Dalí had a pet ocelot named Babou.  He also had a pretty righteous mustache, if I do say so myself.

3.  In 1663, the German scientist Otto von Guericke "reconstructed" the mythical unicorn using the fossilized bones of a mammoth, a woolly rhinoceros, and the horn of a narwhal.  This reconstruction managed to legitimately fool some people, including Gottfriend Wilhelm Leibniz, the famous German philosopher and mathematician, who reportedly was dubious about the existence of the unicorn prior to this "reconstruction," but was convinced by Guericke's "fossil."  

4.  From wing tip to wing tip, Hatzegopteryx measured an astonishing 46 feet!

5.  Gasosaurus, a dinosaur that was described in the year 1985, was named "Gas-Lizard" because it was discovered by a Chinese gas-mining company.

6.  In order to hover and move in any direction, the hummingbird, often nick-named "nature's helicopter" moves its wings in a figure-eight pattern, as opposed to the up-and-down motion typical of other birds.

7.  Cotylorhynchus, one of the largest pelycosaurs, is quite possibly the funniest-looking extinct animal I have ever, ever seen.  It was also discovered by my 9th grade Language Arts teacher's great great uncle, J. Willis Stovall, a famous paleontologist

8.  One of the elephants at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is named Kimba, which means "Poop" (I used the nicer term for what the word actually means there) or "Corpse" in Swahili.

9.  Speaking of poop, fossil poop is known as a "coprolite."

10.  The acrobatic margay can rotate its ankles 180 degrees, which allows it to descend tree trunks head-first and hold on to branches with either their front or back paws.

11.  The white-tailed deer is named for the white patch on its rump and tail, while the mule deer is named for the fact that its face resembles that of a mules.

12.  About a third of the extant mammalian species are rodents.

13.  Hopping, the method of locomotion preferred by the kangaroos, is actually much more efficient than walking.  Of course, this is only the case if you have evolved in that fashion.  It wouldn't just be more energy efficient if we started hopping around everywhere.  

14.  Although you often hear people mention the "saber-toothed tigers," this is actually a bit of a misnomer, due to the fact that the saber-toothed cats to which they are referring to are not actually tigers, and are simply just cats.  

15.  The sweat of the Hippopotamus, is red or pink, leading people to aptly refer to it as "blood-sweat."

16.  Despite the fact that the polar bear has white fur, the color of its skin is the complete opposite: jet-black.  Talk about Yin/Yang right there.

17.  Island dwarfism is suspected to have occurred in one of our human relatives, Homo floresiensis, who inhabited the island of Flores in Indonesia up until around 12,000 years ago.  The nick-name for this ancient human is "The Hobbit." 

18.  The word "Mona" means "monkey" in Spanish.  Sure would suck if that was your name now wouldn't it!

19.  In Hindu culture, owls are a sign of bad luck.  That double sucks if you are Hindi and terrified of birds.

20.  Speaking of owls, due to the fact that they have binocular, or stereoscopic, vision (unlike other birds of prey, who have an eye on each side of its head), they have evolved the ability to turn their heads around 270 degrees in either direction.  Must be tough for them to crack their necks.

21.  Despite the fact that the creature in the picture below looks like a raccoon, it is not: that, my friends, is the raccoon dog!

22.  The tusks of the elephants are actually greatly elongated incisor teeth.  For reference, tap your front two teeth on the top or bottom of your mouth, it doesn't matter which, they are the same.  Those are your incisor teeth, you have two on each side of your mouth, eight all together.  

23.  In the narwhal, however, the tusk is their canine teeth, which (at least in our mouths) are the teeth right next to our incisors, towards the outside of our mouths. 

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