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African animal kingdom is so large and diverse one can hardly be surprised learning about weird and wonderful facts in relation to how they look and behave. But though most of you will probably know that ostriches can sprint at fantastic speeds, elephant calves suck their trunks for comfort, and crocodiles are able to hold their breath for more than 10 minutes underwater, we found a few interesting facts you may not be familiar with. Read on and feel free to share these little fun stories with other animal lovers out there.
Telling you that cheetahs are the fastest land animals will probably not surprise you, but these sprinters demonstrate one or two other interesting features which are not necessarily a matter of common knowledge.
For example, were you aware of cheetahs being the only ones among big cats that can’t roar?
We use another popular expression stemming from the animal world when faced with an insincere emotional display of sorrow. It was believed that crocodiles tend to shed tears while devouring their prey, thinking it was ironic to weep for your victim while eating it. But do crocodiles really cry? You may be surprised to know that these dangerous animals do produce tears, though not as an emotional reaction. Tearing up is actually a way to clean or lubricate crocodile’s eyes, most commonly observed after they’ve spend a while on dry land. In some instances “crying” was observed while feeding as well, but rather than grieving for the croc’s pray, tears were caused by warm air being forced through the animal’s sinuses.
Surely you’ve heard an expression of burying one’s head in the sand, implying they are ignoring an obvious fact in the hope the problem with spontaneously disappear? This popular saying seems to have originated from the supposed behavior of ostriches when faced with an enemy. People believe they are stupid birds which think this would hide them from the predator, as in “if I can’t see them, they can’t see me”. Experts will tell you this is simply a myth, probably born from observing ostriches eating plants on the ground, digging holes for their eggs, or lying flat when they feel threatened. As their heads are small and bodies quite bulky, this could look as if their head was actually buried in the sand. Even if you still think of this large birds as silly and cowardly - they are not! Be careful when near them; they’ve got very powerful legs and can use them to kill a lion with a single strong kick.
The African spurred tortoise, also called the Sulcata tortoise, is the third-largest species in the world, able to grow more than 80 centimetres and weigh over 100 kilograms.
They are very strong animals and will charge at likely and unlikely things. Adult males will ram into the other guys of the same species, attempting to flip them over, and have been known to attack fences and walls – successfully!
Bush babies, known as galagos or nagapies, inhabit tree hollows and sometimes construct nests among the branches.
They use urine to mark their territory as well as tracks leading to their nests, jumping on same branches each time they venture out and return home.
You may have known that, apart from humans, birds and seals also tend to navigate by the stars.
But were you aware the same is done by dung beetles? Who would have thought these muck ball rolling little creatures which always stay close to the ground and often feed below it, are even aware of the skies above?
Yet scientists have proven dung beetles use the Milky Way for orientation, making sure they move in straight lines.
Some say the tongue of a giraffe is so long it can lick its own ear. While we haven’t actually found video footage to support this statement, there’s no denying a giraffe’s tongue is exceptional both in terms of size and colour. Being about 45 cm long could make it physically possible to get rid of ear wax, but it’s more likely you’ll see it used for grasping foliage and cleaning its nose.
The breathing of us humans is an automatic action, it will happen whether we think about it or not, and no matter if we are asleep or awake. With dolphins, that’s not the case. As their breathing is always consciously done, you may wonder how they ever manage to give their brains the rest it needs to function properly.
The way a dolphin will handle this conundrum is by putting only half of the brain to sleep while the other one stays conscious, periodically alternating sides.