Animals surprise people and scientists continuously. Ongoing research keeps revealing things we didn’t know about specific creatures and some of these findings are truly awesome. While there are way too many awe-inspiring animals in the world to fit on one list, here are 15 facts to show the awesomeness of just some of them.
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15 Goats prefer happy people
A study in 2018 revealed that not only can goats read human facial expressions; they also prefer interacting with people who are happy. A team of scientists at Queen Mary University of London detailed how 20 goats were shown images of both happy and angry human facial expressions and determined that they preferred looking at the happy face images. It was also determined that this happened particularly when the happy face images were on the right side of the goats, causing them to use the left hemisphere of their brains to assist in processing happy emotions.
14 Whales used to walk on land
Whales are awesome full stop. However, they used to be even more badass back in the day (around 50 million years ago to be exact). Some of the earliest descendants of the modern whale looked nothing like the majestic mammals we know today; they walked on four legs and hunted both small land animals and freshwater fish. Known as Pakicetus, this animal eventually evolved to cope with their changing environment.
13 Bigfoot may have been a lemur
There is a lot more to lemurs than the Madagascar movie franchise will have you believe. In total, there are a staggering 105 different species of lemurs. And once upon a time they all used to be the size of gorillas. Lemurs are native only to Madagascar and the Comoro Islands and thrive in dry- or rainforests as well as wetlands and mountains. In the late 19th century it was discovered that the lemur had a prehistoric primate ancestor and it was given the name Megaladapis meaning ‘giant lemur’. A very interesting fact about Megaladapis is that it may have started the legend of Bigfoot. When human settlers arrived in Madagascar, the Megaladapis was not yet extinct and it is believed that encounters with the massive creatures may have given rise to the legend.
12 Crows leave gifts
When Gabi Man was four years old, she was always accidently dropping food wherever she went. Unbeknownst to her, a bunch of crows would swoop in to sweep whatever she dropped. As she grew older, she took more notice of the birds and started leaving food out for them including her school lunches. Eventually the crows started thanking her in a heart-warming manner. They would leave her little gifts such as polished rocks, an earring and a small piece of metal with the word ‘best’ on it. The gifts would be left after they finished off the peanuts left in a birdfeeder by Gabi. By the time Gabi was 8 years old, the birds had left her a whole host of gifts. A crow even once returned Gabi’s camera lens cap to her after she misplaced it.
11 A zebra’s coat can be used as a barcode
In 2011 a team of researchers came up with an alternative idea to track wild zebras that didn’t involve the use of RFID chips. They developed a system called StripeSpotter with which they were able to isolate a portion of a zebra, photograph it and then cut it up into horizontal bands. Each pixel in the selected portion is converted to black or white and the horizontal bands are encoded to StripeStrings which eventually are made into a StripeCode which looks a lot like a barcode. The information is then stored in a database which researchers can use to identify animals without having to approach them directly.
10 A fish used to be a Roman party drug
Known as ‘the fish that make dreams’, eating salema porgy heads is known for causing hallucinations. You wouldn’t say there is anything out of the ordinary about this fish just by looking at it, but the Ancient Romans soon figured out its weird secret and ingested this fish as a recreational drug during the time of the Roman Empire. Polynesians also ate the salema porgy during ‘special events.’ In 1994 a man found himself surrounded by screaming animals after eating a baked salema porgy on the French Riviera. In 2006, two men ate the fish at a Mediterranean restaurant and experienced hallucinations, both auditory and visual.
9 Lulu the kangaroo was a heroine
Lulu the kangaroo was rescued from her dead mother’s pouch in 1998 by the Richards family, who took her into their home and raised her. Little did they know that this act of kindness would prove to be one of the best things they’d ever do. In 2003, Len Richards was knocked unconscious when a tree branch fell on him at his home. Lulu literally raised the alarm by standing a couple of hundred metres away from the house and “barking” until family members came over to see if there was a problem. When they found Lulu, she was standing next to Len and the family rushed him to hospital. Luckily, he wasn’t severely injured and was released the same day. Lulu became an instant heroine and journalists from all over the world called the Richards family to have a story written about the incident.
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8 A village of wolves
While many adult male animals are aggressive towards their young and sometimes even kill them, it is very different with wolves. It is almost as if they adopt the human saying: ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Every member of the pack pitches in, male and female, to help care for and raise wolf cubs. It has also been found that some female wolves in a pack go through pseudo-pregnancies which makes them feel like parenting and therefore they are also involved in ‘rearing’ wolf cubs.
7 A herd of elephants mourned The Elephant Whisperer
Elephants are emotive creatures with excellent memories. They become emotional when they experience the death of a herd member and sometimes cover their dead with soil or grass. Elephants also grieve when humans, who they have a connection with, die. When Lawrence Anthony, otherwise known as The Elephant Whisperer, died in South Africa in 2012, two elephant herds he had worked with showed up at his nature reserve home shortly afterwards. The herds hadn’t visited the home for 18 months and it took them around 12 hours to get there. They stuck around for about two days and then left again. Lawrence Anthony devoted his life to calming traumatised elephants and he also recued animals from the Baghdad Zoo during the Iraqi invasion.
6 Crocodiles can gallop
Awesome might not be the word that comes to mind when most people think of crocodiles, but the fact is that they truly are. When they sleep with their mouths open, it doesn’t mean they are waiting to attack; they are actually releasing heat as they don’t sweat. They can sleep with one eye open and they can hold their breath underwater for more than an hour. Even more surprising perhaps is the fact that some crocodiles can gallop. In the early 2000s researchers studied five crocodile species; African dwarf crocodile, African slender snouted crocodile, Cuban crocodile, Philippine crocodile and the American crocodile and found that all of them were able to bound and gallop.
5 Arab horses have been around as long as the Egyptian pyramids
Horses can sleep standing up or lying down. They communicate their feelings through facial expressions, and they have better night vision than humans. The oldest domestic horse in history was Old Billy who lived to the age of 62. The oldest surviving breed of horse, the Arab, has been around for an estimated 4,500 years. Arabian horses are called so because most experts agree that they originated in the Arabian Peninsula. George Washington, Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte and Genghis Khan all owned Arabian horses.
4 Cows form close friendships
Cows are not only large, placid animals that dot the countryside. They are very intelligent creatures that prefer the company of their ‘best friends.’ A 2019 study saw cows penned for 30-minute intervals, first with a best friend and then again with a cow they did not know. During both intervals, the heart rates of the cows were measured. The results showed that when a cow was penned with a friend, their heart rates were low, and they were less stressed. The study also proved that cows have a level of personality and an urge to form a connection with others of their kind.
3 Cats have healing power
Cats are one of the most popular pet choices in the world. They meow to communicate with their owners and can jump up to six times its body length in a single leap. Their noses are as unique as a human’s fingerprint and they have three eyelids. What’s more, cats sometimes have the power to heal themselves. A domesticated cat’s purr has a frequency of between 25 and 150 Hertz which is also the frequency at which bones and muscles grow and repair themselves. It might also help humans such as astronauts who experience bone density loss and muscle atrophy during long periods at zero gravity.
2 Sea otters hold hands while sleeping
Sea otters are very cute little marine animals that have the densest fur of any animal on earth. They use rocks as tools for hunting and feeding and they can live their entire lives in water. The cutest thing about them is that when they fall asleep in the water, they ‘hold hands’ so that they do not drift away from each other. This is quite common with mothers and their pups and shows how intelligent these animals are. Should a pup be too small to hold hands with its mother he hitches a ride on her belly. When the mother goes hunting, she wraps her pups in seaweed to ensure they don’t float off.
1 Alpacas are water and fire resistant
Alpacas are quirky-looking, fluffy animals with a penchant for continuous chewing and spitting. They are very sociable and should not be kept alone. They are also water and fire resistant; well at least their fleece is! Any products made from their fibre is flame retardant and wicks away moisture. What’s more, being around alpacas is very therapeutic and they are often taken to hospitals to bring healing and joy, especially to children.
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