How did the Platypus Get its Name, What does it Mean, and Why did the British think it was a Hoax?

platypus

We don’t know what the local aborigines thought when they first saw what they called a tambreet, or boonaburra in the Mallangong language. Although an aboriginal myth about how the platypus evolved has to do with a teenage duck disobeying her father by going ashore and getting raped by a water rat. The name “platypus” … Read more

What does the Platypus Use its Bill for and is the Egg Laying Mammal Venomous?

platypus bill

The platypus has a rubbery bill which makes it possible to shovel up mollusks and other food from the water. It has been discovered recently that the platypus’s bill has thousands of touch-sensitive and electro-sensitive pores. The latter can detect weak electric currents from the muscle activity of prey and perhaps even electric fields from … Read more

Is the Emu the Mascot for Eastern Michigan University and Eastern Mennonite University?

emu

There aren’t any Fightin’ Emus at EMU, nor are they the mascot of the other significant EMU, Eastern Mennonite University. That’s too bad, because the name would sort of make sense, and not just because of the EMU initials. After all, Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti is overshadowed by its larger, more prestigious relative, the … Read more

Where do Koala Bears Live and Why are they not really Bears?

koala bear

The koala is an herbivorous marsupial that lives in Australia, and is also known by it’s scientific name Phascolarctos cinereus. Although cute and teddybear-like, koalas are no more related to bears than they are to elephants. Koalas are marsupials, and their closest living relative is the wombat. English-speaking settlers from the late 18th century first … Read more

How many of Australia’s 140 Species of Native Snakes are Poisonous and Do They Include Sea Snakes?

olive sea snake

Most of Australia’s 140 Species of Native Snakes are Poisonous. Of the world’s top twenty-five most poisonous snakes, twenty-one of them are in Australia, including sea snakes that are two to ten times more poisonous than cobras. Sea snakes are venomous snakes that have evolved from terrestrial ancestors, and live in marine environments for most … Read more

How was the Dingo the First Non-Native Animal Species Imported to Australia by Humans and When?

australian dingo

The dingo was the first non-native animal species imported to Australia by people, and as with subsequent importations, the results have been somewhat disastrous to the native animal populations. The Dingo is a domestic dog which has reverted to a wild state and currently lives independent from humans in most of its habitat. Dingos love … Read more

How did the Small Marsupial Bandicoot get its Name, What does it Mean, and Where does it Come From?

bandicoot in the grass at night

A bandicoot is a species of small marsupial omnivores that look very much like rats. The word bandicoot is an anglicised form of the Telugu word pandi-kokku, which means pig-rat, and originally referred to the unrelated Indian Bandicoot Rat. There are twenty-one different species of bandicoots which live in Australia and New Guinea, including the … Read more

How do Camels Conserve Water in the Hot Dry Desert and Why do Camels Always Twitch their Noses?

british camel corps in egypt

Camels have many features that help them conserve water in the dry desert heat. They have very efficient cooling systems which reduces the amount of water lost through perspiration. Camels are able to withstand huge changes in body temperature and water content that would kill most other animals, and they may not sweat at all … Read more

How Fast Can Camels Run and How Long Can They Run For?

how fast do camels run

Camels can be pretty fast runners. At the beginning of races, camels have been clocked upward of 40 mph. This pace slows considerably as the race progresses, however. The average speed of a racing camel is about 25 mph. A camel usually averages about 2 to 3 miles an hour when simply walking, 9 or … Read more

What is the Difference Between Wallabies, Wallaroos, and Kangaroos, and How do you Tell them Apart?

Wallabies, Wallaroos, and Kangaroos are all macropods of the Macropodidae family. The word macropod comes from the Greek word meaning “long foot”. Macropods have very large hind legs and a long, powerfully muscled tail, and most are herbivorous grazers and have specialized teeth for cropping and grinding up fibrous plants. There are about 55 different … Read more

How did the Tree Kangaroo get its Name, Where does it Live, and Does it really Live in Trees?

Tree kangaroos are macropods that live in trees in the mountainous rainforests of New Guinea, northeastern Queensland Australia, and a few islands nearby. Tree-kangaroos evolved from animals similar to modern kangaroos, and have strong hind legs and very long tails for balance, and stronger forelimbs with longer claws for climbing. On the ground, tree-kangaroos are … Read more

Who was Captain Kangaroo, When did the Children’s Television Series air, and Was he Australian?

Captain Kangaroo was the longest-running children’s television program when it aired weekday mornings from October 3, 1955 until 1984 on CBS. Bob Keeshan played Captain Kangaroo, and the show was set in “The Captain’s Place” where the Captain Kangaroo would tell stories, meet guests and perform silly stunts with puppets and regular human characters. Despite … Read more

How did Wombats get their Name and Where do they Live in Australia?

The Wombat is not a bat at all, but a short-legged, muscular marsupial with a very short tail that lives in south-eastern Australia and Tasmania. The Wombat’s name comes from the Eora Aboriginal people who were the natives of Sydney, Australia. A backwards pouch which helps keep the dirt out while digging makes the Wombat … Read more

How is the Australian Box Jellyfish the Deadliest Jellyfish in the World and Where does it Come From?

The Box jellyfish is a cube-shaped jellyfish known for its potent venom and can be found in northern Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, and other tropical waters. The Box jellyfish uses its venom to catch prey and as a defense against predators. Its sting is extremely painful and sometimes fatal to humans, making it one of the … Read more

How Did the Portuguese Man Of War Jellyfish Get Its Name and How Poisonous Is Its Venom vs a Cobra?

portuguese man of war

The Portuguese Man of War is a marine invertebrate also known as Physalia physalis from the Physaliidae family, and is very similar to a jellyfish but isn’t. Technically a siphonophore, other names for the Portuguese Man of War include Portuguese Man o’ War, bluebottle, and man-of-war. The Portuguese Man of War’s name comes from a … Read more

Why Does Cooking Or Boiling a Lobster Make It Turn Red When Their Blood Is Colorless?

why do lobsters turn red

Lobsters have blood that is colorless unless exposed to oxygen, when it develops a bluish tint. Lobsters are mostly gray, green, or brown when alive, but never red. Boiling them breaks down the pigments that color their shells. The most durable heat-resistant pigments are the carotin-based reds, and they are last to break down during … Read more

Why do Lobsters have to be Boiled Alive to make them Safe to Eat and When did the Practice Originate?

Unrefrigerated lobster meat turns bad faster than other types of edible animal flesh, including fish. This is why the cruel tradition of boiling them alive began centuries ago, before the refrigerator was invented. Nowadays they can be killed humanely without going bad before boiling. In fact, currently most lobsters are killed and frozen right on … Read more

How do Lobsters Mate, Reproduce, and Lay Eggs in the Ocean?

Females Lobsters mate during the soft-shell phase after molting. The courtship process is a little odd. Before molting, the female approaches a male’s den and stands outside, releasing her scent in a stream of urine. When he emerges from his den, the two spar briefly, then the female places her claws on his head to … Read more

How do the Aquatic Crustaceans called Sea Monkeys Live for the Longest Time Out of Water and for How Long?

The longest known case of aquatic crustaceans living out of water is about 10,000 years, a record set by brine shrimp. Brine shrimp is the English name for the Artemia genus of marine crustaceans. The tiny shrimp have evolved little since the Triassic period. Brine shrimp, also known as “sea monkeys” in toy stores, can … Read more

Why do Kangaroos and Marsupials have Short Gestation Periods and How Big is a Baby Kangaroo when it’s Born?

A baby kangaroo is a little larger than a lima bean, but smaller than a full-size peanut when it’s born. And it’s not very cute, unless you’re the kind of person who finds slimy pink animal babies irresistibly adorable. Kangaroos are marsupials, as are most of the mammals that are native to Australia. Besides looking … Read more

Do all Kangaroos and Marsupials have Pouches for Babies to Live and Hide until they are Old Enough to Leave?

All kangaroos and marsupials have pouches for their babies, but not all pouches are equal. Marsupials give birth at a very early stage of development and use their pouch or marsupium to help protect their offspring. For a marsupial like the kangaroo, which spends most of its time standing upright on two legs, the marsupium … Read more

How do Marsupials Mate and Reproduce with Forked Penises and Two Vaginas to Separate Uteruses?

Male marsupials do have very strange forked penises. The other strange thing is that their testicles generally lie in front of their penises instead of in back like other mammals. So how do they have sex? Well, it turns out that there’s somebody for everybody, and marsupials are no exception. Female marsupials have two uteri … Read more

How Many Marsupial Species Live in Europe, Asia, or Africa, Besides Native Australia, and How did They Evolve?

No marsupial species are native to Europe, Asia, or Africa. It was once thought modern placental mammals evolved from marsupials, but recent fossil evidence disputes this assumption. The earliest known marsupial is Sinodelphys szalayi, which lived in China around 125 million years ago. On many continents placental mammals were much more successful and no marsupials … Read more

How many Marsupials Mammal Species Live in America and How did they get here From Australia?

Marsupials are a family of mammals with a distinctive pouch called the marsupium, which females use to carry their young. The only native North American marsupial is the opossum, and the only other marsupial that doesn’t live in Australia is the shrew opossum from South America. All others live in Australia and the surrounding islands. … Read more

Were there Honeybees in North America before the First European Settlers Arrived?

No, there weren’t any honeybees in North America before Columbus arrived. European settlers first brought honeybees to the American colonies in 1622. Over the coming years, many of the insects fled the regimentation of man-made hives and sought freedom in their own colonies throughout the New World. By the late 1700s honeybees had settled along … Read more

How is the Red Dye Carmine Made from the Cochineal Insect and When was it First Used for Coloring Fabric?

The red dye known as Carmine is made from crushing the red-colored scale insect Cochineal that live on the prickly Paddle Cactus, and is native to tropical and subtropical South America and Mexico. The Cochineal is a scale insect that produces carminic acid that protects it from predation by other insects and animals. Carminic acid … Read more

What is the Difference Between a Squid, Cuttlefish, and Octopus, and How do you Tell the Cephalopods Apart?

cuttlefish are not squid

Squids, Cuttlefish and Octopuses are mollusks that belong to the cephalopod group of invertebrates, meaning they have eight legs. Squid have a hard inner-body shell called a pen, instead of an outer one like clams and snails. The octopus, in contrast, has no shell at all. Its outer mantle, or skin, is thick and tough, … Read more

How Else Does an Octopus Defend Itself From Other Animals Besides Shooting Ink at Predators?

octopus in the ocean

If shooting ink isn’t enough defense to scare off a predator, an octopus can go on the offensive with its tentacles and a beak-like mouth. An octopus’s main defense is to hide by camouflaging itself and avoid being detected as an octopus. Octopuses are also venomous, but only the small blue-ringed octopuses are lethal to … Read more

What is the Difference Between Trout and Salmon, How are they Related, and How do you Tell them Apart?

Trout and Salmon are so closely related that some fishermen and scientists have trouble classifying the individual species. Techincally, Trout is a species of freshwater and saltwater fish. Salmon belong to some of the same family as trout but, unlike most trout, most salmon species spend almost all their lives in salt water. Both Trout … Read more

Where does Salmonella Bacteria Come From, How did it get its Name, and How Can Infection be Prevented?

Salmonella is a rod-shaped, gram-negative, non-spore forming bacteria that cause illnesses in humans and many animals, such as typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever, and salmonellosis which comes from eating contaminated food. Salmonella infections are zoonotic, which means it can be transmitted by humans to animals and vice versa, and this includes food. People at risk of … Read more

How Deep in the Ocean do Deep Sea Fish Live and What is the Deepest Depth a Fish Can Live?

Deep sea fish are fish that live below the photic zone of the ocean. The most common deep sea fish is the lanternfish, and others include the flashlight fish, bristlemouths, anglerfish, viperfish, and cookiecutter shark. The photic zone extends only a few hundred meters below the ocean surface, and is also an extremely hostile environment, … Read more

How did the Flying Fish get its Name and Where do they Come From?

Flying fish are a family of marine fish called Exocoetidae with about 64 species that can be found in oceans all over the world, and common in tropical waters. The scientific name Exocoetidae comes from the Greek ‘εξωκοιτος which means “sleeping under the stars”, and described some flying-fishes believed to leave the water to sleep … Read more

How do Animal Trainers at Aquariums Train Killer Whales to Jump out of Water onto Dry Land?

It isn’t that hard to train animals and even killer whales. Animal trainers observe natural behaviors and reward those they seek to get the animal to perform again on cue. But when in nature would killer whales encounter a situation where they would deliberately beach themselves and still survive? After all, whales that beach themselves … Read more

How did Krill get its Name, What does Krill Mean in Norwegian, and Why is it a Healthy Ocean Food Source?

Krill is a shrimp-like marine invertebrate animal found in all oceans of the world. The small crustaceans are important organisms in the zooplankton family, and is food for many animals such as baleen whales, manta rays, whale sharks, crabeater seals, and seabirds that eat nothing else. Krill are also known as euphausiids, named after their … Read more

What is the Difference between a Dolphin and a Porpoise and how do you tell them Apart?

Porpoises are related to whales and dolphins, and there are some differences between a dolphin and a porpoise. Porpoises are slightly smaller than dolphins for one. Also, dolphins have a sharp snout and cone-shaped teeth, while porpoises have a rounded snout and spade-shaped teeth. Both dolphins and porpoises are predators of fish, squid, and crustaceans, … Read more

How Did the Butterfly Get Its Name and What Does It Mean In Old English and Ancient Greek?

what does the word butterfly mean

The word Butterfly is definitely not another word for “flutterby.” Butterfly comes from the Old English word buterfleoge, meaning “butter/flying creature.” Some linguists speculate that maybe the buter refers to the butter-yellow color of some European butterflies. However, that doesn’t make a lot of sense; plenty of colors besides yellow are represented in the butterflies … Read more