Top 10 Animal Facts to Make You Sound Smarter

Credits: Rebecca Brayton Phoebe De Jeu

Script written by Nick Roffey

Quick . . . say something smart! Here are some amazing, incredible, and surprising facts about the various creatures from the animal kingdom. Hey, you can use these at parties! WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Animal Facts to Make You Sound Smarter.

Special thanks to our user Muppet_Face for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Facts+to+Make+You+Sound+Smarter.

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Transcript
Script written by Nick Roffey

Top 10 Animal Facts to Make You Sound Smarter


Quick . . . say something smart! Welcome to Watchmojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Animal Facts to Make You Sound Smarter.

For this list, we're looking at recitable facts to break out at cocktail parties and other emergency situations when you need to impress people with your encyclopedic knowledge of all things animalia - the more exceptional and outlandish, the better. So put on your best David Attenborough voice and let’s get to the facts.

#10: The Deadliest Animal Is Actually the Mosquito

Forget lions, tigers, and bears. And even that toothed torpedo the great white shark. For humans at least, the mosquito is the world's deadliest animal. These small, bothersome miscreants are actually mini murder machines, killing around 725,000 people every year. That’s not because their bites are immediately deadly of course, but because of the transmission of deadly diseases like malaria, dengue fever, encephalitis, and yellow fever,. The next deadliest animal to humans is of course . . . humans, who kill approximately 475,000 people annually. Compare these numbers to shark fatalities, which average around 10 a year.


#9: Tardigrades Can Survive in Space

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are the adorable eight-legged survivors of the microscopic world. These teeny tactopods may look plump and cumbersome, but they’re so hardy they’re practically indestructible. In sub-zero temperatures, they can dehydrate to just 3% water and wait out the cold for years. They can survive with no access to food or water for 30 years, and even survive the solar radiation and vacuum of space, a fact that some astrobiologists have evoked to support the plausibility of panspermia - the hypothesis that life arrived on Earth from other planets.


#8: The Portuguese Man o’ War is Legion

It’s the Voltron of the marine world. Or the Megazord, if that’s more your thing. The Portuguese Man o’ War, also known as the floating terror, resembles a jellyfish, but it’s actually something called a siphonophore - a colonial organism made up of smaller, specialized animals, who together form the mighty gelatinous marvel you see before you. Called zooids, these smaller organisms live out their lives attached to their neighbours.Unlike Voltron’s robot lions, they’re unable to survive apart. While some form the nifty sail and air-filled bladder that allow it to wander with the wind and currents, others form venomous tentacles, used to paralyze and kill unwary fish.


#7: Some Turtles Breathe Through Their Butts

This cute little turtle has a secret. It can breathe through its butthole. Or, more accurately, its “cloaca” - the multifunctional orifice used for urinary, digestive, and reproductive functions in amphibians, reptiles, and birds. By collecting oxygen from water sucked in through its derriere, the Australian Fitzroy river turtle can accomplish 70% of its oxygen uptake. A few other species have also mastered the technique. The North American eastern painted turtle uses the same trick to survive hibernation in winter at the muddy bottom of creeks and ponds. And turtles aren’t the only bum-breathers: sea cucumbers and dragonfly nymphs can do it too!


#6: The Platypus Has Some Weird Anatomy

The platypus is so bizarre, scientists first thought it was a hoax - a furry Frankenstein put together by some mad taxidermist. As it turns out, the platypus is even stranger than it looks. Not only is it the one of the only mammals besides the echidna that lays eggs; the males are venomous, thanks to ankle spurs on their back feet. It has been speculated that they’re used to fight off rival males during mating season, but can also inflcit painful injuries on unwary humans. While not lethal, the pain is reportedly excruciating. Oh, and if that isn’t all weird enough, the platypus’ bill can sense electric fields.


#5: Corals "Do It" Long Distance

Long-distance relationships are tough. This is especially true for corals. Corals are actually colonies of tiny, genetically identical animals called polyps, which reproduce both asexually and sexually, but finding a date is hard when you’re anchored to the ocean floor. So corals often spawn on the same night, releasing innumerable eggs and sperm into the water. These gametes fuse to form larva called planulae, and most become quick snacks for hungry fish. But a few of the kids make it, settling down in a new location, and becoming their own self-sufficient colonies.


#4: Migrating Birds Might "See" Earth's Magnetic Field Using Quantum Entanglement

Bird migration has long puzzled biologists. Birds use Earth’s magnetic field to navigate thousands of miles between wintering and breeding grounds, but scientists aren’t quite sure how. The magnetoreception of European Robins is so sensitive, researchers have argued their internal compasses must rely on minute effects at the quantum scale. For now, it’s just a theory, but biophysicists have proposed that the effects of the magnetic field on entangled electrons cause a biochemical reaction in avian eyes that allows birds to actually see Earth’s magnetic field - giving them a sort of heads-up-display that guides them around the world.

#3: Animal Blood Isn't Always Red

We associate blood with the colour red; we have blood moons and blood oranges. And it’s true that blood is red in many animals, thanks to the iron-rich hemoglobin in red blood cells - though that’s only when it’s exposed to oxygen. But in some animals, other proteins are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. Octopus blood, which relies on a copper-containing protein called hemocyanin, is actually blue. And the plasma that serves as insect blood is a yellowish green colour. The green-blooded skink of New Guinea, on the other hand, has - you guessed it - green blood, thanks to toxic bile pigment that may protect it from parasites.


#2: Zombie Ants Exist

While zombie takeovers make for good horror movies, they’re purely fictional . . . right? In the insect world, that isn’t necessarily true. A species of cordyceps fungi reproduces by infecting ants and taking control of their bodies. After driving infected hosts to climb up plant stems, it explodes out of their heads, showering spores onto ants below. And these aren’t the only zombie insects. Laid inside the abdomen of hapless spiders, the larvae of a certain Costa Rican wasp secrete a hormone that forces their host to spin a web perfect for building their cocoons . . . once they suck its body dry. Maybe keep that zombie survival plan in your back pocket just in case.


Before we reveal the identity of our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:

Lions Sometimes Mate 100 Times a Day


Cicadas Sing Using Their Exoskeleton


Pigs Have Curly Penises


#1: There Are Immortal Jellyfish

Who wants to live forever? Turritopsis dohrnii, the immortal jellyfish, is one several types of animals who has figured out how. It’s essentially a real life Benjamin Button, able to age backwards and become young again once they reach maturity. They start life as free-swimming larvae, then bed down on the ocean floor as polyps that bud tiny medusae. But when injured, they can also reverse this process, all the way back tobeing a polyp, and repeat it indefinitely - making them biologically immortal. Some scientists think this nifty trick has enormous potential for regenerative medicine - but don’t hold your breath waiting to see a real life fountain of youth anytime soon.

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