October 2013 archive

Oct 31

Blood Suckers: Real Life Vampires

Blood is a natural power drink. It is the bodily fluid found in many animals that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain and other parts of the body. It is rich in protein and lipids so, from an evolutionary point of view, it’s a great food source for any animal that can get to …

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Oct 29

Zombie Caterpillars and Voodoo Wasps

Caterpillars have it rough. For every butterfly that you see, countless more will have perished as either caterpillars or pupae at the hands of parasitic wasps. These wasps land on innocent caterpillars as they are contentedly munching away on leaves, inject their eggs into them and then fly away; the eggs hatch within the caterpillar …

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Oct 26

The Burying Beetle’s Guide to Parenting

All Hallow’s Eve will soon be upon us, so Extraordinary Animals will be looking at creatures with even more macabre and sinister behaviours than usual. We’ll be starting off proceedings with this insect, the sexton beetle. Even if we disregard the beetle’s rather ghoulish alternate names – the burying beetle, the grave-robber beetle, the carrion …

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Oct 18

The Real Moby-Dick?

‘Call me Ishmael.’ Even one hundred and sixty-two years to the day after it was first published, the opening line to Herman Melville’s famous book, Moby-Dick, is considered one of the most recognizable in Western literature. The novel centres around a whaleship under the command of Captain Ahab that seeks out to destroy a ferocious …

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Oct 17

Big Question: Why are there so many kinds of dogs?

Approximately 30% of the people living in the UK have a wolf in their living room. The dog is nothing more than a domesticated subspecies of the grey wolf, and although most breeds of dog look vastly different, they are all almost genetically identical to their wild ancestor. The story of the dog begins at …

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Oct 05

Mythological Monsters: The Animals Behind the Legends (Part II)

Back at the start of September, I did a post about the animal origins of various mythological monsters such as the krakken, unicorn and mermaid (which you can view here if you didn’t see it, or just want to refresh your memory). But whereas we have looked at some of the more well-studied legendary creatures, …

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