Monthly Archive: February 2014

Feb 22

Animal Relationships: Ants and Aphids

One of the most vital turning points in the history of humanity was when we started to domesticate animals. Now, instead of going out to hunt animals for their meat in the wilderness, we could keep large groups of them close to our villages, enabling us to permanently settle down in one area. Not only …

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Feb 16

Here Be Dragons

On a tiny copper globe dating from 1507, there are the words hic sunt dracones: ‘here be dragons’. The words appear off the eastern coast of Asia, not far from which are the small Indonesian islands where the world’s largest lizard, the 3-metre-long, 100kg Komodo dragon, lives. The Komodo dragon has the smallest range of …

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Feb 12

Bizarre Animal of the Week: Aye-Aye

The native people of Madagascar have many strange superstitions and customs. ‘Do not sing while you are eating or your teeth will grow long’ is one of them; another is ‘do not point at a tomb or else your finger will fall off’. Most, while undoubtedly eccentric, are largely harmless, but that’s not always the …

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Feb 06

The Stench of the Skunk

You’re traipsing through an American forest and you come across a dancing skunk. What a delightful little creature, you might think; maybe it’s been trained. Oh look, it’s even doing a funny handstand for your amusement. A few minutes later, you smell so appallingly bad that it’s caused you to vomit, your nostrils are burning …

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Feb 03

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Bird Fluke

The humble garden snail has a nemesis. No, it’s not a bird, or a clumsy gardener, or even the French. It’s not even something that the snail can see (assuming, of course, that they actually had decent vision) because this threat lives inside its body. It’s called a trematode, or bird fluke, and it’s a …

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