Apr 12

Bizarre Animal of the Week: Green Spoon Worm

‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’. It’s a well-known saying that highlights just how different men and women really are. And it’s the same throughout the natural world: males often look and behave very differently to females because of the separate roles they play. It’s a topic we’ve covered before on this blog …

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Apr 10

To Cull or Not to Cull?

At this moment in time, there surely cannot be a more controversial animal in the United Kingdom than the badger. Accused of transmitting bovine tuberculosis (bTB) to cattle, which has cost £500 million in the past ten years to control, the badger has divided opinions across the country. Some people, especially farmers whose livelihood depends …

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Apr 07

Four More Common Animal Misconceptions

One of the first articles I did for this blog was on animal misconceptions – that is, commonly believed facts about animals that are actually complete nonsense. I also wrote an article about the topic for the website TopTenz, which you can read here. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the natural world, …

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Apr 04

The Stink Bird: Hoatzin

Meet the bird that not only thinks it’s a cow, it also smells like one too. Hailing from the swamps of South America, the hoatzin (pronounced wat-seen) is an eclectic, handsome, albeit highly quirky, bird that divides its time between eating vast quantities of vegetable matter and just lounging around afterwards. Nothing is ever done in …

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Mar 08

A Slothful Existence

‘Sloths are the lowest term of existence in the order of animals with flesh and blood,’ French naturalist Georges Buffon wrote in the eighteenth century. The man was clearly very irritated by these creatures. He disliked their small eyes, their goofy faces and their fur, which resembled dried, matted grass. Most of all, though, he …

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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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