Fun Facts (1)

After a couple of serious topics, let’s have a bit of FUN!!!

Nature is amazing and surprising!!! In biology we have a saying: “Nothing makes sense in Biology except in the light of Evolution” (Dobzhansky). This is the reason I became an evolutionary biologist, I wanted to understand how such wonders have been made possible. Here, I will present 10 fun facts about nature and biology, which hopefully will raise your curiosity.

Did you know that … ?

  1. Humans are not the 1st ones to have invented agriculture!
  2. Animals like humans like to get drunk!
  3. If you can handle your booze, it is because your ancestors adapted to it!
  4. If a worldwide nuclear war was to happen (hopefully not!!!), the predominant surviving species would be cockroaches!
  5. Culture is not restricted to humans and many animals have different cultures among populations!
  6. Flowers can hear pollinators coming!
  7. Disgust reactions are the results of evolution to avoid getting sick!
  8. Penguins know only one and true love!
  9. The most dangerous animal in Africa is the hippopotamus!
  10. Without bees, humans will have stringent diet!

Really !!!

  1. Ants and termites farm a fungus using leaves they collect in the forest and ants also raise aphids protecting them from predators and parasites and harvest aphid’s honeydew.
  2. No comments, just see HERE.
  3. European populations are known to be heavy drinkers especially compared to Asians who get tipsy really fast, this is due to a gene version present in European populations but often lacking in Asian ones.
  4. After the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, scientists found out that cockroaches survived to the bombing. Further research demonstrated that cockroaches have higher tolerance to radiations compared most other animals.
  5. Not only human differ in their cultures, monkeys have been observed to exhibit different learned behaviors among populations. Famous examples comes from chimpanzees having designed different techniques to open nuts (stone vs. wood) among populations and such techniques are learned through social interactions and specific to a given population. Another example is the observation of a macaque population in a Japan island who learned to wash potatoes in water to remove parasites and dirt, they even went further by seasoning their dish using the ocean! This behavior is restricted only to this macaque population and even if the first discoverer of the technique is no longer alive, this culture persists.
  6. While flowers have no ears, they have keen sense (through their petals) to perceive vibrations emitted by flying pollinators. When vibrations provoked by a flying pollinator is perceived by the flower, it will start to increase its production of nectar and hence increased its chance of pollination.
  7. To be disgusted by something is the result of a long term evolution to avoid to get parasites or food poisoning. This behavior, referred often as avoidance behavior, is not only observed in humans but in almost all animals from the the flat worms, passing by insects, to humans. It is widespread in animals as it is the first barrier against parasites, not to get infected in the first place.
  8. Penguins are highly monogamous and have only one partner in their entire life. While they do not spend all their time together, when comes the spring they meet and spend the all mating season together to raise their children.
  9. You have a fear of snakes, spiders, insects, everything that is poisonous, if you go to Africa be aware the most dangerous animal there (higher number of human death caused by animals) is the HIPPOPOTAMUS!!! I guess you have this picture in your head, as I do, of the peaceful hippopotamus in the water when you visited some zoo. Hippopotamus are not that peaceful and males are highly territorial meaning that if you step foot in their garden they will drive you away by force. They also seem clumsy and slow but on land they can run at 30km/h so you won’t be able to distance them and can make a quick u-turn in seconds. So watch out!
  10. Bees, including honey, bumble, and solitary bees, are the most common pollinators in the world and necessary for plant to reproduce and produce fruits. As we rely on plants to have a healthy diets to eat fruits and veggies, we need pollinators to make them produce their delicious fruits / veggies. If bees came to disappear (hopefully not!!!) our global production of food will drop to extreme lows and will lead to a worldwide problem to get healthy diet. There are already examples where pollinators disappear and had to be replaced by humans, this is the case of vanilla which is no longer pollinated by a butterfly but human hands!

PS: this article has been written by B. Fouks and should be solely considered as an opinion. The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the funding body (EU MSCA-IF) and the University (WWU).

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