Page 222 - Animal Facts

Elephants mourn their dead.

Most mammals show little to no interest in the dead remains of their own species, but elephants do not fit this stereotype. You could even say that "an elephant never forgets"...its friends and family. They have been shown to pay considerable amounts of attention to skulls, tusks, and other bones. In an experiment, African elephants demonstrated the ability to distinguish between their own remains and those of rhinos or buffalo. Researchers hypothesize that elephants may be better able to recognize the bones of relatives and group members than individuals with which they have not spent significant amounts of time.

To learn more about the elephant grieving process check out

Did you that Elephants can also die from a broken heart?

A lungfish can live out of water for several months.

The reason this is possible is because lungfish have evolved to use both a set of gills and a lung-like organ (hence their name)! In times of drought, a lungfish burrows into the mud and secretes a fluid that all but covers its mouth.

In this way, it prevents itself from drying out and can rely on breathing through its swim bladder, which functions much like a lung. Nevertheless, lungfish are not the only species of fish that can breathe out of water, but they are the best at doing so. In fact, most have such weak gills that they would die if they weren't able to reach the surface!

Learn more about this weird animal from How Stuff Works.

An extinct variety of zebra only had stripes on its head and neck.

The last Quagga died in a zoo in 1883. At the time no one realized that this actually meant the animal was extinct. Their wild population dwindled in their native South African grasslands with the introduction of non-native sheep and goats. Because they competed with the Quagga for grass to graze on, settlers hunted them to extinction.

The Quagga, it turns out, is not a separate species. Rather, it is a subspecies of the more common Plains Zebra. This is an important difference because that means that this extinct animal can actually be brought back! Their genetic code is still present in the genome of the Plains Zebra and, through selective breeding, an approximate subspecies can be recreated.

Check out the Quagga Project for information on the efforts to bring back this extinct animal.
Some awesome lists!

The first immortal cell line was taken from a woman without her knowledge.

Immortal cells are almost exactly what you think they are - cells that can be grown for an unlimited amount of time, frozen for several years, and therefore are able to be shared among countless scientists. In 1951, a scientist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore created the first strain of these cells by taking a sample from a young black woman who had cervical cancer. No one knows why, but her cells never died! These amazing cells were named "HeLa cells," after their unwitting donor, Henrietta Lacks...however, Henrietta's identity was soon lost for several decades.

25 years after Henrietta's death, a scientist realized that cells thought to be from other tissue types were actually HeLa cells! In order to sort out which cells were which, Henrietta's relatives had to be located. The researchers managed to do so, which drew attention to the immorality of the original donation, especially considering that Henrietta's cells spawned a multi-billion-dollar industry while her family was living in severe poverty.

Though the initial extraction is be frowned upon (and for good reason!), that first scientist's good intentions did manage to come to fruition in countless extremely important ways. Henrietta's cells played an integral part in developing the polio vaccine and gave birth to the field of virology as a whole! They made manned space travel a possibility by showing what would happen to human cells in space aboard one of the first Soviet satellites in space. Several other scientific breakthroughs have used her cells, including cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and cryogenics!

Read more about this amazing story here.

The gross external debt worldwide is $73,292,419,088.

External debt refers to that which is owed to nonresidents of a country and is repayable in internationally accepted currencies, goods, or services. Note that this is not the same as net debt, which calculates debt in relation to a country's assets, such as cash or goods that can be easily converted to cash. The top three highest debts are as follows: the United States with $13.98 trillion, the European Union with $13.72 trillion, and the United Kingdom with $8.98 trillion.


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