Page 222 - Animal Facts

A tortoise started a fire in New York City.

Giovani the tortoise crawled out of his tank when his 18-year-old owner, Mohamed Salem, was out of the apartment and knocked over his heat lamp. The lamp fell directly on some extremely flammable art supplies and soon the entire third-floor flat was ablaze! Luckily, Giovani managed to survive the ordeal after being found in the kitchen by a firefighter. The other turtle in the bedroom wasn’t so fortunate.

A clock has been developed that is powered solely by dead flies.

The clock is part of a growing effort to produce robots that are able to acquire energy from the environment on their own (which is kind of creepy if you really think about it!). The secret to this type of technology lies in a device called the microbial fuel cell. Each fuel cell contains bacteria that feast on dead insects. Every time the microbes are fed, electrons from the ensuing chemical reaction are harvested and converted into the electricity that powers the clock. A mere eight dead flies is enough to keep it fully powered for almost two weeks!

Check out a more in-depth discussion of the potential this technology may have in the video below:

A snake befriended a hamster that was supposed to be his dinner.

Aochan, a rat snake at the Mutsugoro Okoku Zoo, was cohabiting with his hamster friend Gohan for over a year. This was despite the fact that the hamster was introduced to his cage so that the hungry constrictor would eat him. Instead, the two animals got along swimmingly, and they even sometimes sleep together. Their unusual companionship has gotten the attention of the zookeepers, and visitors to the zoo make sure to visit the odd couple.

Some awesome lists!

5.4 million species of animals worldwide remain unnamed.

Not only that, but the animals that we HAVE named only make up about a quarter of the total number of species out there! In the past year 16,000 new species have been discovered, which sounds like a large amount until you compare it to the millions left unidentified. The reason for this deficit is because of an extreme shortage of funding and taxonomists (the scientists that classify organisms). Locating all the remaining species would require an estimated budget of $263 million!

Starting in 2014, there will be gas stations in outer space.

These gas stations will actually be for satellites. A Canadian company (MacDonald, Dettwiler, and Associates) is working on an orbiting refueling station. When satellites that are orbiting the planet run out of fuel, the refueling station will retrieve the satellites and give them more fuel so they can keep going. Currently, without this, satellites that can cost anywhere between hundreds of millions to billions of dollars are only good for the extent of their fuel tank. After orbiting the planet for 10-15 years, they run out of fuel and either burn up in the atmosphere as they come crashing down to Earth, or they drift away as useless space junk.

Since this could potentially save telecommunications companies and governmental intelligence agencies billions in satellite replacement costs, a $280 million contract with MDA for access to their fuel is actually quite a bargain.


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