Page 3 - Animal Facts

This real-life sea serpent is almost 60 feet long and weighs 600 pounds. What is it exactly?

This is the oarfish, the most likely source of sea serpent myths. Oarfish can grow up to 56 feet long and weigh 600 pounds. They live in all temperate to tropical oceans but are rarely seen, as they normally stay very deep in the water. They are thought to frequent depths of over 3,000 feet.

Even if you happen to come across one of these behemoths, you won't be in any real danger. On top of spending most of their lives in the ocean depths, they don't have any visible teeth. They eat mostly zooplankton and occasionally other small ocean creatures such as shrimp.

Encounters with oarfish are pretty rare. The first ever confirmed sighting at depth was in 2008. Most oarfish are seen dying near the surface or washed up on shore. The deepest sightings (between 450 and 500 feet below sea level) were part of a scientific project.


Hermit crabs form gangs to steal other hermit crabs' shells

There are 1100 species of hermit crab, most of which have an asymmetrical abdomen. They aren't born with the shells that protect their abdomen, though, hence the "hermit" in their names. Those are actually empty gastropod shells that they find.

From time to time, a hermit crab has to replace its shell with a larger one to fit its growing body. When a hermit crab is without a shell, it's pretty vulnerable, so they try to find a replacement as soon as possible. This isn't always easy, though.

Gastropod shells are a limited resource and hermit crabs often fight over them, sometimes leading to the death of a competitor. This only happens when the crabs are of similar size, of course.

Hermit crabs often "gang up" on a hermit crab with what they perceive to be a better shell, where they will actually pry its home (shell) away from it and then compete for it, and one will ultimately take it over.

Several hermit crab species, both terrestrial and marine, use vacancy chains to find new shells; when a new, bigger shell becomes available, hermit crabs gather around it and form a kind of queue from largest to smallest. When the largest crab moves into the new shell, the second-biggest crab moves into the newly vacated shell, thereby making its previous shell available to the third crab, and so on.


The Herbivorous Galapagos Tortoise sometimes hunts birds by drawing them under its shell. It then withdraws its limbs, crushing the bird beneath its weight.

The Galpagos tortoise has a mutually beneficial relationship with some species of Galpagos finch and mockingbirds. The tortoises let the birds feed on parasites stuck in spots on their body that they can't reach.

Small groups of finches initiate the process by hopping on the ground in an exaggerated fashion facing the tortoise.

The tortoise signals it is ready by rising up and extending its neck and legs, enabling the birds to reach otherwise inaccessible spots on the tortoise's body such as the neck, rear legs, cloacal opening, and skin between plastron and carapace.

The birds benefit from the food source and the tortoises get rid of irritating parasites.

The Galpagos tortoise is known as a herbivore, generally eating 70-80 pounds of plant life every single day. Their diets consist of cacti, grasses, leaves, lichens, and berries. But they don't always eat a vegetarian diet.

The tortoises will sometimes insidiously exploit its mutualistic relationship with birds. After rising and extending its limbs, the bird may go beneath the tortoise to investigate, whereupon suddenly the tortoise withdraws its limbs to drop flat and kill the bird. It then steps back to eat the bird, presumably to supplement its diet with protein.


Some awesome lists!

This amazing service dog saved his owner in so many ways

Service dogs devote their lives to helping humans, just another reason they are considered man's best friend.

Many service dogs have been known to do remarkable things, but there's one that grabbed global attention, and for good reason.

Endal was a male Labrador retriever in Britain, born in 1995. He almost never made it as a service dog because he was born with a lifelong debilitating joint condition called osteochondrosis in both of his front legs.

His intelligence and problem-solving abilities, however, more than made up for that, and he became a fully operational and accredited assistance dog despite the fact that he was only part trained.

Allen Parton, Endal's owner, suffered serious head injuries from the Gulf War, including 50% memory loss and inability to reliably make new memories for more than around 2 days, required a wheelchair to move, had speech and word difficulties, an inability to perceive invisible materials, and an inability to safely judge speed and distance of traffic.

What got media attention was Endal's rescue of Parton when the man was knocked out of his wheelchair by a passing car. Endal pulled Allen, who was unconscious, into the recovery position, retrieved his mobile phone from beneath the car, fetched a blanket and covered him, barked at nearby dwellings for assistance, and then ran to a nearby hotel to obtain help.

That's heroic, but Endal was dedicated before then, too. He was able to respond to over one hundred instructions and hundreds of hand signals. He could retrieve items from supermarket shelves, operate buttons and switches, and load and empty a washing machine. He was able to put a card into a cash machine, retrieve the card when the process was complete, and return the card to a wallet, the first dog to be able to do so.

This quote from Allen Parton gives a good account:

"When I couldn't talk, he learned sign language – if I touched my head I wanted my hat, if I touched my face it was for the razor. He learned hundreds of commands in signing. Eventually one day, in this very silent world we lived in, I grunted. That was like an electric shock going through him, he was so excited. They said I'd never speak again, but Endal just dragged the speech out of me." - Able Magazine

Parton states that Endal's ability to comprehend his wishes and needs showed when they first met, and was responsible for helping him recover from the initial deep depression and trauma caused by his disability.


An escaped sheep was found with 60 pounds of wool.

Shrek the sheep ran away and hid in a cave in New Zealand for 6 years. When Shrek was finally found in 2004, the sheep had gone unsheared for so long that it had accumulated 60 pounds of wool on its body, enough to make 20 suits! The sheep became famous and even got to meet the Prime Minister. Shrek finally passed away last month at the age of 16.


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