Page 8 - Animal Facts

Female fireflies typically cannot fly.

Because female fireflies (lightning bugs) have shorter wings, they usually are not able to fly like their male counterparts. Therefore, they will perch themselves on a high object like a leaf or rock wait for a male to fly by. When a male comes by flashing a signal that the female recognizes, she will transmit the same signal back. The male will then land and touch his the female’s antennae with his own, ‘smelling’ her. If the female smells like an attractive partner to him, the pair will mate.

Within 27 years of discovery, a species of 30-foot-long manatees went extinct. They may have been around until more recently than you think.

The animal known as Steller's Sea Cow went completely unencountered until 1741 as far as anyone knows, and therefore went unknown to science. It was described by a German naturalist named Georg W. Steller, after whom this particular sea cow got part of its name. Steller went along with Vitus Bering on an expedition of the North Pacific.

This creature made its home in the cold waters near the shores of the Komandor Islands in the Bering Sea (off the easternmost reaches of Russia). It grew to 9–10 meters (over 30 feet) and weighed about 10 metric tons (22,000 pounds). This type of sea cow outgrew present-day manatees by far.

But the sea cow's size made it an easy target. Russian hunters used them for meat on their journeys; the killing was often wasteful. Perhaps Steller's sea cow would still exist in the wild if hunters had taken only what they needed. In 1741, there were about 2,000 in the wild, but by 1768 they had been wiped out entirely. Today, relatives of Steller's Sea Cow may be heading in the same direction. Their numbers are in decline, despite occupying the oceans for millions of years.


Science suggests that pesky mosquitoes may not be necessary for the environment!

Wouldn't it be nice if there were no mosquitoes? It's a thought that most people have had at one point or another. Typically, it's countered by a person who tries to be the voice of reason. Such a person says that if mosquitoes were to suddenly vanish, the results would be devastating to the ecosystem.

In reality, that may not be so. Other insects could simply replace mosquitoes in the diets of animals that currently feast on them. Even if there were some negative effects, they would be accompanied by some positives as well.

For example, one million lives would be saved per year because of the decline in malaria alone, which is spread by mosquitoes. There are numerous other diseases that mosquitoes have a role in that would also cease to medically and financially plague hard-hit areas.

Mosquitoes do contribute certain benefits to the environment, such as helping with pollination and plant decay. However, it may turn out that every species isn't as vital to biodiversity as is commonly believed.

But don't get your hopes up. Although the idea of eliminating mosquitoes as a nuisance does not lack popular support, humans lack the means to kill off an insect that is so populous and widespread.


Some awesome lists!

The extremely fast buzzing of wings makes houseflies buzz in the key of F...but they still move pretty slowly!

A housefly is not likely your favorite guest. But just because they can be pests does not mean they aren't interesting. When seen from a naturalistic perspective, flies are actually a marvel of biology.

The buzz emitted, whether from flies or other insects, such as mosquitoes, is created by the rapid flapping of their tiny wings, which have no joints. With all that rapid wing movement, it has been determined that the housefly buzzes in the key of F.

What's even more outstanding is that the common housefly, Mustica domestica, beats its wings 200 times per second! Of course, such a speed is so rapid that the movement of the wings cannot be easily perceived by the eye.

Even though 200 beats per second may sound fast, it doesn't translate to much speed. The housefly tops out at all of about 4.5 miles per hour. When they take off, they usually begin by going backwards. So if you're trying to swat one, aim behind the fly.


A new device has made it so that police officers can automatically release their K9 partners from the car to come help them

Police K9 units have a 93% success rate in the fight against crime, while human units have a 59% success rate. These dogs work tirelessly and their loyalty to their trainers is unquestionable. Every officer who has ever trained a dog for duty will speak highly and dearly of the incredible bond between him and his K9 partner.

An electronic device has now been developed that can further assist a police officer and his dog in an emergency situation. It's an emergency button that will release the dog from the vehicle with a press of a button on the officer's belt. This means that if an officer gets into trouble at a routine stop, he can immediately release his K9 to rush to his assistance.

This is great news for dogs too, as there are documented cases that reveal that trained police dogs become severely distressed when trapped in the vehicle if they can see their trainer is desperately in need of their assistance.

It's estimated that 12 to 18 police dogs die each year in overheated vehicles. This device also automatically opens the doors of the vehicle if the temperature inside rises too high for a dog's health when his trainer is otherwise occupied. Many K9 officers have saved countless lives, so it's great that something like an automated release can save theirs.



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