- From the strange way caterpillars make friends to how some sea critters get drunk, we look at the 8 Craziest things we’ve recently discovered about animals
8 – The Incredible Shrinking Bird
- Red Knot birds, which are native to West Africa, were discovered by researchers to be shrinking in size due to malnutrition. The culprit? Warmer weather than comes early, thanks to climate change.
- This particular species nests in northern Russia and spends its winters at their home in West Africa. Unfortunately for the chicks that hatch while in Russia, the insects they eat come out earlier, due to the snow melting much sooner. Two weeks earlier, to be exact.
- By not eating the much-needed insects, these birds grow to be smaller-than-average juveniles with short bills. As a result, when they fly back to the West African coast, they can’t reach deep enough into the sand to eat the clams and mussels that have the nutrients they need. Instead, the red knot juveniles eat the less-nutritious sea grass.
7 – Lizards Possibly Dream
- Researchers in Germany have just discovered that Australian bearded dragons share similar brain patterns during sleep as mammals – including humans – and birds. These lizards are the first reptiles to display these types of patterns.
- This means that Rapid-Eye-Movement, or REM, and slow-wave activity has been found. Dreaming is thought to take place during the REM stage of sleep, and it is possible that Australian bearded dragons dream during this time.
- So far, there is no concrete evidence that they do, but it is hard to ignore the possibility.
6 – Smart As A Bird
- New studies have shown that birds may be a lot smarter than we originally thought. Instead of instinct, this intelligence comes from the way their brains are structured.
- Many birds have reasoning skills similar to a child’s, can create tools, have exceptional navigation skills, remember where they put things, and even show empathy.
- African grey parrots can have an over 100-word vocabulary, while the male Eurasian jay tries to mate with females by bringing them food… that is, food they have eaten before and would probably enjoy, understanding that her food choices are different from his own.
5 – How Caterpillars Make Friends
- Masked birch caterpillars have a unique way of making new friends… they drum their butts on leaves!
- New research shows that these small creatures will drum their butts in order to call other caterpillars to help build and maintain cocoons on birch leaves. They act as temporary safe houses while they mature, and many caterpillars are needed to spin the silk for these cocoons.
- Scientists say that the vibrations created by the caterpillar’s butt, when heard by a special device because the human ear can’t hear it in the wild, sounds like a strange rumbling.