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Incredible animal facts you probably didn’t know (part 1)

Incredible animal facts you probably didn’t know (part 1)
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How’s your animal trivia? Read on to see how well you know these (mostly) cuddly species.

Koalas

Koalas
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These slow-moving, eucalyptus-eating marsupials are beloved for their sweet demeanours and distinctly non-human adorableness. However, they do share one feature in common with homo sapiens: fingerprints. What’s more, their fingerprints – analysed under a microscope – are virtually indistinguishable in the way they loop and whorl from our own. Researchers assert that koalas adapted this feature – which is also present in primates such as chimpanzees – so they can grasp the branches they climb to forage for leaves.

Elephants

Elephants
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According to Live Science, elephants have “many admirable qualities,” including a fantastic sense of smell, a seeming near-immunity to cancer, and “complex social lives”. Despite all this, here’s a crazy animal fact: elephants are unable to jump. That’s because they have what an evolutionary researcher at the Royal Veterinary College in London calls “wimpy lower-leg muscles” and inflexible ankles, conditions that also make it a challenge for them to run for more than a short distance.

Not all elephants have such idyllic lives. Check out this story about three malnourished, drug-addled Thai elephants.

Platypus

Platypus
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You certainly wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of a platypus. That’s because the male platypus has a defence mechanism that’s on par with the rest of its strange appearance. The heels of their back feet have spurs that can release venom, making these wild animals one of the few types of poisonous mammals. While the venom isn’t strong enough to kill a human, it’s extremely painful and can cause swelling and even hyperventilation.

 

Sloths

Sloths
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You probably think of sloths as one of the slowest wild animals out there, and they are pretty slow, to be sure! But they actually have a neat talent that you may not know about. They’re skilled swimmers. In fact, they swim about three to four times faster than they move on land! According to Live Science, they do the breaststroke just like humans do, and it’s a vital skill for them to survive in rainforests that flood. If you thought it wasn’t possible for sloths to get any cuter, just imagine one swimming!

Whales

Whales
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These massive aquatic mammals cannot actually breathe underwater, they periodically return to the surface to breathe. So that raises the question, how do they sleep? Do they sleep? Well, they do, but only half of the brain sleeps at a time. Known as ‘unihemispheric slow-wave sleep’, this method allows the whales to get enough rest while also staying alert enough to consciously breathe and be on the lookout for danger.

Think whales are smart? Check out 8 of the smartest animals that learn even faster than you!

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Polar bears

Polar bears
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Similar to the Maori greeting of pressing noses together, polar bears also use this unique type of greeting. They request to share food this way too; a bear will approach another bear that’s feeding and touch nose to nose to ask permission to join in on the snack.

Kangaroos

Kangaroos
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These large marsupials are known for their ability to hop great distances, which is the primary way they get around. But an odd feature they have is that they can’t walk backward, partly because of the structure of their powerful rear feet and their large tails. This is the reason you’ll find the kangaroo and emu on the Australian Coat of Arms – the designers wanted to symbolise the way the nation was only moving forward, so they picked two animals that physically can’t move backward.

Sharks

Sharks
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“Just keep swimming…” sings Dory the blue tang in Finding Nemo. For some types of sharks, this is more than just a motivational saying, it’s life or death! Live Science reports that several types of sharks use a certain type of breathing that requires them to swim quickly with their mouths open, which allows oxygen to reach their gills. While some sharks can breathe even if they’re still, great white sharks, makos and whale sharks (among others) must move constantly to take in oxygen.

Peacocks

Peacocks
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First of all, the idea that ‘peacock’ is the correct name for all of these birds is one of the animal facts that you actually have all wrong. ‘Peacock’ only describes the males; the females are technically called ‘peahens’, and both sexes are considered ‘peafowl’. Another interesting fact about peacocks is that they can be born with partially or completely white colouring due to a genetic mutation; this is known as leucism, and the birds are still stunning to look at!

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