Increase your knowledge
about the animal and bird kingdoms. Read on for answers to some basic questions.
Which animal lives upside down?
Sloths are animals
found in South America, who mainly spend their lives upside down. They
usually remain this way most of the time, even whilst sleeping! One unusual
physical trait shared by all Sloths is that their heads can turn all the
way around! They have hooked claws on their toes and fingers to attach
themselves to the branches of trees, which enable them to stay upside down.
They have blunt noses and their teeth are very well developed Sloths are
of two types: the ai, which is three-toed, and the unau,
which is two-toed on the front feet.
Which animals and birds are extinct today?
The Oryx and the Sea-cow
are two animals which are extinct today, and the Dodo and Moa
are amongst the extinct birds. The Oryx is an antelope-like animal, which
was first found in the Arabian deserts. It was hunted down by the Arab
warriors. The Sea-cow was found by shipwrecked explorers from Russia off
the coast of the Berring Sea. Again, the reason for their extinction is
indiscriminate hunting. Moa, a large bird, almost the size of an ostrich,
is also now extinct. It used to be found in New Zealand while the Dodo
lived on the island of Mauritius. The Dodo was considered to be a 'stupid'
bird, because it could not fly. Dodos were hunted down by the Dutch when
they landed in Mauritius in the seventeenth century, as their meat was
considered to be very tasty.
Why is the shark the most fascinating of all fishes?
Shark is the most dangerous, as well as one of the fastest fish
in the ocean. Sharks can be of different sizes, ranging from one foot to
almost fifty feet! The fifty-foot shark is called the whale shark.
The Great White shark has rows of jagged razor-sharp teeth. Sharks
can gobble up their prey whole, and can feed on just about anything. They
eat other fish, animals, and even humans. Sharks have a sharp sense of
smell, and if they have sniffed food, they move extremely swiftly towards
it. Humans also hunt sharks for its meat, which is considered a delicacy.
Shoes and bags are often made of sharkskin.This ferocious, enormous and
fascinating fish inspired Peter Benchley to author the famous book, Jaws,
which became an even more popular movie.
How does a fish breathe?
Since the fish spends most
of its time in water, it is quite natural to ask how it breathes. Fish
breathe through their gills; they do not have lungs, save for the Lungfish.
The fish takes water in through its mouth, and the water flows over the
gills. These gills possess certain special cells that absorb the oxygen
present in the water, which then mixes with the blood. The water then flows
out by way of an opening in the gills. Carbondioxide present in the body
is brought out by the blood to the gills, where it mixes with the water
and passes out through the gill opening.
Do fish have ears?
Yes, fish do have ears. They
are, however, mere apertures found on either side of the head. Fish do
not have an external protrusion like humans do. A line of tiny pores runs
on either side of the body of the fish. This line, known as the lateral
line, is sensitive to vibrations in the water. These vibrations are then
relayed to the brain, which registers the sound, and the message is then
relayed to the ears.
Are scorpion stings fatal?
The scorpion is an insect-like
creature, rather small and is considered ferocious. It belongs to the class
of Arachnids. There are over 500 different species of scorpions. Scorpions
have a pair of pincers or claws in the front of their body, and the famous
"sting" at the tip of their tails. Poison flows out of the base of this
tail, from two openings. The sting is normally black in colour. Scorpions
are generally active at night and feed on other insects. They conceal themselves
in dark regions waiting for prey, and strike with their claws and tail.
In homes, they hide themselves in nondescript areas such as closets or
shoes. The scorpion sting does cause pain, yet not all stings prove fatal.
The scorpion can sting again and again if provoked. He does not give up
easily! Very much like those born under the zodiac sign of Scorpio, whose
symbol is the Scorpion!
What is a zebra?
A zebra is a wild animal,
and a member of the horse family. Zebras are conspicuous because of their
black and white striped bodies. Different species of zebras have different
patterns of stripes. Sometimes the stripes are brown instead of black in
colour. Zebras are found in Africa. They are normally found in groups,
either in mountainous terrain or in the open grassland.
Which birds do not fly?
The Ostrich, the Kiwi
and the Penguin are amongst the well-known birds which don't fly.
This is because either their way of life, or their environment, did not
require them to fly. Thus, over a period of time, according to the theory
of disuse, their wings stopped functioning. The largest bird in this group
is the Ostrich, found in the African savanna. His long legs enable
him to move at a great speed. The length of one stride of the Ostrich is
4.5 metres, and its running speed is over 40 miles an hour. The Kiwi is
the second largest, and is found in New Zealand. The Penguin is found in
the colder regions of the world, particularly the South Pole. Penguins
decided to adapt to their surroundings by swimming in the waters and thus
they have well-developed flippers instead of wings.
Which is the biggest seabird?
The Albatross, nearly
1.5 metres in length, is the largest seabird. It has very long wings -
couple with a long life! The wing of the albatross spans over 10 feet in
length, and is rather narrow in width. For flying, the Albatross needs
to run along the ground or water for a while before taking off. Generally,
the Albatross lives at sea and comes only to the shore to breed. The baby
Albatross takes time to grow. It takes nearly a year for its wings to develop,
and takes another 5-10 years to become independent at sea. The Albatross
is perhaps wellknown because of its association with the famous old poem,
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. A sailor at sea had shot an Albatross
with his crossbow, and thereafter he suffered a series of calamities at
sea. It was only when he truly repented for the act, that all went well
with him again.
Which insect swims upside down?
Back-swimmers or boat-bugs
swim upside down in the water with the help of their hind legs. These boat
bugs are tiny in size and mostly live in the water. They can stay beneath
it for nearly six hours because they inhale air from the space between
their body and wings. These insects have over 200 species, can be found
anywhere in the world, and are considered dangerous to both man and beast.
Which animal is called 'the ship of the desert' and why?
The Camel can go for days without food or water - as it stores food and water in the big hump on its back. This enables the camel to travel across the vast expanse of the desert without a problem. Thus, a camel is the animal used for travel in the desert regions and is the most common mode of transport here. It is thus know as the ship of the desert. Camels are found mainly in Africa and Asia. After a long stretch of travelling, the hump gets loose, because its contents get used up. This is when the camel too needs a rest. Once it takes in its nourishment, it becomes ready to move on.
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