Jul 17, 2015

The Book of Animal Ignorance

by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson

A book full of really odd and intriguing facts about animals. Lots of things I never heard of before. Made me constantly blurt out an astonished "did you know-??" to my husband if he happened to be in the room when I was reading, and jot things down to look up online later- yeah, they're true. It's organized in alphabetical order and tells about all kinds of interesting critters, from the unusual (naked mole rats, tardigrade aka "water bears", quolls) to the more commonly known worms, rabbits, monkeys, fleas, you name it. Surprising bits of information on all of them. It reminded me a lot of those "True Facts About the [insert animal name]" videos you find on youtube with the deep voice narrating, because of the amount of crazy information about how animals mate. From anatomy to behavior, animals have more strange ways of doing it than I had ever imagined!

Some things that really jumped out at me: polar bears will eat toothpaste. Apparently they find the smell of it irresistible. There is a moth that smells like goats (and another one that smells like chocolate). The area of an echidna's brain that has to do with reasoning and personality is very large in proportion to the rest of it- even bigger than that in "higher" mammals. No one's figured out why. Female ferrets actually get sick if they're not mated when in heat. Also: ferrets have been used to thread cables through long tunnels or pipes, and Boeing used them to run cables through inaccessible parts of airplanes- until apparently the ferrets started getting bored and taking naps halfway through finishing their task! Some frogs will vomit by turning their stomach inside out and cleaning it with their hands before swallowing it again! (I think that's nearly as gross as the sea cucumber's defensive mechanism of vomiting up its guts). The giraffe's tongue is dark blue to keep it from getting sunburned (it is used so much to pluck leaves off trees). Echidnas may appear brainy for their size, koalas are not. Their brain is so small it floats in the cranial cavity, surrounded by twice as much empty space! There is a calculator made from the neurons of leeches?? I don't understand this one, really. There is a specific species of louse that infects almost every animal- except for bats, echidnas and the platypus (why?) The Romans used to eat parrots, when their novelty as pets wore off. There is a species of rabbit that has stripes- it is extremely rare. The tuatara (primitive reptile related to lizards) has a third eye. An earthworm has ten hearts!

Very interesting article this book lead me to look up: Humboldt's Parrot: Endangered species and endangered languages. Want to know more crazy stuff about animals? Read the book!

Rating: 3/5      241 pages, 2007


Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Ahahaha, these are fantastic! The frog stomach thing is particularly gross, and I am going to tell it to my dad one day when he's over-teasing me. AS REVENGE. (He hates throwing up.)

Jeane said...

Better yet show him a video of it- there's quite a few online if you search. But not while you're eating.

Stefanie said...

This book sounds like fun! Great for a road trip or a lazy afternoon. The echidna brain thing is fascinating.