Animals have been roaming this planet, long before we took over. In order to adapt to the constant changes and to ensure their survival, wild animals evolve. While some of the traits they receive as part of the evolutionary process can appear as mistakes, they are in fact smart features. For instance, have you ever wondered why tigers and zebras have stripes? Turns out that the stripes in both the animals are equally important and without them, they will have a hard time surviving in the wild. Here, we have collected some interesting facts about wild animals and some of the most brilliant features they possess.
1. Tigers have striped red-orange fur, a coloration that helps them camouflage themselves in the wild.
We all know that tigers, the largest species of feline on the planet, have striped skin and fur. While the exact reason for their unique red-orange fur as well as the stripes was previously unknown, scientists finally have an answer. The coloration helps tigers blend into the wilderness and camouflage themselves from other animals. Researchers from the University of Bristol discovered that in the wild, while surrounded by green plants, they literally become invisible to deer, boars, and other ungulates. These animals, which are a tiger’s favorite meal, are dichromats, which means that they only have two types of functioning color receptors in the eye.
Scientifically, this means that they are red-green blind and have a hard time differentiating between green tones and red-orange tones. This allows the striped red-orange tiger to blend in with its surroundings and catch their meals. (source)
2. Some animals have an extra eyelid that protects the cornea and also serves to moisten the eye while maintaining vision.
The third eyelid, found only on animals, is known as a nictitating membrane, which basically works as “a windshield wiper blade”. Its main purpose is to remove debris and pollen from the surface as well as to distribute tears over the cornea. Cats, dogs, reptiles, birds, amphibians and some other mammals have the nictitating membrane. In cats and dogs, the third eyelids protects their eyes while moving through tall patches of grass. According to scientists, humans did in fact have third eyelids, but over time, it was reduced to the tiny pink fold of tissue in the corner of your eye. (source)
3. The saw in a sawfish is capable of detecting minute electric fields, and can also be used to immobilize prey.
For decades, scientists thought that the sawfish used its mighty saw to probe the ocean floor in search of food. Studies however, show that the saw in fact gives them a sixth sense, allowing them to detect even the most minute electric fields around them. The elongated saw has thousands of tiny pore-like organs that can not only detect electric fields, but can also immobilize their prey. In a 2012 study, researchers placed an electric dipole in the tank containing sawfish. To their surprise, the sawfish immediately noticed and reacted to the change in the electric field; moving towards it and using its saw to feel around. (source)
4. Elephants can smell water up to 12 miles away.
Elephants are extremely social animals who use their trunk to bring food to their mouth and spray water over their backs. Studies show that their trunks have keen sensing abilities, allowing them to smell water from several miles away. An average elephant needs about 18 to 55 gallons of water per day. However, in the wild, water can be scarce and far away from their grazing land. In such cases, their keen trunks can exactly detect a source of water, for as far as 12 miles away, allowing them to survive in the wild. Studies also show that elephants can smell potential dangers, which helps them choose a safer path towards a body of water. (source)
5. Zebras have stripes to confuse predators, maintain body temperature and to repel insects.
According to scientists, the black stripes on a zebra helps them stay cool during the hot summer months. The researchers based at the University of California, Los Angeles studied the animals and found that the black stripes help correlate temperature and precipitation in a zebra’s environment. Another study conducted in Britain found that the stripes confuse insects, making it hard for them to land on their body. Some scientists also say that the stripes create an illusion in the wilderness, making it look like there is more than one zebra at any given moment; thus confusing possible predators. (source 1, 2)
6. The saiga antelope can survive in extreme climates, thanks to its elongated nose. In the desert, the nose cools the air and when it’s cold, the nose warms the air. This helps the animal control its body temperature and survive in extreme climates.
The saiga antelope adapted to survive in the harshest of places and are found in the semi-arid desert of Central Asia as well as Russia. The odd-nosed antelope is unlike its fellow species and controls its body temperature mainly through the nostrils. When it’s hot, the long nostrils cool the air before it enters the lungs and when it’s cold, it warms the air. This helps the antelope acclimate to the changing climate without difficulty. (source)
7. The nose of a platypus can detect weak electric fields, working as a radar to detect movement around them.
The platypus is a distinct animal that lays eggs and looks like a cross between a beaver and a duck. Whle the duck-like bill might look innocent, they are capable of detecting electrical pulses off other animals. On its snout lies electric receptors that basically acts like a magnet for movement. According to NatGeo, a single platypus bill has more than 40,000 electroreceptors, allowing them to pinpoint the location of its next meal. (source)
8. Chickens and roosters have combs because it helps them regulate body temperature.
Unlike us, chickens cannot sweat and panting is not an efficient method for them to regulate their body temperature. During hot weather conditions, the blood flows to the comb and the heat is readily dissipated into the atmosphere. Studies show that chickens, roosters and even turkeys use the comb to recognize other individuals of their flock. A healthy red comb is a sign that a chicken is ready to mate and it is also a sign that the chicken is healthy. Farmers often look at the combs for any signs of health issues. For instance, if the chicken or rooster is sick, the comb will become pale or pinkish. (source)
9. When a honey bee finds a new source of nectar, it does dance called the “waggle dance”. Through the dance, the bee shares the exact location of the flowers so that the fellow bees can go find them.
In order to communicate with one another, bees perform a dance called the “waggle dance”. When a bee finds a new source of nectar, it will immediately fly back to its hive and try to get the attention of its mates. Once the bee manages to grab their attention, it will perform a dance that will share the distance and direction to the location. According to the Smithsonian, through the dance, the bee can accurately convey the message so other bees can find it. The “waggle dance” is only performed if the quantity of the nectar or pollen is extremely high. (source)
10. Cows have an almost total 360 degree panoramic vision, an excellent sense of smell that is capable of detecting odors 5-6 miles away and they can hear both high and low frequency sounds beyond human capability.
The visual field of the human eye spans approximately 120 degrees, whereas, a cow has almost panoramic, 360-degree vision. This is one of the reasons why it is extremely difficult to sneak up on them. Cows also have really good hearing as well as sense of smell. Studies show that their nose can pick up scents as far as 5-6 miles away. Their ability to hear high and low frequency sounds warns them of any impending danger. Cows are also extremely social creatures, who do not like to be isolated. Studies show that they can make best friends and become upset when their friends are taken away from them. (source)