Strange But True

By | December 1, 2012
From Xplor: December 2012/January 2013

Your guide to all the unusual, unique and unbelievable stuff that goes on in nature.

  • Missouri’s oldest living trees are eastern red cedars growing atop bluffs in untouched corners of the state. Some are nearly 900 years old, which means they started growing more than 600 years before the United States became a country.
  • Quick-change artists: In northern parts of their range, least weasels trade their brown summer coats for white winter fur. This helps the feisty little predators slink through snow to catch mice and other prey cold.
  • Using nothing but its teeth, a beaver can gnaw down a 5-inch-wide willow tree in under three minutes. Big trees don’t stop these furry chainsaws, either. A beaver in Canada cut down a cottonwood that was nearly 6 feet wide and 110 feet tall.
  • Oppossums have a few extra parts. Not only are they North America’s only furbearer with a pouch, they also have more teeth—50 to be exact—than any other Missouri mammal. Now that’s quite a mouthful!
  • Mourning cloaks are among the first butterflies to flutter by in spring. They suck sap, which flows best when it’s warm during the day and freezing at night, so it’s not uncommon to see mourning cloaks flying when there’s still snow.
  • Although they’re Missouri’s largest meateating mammal, black bears give birth to itty-bitty babies. Born while mama bear’s in her winter den, each cub is 9 inches long and weighs about 6 ounces—much smaller than an average human baby.
  • Hoo’s who? Female great horned owls are noticeably larger than males, but males have deeper voices. In all other respects, the owls look identical—at least to humans. Owls themselves have no problem telling each other apart.
  • On average, a snow goose goes to the bathroom every four minutes. With more than 5 million snow geese in existence, these super poopers leave tons of droppings.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White