Strange but True

By | November 1, 2016
From Xplor: November/December 2016

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

  • River otters are fabulously furry. In fact, each square inch of an otter’s skin is covered with nearly 375,000 hairs. All that hair keeps the fishmunching mammals warm and dry when they swim in icy water.
  • Each year, the Conservation Department grows 1.6 million trout to release into spring-fed rivers and winter lakes throughout Missouri. That’s tons of trout — literally. The fish produced annually have a combined weight of about 550 tons.
  • With their ginormous beaks, evening grosbeaks can crush seeds that would crumple another bird’s bill. Pine siskins, redpolls, and finches often flock to grosbeaks, hoping to snatch up the scraps that the burly beaked birds leave behind.
  • A Northern harrier's saucer-shaped face is lined with stiff feathers that funnel sounds to its ears. This “face funnel” helps harriers hear the slightest squeak so they can zero in on mice hiding in the grass.
  • Most pines, cedars, and other conifers keep their needles all year. That’s why they’re called “evergreen.” Bald cypress trees are never-green — at least during winter. In autumn, their needles turn brown and drop, leaving the branches bald until spring.
  • Snowy owls aren’t night owls — they’re early birds. The wintery white predators normally live far north of Missouri on the Arctic tundra. Up there, the sun doesn’t set during summer, and snowies have no choice but to hunt during the day.
  • Sculpins are big-mouthed, bug-eyed fish that hug the bottom of cold, swift streams in the Ozarks. To avoid becoming chum for predators, sculpins have a trick up their fins: They change color to blend in with their surroundings.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White