Strange but True

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From Xplor: July/August 2017

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

  • American white Pelicans win the prize for having the longest wingspan — up to 9½ feet — of any bird in Missouri. With a wingspan of only 4 inches, ruby throated hummingbirds have the teeniest wings.
  • Most birds that eat plants also eat insects. But not American goldfinches. The only time these strict vegetarians swallow a bug is when they mistakenly gobble one up while snarfing down seeds.
  • The bold colors on a milkweed bug warn predators that a meal made out of this insect may be their last. The bugs eat milkweed, which contains poisonous chemicals. They store the chemicals in their bodies, which makes them poisonous, too.
  • To-tail-ly tubular, dude! A rough greensnake’s tail makes up more than a third of the snake’s total length. The slender serpent uses its extra-long appendage as an anchor and to balance when climbing through trees and shrubs.
  • The dangly tails on a luna moth aren’t just for show. When the moth flutters its wings, the long tails confuse hungry bats, knocking their attacks off target. A bat may chomp off a mouthful of moth tail — ouch! — but the luna survives to fly another night.
  • Red milksnakes are so named because people once thought they drank milk from cows. How could anyone come up with such a crazy idea? Maybe because the colorful snakes are frequently found in barns, hunting for mice and other rodents.
  • Raccoons often dunk food in water before eating it. Are they washing it? Probably not. More likely, the raccoon is simply rubbing off parts of the food it doesn’t want or using its sensitive paws to feel for another meal underwater.

Also In This Issue

Bet you can't count 'em all.
4 kids with a catfish
Drop the remote. The catfish are biting.

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