Strange but True

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From Xplor: September/October 2019

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

  • Flying squirrels hide a colorful secret. Under ultraviolet light, the squirrelly skydivers glow pink. Why do they gleam like radioactive cotton candy? Scientists aren’t sure, but they think it may help the nocturnal nut bandits find each other in the dark.
  • The bright colors of autumn leaves are there all year. You just can’t see them. Green-colored chlorophyll (kloroh- fill) covers up the other colors most of the time. In the fall, trees quit making chlorophyll. As the green fades, other colors shine through.
  • Owls don’t have teeth. So what’s a hungry bird to do with a yummy mouse? Swallow it whole. The mouse’s meaty parts are quickly digested. Bones, teeth, and fur — which are too hard to digest — get barfed up later as a hairy gray pellet.
  • When a Gray squirrel thinks it’s being watched, it pretends to bury an acorn while keeping the real deal tucked under its arm. Biologists once believed this kind of trickery was used only by monkeys, apes, and humans. Now they know that’s nuts.
  • Waste not, want not. If one of a tarantula's legs gets injured, it usually eats the damaged appendage. But don’t worry about the spider. While it regrows a new leg, the hairy hunter seems to crawl along just fine on the other seven.
  • It’s a good thing Loggerhead shrikes aren’t much bigger than a bluebird. Meat-munching shrikes use pinpoint pecks to the neck to paralyze prey such as mice. While the rodent remains motionless, the shrike shakes it hard enough to snap its neck.
  • Beneath the surface of Missouri’s lakes swims a mindless eating machine. Freshwater jellyfish squirt around armed with stinging tentacles just like their saltwater cousins. But fear not. Missouri’s jellies are too tiny to sting people.

Also In This Issue

Grey Squirrel
Meet a few of Missouri’s mighty oaks and the critters that crave their acorns.

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