Strange but True

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From Xplor: March/April 2020
  • Not only is the lake sturgeon one of Missouri’s largest fishes, but it’s also one of our longest-lived. The 8-foot giants can survive to be over 150 years old. Despite their name, most lake sturgeons live in big rivers like the Missouri and Mississippi.
  • Peregrine falcons aren’t picky eaters. Biologists have recorded the ravenous raptors eating 450 different kinds of birds — everything from 5-foot-tall sandhill cranes to 3-inch-small hummingbirds.
  • An eastern mole couldn’t see dirt if it were buried in it. The little digger’s eyelids are fused shut, so the best its peepers can do is tell light from dark. But who needs sight underground? Moles use their keen senses of smell and touch to find food.
  • When an alligator snapping turtle wishes for fishes, it simply opens its mouth and wiggles its pink, worm-shaped tongue. Hungry fish that swim in for an easy meal learn too late where the name “snapper” comes from.
  • A scissor-tailed flycatcher nabs insects in midair, using its forked tail to swerve like a feathered fighter jet. It eats small bugs in flight, but brings bigger prey, like grasshoppers, back to a perch where it bashes them until they’re less ... hoppy.
  • With a wingspan of 5 to 7 inches, a cecropia moth is bigger than some birds. Despite their large size, these fluffy flutterers don’t eat a thing. Once the caterpillars turn into moths, they search for a mate, lay eggs, and then die.
  • Most birds have hollow bones. This reduces a bird’s weight, which makes it easier to fly. But common loons have solid bones. This helps the fish-eating fowl dive quickly so they can chase their finned food underwater.
  • Injection protection: Speckled kingsnakes sometimes eat other snakes, and they don’t let a s-s-s-snakebite stand in the way of s-s-s-supper. The boldly patterned serpents are immune to the venom of Missouri’s pit vipers.

Also In This Issue

But first, check out this mini field guide to fooling fish with fake flies.
Which critter will win this battle in the bulrushes?

This Issue's Staff

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