Strange but True

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From Xplor: May/June 2020
  • You’d better bring a sturdy umbrella! In rare cases, tornadoes suck up schools of fish when they swirl over lakes and rivers. The fish blow around in the clouds for a while and then fall back to Earth, sometimes many miles away.
  • Periodical cicadas live underground for most of their lives. They crawl to the surface in overwhelming numbers every 13 or 17 years. Annual cicadas also live underground, but some of them come to the surface every year.
  • Bring the sting!
  • Summer tanagers don’t care. The brilliant birds love to eat bees and wasps. To avoid a stinging stomachache, they rub each bee against a branch to wipe off its stinger.
  • Snow in June? A large cottonwood tree can
  • produce 25 million seeds. Each seed is surrounded by a tangle of fluffy fibers. Wind blows the seeds far from the mama tree, and when millions gather on the ground, it can look like snow.
  • Turkey vultures have super sniffers that they use to find dead animals to dine on. Black vultures can’t smell squat. To get food, black vultures often follow a single turkey vulture to a carcass and use their numbers to bully the other bird away.
  • When a collared lizard needs to scurry in a hurry, it stands upright and runs on its hind legs, using its long tail for balance. The rapid reptiles can reach speeds of 15 mph — quick enough to catch prey or escape most predators.
  • Pushy peepers: To swallow big bites, a frog blinks its eyes. During the blink, muscles pull the frog’s huge eyeballs down into the roof of its mouth. The eyeballs squeeze food down the frog’s throat. Gulp!

Also In This Issue

American Burying Beetle
No other animals on Earth are more successful than these insects.
Lizard or salamander? Missouri’s only newt can pass for both.

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