From Xplor for Kids
October 2014 Issue

Strange But True

Publish Date

Oct 01, 2014

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

  • Quit being so sensitive! Sensitive briar, a vinelike plant with pink pompomshaped flowers and prickly thorns, has a neat trick up its stem. If you touch its leaves, they immediately wilt and fold shut.
  • Baby spittlebugs suck sap from plants and turn it into bubbly, spit-like foam. The bugs snuggle inside the slobber, safe from predators and the heat of the sun. Although the foam looks like spit, it’s not. It actually comes from a spittlebug’s other end.
  • An adult spoonbill’s beak looks like someone stepped on the tip and smashed it pancake flat. Baby spoonbills, however, hatch with tube-shaped beaks that look more like a duck’s bill. The beaks don’t begin to flatten until the chicks are 9 days old.
  • Ambush anglers: Softshell turtles bury themselves in sand at the bottoms of rivers, leaving only their heads exposed. When fish swim nearby, the turtles stretch out their long necks, and — CHOMP! — the fish disappear.
  • Who you calling scum sucker? Stonerollers use their chisellike lower jaws to scrape algae — aka pond scum — off of rocks and other underwater objects. Each day, a stoneroller scarfs down enough scum to equal a third of its body weight.
  • Spadefoot toads tunnel underground using hard, shovel-shaped bumps on their hind feet. These tough toads absorb water through their skin from the surrounding soil. During droughts, they can lose half the water in their bodies and still survive.
  • Slugs slide from place to place on a slick layer of slime. The bottom part of a slug’s body, called a foot, oozes mucus onto whatever it touches. The mucus is so slick, slugs can glide over knives without getting sliced!

Also in this issue

You Discover

With birds flying south, leaves changing color, and hunting seasons gearing up, there’s plenty to discover in October and November. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Predator vs. Prey: Loggerhead Shrike vs. Northern Fence Lizard

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.

How To: Shoot Straight

To be a good hunter, you must be a straight shooter. Once your rifle has been sighted in, follow these tips to get better at hitting the bull’s-eye.


Make no bones about it, you can learn a skeleton about an animal by examining its skull.

Spook-Tacular Spiders

It’s creepy. It’s crawly. It lives in the shadows and spins webs in impossible places. Then it waits…

Wild Jobs: Sturgeon Surgeon Travis Moore

Sturgeon Surgeon Travis Moore equips slippery patients with high-tech tracking devices.

This Issue's Staff:

Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White

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