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A Hodge Podge of Fun Facts About Our Ecosystems and its Species

Updated: May 5


Photo Credit: Wix Media

There are so many interesting facts and phenomena found on our amazing planet, but how many of these do you actually know? Pick your brain and test your knowledge with this hodge podge of fun facts and Did You Knows!


Ecosystems, Habitats, and Biomes

1.    Did you know that wildlife can be found in habitats, ecosystems, and biomes? But what are the differences between these?

·      A habitat is a place where organisms live, and it includes all the essential biological, physical, and chemical elements needed to sustain them. For example, a Bengal tiger’s habitat is the jungle where it lives.

·      An ecosystem is a community of living and non-living things in a particular area. Living things interact with the non-living things. For example, in the jungle, the ecosystem includes all other living organisms along with non-living things like water, soil, etc.

·      biome is a large area characterized by its vegetation, soil, climate, and wildlife. There are 6 major types of biomes: aquatic, grassland, savanna, forest, desert, and tundra. Oceans constitute the largest biomes (aquatic).

Birds 

2.    Did you know these facts about birds?

·      Most bird bones are hollow, which makes them lighter and therefore, helps them fly. But there are some flightless birds like loons, penguins, and puffins that have solid bones, which make them heavier and therefore, excellent divers instead!

·      Large gliding and soaring birds tend to have more bones, while diving birds have less.

·      Birds do not pee! If you look at bird poop, you will notice that it usually has a dark greenish brown center with a white substance around it. Birds convert waste into uric acid (also called guanine) and discharge it as a white sticky paste. The greenish substance is digested food aka bird poop!

·      Bird poop does not smell! This is because the majority of a bird's diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and seeds and very small portions of meat.

·      The Stresemann’s Bristlefront is one example of a critically endangered bird with only 50 left in the wild.

 

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Insects

3.    Did you know that insects can be dangerous and awesome as well?

·      Insects can be dangerous when they use poison or venom. They use venom to kill prey or defend themselves against predators. Examples are mosquitoes, bees, some species of spiders and wasps. Mosquitoes are the most dangerous of them all. They also spread disease.

·      There are about 91,000 species of insects in the USA alone! And each year scientists discover around 7,000 new species of insects. WOW!

·      Around 1/3 of all insect species are carnivorous with most of them hunting for their food rather than eating dead meat or plant material.

·      Houseflies find sugar with their feet, which are 10 million times more sensitive than human tongues!

·      Ants can lift and carry more than fifty times their own weight.

·      Insects have been present on earth for about 350 million years, and humans for only around 300,000 years. Take a bow to insects!

 

Reptiles

4.      Did you know that Reptiles are amazing critters? Read on…

·      The Aldabra tortoise can live over 150 years and alligators have an average life span of 70 years!

·      There are more than 8,200 different species of reptiles. The majority of these are snakes and lizards.

·      The world’s largest reptile is the saltwater crocodile that can be over 20 feet (6m) long! The world’s smallest reptile is the Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon. It’s only around 0.87 inch (22 mm) long. 

·       Female leatherback sea turtle locates the same spot where it originally hatched and will then return to it to lay her own eggs. How cool!

·      Europe and Antarctica are the only continents where native crocodiles are not found.

 

Amphibians

5.    Do you know about the remarkable evolution and unique biology of Amphibians?

·      Amphibians were the first critters that moved from water onto land. Hence, they can live in either ecosystem. Newts, frogs, salamanders, and toads are examples of amphibians.

·      Amphibians evolved about 365 million years ago from lobe-finned lungfish ancestors. As the earliest land vertebrates, they were highly successful. And some of them were much larger than today's amphibians. For more than 100 million years, amphibians remained the dominant land vertebrates!

·      They are ectothermic animals and prefer warmer weather.

·      Their body is divided into head and trunk. The tail may or may not be present.

·      The skin is smooth and rough without any scales. Secreting glands make their skin moist.

·      They mostly have unpaired fins.

·      They have two pairs of limbs for transportation.

·      They breathe through the lungs AND skin. Gills might be present externally in some adults.

·      The heart is three chambered.

·      Their kidney is mesonephric. The excretory material includes ammonia and urea. The mesonephric duct, also known as the Wolffian duct, archinephric duct, Leydig's duct or nephric duct, is a paired organ that develops in the early stages of embryonic development in humans and other animals like amphibians. 


A newt is a type of salamander but all salamanders are not newts. Photo credit: needpix.com

Mammals

6.    Did you know these facts about Mammals?

·      Mammals are warm-blooded animals. Their body temperature remains about the same their entire lives.

·      All mammals have hair, even dolphins and whales that live in the ocean.

·      Most mammals are born live, not from eggs. However, there are two mammals that hatch from eggs. They are  the spiny anteater and the duckbilled platypus.

·      All mammals except ant eaters have teeth.

·      Bats are the only mammals that can fly.

·      Koalas sleep the longest of any animal. They sleep around 22 hours a day!

·      Dolphin and whale calves do not sleep the first month of their life.


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