Eight unbelievable truths about animals
As another series of The Unbelievable Truth ends, a game show in which panellists try and smuggle astonishing hidden facts about a given subject past their opponents, we take a look at some of the most outrageous claims that actually turned out to be true (we even had to double check some of them). From eternal octopuses to the unbelievable flying altitude of bees, who knew that listening to a comedy programme could also be, well… educational?
Prepare to look at animals in a way you’ve never looked at them before.
1) All dolphins stranded on British shores must be offered to the Queen
It’s not just swans that are under ownership of the British Crown; the Queen also technically owns all the sturgeons, whales, porpoises and dolphins within three miles of land around the United Kingdom. Enshrined in statute law dating back to 1324, these particular animals are recognised as Fishes Royal and may be claimed by the Crown. Talk about offshore assets!
2. A wolphin is the child of a common bottlenose dolphin and a false killer whale
We will give you a few moments to absorb this… A wholphin is an extremely rare hybrid and child of a female common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and a male false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens). Both species come within the oceanic dolphin family, with the first documented wolphin born in 1981 at SeaWorld in Tokyo.
3. Snails carry their male reproductive organs on the right side of the head
Many land snails actually carry their reproductive organs in their heads, and are also hermaphrodites. During the reproduction process, a snail will shoot a sharp love dart into its partner before connecting opposite genitalia. If you’ve ever had a date that hasn’t gone quite to plan, spare a thought for the humble land snail which is literally speared in the head with a sharp dart by its partner prior to mating.
4. A sting from a certain species of jellyfish can provoke a feeling of impending doom
The unfortunate victims of those stung by the Irukandji jellyfish, found in waters on Australia's eastern coast, are commonly overwhelmed with a sense of foreboding. The deadly jellyfish, that’s a mere one cubic centimetre in size, has a potent sting 1,000 times more powerful than a tarantula’s bite and can bring on excruciating symptoms including muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and a feeling of impending doom! With some of the world’s most dangerous spiders, largest sharks and most venomous jellyfish, statistically the safest place on an Australian holiday is on the aeroplane… surely?
5. There is an immortal jellyfish
Turritopsis nutricula, a variety of jellyfish found in Japanese and Mediterranean waters, can reverse the biological process leading up to sexual maturity, known as transdifferentiation. Theoretically it has a rare biologically immortal status; however, in reality most of these jellyfish eventually die from predators or disease.
6. Honey is bee vomit
Now, we don’t want to put you off your morning porridge drenched in honey, but David Mitchell explains: “According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) definition, vomiting is the act of ejecting the contents of the stomach through the mouth and honey is basically flower nectar that has been regurgitated by bees from their honey stomachs”. But, before switching the morning breakfast to toast and jam, it’s worth remembering that honey contains many important antioxidants your body needs… and let’s face it, it tastes fantastic!
7. Scientists have proved that bees can fly higher than Mount Everest
Research conducted at the University of Wyoming proved bees placed in an altitude flight chamber could maintain flight at over 9,000 metres (29,528 feet) - higher than Mount Everest which stands at a mere 8,848 metres (29,029 feet). To put this into perspective, insects and mosquitos have been collected at 1,000 (3,281 feet), ducks and geese can reach heights of 2000 metres (6,562 feet) and commercial airliners typically travel at average altitude of 10,000 metres (32,808 feet).
8. Chickens can be diagnosed with depression and feel empathy
If watching the blockbuster film Chicken Run has taught us anything, it’s that no one likes a sad chicken. But, it’s not just in films: scientists at the University of Bristol conducted experiments using blasts of air to prove that chickens are able to feel depression, and empathy – once considered an emotion only felt by humans.