March 18, 2011
Sharks are immune to almost all known diseases.
A sheep, a duck and a rooster were the first animals to fly in a hot air balloon.
A giraffe’s ½ metre tongue is long enough to clean its own ears.
The sea horse is the only animal where the male gives birth.
The word ‘Chihuahua’ means ‘tiny dog in the sky’.
Camels have 4 hearts, one per leg
The eel-shark is the only animal capable of turning itself inside out.
Rhino horns are made of hair.
Humans are the only animal that can walk backwards.
The spine-tailed swift (also known as the white-throated needletail) sometimes fly so fast that they split in half.
The only definitive way to tell the difference between a frog and a toad is by taste.
Millions of trees are accidentally planted by squirrels who bury nuts and then forget where they hid them.
Certain Chinese and American alligators survive the winter by freezing their heads in ice.
The giant octopus has such heavy legs that they fall off if it is lifted out of the water.
All butterflies are cross-eyed.
Montana mountain goats will butt heads so hard their hooves fall off.
Crabs outnumber humans 7 million to 1.
Honeybees have hair on their eyes.
Polar bears will not attack women.
Some ribbon worms will eat themselves if they can’t find any food.
All wolves are deaf.
The fingerprints of koala bears are virtually indistinguishable from those of humans, so much so that they could be confused at a crime scene.
Once a peacock bites you, it never lets go – even after it has died.
Leopards can’t see milk.
Fleas have killed more humans than all the wars ever fought.
Most bees are allergic to honey.
If you lift a kangaroo’s tail off the ground it can’t hop.
Macaw eggs always hatch clockwise in the nest, starting from the south east.
Leeches have 32 brains.
Wasp stings are made of glass.
Male scorpions are born with wings that fall off once they have mated.
All elephants walk on tip-toe, because the back portion of their foot is made up of all fat and no bone.
Bird’s nests are 80% water.
Bats can’t walk.
Tadpoles are more intelligent than guinea pigs.
Birds couldn’t survive in space as they need gravity to swallow.
Dolphins are the only animal, other than humans, that have been observed showing racist behaviour.
A donkey will sink in quicksand but a mule won’t.
The North-African wildebeest is the only mammal that doesn’t need oxygen to survive.
Killer whales kill sharks by torpedoing up into the shark’s stomach from underneath, causing the shark to explode.
Most dogs are taller at night than in the day.
Bats always turn left when leaving a cave.
The word ‘alligator’ comes from the Pakistani for ‘delicious lady’.
When a giraffe’s baby is born it falls from a height of six feet, normally without being hurt.
According to experts, whale songs rhyme.
Penguins don’t believe in death.
Due to its ability to completely flatten its body, a Leptothorax minutissimus ant can never be crushed.
A cat has a higher chance of surviving a fall from a 20th story window than from a 7th story window.
March 15, 2011
March 10, 2011
Zagworm (or Xagworm), although relatively unknown in the west, is becoming increasingly common in mainland Africa and is now the third leading cause of death in the Republic of Liberia after lung cancer and malaria.
Despite its name, Zagworm, like Ringworm, is actually a fungal parasite rather than an actual worm; the name comes from the track marks left by the fungus when breaking down tissue which resemble the pathways of burrowing worms. These distinctive features, but the absence of worms themselves, coupled with the ‘possessed’ appearance of sufferers led the Motuans of Papua New Guinea to believe that the disease was caused by a demonic parasite; they therefore named it after the Motu word for Satan – ‘Xag’.
Transmission of the parasite is frighteningly easy and fairly unique. Since the spores are so small, they can essentially hitch a ride on some larger strains of bacteria, making catching Zagworm as easy as catching the common cold, although far more dangerous without treatment.
Once ingested the spores hatch into gametophytes and burrow into the body, generally settling on tendons or large areas of sinew, where they grow and break down the tissue. This erosion of tendons and sinew causes the first noticeable symptom of a Zagworm infection: involuntary reflex reactions. This rapid tensing and relaxing of the muscles (especially in the limbs) can cause involuntary jumping or, more commonly, falling over; at other times the affected person can be expected to lash out or upwards with the arms and can often result in the patient punching themselves repeatedly in the face.
The next stage of the illness usually sees the fungus spread to the brain, causing memory loss, paranoia and delusions; if treatment isn’t administered early at this stage then recovery is very unlikely. In some rare cases, where tendons are completely broken down before the destruction of brain tissue has proved fatal, Zagworm can cause Detached Bone Syndrome (DBS), a particularly horrific condition that can see the body contort into painful and unnatural positions, such as joints bending backwards or bones sliding out of position. The trauma of witnessing this condition in a person who is already highly mentally unstable has been the inspiration for many posession myths, including much of the content of the 1973 film ‘The Exorcist’.
Despite how common the parasite is, and the fact that it is almost always fatal if left undiagnosed, Zagworm can be easily and cheaply treated with voriconazole; it is therefore only prevalent in communities without easy access to medical treatment or areas of extreme poverty.