Studylist of the Week: Animal Mysteries

Did you know that sharks have cells in their brains that can detect electrical fields?

I sure didn’t.

There’s so much we don’t know about the other inhabitants of our world, and the more we learn, the more we realize we have so much left to learn.  The Animal Mysteries studylist details some of the more unexplainable phenomena of the animal kingdom.

Earth is home to innumerable species of animals, many of them more mysterious and bizarre than the most imaginative science fiction aliens ever created.  And just when we start to think we’ve got them figured out, we discover something entirely unexpected.

 

Mass fish and bird deaths last winter proved difficult for scientists and other experts to understand.

Even though there was no evidence that the events were linked, the eerie coincidence led many to worry that this was a sign of worse to come.

 

A newly discovered microbe is changing the way we think about life.

Instead of phosphorus, which until now was considered essential to life, these tiny creatures can feed on a highly poisonous metallic element, arsenic.

 

Unlike wolves, coyotes can coexist comparatively peacefully with humans, moving about mostly at night and remaining wary of people.

They continually avoid people through resourcefulness, making them easy to live around but difficult for researchers to study.

 

The largest fish species in the world, the Whale Shark, is so quiet and unlikely to cause trouble that people can play with them or even hitch a ride on a fin.

Despite their huge size, they have proven difficult to study, so researchers don’t even know how many of them may be in the oceans.

 

One of the best things about scientific inquiry is the knowledge that there is always more out there to discover.  And when it comes to animals, I suspect we’ll continue to be amazed and intrigued by our fellow Earthlings for a long time to come.

Do you have any stories of animal mysteries to share?  Do you know of any newly discovered animals or animal abilities that have left scientists stumped?  Let us know in the comments!

Studylist of the Week: Weather Words

Sometimes, with all of our cars and buildings and roads and hospitals and zoos and nice safe houses, we forget who’s really in charge around here.

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Mother Earth.

But with raging storms, earthquakes, floods, and other huge acts of nature, She has her ways of reminding us.

The Vocablets in the Weather Words studylist showcase some of Mother Nature’s awesome might while also making vocab words memorable!

 

The Amazon, located in South America, is the largest rainforest in the world and one of the wettest places on Earth.

However, the shortage of rainfall that the region has experienced since the start of the 21st century has scientists worried about its future.

 

St. Elmo’s fire is not just an iconic 80′s movie — it’s also a weather phenomenon that creates a bright blue or violet glow under the right conditions.

In atmospheric electric fields (like during a thunderstorm), air molecules separate into ions, creating luminous plasma.

 

 

The one who shaped the mountaintop trees of South Africa with artistry and precision into their gracefully curved forms is a notoriously slow creator.

Wind has the reputation of a great destroyer, but given enough time, it can also be a sculptor of great beauty.

 

 

Venezuela had an exceptionally wet rainy season in 2010, which scientists attributed to a climactic phenomenon called La Nina.

The huge quantities of fast falling rain caused floods that swept through towns and destroyed thousands of homes, killing dozens of people.

 

The efforts of human beings to control or even simply to understand our world can seem paltry and small when faced with the truly formidable power of Earth.  So much that we are able to create can be taken out in an instant by an angry planet.

It is a humbling thought.

Do you have any stories of amazing weather phenomena to share?  Has any huge natural event happened where you live?  Tell us about it in the comments!