Why do the Afrikaans speaking people refer to a grey rhinoceros as white? The popular etymological story goes like this:
The Dutch at the Cape of Good Hope called the white rhinoceros the “wide” (Dutch: wijd, Afrikaans: wyd) rhinoceros to refer to its wide mouth adapted for grazing – a grass eater. Its mouth is an anatomical feature that distinguishes it from the black rhinoceros, which is a browser – a leaf eater.
The English misheard/mistranslated ‘wijd’ and started calling the rhino “white”.
Some years later, the Dutch/Afrikaners on hearing that the English refer to this rhino as white, decided to use the Afrikaans translation for white rather than stick with the anatomically correct name they purportedly gave it earlier.
You won’t be alone in your
incredulity; Kees Rookmaaker, Chief Editor of the Rhino Resource Center wrote in a 2003 publication “the popular explanation that ‘white’ is derived from the Afrikaans word ‘wyd’ is examined and found to be unsubstantiated and historically incorrect.”
White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) at Pilanesberg.
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Some cats species can purr and others roar but none do both.
It was thought that the characteristics of the hyoid bone determine which cats can roar as all the roaring cats:
(Panthera leo) jaguar
(Panthera onca) tiger
(Panthera tigris); and leopard
share the same hyoid bone structure.
However, turns out the snow-leopard
(Panthera uncia) also shares the same hyoid bone structure, but does not roar but purr.
Back to the drawing board I guess.
Panthera leo the roaring cat with the biggest roar.
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The weaver bird is the only animal that ties real knots in the wild.
Several species of primates can be taught to tie knots (the orang-utan being the most proficient) but none seems to do so naturally in the wild.
Masked weaver (Ploceus velatus) nest building.
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The dragonfly’s eyes cover most of its head and provide it with 360 degrees of vision (although not equally clear in all directions).
It is also able to see ultraviolet light in addition to the normal colour spectrum.
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Most four legged animals have a definitive gait change when they want to move faster; walk, trot, galop.
The elephant by contrast walks and walks faster. Even at its top speed at least one foot always touches the ground.
African Elephant (Loxodonta africana).
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if you consider size; is Anna’s Hummingbird
During courtship, the male of the species perform a diving dance and reaches speeds of up to 385 body lengths per second.
When they pull up at the end of these dives, they are subject to forces up to 10 g (10 times the earth’s gravitational pull).
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) .
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The sweet thorn (
Acacia karroo) can punish absentminded travellers with its very long and rather sharp thorns.
It does however have a sweeter side; its gum.
The gum is sweet, edible and water soluble. It is used in syrups for soft drink, candy, icing sugar, chewing gum and as a lick-able adhesive e.g. on postage stamps.
Soetdoring (Acacia karroo) thorns and flowers.
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With each breathing cycle (exhale / inhale) dolphins exchange as much as 80% of the contents of their lungs compared to around 17% for a human.
Dusky Dolphin, (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) Kaikaura, New Zealand.
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The Cape Buffalo, (
Syncerus caffer) now has the distinction of killing more hunters than any other member of the big five (the five animals most dangerous to hunt on African safari).
No doubt economics (hunting package price) and relative numbers contribute significantly to this position.
The other members of the big five family:
Cape Buffalo, (Syncerus caffer) in Addo Elephant Park.
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A number of animals do not camouflage themselves, but copy the bright colours of a dangerous one, a strategy called Batesian mimicry.
This harmless milk snake for example looks much like the very dangerous coral snake.
There are a number of little rhymes to differentiate based on the colour bands, like this one:
Red follows black – friend of Jack
Red follows yellow – dangerous fellow.
Did I mention it only holds true for North American snakes? (Do check place of birth before getting too friendly.)
Paula with a Pueblan milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli).
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