15 Nature/Science Facts Even Kids Will Love –
Kids are curious beings. They are at a stage when they want to learn and make use of every possible point in time. So, as parents and adults, it sometimes gets hard to always provide them with new and interesting knowledge to quench their thirst. But fret not. We bring to you 15 interesting facts that you can share with your kids and amaze them. Here are 15 simple yet mind-boggling facts to amuse your kids.
1. When a bee is chosen to be the next queen, she is given a special royal jelly that she has exclusive access to. No other bee can get a taste of the royal jelly. It’s only for the queen.
Soon-to-be-queen bees are given a special royal jelly which is white in color and is secreted by the worker bees. Scientists earlier believed that by making the royal jelly unavailable to the other bees, it was made sure that none of the other bees had the potential to turn into a queen. But now, they have discovered that it’s the other way around. Not feeding normal pollen and honey to the future queen is what makes her royal rather than her exclusive access to royal jelly.
Basically, normal honey made from plants has a component known as phenolic acid. Scientists conducted an experiment in which they fed two groups of bees with different diets. One had phenolic acids, and the other that did not. Surprisingly, the bees on the diet that had phenolic acids showed shrinkage in their ovaries! Now, a queen bee is different because she is the only bee in the hive that lays eggs. So, the bees cannot take the chance of her ovaries shrinking. Hence, she is not fed normal honey and pollen. In order for her to have enough food, the other bees are forbidden from enjoying the royal jelly, a name that seems to be quite misleading now. (source)
2. Some spiders keep tiny frogs as pets so that they can guard their eggs.
Tiny frogs and large spiders share a similar bond to humans and dogs. This type of connection is primarily seen between the dotted humming frog, Chiasmocleis ventrimaculata, and the burrowing tarantula, scientifically known as Xenesthis immanis. There is a mutual benefit in this relationship. The spider protects the tiny frog from becoming food for predators, while the frog, on the other hand, protects the eggs of the spider from extremely small insects that the spider is unable to catch. Also, these extremely small insects become a food source for the frog.
But how do the frogs stop the spiders from eating them? Well, the spiders recognize their pet frogs with the help of chemical cues. Scientists have observed the tarantulas picking up the frogs, examining them with their mouths, and letting them go. Seems like they have a good system in place. (source)
3. It snows on Venus. but instead of earth-like snow, the snow in Venus is made up of metals.
Space is an amusing place filled with stars that are incredibly hot, areas that are freezing cold, black holes, supernovas, and what not. Now, finding a place in this list is Venus with her snowy metal. At the top of the mountains located on Venus, a layer of snow was detected by experts. Since the temperature on Venus is crazy hot, sometimes as high as 480°C, it cannot be real snow. It was discovered that this snow-looking stuff was actually a combination of two metals – bismuthinite and Galena.
The snow is created when the minerals on the planet vaporize because of the searing temperatures and enter the atmosphere as metallic mist. This mist, after reaching high altitudes, condenses and then falls back on the planet as “frost.” Layers and layers of it give the impression of it being snow. (source)
4. A baby panda, during its birth, is smaller than a mouse.
When baby pandas are born, they sometimes weigh less than a pound! That is impossibly small, considering adult pandas weigh more than 200 pounds. Dajun Wang, a wildlife biologist, explains that the reason behind baby pandas being so small is bamboo. Pandas survive only on bamboo and that gives them very little nutrition. They can easily convert the bamboo they eat into milk, rather than tissue and muscle. So, as an evolutionary breeding strategy, the babies are born small so that they get enough nutrition from the milk produced by their mothers. And eventually, they get bigger in size. Also, since the baby is tiny, the mother does not require too much energy to take care of the little one. Hence, the balance is ensured. (source)
5. Bees convey the news about the discovery of nearby flowers to their friends in the form of dance.
During the summer, honeybees fly longer distances as compared to the other seasons in search of food. They go in groups to forage for food for the entire hive. So, when they actually locate food, they communicate their find to their fellow bees through a dance.
Researchers observed a type of “waggle dance” that bees perform. They observed the dance for two years before being able to decode the meaning behind it. Apparently, the angle between the dancing bee and the sun, combined with the duration for which the bees waggled in a pattern forming the figure eight, tells the location of the food they found! This is actually incredible! The researchers were able to map the location with that data. (source)
6. Otters have special pockets on their skin to store their favorite rocks.
Sea otters using rocks to crack open shellfish such as crabs and clams are a common sight. They are seen using rocks to hit abalone shells and make them loosen their grip on the seafloor in just 15 seconds. What many people don’t realize is that some sea otters have a favorite rock, a rock that has been of great service to them. They don’t walk around wearing clothes with pockets to store their favorite rock. So what they do is use flaps of loose skin as pockets to store their favorite rock! These loose skin flaps are located under both forearms. Apart from their favorite rock, they also store food items. (1, 2)
7. There’s an island in Japan populated only by fluffy, cute bunnies.
Okunoshima, an island in Japan, must be the cutest island in the world. The reason for that is the entire island is populated by hundreds of cute rabbits that just roam around and enjoy their life there. Before the time of the rabbits, the island had a dark past. During World War II, the Japanese army used the island to secretly produce poison gas. There is a Poison Gas Museum on the island, but the cute rabbits are doing a good job of diverting the tourists’ attention away from the island’s dark history.
Although there is no exact explanation for the arrival of rabbits on the island, there is one probable explanation. During the war, when the Japanese army was secretly producing poison gas on the discreetly located island, a colony of rabbits was unfortunately brought to the island for lab test purposes. Some people believe that the current rabbits are descendants of the rabbits who were released by the army once the war ended.
There’s one more theory that goes around. It is said that a group of school children brought eight rabbits to the island. Since the island is devoid of any predators, the population of the rabbits kept on growing leading to the current large population. But considering the discreet location of the island, it’s hard to believe that some school children came to the island on their own. (source)
8. A polar bear’s skin is black.
This takes many people by surprise. Polar bears are residents of the coldest place on the planet. Their thick coat of fur and the thick layer of fat provides them with the insulation required to survive the coldest environment. Fur even grows on the bottom of their paws protecting them from cold surfaces while helping them to get a good grip on slippery ice.
But, underneath their white furry coat, they have black skin. Black skin helps polar bears to better soak-in the warm rays of the sun. (source)
9. Butterflies taste with their feet.
The feet of butterflies are embedded with taste receptors. So, wherever they land, butterflies get to taste their surroundings. Sometimes, it might get really unpleasant in case they land in unfortunate places. But for a butterfly, tasting with their feet serves a greater purpose. University of Arizona’s entomologist, Katy Prudic, explains that being able to taste with their feet makes it possible for butterflies to decide whether the surface is appropriate for laying eggs. They make sure with their feet whether the plant they have chosen would serve as a good food source for their caterpillar babies.
Butterflies are not the only ones who have olfactory senses at bizarre locations. Locusts and crickets have taste receptors on the organ that deposits the eggs. This way, they can make sure whether the dirt they are putting their eggs on would be good for their babies. (source)
10. From its discovery to the time when it was kicked out of the solar system, Pluto is yet to complete one revolution around the sun.
The first time Pluto was discovered was 1930 – February 18, to be precise. Fast forward to August 2006. Pluto was then declared a “dwarf planet.” The International Astronomical Union (IAU) classified Pluto as a dwarf planet because Pluto is not gravitationally dominant in its orbit and shares the orbit with other, similar-sized celestial bodies. Out of the three criteria for a celestial body to be declared a planet, Pluto failed one criterion.
It takes 248.09 Earth years for Pluto to make one revolution around the sun. Considering all the calculations, Pluto is expected to complete its first full revolution since its discovery on March 23, 2178. So, yes, a long way to go before its first revolution! (source)
11. There’s a train station in Japan that has a cat for a stationmaster. The current cat stationmaster is named Nitama who was appointed after the sad demise of Tama, the first cat to be the stationmaster there.
The Kishi Train Station located in Kinokawa, the rural neighborhood of Wakayama Prefecture in Japan, has a special stationmaster – a cat! It has not always been like that. Years ago, the station was on the verge of closure. But when locals demanded it be kept open, the authorities finally agreed. At that time, Toshiko Koyama was the station master.
Koyama had adopted a cat, Tama, who used to roam around in the station and greet passengers. On January 5, 2007, officials decided to award the official title of stationmaster to Tama. Her primary duty was to meet and greet passengers. A specially designed stationmaster’s hat was made for Tama. In terms of salary, Tama received a year’s worth of cat food and a gold tag that had her name and designation engraved on it. During her first year on the job, Tama was said to have brought in 1.1 billion yen ($9.2 million) and to have led to a 17% increase in the number of passengers.
In 2015, Tama breathed her last. After a mourning period of 50 days, another cat succeeded in her post. The new cat is Nitama. It is said that she beat several other prospective cat candidates to get the job! Nitama was chosen on account of her experience. She served as a stationmaster at the Idakiso Station before she became Tama’s assistant stationmaster in 2012. She had training from Tama directly, and that worked in her favor of getting the job. Wait, are we still talking about cats? (1, 2)
12. Dogs can sense when their owners are returning home by the amount of scent left in the house in the case where owners have the same daily routine.
Dogs have a power known as “stereo-olfaction.” This gives them the ability to smell differentiate scents with each nostril! The nose of a dog enhances the smells in the same way a high definition television enhances the picture quality. This is possible because the nose of a dog has millions of more receptor cells than that of a human nose.
Dogs can tell the time based on the smell of the space around them. For a pet, this spectacular ability helps them to get an idea of the time when their owners will be back home. Depending on the amount of scent left in the house, the dogs get a rough idea of how long their owners have been gone. So, if the owners have a regular schedule, the dogs are well aware when the owners are about to return home. (source)
13. In seahorses, it is the male that carries the babies and gives birth to them.
Seahorses are unusual-looking fish that have undergone numerous adaptations. Over thousands of years, seahorses have developed a tail to grasp onto seabed vegetation, a mouth that looks like a tube to suck in small water-borne organisms, and a protective cover for their skin. But nothing beats the ability of the male seahorses to give birth to their young ones!
Male seahorses carry the eggs of their babies on their belly. They have a pouch on their stomach that enables them to carry up to 2,000 babies at a time. Depending on the type of seahorse species, the pregnancy can last between 10 and 25 days.
When the eggs hatch in the pouch, it is the male who cares for them and nurtures them. Finally, when they are ready to be born, the male undergoes contractions that expel the young ones from the pouch. Once they are born, the male seahorse cuts all ties with them. The parents do not provide them with any care once they are released into the sea. (source)
14. It is illegal to own just one guinea pig in Switzerland. You need to own at least two.
Switzerland is the home of numerous, pet-friendly laws. For example, they have this law where it is compulsory for dog owners to take a course on how to take care of their dogs and deal with various behavioral situations. Similarly, fishermen are required to take a course on humane fishing. And now they have come up with the “guinea pig law.”
Guinea pigs are social animals. They need to have constant social interaction if they are to remain happy, so, owning just one guinea pig would not be a good idea. They need a friend at all times. Hence, by law, you will need to have at least two guinea pigs in Switzerland. (source)
15. If you keep a goldfish in a dark room, it will turn paler.
If your goldfish has been lying in the dark throughout the night, you might notice that it has turned a little paler in the morning. Also, a goldfish kept indoors is slightly paler in comparison to the ones swimming in fresh water outdoors. The reason being that when goldfish are not exposed to the entire spectrum of light or kept in the dark for many days, special cells of the fish, called chromatophores, will stop producing pigments that give color to their skin. These special cells will stop working, and the new cells aren’t stimulated enough to produce pigment.
The goldfish won’t turn entirely white as fish also get their pigment from the food they eat. Fish foods contain carotenoids and canthaxanthin, pigments that are responsible for coloration in fish. (source)