Wonders in the Animal Land
The hard to believe phenomena in the animal land may leave humankind in awe, but have their roots buried in science. Here are five such amazements out of the millions that are already or yet to be discovered. Unearth the wonders and find out the science behind them, as you move down the list.
1. CHANGING SKIN COLOUR OF A SLEEPING OCTOPUS
A few days ago, a video of an octopus changing colour during its sleep went viral on twitter from the handle https://twitter.com/buitengebieden_?s=20 , flabbergasting netizens worldwide. What will startle you more is the fact that Octopuses have problem solving and cognitive abilities like those of mammals, although their brain structure varies greatly from mammals.
Octopus are known to change colour with the help of colour-changing cells called chromatophores to camouflage in their surroundings and for communicational purposes, which is quite a survival instinct. But the research on the very perspective of the dream sequence of an octopus, is still in progress. Scientists say, while octopuses sleep, they enter a long phase of “Quiet Sleep” which lasts for 6-7 minutes in which no colour change occurs, after which colour alterations occur for about 1 minute. This shorter episode is known as “Active Sleep”, in which the octopus is believed to dream which is more like a GIF, unlike our complex plots.
2. CLOWN FISH ALTERING GENDER
This is where the Disney-Pixar movie, “Finding Nemo” went scientifically wrong ! Clown fishes are protandrous fishes which exhibit sequential hermaphroditism. Sequential hermaphrodites can change their sex at some point during their life, where the protandrous type change from male to female.
All the clown fishes are born as males and the leader of the tribe is a huge and bulky female. The huge and bulky feature relates to the fact that unlike humans the egg laying capacity of a fish is associated with its size, the bigger the fish, the more are the eggs. When the leader dies, the largest male becomes the leader by changing its sex to female and continues the life processes accordingly. This change in sex is no miracle but a boon of nature that helps these species of fishes to improve adaptation, enhance reproduction and increase survival rates. Although this area of study is still under research, the scientists reveal that change in gender can be attributed to hormonal changes and neuronal activities that occur within the male fish.
3. IMMORTALITY OF JELLYFISH
A certain species of beautiful sea creatures with numerous tentacles moving around have the power of immortality. And it’s not ambrosia or Amritam that jellyfishes were bestowed upon but pure science. The hydrozoan Turritopsis dohrnii are that species of jellyfish that can cheat death.
They are of a size that’s smaller than the nail on our little finger. When the medusa, the adult jellyfish, of these species is on the verge of physical damage, they reverse their life-cycle by shrinking on themselves, reabsorbing their tentacles and settling on the sea floor, similar to the stage when they were first born, known as polyp. This process of reversal of life-cycle is known as Transdifferentiation. This could probably help scientists find methods to repair or regenerate damaged tissues.
4. NATURAL SUNSCREEN OF HIPPOPOTAMUS
Imagine travelling without a scarf or sun-screen without the layers of tan ! That would be a blessing for us, wouldn’t it be ? But hippopotamus already have that ability. They do not need a sunscreen because they have their own brand. According to studies in Nature, the sweat they produce contains a red and an orange pigment. The red one has an antibiotic and the orange colourant absorbs UV rays. Both substances safeguard the animal from harmful sun rays and infection.
5. STRENGTH OF CROW’S MEMORY
Have you ever experienced dive-bombing by crows ? It could possibly relate to an incident where you did something bad with the crows and boom ! They still remember you. The smart birds have an analogy with the amygdala, the part of the brain in vertebrates that’s responsible for memory, providing meaning to emotions and response to them.
While testing, researchers identified increased brain activity in the areas related to emotional processing and fear learning. They also found greater signs of action in the areas that regulate perception, attention and fleeing up, in response to threatening faces.
The nature houses many such creations. All we need to do is keep an eye out for the beauties and instead of considering it to be some magic, find the actual mechanism behind the peculiarity. Who knows, if the exploration could lead us to some great technological invention or revolutionary discovery.