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Goofy facts found while loafing, er, researching

July 12, 2012 - Burton Cole (humor columnist)

Owls are one of the only birds who can see the color blue.

How do scientists know this? Did they paint a rabbit blue and set it loose in an aviary to see which raptor noticed, the eagle, the hawk or the owl? Wouldn't using a rabbit this way violate some sort of animal testing laws?

I don't know. But the fact that owls see blue while your dog is colorblind are among the thousands of fun and fascinating facts one can learn about animals by trolling the Internet when one is supposed to be hard at work.

(Note to boss: I, of course, was working as cruising WeirdFacts, WikiAnswers, AskVille and other sites is research, which is my job. Honest.)

Here's what else I learned. Elephants are the only mammals that can't jump. This may be why no elephants were chosen last month in the NBA draft.

Outside of the occasional Disney movie, elephants also can't fly, which reminds me of a poem my Uncle Tommy taught me: “Birdie, birdie in the sky / Why'd you do that in my eye? / I'm sure glad elephants can't fly.”

A hippo can outrun a human. Can we get one signed up for the Olympic games this month to challenge Usain Bolt?

I also note that both elephants and hippos are vegetarians. Essentially, they eat salads but tip the scales in tons rather than pounds. And you thought you'd lose weight by eating salads.

An intoxicated ant always falls over onto its right side. Again, I think taking an ant to a bar violates some sort of testing on animals code.

Dolphins sleep with one eye open. I suspect that tenth-grade geometry students and many office workers have mastered the same skill. Dogs are mentioned 14 times in the Bible, though not always in a good light. House cats are not mentioned at all. Make of this what you will.

Possums aren't playing. When threatened, they actually faint from sheer terror – sort of like I did that time Dad came home early and I hadn't gotten around to cleaning my room yet.

Porcupines float. It's more that rocks you need to watch for when rafting.

And finally, male reindeer lose their antlers at the beginning of winter. Female reindeer keep theirs into the spring. So, those eight tiny reindeer depicted in Christmas scenes with antlers are female. Never have they been depicted stopping to ask for directions.


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