Zoology

Surprising Talents of Members of the Animal Kingdom



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While man has been debating the evolutionary “family tree” for a very long time, there is one thing that cannot be refuted - that humans are not the only creatures with surprising talents. The study of some members of the animal kingdom has yielded results that demonstrate some amazing talents that some animals have.

Even the goldfish is talented

While having some intelligence may have been suspected only in larger members of water-dwellers, recent evidence has shown the goldfish to be much more than just an orange-gold little fish swimming aimlessly in a fishbowl. Starting with studies that began in 1994 by a group of researchers at University of Seville in Spain, goldfish were found to be able to swim through mazes, as well as perform other activities that rats and other rodents do. This showing of the same spatial ability as rodents was not limited to just being able to swim through a maze. Goldfish were able to successfully find a visual cue, even when the maze was altered, according to ‘One World, Many Minds: Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom.’

The forebrain of many fish equips them with spatial abilities, it has been discovered. A later study conducted on the freshwater stingray yielded similar results in the stingrays’ place-finding abilities.

Jesus Christ Lizard walks on water

The Jesus Christ Lizard, or basilisk, was given its nickname due to its ability to run on water. Usually they do so when attempting to escape a predator or another reason for which the Jesus Christ Lizard feels the need to get away quickly. As explained by Its Nature, the basilisk possesses large hind feet that have flaps of skin between each toe. Their web-like feet resembles that of a frog. It has the ability to cover more distance in a shorter period of time than other lizards.

Not only does this wonder of nature have the ability to run on water, it can conceals itself quite effectively in its natural habitat in the Central and South American rainforests. It may sit motionless for quite sometime either awaiting just the right moment to pounce on prey or to avoid prey that may wish to enjoy a tasty snack of Jesus Christ Lizard.

You will hear the owl monkey before you see it

The owl monkey, also known as the night monkey, has eight distinctively musical calls. The douroucouli of South America are considered to be the only truly nocturnal monkey on Earth.

National Geographic says that owl monkeys remain with their mate as long as possible during the day. They also never “cheat” on each other. At times when an owl monkey cannot find a mate, it has been known to pick a fight until one of the two proves to be victorious, often resulting in the original mate being kicked out. The owl that does not win the fight is usually so badly injured that it frequently dies, so there is very little chance of an attack to reclaim its mate. Research has shown that the “floater” owl monkey wins the fight and kicks the original mate out, there are fewer babies born than if original mates spend their lifetime together.

Navigating is easier for birds and residents of the ocean blue

Birds do not have an automatic GPS system, yet they tend to find their way wherever they want to go, whether to migrate during harsh weather or to find their way back home. It may not be too difficult to realize that birds actually follow a map, of sorts. Just as humans follow directions known to take them where they want to go, so do birds. During one experiment, as discussed on PETacular USA, a group of pigeons actually were fitted with GPS devices. Once they were released, they “found major roads and followed them back home.” When the pigeons were released in an area that was unfamiliar to them, they flew around in circles until they came upon a familiar landmark. Once they found the familiar landmark, they were able to find their way home.

Birds and humans are not the only creatures with a sense of navigation. Inhabitants of the seas have an incredible sense of navigation, some aspects of which may not yet be fully understood. While some species may use only a sense of navigation, others are seemingly directed by a magnetic field.

Magnetic field gives sense of direction

In studies involving loggerhead turtles, the turtles were guided by magnetic fields upon being hatched. The tiny hatchlings swam around the Florida coast up the North Atlantic, towards Newfoundland. The turtles swam across the Atlantic towards Europe, along the coasts of North Africa and back to Florida. National Geographic News says that the “journey takes five to ten years to complete.”

After a study involving loggerhead turtles, Kenneth Lohmann, of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina said that “these turtles have never been exposed to water, yet they were able to process magnetic information and change their swimming direction accordingly; it seems they inherited some sort of magnetic map.”

Could similar magnetic maps be responsible for the migratory habits of whales and salmon? While researchers were stumped as to how the turtles are able to sense the magnetic field and what part of the brain is involved in the activity, there are “broad implications for conservation efforts.” Lohmann stresses that perhaps we “need to pay more attention to conserving specific populations rather than just focusing on the species in general.”

Your pet may have better intuition than you

Does the family pet run to the front door several minutes before a family member even pulls up in the driveway? Some individuals may wonder how the family dog or other pet is able to know this information. PETacular USA gives details of the intuition of pets. In a study conducted by Rupert Sheldrake, it was concluded that when pets are emotionally bonded with their owners, they may sense what they are feeling and therefore know when they are coming home. Although some scientists have discounted Sheldrake’s conclusions, the fact remains that many pets have exceptional intuition. If only wives knew when the husband would pull up ten minutes before he got home, dinner may be on the table right at the moment he pulls up. If kids knew when their parents were coming home ten minutes beforehand, they could possibly turn off the video games, stop texting and clean their room that was supposed to be cleaned before parents get home.

Dogs also have a sense of time. While intuition may play a better role in knowing when an owner is on his or her way home, National Geographic News suggests in ‘Animals and their Special Abilities’ to start feeding Fido at the same time and then skip feeding him at the time one day. Fido is sure to let you know that you are a minute late!

A member of the animal kingdom does not have to perform tricks or special feats in a show just to be known for its special talents. In their natural environments, members of the animal kingdom have the ability to sing, walk on water, have natural GPS systems and to know what time it is. The amazing world of nature becomes more amazing everyday.

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More about this author: Donna Hicks

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.all-creatures.org/articles/ar-oneworld.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.itsnature.org/category/ground/birds-land/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/02/130213-valentines-day-owl-monkeys-animals-love-science/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://petacularusa.com/component/content/article/76-cover-story/236-animals-and-their-special-abilities.html