Answered Questions!

Newer questions are answered here, after a couple months questions get organized on the Already Asked! page

Let's get ready to RUMBEL!!! Someone out there is very curious about what animal could take out a Nile Crocodile! Since there are so many factors to animal encounters (size of the animals, environmental conditions, health of each participant, ext...), I've decided to lay out some facts about each species and let you all weigh in on who you think would survive these hypothetical matchups!

This is a collaboration between Kelly and Nathan and we hope you enjoy! If you would like to suggest future matchups or ask any follow up questions please do so on our Ask A Question! page!

Below I outline some facts about each competitors in our mini series with links to learn more and vote on who you think would win! For these matchups let's assume we are dealing with the larges animals of each species and that for whatever reason we find them in the same place at the same time!

First Up: Saltwater crocodile

(Crocodylus porosus)

  • Native to saltwater habitats between India and Australia.

  • Heaviest living Reptile (up to 1,300 kg or 2,900 lb)!

  • Clever crocs have been recorded nocking macaques from trees into the water below. However these crocs do not hunt out of the water, so only animals that get in or near salt water are possible prey items!

  • Have the highest bite force of any living crocodilian!

  • While they can take down big prey, these crocs have a slow metabolism and do not need to feed very often.

Now let's meet who this large croc is matched up with!

Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus)

  • Native to swamps and marshes of South America

  • Longest Green Anaconda on record was 6.7 m (22.0 ft)

  • Belong to genus Eunectes meaning great swimmer. Nostrils and eyes are placed atop the head allowing them to see and breath while the rest of their body is underwater

  • Green anacondas will lock prey in with their teeth and coil their body around it, suffocating it.

  • Mom's can produce ~80 eggs at a time!

Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)

  • Native to the easter regions of Russia, China, and possibly North Korea

  • Only subspecies of tiger that can survive in the cold due to their constant movement, thick fur and fat!

  • Can eat up to 27 kg (60 lb.) in one meal!

  • Can run up to 37mph and jump up to 5m in height and 10 in length

Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

Click the down arrow to see answers for each question!

Can cats catch mosquitos?

Don’t let their adorableness fool you, cats are still very agile and diligent hunters! Primarily, cats will hunt birds and smaller mammals such as rodents for their food. If you own a cat, you may notice it pouncing on flies, mosquitos, or other insects on occasion. In this case, they are most likely doing so for amusement rather than for food.

Did you know that mosquitos are one of the most dangerous animals on the planet? These troublemakers serve as vectors for disease. In other words, they are known to spread diseases like malaria, Zika, and yellow fever around the globe and commonly give cats heartworm disease. So while cats have the dexterity to catch these small insects, it might not be for their best interest!

Do you think your cat has the skill level to catch a mosquito? Play the linked video and put their talent to the test!

An example of mimicry! The coral snake has red and yellow patches touching and the scarlet kingsnake has the black patches between the red and the yellow!

How can you determine if a snake is venomous?

I want to start by saying that if you leave snakes alone they will leave you alone!

Unfortunately there are no set rules for identifying if a snake is venomous or not. This is because of a concept in biology called mimicry, which means that some of the non-venomous snakes in an area will start to look like whatever venomous snakes are in that area. We think this is because when other animals that would normally eat eat snakes think a snake has the spicy spit*, they are more likely to leave that snake alone! One classic example in the United States is the coral snake and the kingsnake (see the picture on the right!)

The safest way to know if a snake is venomous or not is to learn to identify the venomous species in your area! You can do this by searching for your local fish and wildlife website and navigating to the snakes page! If you have questions about the snakes in your specific area of the world feel free to contact me here and I'll be happy to help you track down the correct information!

*bonus fact: venom glands in snakes evolved from the glands in other animals that make saliva. Both venom and saliva help animals to digest the food that we eat!

Not all snakes are dangerous! This is my ball python, Bell, she is very safe and loves to be held!

How do you protect yourself from snake bites?

This one's easy! DO NOT TOUCH SNAKES AND THEY WILL NOT BITE YOU! According to the Center for Disease Control there are ~7500 people bitten by venomous snakes in the Unites States each year, and on average these bites result in 5-6 deaths per year (you are more likely to be killed by spiders, cows, dogs, and bees according to the Washington Post!) The CDC makes the following recommendations if you are going to be working in an area with venomous snakes:

  • Do not touch or handle any snake.

  • Stay away from tall grass and piles of leaves when possible.

  • Avoid climbing on rocks or piles of wood where a snake may be hiding.

  • Be aware that snakes tend to be most active at dawn and dusk and in warm weather.

  • Wear boots and long pants when working outdoors. Even denim jeans may prevent some, although not all, bites by smaller snakes.

  • Wear leather gloves when handling brush and debris.

Not all snakes are dangerous! This is my ball python, Bell, she is very safe and loves to be held!

Should you suck out the venom from your blood like they do in the movies?

  • NO!!!! This is total flim-flam! If you get bit, the best think you can do is take a photo of the snake (to help doctors ID what kind of anti-venom you need) and get yourself to a hospital! Sucking out the poison could actually distribute the venom to a larger area of tissue and because the snakes have special muscles that help to inject their toxin the venom is moving way faster through the body than any human could ever suck! Although as stated above, even if you do get bit your chances of serious injury or death are low, unless you have another underlying medical condition.

  • Just to reiterate, the safest and most economical thing is to leave the snakes alone! Anti-venom is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE (in the US upwards of $3500+ per vial and most people who need to be hospitalized will need multiple vials of anti-venom!) So if you don't know if it's a nope rope or a noodle ball (<- not a sponsor I just really love this ad) LEAVE THE SNEK ALONE!

  • Now that I've done the responsible thing and told you to give the danger noodles their space... looking for snakes and reptiles is a really fun hobby if you are responsible and willing to put in the time to learn the different species in your area! If you want to learn more about snakes try searching for your local herpetological society or club! My first paid job as a scientist was helping to search for and collect watersnakes in Florida marshes and I am a scientist today because I had so much fun doing that job that I wanted to keep learning and doing more fun science!

How did apes evolve into humans?

Great question! Evolution is complicated but technically apes did not evolve into humans because we humans are still apes! We are part of the group of primates classified as Hominidae, or more commonly called the 'great apes'. The other members of our Hominidae family are the orangutans, gorillas, chimps and all of our ancestors that came before us!

Our closest living relative of this group are the chips. You can think of chimps as our VERY distant cousins and we shared a common ancestor with the chips about 7 million years ago. This means that for the past 7 million years chimps have had their own set of branches on the family tree and we humans have been doing the same thing on our own branch! Before humans and chimps split off on separate family branches, the chimp/human branch of our family tree shared a common ancestor with gorillas about 8 million years ago. The very first split of the great ape family tree happened about 12 million years ago and split the orangutans from the chimp/human/gorilla part of the tree.

For the past 7 million years there have been lots of different Homo species on our branch of the Hominid family tree, but our species (Homo sapiens) is the only one that hasn't gone extinct! Some of the adaptations that have shown up only on our branch of the family tree include the size of our skull relative to the size of our bodies and the shape of our pelvis and leg bones that helps us to walk upright.

The way these adaptations came about is the same way all adaptations come about, random mutations in the genes of our ancestors occurred that just so happen to help the individuals that had those mutations survive and reproduce to pass those genes onto the next generation. Over millions of years those small changes add up to large differences between different branches of our family tree!

This video does a really good job of explaining what we know and what we don't know about our branch of the family tree that split off from chimpanzees! Like I said, this topic is complicated and if you have any more questions I would love to talk with you about them! Please reach out on the ask a question page!

What is the difference between venomous and poisonous?

Both venomous and poisonous creatures are able to make toxins or substances that will harm other plants or animals. The difference is that venomous creatures have some way to inject their toxin, while the toxins from poisonous plants and animals must be eaten or absorbed for their toxins to work!

There are some grey areas though. For example, a spitting cobra's toxin is BOTH venomous and poisonous. If the snek spits at you and the toxin is absorbed through your skin, you have been poisoned! But if the danger noodle bites you, then you have been envenomated!

Examples of venomous creatures: Bees and snakes

Examples of poisonous creatures: Frogs and mushrooms

Find out more about these toxins and about some crazy evolutionary arms race from the brain scoop here!

Why are giraffe babies born with horns on their head?

Giraffe horns aren't actually horns! Those bumps on their head are called ossicones, and while they are made out of similar materials as horns, ossicones are covered in skin (like antlers) but not shed every year (like horns). While we are not sure why giraffe's are born with their ossicones, we do know that male giraffes tend to have larger ossicones than female giraffes because just like in other animals with head gear, the males use them to fight each other!

Learn more about giraffe evolution and their closest relatives here!