Category Wildlife

Why do crocodiles shed tears?

The term crocodile tears refers to feigned or insincere sadness.  This term has an etymology dating back several centuries.  As early as the fourth century, crocodile tears are referenced in the literature as a metaphor for fake sorrow.  Apparently, the fable goes that crocodile’s weep while eating their prey because they are sad; however, this sadness is fake.

The term crocodile tears became widely popular after it was documented in a fifteenth-century book titled, The Voyage and Travel of Sir John Mandeville, Knight.  A passage from the book reads: “In that country be a general plenty of crocodiles …These serpents slay men and they eat them weeping.”

As you may already know, crocodilians likely feel bad about little–especially feeding.  However, the premise of the crocodile-tears metaphor may be true.  In other words, the observation that alligators, crocodiles and other crocodilians cry is apparently true.  

In humans, crocodile tears (paradoxical lacrimation) is a medical condition that causes a person to tear up while eating.  Crocodile tears typically occur as a complication of Bell’s palsy; Bell’s palsy is a temporary facial paralysis due to damage of the facial nerve.  Specifically, when the facial nerve regenerates in the wake of Bell’s palsy, it does so incorrectly thus resulting in tears during mastication. Crocodile tears are treated using a shot of botulinum toxin administered to the lacrimal gland.


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Do Snakes have ears?

In the past, it was a common belief that snakes couldn’t hear much if anything since they have no external ears and don’t seem to respond to noises. However, scientific research refutes this common misconception.

As previously mentioned, snakes do not have external ears (pinnae) or eardrums like we do but they do have fully formed inner ear structures. In addition to their inner ear structures, they have a bone called the quadrate bone in their jaws. This bone moves slightly in response to vibrations while they slither on the ground.

For many years it was undetermined whether or not snakes could hear noises that were not ground vibrations. Research has since shown that this quadrate bone does, in fact, respond to airborne vibrations as well as ground vibrations1? (thought to be due to spinal nerves that have conducted the vibrations from the skin recognizing them and causing the quadrate bone to vibrate, referred to as somatic hearing). As with other animal ears, this movement is transferred (via bones) to the inner ear and then signals are sent to the brain and interpreted as sound.


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Are bats blind?

“Blind as a bat.- Ouch that must hurt. Especially if you’re a bat! Because bats are NOT blind. And they can see better at night than in daylight. The myth about their blindness could have come about because we all learn that they use echolocation – using echoes of self produced sounds bouncing off objects – to navigate. Research says that some bats do not echolocate and have sharp vision instead to help them. In fact, studies say that occasionally some bats use their eyes even for hunting. Reports suggest that there are more than 1,000 species of bats and they have evolved different visual abilities. For instance, there are species with visual receptors that help them see better in daylight and a few colours too. Apparently, some species can even see ultraviolet light, which humans can’t!

There are at least 1,300 species of bat, according to the advocacy group Bat Conservation International, and those species are a diverse bunch: Some feed off flowers; others eat insects; and three (all Latin American species) feed off blood.

So different species have evolved different visual abilities. Researchers reporting in a 2009 study in the journal PLOS ONE, for example, found that Pallas’s long-tongued bat (Glossophaga soricina) and Seba’s short-tailed bat (Carollia perspicillata), two small bats from South and Central America, have visual receptors enabling them to see in daylight and to see some colors. In fact, some of the receptors may enable these bat species to see ultraviolet light, wavelengths of color that are outside of the human visual spectrum. 


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Why is Chilika lake famous?

The largest brackish winter lagoon in Asia, the Chiluka Lake in Odisha spreads across more than 1,000 sq km comprises wide areas of manhes, lowlands and plenty of islands The fresh water from inland rivers and saline water from Bay of Bengal mix together to result in a unique ecosystem that supports rich biodiversity One of the largest wintering grounds in the country for migratory birds Chilika attracts tens of thousands of winged visitors even from as far as Mongolia and remote parts of Russia. The binds are ably supported by marine life marked by a variety of small fishes. The Chilika Lake comprises the chilika Bird Sanctuary and Nalbana Island also a bird sanctuary.


The birds one can spot in the region include ducks, geese, shelducks, pochards, flamingoes, grebes, doves, swifts, cuckoos, rails, crakes, storks, pelicans, bitterns, herons, egrets, ibises. cormorants, plovers, lapwings, jacanas, godwits, sandpipers, stints, snipes, redshanks, gulls, terms, vultures, kites, buzzards, eagles, owls. barbets, bee eaters, kingfishers, falcons, weavers. pipits, wagtails, larks, warblers, swallows. bulbuls, babblers, starlings and mynas, The area nurtures not just birds but also mammal species such as cheetal blackbuck mongoose and porcupines, and reptiles such as snakes, turtles and lizards. Some of the marine creatures found here are sharks, dolphins, stingrays, eels, herrings, anchovies, carbs. catfish, seahorses, mackerels, tunas and barracudas.

A million splendid birds!

The annual bird count held by the Chilika Wildlife Division early this year brought ecstatic news to bird lovers and conservationists. More than 11 lakh birds spanning as many as 184 species had arrived in Chilika. This is an increase from the previous years 10-lakh-odd birds from 183 species. Reports said that five rare great knot (a small wader) were sighted after a gap of five years in the region. The birds found hearty meals such as fish, prawns, frogs, snakes and molluscs in the open wetlands. The increase in bird numbers is said to be a reflection of a certain change in the lake. Previously, illegal prawn cultivation had taken up a part of the waterbody. This is believed to have ended after a high court order, resulting in more space for the birds.

The dolphin story

The Irrawaddy dolphin is an endangered species. And according to the report of a monitoring survey 2018, the Chilika lake emerged as the “single largest habitat of Irrawaddy dolphins in the world. The number of the dolphin population was estimated to be 155. Meanwhile, in May this year, media reports indicated that a research project undertaken the Indian Institute of Technology Madras helped in “tripling the population of the Irrawaddy dolphins”. in addition to a seven-fold increase in the fish population at Chilika. The sand bars were widening and the position of the sea mouth was changing, leading to the gradual degradation of the lake and calling for an urgent need to save its ecosystem. The researchers developed a dredging methodology and performed it with minimum impact on the ecosystem”, to successful and happy results.


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Why do lions lick their prey a lot before they start eating it?

Like all felines (including the domestic cat), the lion’s tongue is covered in small, hook-shaped growths called papillae, which point towards the back of the mouth, and are used as a brush to separate flesh from fur and bone, particularly when the cat is feeding on a humongous kill (wildebeests, buffaloes, zebras…) – in the case of smaller prey items (rabbits, rodents, birds…), the carcass is devoured whole, with only a few or no bone splinters left.

Moreover, these papillae have the feeling of a hairbrush, resulting in the tongue becoming a rough surface – they’re sort of like hairs because they’re made of keratin, which is the same protein a human’s hairs and fingernails are composed of.

In the process, the feeding lion consumes the skin completely, and ensures itself that it never swallows (even accidentally!) small, pointy bones that could rip the cat’s throat, and that the meat is tenderized, which renders it efficiently digested.

Now, a lot of lions have seen to be licking prey they’ve just hunted, before killing and eating them. This mostly happens when the prey (usually an ungulate youngster) is brought alive by the lionesses to their cubs, so that the latter can hone their hunting skills – in the process, these cubs are too young to understand the art of hunting and the throttling bite that is essential to make a kill, so they instead resort to play with the animal by chasing it around; and when they subdue it, they don’t immediately kill it, but rather lick it, possibly as a means to display youth innocence.

This behavior mainly occurs with lion cubs (the youngsters, naturally), but it’s seen in adult lions too – in this case, it’s not always clear why. In my opinion, it could be psychological, in a way that the hunting lion either resorts to licking the animal in order to calm it – either it’s something done prior to giving the prey a quick death, or because something snapped inside the lion, a friendly, empathetic thought that made it reconsider its ferocious behavior, particularly since the hunted animal frantically panics from being attacked by a predator, emitting gut-wrenching cries for help –, or it’s just playing with its food (like house cats do), perhaps to torment the prey or simply tire it out so as to not risk injury. But I’m just speculating.

In the end, no one knows exactly why lions (the adults, to be precise) resort to licking their prey a lot while it’s still alive, prior to eating it.


Credit : Quora

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What is famous in Jim Corbett National Park?

The oldest national park in the country, Jim Corbett National Park covers an area of more than 500 sq km and is located in Uttarakhand. It was known as Hailey National Park before it was renamed in the 1950s after hunter-turned-conservationist James Edward Corbett (popularly known as Jim Corbett), who played a significant role in setting it up. The Park is part of the larger Tiger Reserve of the same name. Located on the Himalayan foothills, the Park has streams and rivers running through it, helping nurture the varied landscapes there from rugged forests to grasslands. This mosaic of vegetation has also served as a magnet for several species of birds and animals. The region is noted especially for its tiger and elephant population. In fact, Corbett has the highest number of tigers in the country – 213, according to the report of the fourth All India Tiger Estimation 2018 released on the eve of Global Tiger Day (July 29), 2020. Corbett hosts more than 550 species of birds, and has been declared an “Important Bird Area” by Birdlife International.


The birds found in the region include pelicans, darters, cormorants, grebes, storks, ibises, pochards, shelducks, hawks, grions, harriers, falcons, kestrels, francolins. partridges, quails, pheasants, crakes, swamphens, moorhens, watercocks, jacanas, lapwings, plovers, sandpipers, snipes, stints, redshanks, coucals, nightjars, hornbills, barbets, woodpeckers, martins, magpies, minivets, fantails, warblers, prinias, robins, tits, nuthatches, wagtails, weavers, and buntings. Apart from the Royal Bengal tiger and the Asiatic elephant, one may spot the gharial, sloth bear, Himalayan black bear, hog deer, sambar, marsh crocodile, rhesus macaque, mongoose, otter, jackal, pangolin, python and the cobra too.

Hello, rhinos!

Though famed for its tigers, Corbett is all set to welcome a new kind of inhabitant – Assam’s famed one-horned rhinoceros. In November 2019, the Uttarakhand Wildlife Advisory Board approved a proposal for rhino translocation on an experimental basis. As part of the proposal, more than one dozen rhinos from the Kaziranga National Park will find a home in Uttarakhand’s most popular National Park. It is said that the region is conducive for the mammals, and is also less plagued by human-animal conflict. Reports suggest that Corbett was perhaps a natural habitat of the pachyderms since a male rhino was sighted towards the end of the 18th Century. What inspired the proposal could be the similar translocation and eventual success of nearly half-a-dozen rhinos from Assam’s Pobitora to Uttar Pradesh’s Dudhwa National Park way back in 1984.

Popularity is a threat…

• The Park has for long received a large number of visitors. While tourism is integral to the development of any natural habitat it cannot be at the cost of the region itself. The huge number of visitors, infrastructure development around the Park to host these visitors, the clearing of land to set up activities for the tourists, the dumping of garbage into the river flowing through the Park etc. are among the greatest threats to the Park With increasing number of visitors, the chances of human animal conflicts too increase. drawing attention to the need to find a healthy balance between tourism and income generation for the region.

• This February, more than a month before the COVD-19 pandemic gripped the country, a photograph shot inside the Corbett Tiger Reserve went viral on social media It showed two tigers playing with what appears to be a plastic object. Indicative of how much plastic has invaded eco-sensitive regions, conservationists termed it a tragedy and called for public awareness and sensitivity. Ironically, plastic is banned in the Reserve.

• In 2016, Uttarakhand experienced one of its worst forest fires in recent times. Among several other areas Corbett too suffered. It was reported that about 200 hectares of forests were reduced to ashes. Though animal deaths were not reported forest fires can push escaping animals into human habitation leading to conflicts. Worse, several adult and young animals could perish or be injured significantly reducing the chances of new generations of animals to survive and grow, and leaving existing populations vulnerable.


Picture Credit : Google

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