Category Biology

How the Aborigines trick the kangaroo?

The only domestic animal known to the Aborigines is the dingo, the Australian wild dog which is trained and bred by the Aborigines and helps them to hunt. For the primitive Aborigines hunting is often a real adventure, involving long journeys on foot through the desert, the use of primitive weapons and great difficulty because of the lack of any form of transport.

In the main the Aborigine hunts animals which move very swiftly and are difficult to catch. Some species of kangaroo can jump further than 9 metres and nearly 3 metres high, and travel at speeds of over 65 kilometres an hour.

There is one type of kangaroo which has a reddish-brown fur that makes it almost invisible against the surrounding countryside. This kangaroo can hear a suspicious noise several thousands of metres away and it can move very swiftly so that not even a dingo can catch it.

The Aborigines use their cunning to catch this animal. The marksmen take up their position along a kangaroo track. The other men then create a terrible din to frighten the animals which are killed by spears from the hidden markmen.

 

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Do you know how snake’s poison works?

The real master of venom is snakes. Man has come to know them even since he first appeared on the earth and has learned to hate and fear them; it is a hatred and fear that takes in all slithering crawling creatures, even if they are quite harmless.

The instinct that makes us shun these animals is a wise one for in many parts of the world there are a large number of dangerous and venomous snakes. Their venom varies from species to species and acts in many different ways; some can act on the blood, making it thicken or go thinner. Usually the effect of snake venom is rapid and leads to partial or total paralysis of the body. Death is usually caused by asphyxia.

In snakes the venom is a kind of salvia which often runs through special fangs that have a hollow passage in them. There are some snakes which do not have venom fangs but their bite is still poisonous. The only poisonous snake in Europe is the viper, also known as the adder, of which there are many varieties.

Snakes are very considerably in size, from the small Syrian thread snake to the tropical pythons which can grow to a length of 10 meters.

 

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How do spiders defend themselves?

There are about 40,000 species of spiders and nearly all of them have poison glands. Fortunately, in most cases the venom is very weak and has little or no effect on man. The bite of the tarantula was once thought to cause a disease called tarantism when the victim wept and danced wildly. Now it is known that the bite is not dangerous to man.

A few spiders, however, can injure people. One of these is the black widow which lives in North America. Its bite can cause intense pain, severe illness and even death, though this is rare.

In actual fact the mouth of a spider is made in such a way that it cannot really bite. These animals use their venom as a chemical to paralyze their victim. Scientists have found that the venom of spiders in some species breaks down the tissues of the victim and turns them into a sort of jelly which the spider then sucks up because it has no means of chewing its food.

If a spider is not hungry it does not kill its victim immediately. Instead, it imprisons it by wrapping a thick web of threads round it, waiting for the right moment to inject its venom.

 

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How the bee-eater makes its strange nest?

The nests of bee-eaters are strange constructions, like those of the fishing martin. The bee-eater used its long beak to dig out deep tunnels on the steep banks of rivers.

The tunnels open on to a room under the ground, which is the bird’s nest. The floor of the nest is covered in butterflies wings and the remains of insects.

These remains do not make a very comfortable bed but the young bee-eaters seem to like it.

The bee-eater is a tireless flier. From morning until night it goes in search of insects. While other birds help farmers by eating up grubs that live on plants, the bee-eater prefers to catch its victims as they fly along.

The only damage this bird does in hunting is to kill many bees and this angers bee-keepers.

The bee-eater with its brilliant plumage and pointed wings is related to the kingfisher. It is found in Europe and Australia.

 

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Do you know how bees produce wax and honey?

The wax produced by bees is used in making honeycombs consisting of six-sided cells into each of which the queen bee lays an egg that will eventually give birth to an insect. Other cells in the honeycomb act as storage places for honey.

Bees produce wax in very thin sheets from eight glands on their abdomens. It takes some 1,250 of these sheets to make up one gramme of wax. We can imagine the amount of hard work that goes into the construction of a honeycomb. Not only does the bee produce the wax, but it also shapes it into the hexagonal cell.

The honey is nectar from flowers which has been gathered concentrated and digested by the bees. The honey still has the scent of the flowers where the bees first found it. The queen bee is an extremely fertile animal. This insect is no more than 2 centimeters long but lays an average of 2,500 eggs a day at the rate of two eggs every minute. It does this throughout its entire life, accumulating a total of 2 million eggs.

Each egg is placed inside a hexagonal cell. If the larvae as the infant bees are called are fed on a substance known as royal jelly, they too, become queens. If they are just fed on pollen they grow into ordinary bees. But a beehive can contain only one queen. So the first queen bee to emerge from the cells and drives the old queen out. The old queen leaves with a swarm of bees still loyal to her to start another hive elsewhere.

Once the new queen begins her reign she carries out what is called her nuptial flight. As she flies through the air she is accompanied by male bees known as drones. The queen bee flies higher and higher and only the strongest of the drones can catch her and mate with her, the queen bee return from her nuptial flight fertilized and sets to laying eggs assisted by a group of bees who feed her and look after all her needs.

 

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What is the eating style of ant-eater?

The body of the ant-eater is covered in long hair that prevents ants from reaching its skin. For this reason it has no cause to fear insect bites when it tears the homes of ants apart with its strong claws.

The ant-eater makes its meal by shooting out its long, sticky, worm-like tongue and scooping up the ants that swarm all over the ground after their home has been destroyed. It has highly developed salivary glands which secrete the sticky substance that coats its tongue and traps the insects.

 

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