So you think you know a lot about Nature? Even Sir David Attenborough is surprised by our wonderful world! With Forest Schools gaining popularity we are reconnecting with the earth and raising our children in this way. Take a look at some of these weird and wonderful facts.
How many of these did you know already?
Trees can help you find your way in the woods if you know what to look for. In the northern hemisphere moss grows on the north-facing side of the tree as it’s more shaded. The rings grow slightly thicker on the south-facing side because of the extra light it receives. The opposite is true in the southern hemisphere!
Whales and dolphins use a number of different ways to communicate with each other, including physical contact, body language and sound. Whales use low frequencies to communicate across long distances, while dolphins use higher frequencies. It’s believed that dolphins can communicate with other species, and can recognise individuals by their “signature whistles” – even calling each other by name.
The moon is approx. 250,000 miles away from Earth – it took around three days to get there in the Apollo spacecraft. If you could drive a car there, it’d take you about six months – and if you could walk there, it would take you around nine years!
A 2010 study showed that plants can talk to each other through the soil! They’re able to use fungi to communicate messages to other plants and warn them about disease, so that they can actually alter their DNA to become more resistant as they grow. Trees can flood their leaves with chemicals to repel insects when they come under attack, and communicate the threat to each other.
The idea of companion planting has been around for centuries and it’s been shown that it’s not just an old wives’ tale but is genuinely beneficial. Basil for example is a good companion to other crops because of an as yet unknown mechanism that it uses to help other plants grow, as well as enhancing the flavour of tomatoes! Thyme is known for encouraging the growth of strawberries, and growing spinach alternated with cauliflower is said to be mutually beneficial.
Butterflies taste with their feet! They don’t have mouths, and their taste sensors are located on the bottom of their feet. By standing on a leaf they can taste it to see if their caterpillars can eat it! They use a proboscis, or long straw-like tongue, to drink nectar. It remains tightly curled up against their head while they rest, and it uncurls when they feed.
There are rivers that flow at the bottom of the sea! Off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, divers have found an area of collapsed limestone which formed a reservoir filled with both groundwater and saltwater. Decomposing organic matter found its way into the reservoir which formed a cloud of hydrogen sulphide, separating the freshwater at the top and saltwater at the bottom – giving the effect of a flowing river!
When flocks of birds such as geese fly in groups in a ‘V’ formation, there’s no one individual controlling their movement. Each bird reacts simultaneously to the slightest change in direction from the others in the flock, almost as if they’re of one mind.
Some penguins - such as the Adelie and Gentoo penguins in the Antarctic - use pebbles and rocks to make their nests, because they live in such barren regions it can be difficult to come by other materials. Males will search out the best pebble for their partner as a symbol of affection, and they mate for life.
Goats are extremely sociable animals and love to be around friends of numerous different species, they have been known to bond with dogs, pigs and even a tiger! Goats can be taught their name and to come when called. Each kid has their own unique bleat which, along with their scent, is how their mother identifies them.
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