Strange but True

By MDC | July 2, 2021
From Xplor: July/August 2021
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Your guide to all the unusual, unique, and unbelievable stuff that goes on in nature.

At birth, baby bats can weigh almost a third of their mom’s weight. In an emergency, some mama bats fly their chunky babies to safety. To stay attached during flight, the pup clings to mom’s belly with its hind feet — and also its teeth. Ouch!

Skippers are a group of small butterflies named for their flitty, zippy, skipping flight. Though they rarely fly in a straight line, they zigzag faster than any other Missouri butterfly, clocking speeds of up to 37 mph.

Tinkle toes: Turkey vultures, like all birds, don’t sweat. So when temperatures get toasty, vultures pee down their legs. As the urine evaporates, it carries heat off the bird’s body, which helps the vulture keep cool and carrion.

Not a turtle to be trifled with: Alligator snapping turtles are easily Missouri’s largest reptile. The biggest snapper on record weighed a whopping 251 pounds. Missouri’s largest specimen tipped the scales at 128 pounds.

Monarch caterpillars are normally peaceful creatures. But when milkweed — the only thing they eat — gets scarce, competition for food can bring out bad behavior. To knock rivals off a leaf, the colorful caterpillars headbutt each other.

Bombs away! A bombardier beetle has a cannon in its caboose. When threatened, it mixes up a cocktail of chemicals inside its abdomen. This causes an explosive reaction that sprays out of the beetle’s backside and burns any would-be attacker.

Snap out of it! Gar often swim to the surface to open and close their toothy mouths with loud SNAPs! This brings air into a gar’s swim bladder, which works like a lung and helps the gar survive in water that contains little oxygen.

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Your guide to all the unusual, unique, and unbelievable stuff that goes on in nature.

Also In This Issue

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pick an adventure
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Hiking! Fishing! Camping! Bigfoot? Adventure awaits at one of Missouri’s more than 1,000 conservation areas.

This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Alexis (AJ) Joyce
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White