Famous Widely-Believed Animal Facts (That Are Completely Wrong)

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Strange and extravagant claims are made about animals all of the time: dogs can’t look up, dogs can only see in black and white, Cats were worshiped in Ancient Egypt and they haven’t forgotten it. But how many of them are actually true? Does a goldfish have only a three second memory? How far away is the closest rat? Does a goldfish have only a three second memory? Have we already asked that?

1. Bird’s Don’t Abandon Their Babies

It’s been a widely circulated myth that that if you go near a nest or touch baby birds, that the mother will abandon them ‘ this apparently rings especially true if you see one floundering on the ground. If you see that, then the chances are they are trying to take flight for the first time and the parent is watching from a nearby tree. Evolution generally dictates that a parent will do everything in its power to defend its offspring and not abandon them ‘ though there are exceptions, this will not include most birds

2. Why Chameleons Change Colour

It is common belief that chameleons change colour to blend in with their surroundings. While this is perfectly reasonable based on what we understand about camouflage as a defence mechanism, it is not true of these creatures. As forest dwellers, they are pretty much already blended in so any change of colour can have nothing to do with that. It is actually a reflection of the mood ‘ anger, courtship ritual, fear ‘ it is all of these things that affect a chameleon’s colour

3. Mice Don’t Like Cheese

Well they do, but no more than any other type of food that you are likely to see slowly whittling away from your pantry ‘ cereals, bread and even luxuries such as chocolate. Yet this myth has persisted for centuries thanks to the medieval practice of luring them out with cheese. This was because cheese was often plentiful and survived for a long time. Yeomen farmers would often keep a large supply to sell rather than consume which means it was far more plentiful than anything else

4. Flies Don’t Have a 24 Hour Lifespan

This idea came from the fact that they disappear at night time, giving rise to the fact that they are dying. However they do not, they have a daily routine very similar to humans and sleep when it is dark. They don’t sleep the full eight hours either, but tend to go into a resting mode for many hours only to wake up the following morning. They actually live on average between 20 and 30 days, not including the time they are in larval form

5. What Do Camels Use Their Humps For?

While camels do have large water supplies in their body due to the desert climate they evolved in, they place where they store it is not in fact their hump or humps (some camels have one hump, some have two humps). These are large fat stores that allow them to survive for up to two weeks without food. Their evolutionary development means that their bodies have had to become super-efficient at storage of both fat and water

6. Goldfish Memory is More Than Three Seconds

Nobody is quite sure how this idea came about but if it ever came from a goldfish, he or she certainly didn’t forget about it immediately afterwards. If it was true, goldfish would never have been able to learn behaviour or even remember how to swim! One schoolboy in Australia aimed to teach his fish that a red block meant food. Three weeks into the experiment, they still came to associate the red block dropping into their aquarium with feeding time

7. Frogs Don’t Go ‘Ribbit’

Not all of them do anyway, just one particular species makes this noise ‘ and it happens to live only in North America. The America-centric media of TV and film has led to the belief that all species make this noise but with frog species all over the globe, the sounds they make can range from a dog-like bark or a growl, a croak, grunting, trilling and even whistling. That doesn’t even begin to cover the sounds made by toads and other offshoots

8. What We Think We Know about Rats is Wrong

While it is true that rats are pretty ubiquitous it is not true that we should be falling over ourselves to avoid them ‘ it is not true that we are never more than 6 feet away, experts estimate it closer to 100 feet. They are a pest and commercial and residential premises alike sometimes face an uphill battle to keep them away from our lives as much as possible. Yet they largely do not deserve their reputation for disease ‘ they are no ‘dirtier’ than a lot of other mammal species but thanks to the Black Death, we fear them more than we should

9. Brontosaurus Was the Largest Dinosaur

Recent years have turned up some enormous examples of dinosaurs in excavations, in May 2014 the largest ever was discovered in Argentina. Early in the 19th century, the Fossil Race led to the misclassification of a lot of samples. It also led to the classification of a species that never existed ‘ Brontosaurus. Made up of parts from different Sauropods in a rush between two men desperate to outdo each other, the skeleton was wrongly labelled until the 1903. Even now, many people do not realise that this particular giant never existed

10. A Cheetah’s Speed

It is known that the Cheetah is the fastest land animal at 113kmh and this is true, but some extend the myth to state that it is the fastest creature on the planet ‘ it is not. As most birds rarely fly in straight lines, it has been difficult to measure some of the fastest birds, yet recently the Peregrine Falcon has been clocked at an impressive 322kmh. In the ocean, the Cheetah’s closest rival is the Sail Fish which can swim at 110kmh


Many of these myths, and more, go back many hundreds of years before we really understood animals and why they do what they do. Even now many of these things are taken as given in the public eye because research has been sparse or not seen as a priority

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