Archive for February, 2013

What is an albino?

True albinos, like the white, pink-eyed rabbit pets, are born without any coloring matter in their bodies.

An albino is a person born without any coloring matter or pigment, in his skin.  In such a person the skin is milky-white and the hair is very light.

A person who is a true albino also has pink eyes because the iris (the colored part of the eye) is so clear that the tiny blood vessels of the eye shines through.  In normal eyes, the color of the iris serves to hide the pinkness.

The color of our skin is chiefly due to the presence of a color pigment called “melanin,”  which gives the skin what we call “flesh color.”

When melanin accumulates in small spots in the skin, freckles appear.  And when you spend a few days in the sun, the sunlight darkens the melanin in your skin and this results in a “suntan.”

Albinism is found not only in man, but among all kinds of animals and birds, and it is even found in plants.  Perhaps the animal albinos we are all most familiar white mice and rats and rabbits that have pink eyes.

White ducks, chickens and horses are not true albinos, because most of them have color pigments in eyes, beaks or legs. –Dick Rogers

Can fish drown?

Fish can drown under certain conditions.  It is not the water that keeps fish alive, but the oxygen in the water.  Fish breathe oxygen, just as we do.  The water contains oxygen that comes from the air or is given off by water plants.

A fish takes the oxygen out of the water by means of its gills.  When a fish is placed in a small tank of water, however, it may soon use up all the oxygen that is in the water.

If this happens, the fish suffocates.  This is why, if you keep pet fish, you must change the water frequently in order to give them a fresh supply of oxygen.–Dick Rogers

How many eggs does a chicken lay in a year?

A typical egg-laying hen can lay as many as 250 eggs a year.  Egg-laying hens, call pullets, begin laying eggs when they are about five months old.  On a small farm, a chicken might lay eight to ten eggs in a nest and spend three weeks hatching them.

But on a large commercial egg farm, the eggs are taken away as soon as they are laid, and the chicken jus keeps laying.  Chickens produce the most eggs during their first laying year.  After a year or so, they are usually sold as stewing chickens, and the egg farmer buys a new flock of pullets.–Dick Rogers

How do gecko lizards walk on ceilings?

Gecko has the ability to walk on walls and ceilings due to special adhesive pads on their feet.  These small lizards live in warm climates.  They have wide-spreading toes.

Each toe ends in a pad and hidden claw.  These toe pads, made up of thousands of tiny suction cups, enable the gecko to cling to any smooth surface—even glass.

The claws can be moved out like those of a can, and are used on rough surfaces.  The gecko’s grip is so good that it can scamper easily over walls, ceilings, and windowpanes while watching for insects and other prey.–Dick Rogers

Do insects have ears?

Yes. Many insects have ears, although they do not look much like ours.  The ears of many insects are not on their heads.  Crickets and katydids have their ears on their front legs.  Each ear looks like a little patch of cellophane.

The ears are actually membranes that work something like our eardrums.  Moths and grass hoppers catch sound on their abdomens.  Most insects can hear only the high-pitched sounds similar to those they make themselves.–Dick Rogers

Where do bees go in the winter?

Bees spend the winter huddled together in their hives.  Inside the hive, the bees move about slowly, eating the extra honey that they stored during the busy summer season, and buzzing their wings to keep warm.  If a bee becomes too cold, it cannot move and thus, soon dies.

Before the end of winter, the queen bee begins to lay eggs again, and in the spring, all the busy activities of the hive are resumed.  In warm climates, however, where there is something in flower the year round, honeybees remains active, making honey in every season.–Dick Rogers

Why do wolves howl?

Wolves communicate with each other by howling.  Wolves live in packs that stake out large territories for hunting and raising families.  A pack of wolves likes to keep other packs out if its territory.  So one wolf pack howls at a neighboring pack, thereby warning it to stay away.

Members of a pack often howl to keep in touch with one another when they are hunting far apart.  Wolves sometimes howl together before they go hunting although no one knows exactly why.  But the popular belief that wolves howl at night, because they are lonely is not true.–Dick Rogers

How does a clam make its shell?

If you have ever examined a clam shell, you may have wondered how the shell got bigger as the clam grew.  A clam is born with a shell just the right size for its body.  Inside the protecting shell of the living animal is a fleshy layer of tissue called the “mantle.”

The mantle oozes a limy shell liquid which quickly hardens and becomes part of the shell.  As long as a clam grows, its shell also grows.  The food that a clam eats provides the minerals that form the shell.  The hard shell serves as a clam’s skeleton, and the soft animal inside can never leave it.–Dick Rogers

How do snails get their shells?

Snails usually begin to grow their protective shells before they hatch.  The common garden snail hatches from a tiny round egg.  Hidden under the young snail’s shell is a flap of skin called the mantle.  The mantle oozes a limy liquid that quickly hardens into a shell.

As the snail grows in size, it adds coil after coil to its shell, building from the open end (for mouth) as fast as it needs more from.  The food that is eaten by the snail provides the materials that form the shell.  Without its shell, a snail would have little protection against drying up.–Dick Rogers

How do homing pigeons find home?

Homing pigeons seem to have a compass built right into their heads.  They can be taken hundreds of miles from their homes.  When they are let go to fly again, they find their way home.

Scientists don’t know exactly how the pigeon’s “compass” works, but they have found tiny pieces of a special kind of iron, called magnetite, in homing pigeons’ heads.

These little pieces are natural magnets, and could enable the pigeon to sense direction from the Earth’s magnetic field.  Homing pigeons can also tell direction accurately from the sun’s position. –Dick Rogers