25 Astonishing Facts We Learned from Cricket Media Magazines in 2020

Amazing Animals

A hippo calf weighs about 10 times more than a human baby (55 to 120 pounds at birth)! That’s a BIG baby! (“Wild Babies,” CLICK Magazine)

Although dead giant squids had washed up on beaches for hundreds of years, nobody saw a live giant squid in its natural environment until 2012, when marine biologist Tsunemi Kubodera sighted one from a Triton submersible. (“Mysteries of the Deep,” MUSE Magazine)

Honeybees communicate through dance! A bee who finds a good flower will perform a dance for its fellow bees. The dance tells them how far away the flower is and in which direction. Then the bees fly off to find the flower themselves!(“Born to Dance,” CLICK Magazine)

Some animals can voluntarily open and shut their nostrils! Camels do it to keep out sand. Dugongs (a type of manatee) do it when they’re underwater. And sloth bears do it to keep their lunch– live ants and termites– from crawling up their noses while they eat! (“Super Sniffers,” CLICK Magazine)

Many animals can tell the difference between bigger and smaller numbers. Dogs, chimpanzees, and toads will choose the bowl with more food in it when choosing between two meals. Hyenas listen to the calls of another pack and choose not to fight if it sounds like a bigger group than their own. Even ants often count their steps to get back to their nests. (“Who’s Counting,” CLICK Magazine)

The basilisk lizard can run on water! The long toes on a basilisk lizard’s back feet are fringed with skin-like scales. The scales spread out when the lizard runs on water and create pockets of air that keep it from sinking. (“Hold On! Hands, Feet, and Tails,” CLICK Magazine)

A horse’s foot is nothing but toe. Horses walk on a specially developed hoof that evolved from a five-toed foot like ours. (“Feet First,” MUSE Magazine)

The pinker the flamingo, the meaner they’re likely to be! Darker pink flamingos are more likely to shove, peck, and pull feathers off their lighter pink friends. Why? Flamingos get their pink color from the carotenoids in the shrimp they eat! The more shrimp they eat, the pinker they’ll appear. And the more aggressive flamingos get more shrimp! (“Sneaky Art Tricks,” ASK Magazine)

Owls do not have eyeballs! While human eyes are sphere-shaped, owls’ eyes are flat in front and long like a tube. We guess you could say they have eye-cylinders! (“Good Night,” CLICK Magazine)

Arapaimas are the largest fish in Amazon rainforest rivers. They can grow up to 10 feet long and a whopping 400 pounds! Arapaimas can breathe underwater AND breathe air. They can even live out of the water for a day. We would not want to be chased by one! (“Something Fishy,” CLICK Magazine)

Fascinating Food

Kiwi fruit is originally from China and is also called the ‘Chinese gooseberry!’ Farmers in New Zealand named it after the kiwi, a fuzzy brown bird native to NZ. (“Let’s Eat!” CLICK Magazine)

The world’s first cocoa was a little different from the Swiss Miss that many of us enjoy today. The Maya ground up cocoa beans and mixed them with spices, water, and some corn meal. They didn’t have sugar or milk, so they flavored their cocoa with chili peppers, vanilla, honey, or flowers. They also drank it cold! (“Corn, Beans, and Chocolate,” ASK Magazine)

About 50% of food in the USA is wasted. Half goes into stomachs, and half sadly winds up in landfills. On average, a four-person family spends around $2,000 each year on food that they never eat. That’s like four PS5s! (“Fresh Food on the Move,” MUSE Magazine)

Exciting Engineering

The first cars were created in 1885-86 and had a small gas engine in the back, a stick for steering in the front, and three wheels! That’s pretty different from today’s cars! (“Vroom Vroom,” CLICK Magazine)

The earliest known drawing of a working car was created by Leonardo da Vinci in 1478. It was probably meant to be a wind-up toy rather than an actual vehicle, as it was only three feet long and didn’t have a seat. (“Can Cars Change?” ASK Magazine)

GPS systems, camera phones, and memory-foam mattresses all have their roots in space exploration! Technology developed for astronauts can be very useful at home! (“Road Trip,” MUSE Magazine)

Spectacular Space

Moons are known for constantly orbiting around their respective planets. But now scientists think that in other solar systems, moons might sometimes escape. These moons could even become new planets. Researchers have named these escaped moons “ploonets.” (“The Secret Life of Pigeons,” ASK Magazine)

Are there rocks from space in your backyard? Here’s how you can spot a meteorite: they feel heavy, look burnt, have no holes or air pockets but have smoothed dents that look like thumbprints, and may attract a magnet! This is true of some Earth rocks, too, so double-check with an expert if you think you’ve found a meteorite! (“Catching Comets,” ASK Magazine)

Although astronaut ice cream was developed for astronauts, it has never been eaten in space! Its crumbly texture is a big problem in space. You don’t want ice cream crumbs getting in a computer or an astronauts eye! (“The Scoop on Ice Cream,” ASK Magazine)

Startling Science

All that glitters is not gold! Alchemist Hennig Brand thought he could make gold from human urine to the similarity in color. He boiled 50 buckets of urine and kept it in his basement (we would not want to visit his home) and distilled it until only a little lump remained. He didn’t find gold– but he did accidentally discover the glowing element phosphorus! (“What is Alchemy?” ASK Magazine)

Did you know that reading to dogs can improve kids’ reading skills? A 2014 experiment divided kids into four groups. One read to dogs, one read to teddy bears, one to adults, and one was given no extra reading time. After 10 weeks, they were tested on reading comprehension. The dog group was the clear winner! (“The Science of Reading,” MUSE Magazine)

Many scientists think that trees communicate with one another! (And before you ask, no, they don’t ‘bark.’) If you follow a tree’s roots all the way you’ll underground, you’ll find they’re covered with what looks like tiny white hairs. Those are hyphae, the underground parts of mushrooms. Hyphae soak up minerals and water and allocate some for themselves, some for the trees they live on. Trees in a forest actually use hyphae to help each other, sharing and passing on nutrients to other trees that need them more and even ‘warning’ one another of danger! It’s like a social network for trees. (“A Walk in the Woods,” ASK Magazine)

Prehistoric Potpourri

Some of the dinosaurs in your toy collection may be impostors! Pterodactyls, dimetrodons, and plesiosaurs are NOT dinosaurs. How can you spot a dinosaur? They live on land, have bones, have legs under their bodies instead of off to the sides, and have two skull holes behind each eye! (“Before the Dinosaurs,” ASK Magazine)

Many people know that an asteroid impact caused the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period, but did you know where it landed? The fateful impact occurred on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, creating the second-largest crater on earth! (“End of an Era,” MUSE Magazine)

Though ammonites died out over 66 million years ago, their fossils remain all around the world and have been used in medicine, architecture, and as good luck charms. This mollusk’s shell has a unique shape called a logarithmic spiral, which reflects the golden ratio! (“What Is Perfection?” MUSE Magazine)