Homework. We all have a love-hate relationship with it. Yes, it’s important to the learning process, but it can also be stressful and time consuming. It’s important to learn how to pace yourself and know when to take a break. What better way to relax while still exercising your brain than learning more about some of the animals we share our planet with? Here are some facts about a few of the most interesting animals in the world, starting with the beloved Grand Canyon University mascot.
All GCU students are familiar with Thunder, our resident lope, but antelope come in all shapes and sizes, the smallest being the royal antelope, who weighs in at only four pounds. Antelope are known for being especially swift runners; one of their best defense mechanisms is their ability to run longer and farther than their predators. One of the reasons for their incredible agility is a unique bone located between their leg and their foot. Known as the astragalus, the bone gives the antelope its impressive balance by optimizing its weight distribution.
Bats are nocturnal, just like college students the night before their midterm. A quarter of all mammals in the world are bats, some species living up to 40 years. In the same way that bats use echolocation to travel quickly through dark spaces, some blind people are also capable of detecting sound waves to determine the position and size of nearby objects. The most talented human echo locators are able to perform activities such as basketball, running and skateboarding without the use of sight.
A bat’s wings are composed of delicate finger bones covered with thin layers of skin. They contain the same foundational structural components as the human arm. Their wings make up around 95 percent of the surface area of a bat’s body, the membrane responsible for regulating their temperature, blood pressure and more.
Much like the student population at GCU, the population of jellyfish has been growing rapidly over the last few years. These spineless swimmers have been reproducing in mind-boggling numbers and gathering in groups (called smacks) where they shouldn’t be. Imagine planning go for a nice dip in the ocean and encountering a swarm of mauve stinger jellyfish like the one seen off the coast of Ireland in 2007, 35 feet deep and covering ten square miles!
Some of these congregations have been thick enough to disastrously clog the cooling equipment of nuclear power plants, causing entire plants in several countries to shut down. Others are filling the nets of fishing boats, capsizing and sinking them. Others yet are eating so much that they’re contributing to the commercial extinction of the sturgeon that gives the world its luxurious caviar. That’s a lot of change to attribute to those little sea jellies!
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- Shuman, Robert B. (2013). “Antelope.” Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science.
- BBC Worldwide Ltd. The Wonder of Animals: Bats. Films Media Group, 2015.
- Tucker, Abigail. (2010). “Jellyfish: The Next King of the Sea.” Smithsonian Magazine.