Tag Archives: Trivia


I hereby interrupt the latest depressing, devastating news cycle for this sports break: Now this is my kind of March Madness . . .

Check out Skunk Bear’s 2016 tournament champ here.

One possible result in the Mighty Mini Mammals division of 2015's Mammal March Madness tournament. If the species that's seeded highest always wins its bracket, the fennec fox will beat out the rest of the division and advance to the final four.

Adam Cole/NPR

Animals in Love

It’s Valentine’s Day again. I got something for you.

No kisses. No chocolates. No flowers this year. Just a few of my other favorite things: poetry, animal trivia, and science. Really, they make the best gifts.

Offering #1: A fabulous poem by Tony Hoagland.
Rose read it at our wedding because, on principle, I’m always in favor of squeezing talk of penguin vomit and peacock butts into a formal occasion.

Romantic Moment
By Tony Hoagland

After the nature documentary we walk down,
into the plaza of art galleries and high end clothing stores

where the mock orange is fragrant in the summer night
and the smooth adobe walls glow fleshlike in the dark.

It is just our second date, and we sit down on a rock,
holding hands, not looking at each other,

and if I were a bull penguin right now I would lean over
and vomit softly into the mouth of my beloved

and if I were a peacock I’d flex my gluteal muscles to
erect and spread the quills of my cinemax tail.

If she were a female walkingstick bug she might
insert her hypodermic proboscis delicately into my neck

and inject me with a rich hormonal sedative
before attaching her egg sac to my thoracic undercarriage,

and if I were a young chimpanzee I would break off a nearby tree limb
and smash all the windows in the plaza jewelry stores.

And if she was a Brazilian leopard frog she would wrap her impressive
tongue three times around my right thigh and

pummel me lightly against the surface of our pond
and I would know her feelings were sincere.

Instead we sit awhile in silence, until
she remarks that in the relative context of tortoises and iguanas,

human males seem to be actually rather expressive.
And I say that female crocodiles really don’t receive

enough credit for their gentleness.
Then she suggests that it is time for us to go

to get some ice cream cones and eat them.

Offering #2: A trifecta of Valentine-related scripts I wrote for SciShow this week. Here I bestow upon you the science of pheromones and love brain, and offer a gentle reminder that no matter how bad your dating scene might be, you are still 100 times better off than a poor lady bed bug.



Body Movin’

Hey, you. Did you know that by the time you reach old age you’ll likely have produced enough saliva to fill a couple of swimming pools?

Or that an adult human has 206 bones in their body — the smallest and lightest of which is the tiny stirrup-shaped bone in your middle ear called the stapes?

And are you generally aware that your body will probably slough over a hundred pounds of dead skin cells during your lifetime, so that when you dust your house, you are literally wiping up yourself, not to mention messing with the primary dinner source for entire colonies of dust mites?

Annnnnd…. did you know that your very own brain has around 100 billion neurons connected by up to 1000 trillion synapses? That’s more synaptic action than grains of sand on a beach. A big beach. All jammed into the lumpy double lobes of your great gray walnut-looking brain.

Yep! It’s part of the science of the human body — our anatomy and physiology — and it’s what I’ll be reading and writing about for the next year or so as we embark on a brand new Crash Course series, coming at you in January 2015.

So if you have a body and want to get to know it better, check it out, you magnificent beast, you:




Why Do We Kiss?

Yo. I want you to do something for me. Pause for a minute, and dig deep. Think about your very first kiss. Was it exciting? Was it awkward? Terrifying? Were you twelve? Or sixteen? Or twenty-five? Are you still waiting?

Think about your last kiss. Maybe from a paramour, or an old friend, or little kid, or a strange but friendly dog on the street (yeah, that was me), or a David Bowie poster… think about what that one was like.

Now think about the last time you listened to Prince’s song “Kiss”… did you sing along? Did you picture Julia Roberts in a bubble bath with headphones? (Did you worry about her safety?)

Most people seem to enjoy smooching. At least smooching certain people, animals, celebrity paraphernalia, anyway. Maybe you like it more than the average bloke… maybe you like it less. If it really isn’t your bag, imagine something else that you really love doing… maybe it involves a bag of kittens, or a long walk on the beach, or getting caught in the rain, or a bucket of freakin’ pina colada, I don’t know, just go to your happy place.

Now imagine doing that fun, delicious, amazing thing for  58 hours. Straight. Without eating or private pee breaks. Not so fun now, is it? Well, bow at the feet of or run in terror from the Thai couple who broke the world kissing record last Valentine’s Day when they sucked face for OVER 58 CONTINUOUS HOURS. Nasty! Yeah, they won a little money, but not nearly enough to encourage me to attempt such an ambitious, gross, and generally unsanitary feat.

That fact is just one of many interesting things I learned recently while researching the origins of snogging. Check it out: