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Fun Facts Archive

  • In the course of her lifetime, a worker bee will produce 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey.
  • To make one pound of honey, workers in a hive fly 55,000 miles and tap two million flowers.
  • In a single collecting trip, a worker will visit between 50 and 100 flowers. She will return to the hive carrying over half her weight in pollen and nectar.
  • A productive hive can make and store up to two pounds of honey a day. Thirty-five pounds of honey provides enough energy for a small colony to survive the winter.
  • Theoretically, the energy in one ounce of honey would provide one bee with enough energy to fly around the world.
  • Bees do not create honey; they are actually improving upon a plant product, nectar. The honey we eat is nectar that bees have repeatedly regurgitated and dehydrated.

    Source: Nova Online The Buzz About Bees

    Submitted by Diana Hirsch 


Pumas can jump as high as a two-story building! This is approximately 20 feet. They often take refuge by jumping high up into trees when being chased by their enemy, the wolf.

Pumas cannot roar, but instead screech, whistle and hiss.

Because this cat has been discovered in many countries, pumas are catalogued in the dictionary with the most names of any mammal in the United States. It is also called American lion, catamount, cougar, deer tiger, Mexican lion, mountain lion, painter and panther. The name mountain lion originated from Spanish explorers who called the large cat leon (lion) and gato monte (cat of the mountain). Puma, the name used by most scientists, is the name given by the Inca Indians. The South American Indian word for this regal feline cuguacuarana was shortened to cuguar. All names are considered correct.

a live pumaA puma can weigh up to 225 pounds and grow to a length of six feet not including its two- to three-foot long tail. While they can kill prey that is seven times their body weight, these cats feed on small mammals, including possum, white-tailed deer and porcupine--quills and all.

Read more about pumas at the San Diego Zoo Web site and at the Lions, Tigers & Bears site.

Submitted by Diana Hirsch, photo: David Bay 

Observant reader Brad Oldenburg (LSA 1950) pointed out that we left out a common mountain lion native to the area -- the Nittany Lion. He said they come out of Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, by the thousands. Thanks Brad!

Diana Hirsch, EEB executive secretary and a rabid Penn State fan and alumnus, responded "Technically, a Nittany Lion is a mountain lion is a puma. Nittany Lions, however, have a distinctive blue and white coat, a deafening roar (especially in stadiums named after semi-aquatic rodents), and they have a particular taste for Grilled Stickies.

wasp facesShe looks at what the spots on wasps’ faces “say” to each other. Tibbetts found that the size and shape of the spots can tell other wasps how strong or wimpy that wasp is. She found that other kinds of paper wasps get to know each other by looking at the different patterns on their faces, much like people know each other by how their faces look.

Sometimes she finds spots that look like things we might recognize. So, what do you see in these wasp faces?

Key: (remember, there’s no right or wrong, here are some ideas, from left to right)

1. Dinosaur 2. Turtle 3. Bat 4. Elephant 5. Pelvis 
6. Batman 7. Dog kissing a bear cub 8. A hat reflected in the water 9. Spaceship 10. Question mark 

Submitted by Professor Elizabeth Tibbetts and Gail Kuhnlein, photos: Elizabeth Tibbetts

Many arctic ground squirrels, known as Siksriks, live in northern Alaska. They are the largest and most northern of the North American ground squirrels. Their body temperatures dip below freezing—the lowest known temperature for mammals—when they hibernate.

Toolik Lake Research Station (where Professor George Kling's lab team works on the northern slope of the Brooks Range in arctic Alaska) is named for "Tuulliq" which in the Inupiaq language refers to the yellow-billed loon, the largest and rarest of all the loons. Two yellow-billed loons nest on lake at the research station most years. 

Over 180 species of birds have been spotted in the north slope and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) regions. Caribou, arctic foxes, wolves, barren ground grizzlies, and the occasional polar bear or musk oxen also frequent the region.

Submitted by Heather Adams, Ph.D. student, photos: Heather Adams

Although Brazil is known for its biodiversity-rich Amazon Rainforest, the highly threatened and heavily deforested Atlantic Rainforest holds what may be the record for tree biodiversity.

In the Una Region in the state of Bahia, over 450 tree species were found within one hectare! That's more tree species than are found in all of Germany, and more than three times as many as are found in the U.S. state of Vermont, all in an area about the size of two football fields. 

[A hectare is a metric measurement equal to 10,000 square meters or 2.47 acres. This is the prinicipal unit of land measurement in most of the world.]

Submitted by Michael Jahi Chappell, Ph.D. student

The fastest animal is the trap-jaw ant. Its jaw movement has been clocked at 78 to 145 miles per hour - an action researchers say is the fastest self-powered predatory strike in the animal kingdom. 

The average strike lasts just 0.13 milliseconds – that’s 2,300 times faster than the blink of an eye!

As far as extreme animal movement goes, this ant is in league with the great white shark and the spotted hyena.

See video here.

MSNBC story on trap-jaw ants. 

Submitted by Professor L. Lacey Knowles, photo copyright Alex Wild, used with permission

Put a human and a chimpanzee side by side, and it seems obvious which one has changed the most since the two split off from a common ancestor millions of years ago. The obvious physical differences, along with human speech, language and brainpower, have led many people to believe that natural selection has acted in a positive manner on more genes in humans than in chimps.

New research by University of Michigan Professor Jianzhi (George) Zhang challenges that human-centered view.

When the U-M team of geneticists compared corresponding sections of the human and chimp genomes they discovered more evidence of adaptation in chimps than in humans! Following their announcement, headlines read "Chimps are ahead of humans in great evolutionary race” and “Chimps have the jump on us in evolution.” Looking more closely at the science behind the headlines explains much more than these headlines can.

Read more about their surprising findings here: Understanding Evolution feature.

U-M News Service press release.

Press release by Nancy Ross-Flanigan. Photo: John Mitani

The Animal Diversity Web (ADW) is a multimedia natural history database at the University of Michigan. Unique in its global coverage of animal groups, ADW is one of the largest and most actively used natural history databases worldwide. The audience ranges from academics to schoolchildren, writers and natural resource planners, and more.

ADW's companion site BioKIDS provides animal information for elementary schoolchildren in the Great Lakes region.

ADW has information on more than 3,300 animal species, families, orders, and other groups, 16,000 images and 784 sound files. ADW continues to grow so be sure to check back regularly.

In April 2007, about 6.3 million pages were viewed from the ADW site. The site has been online since 1995, in the early days of the World Wide Web. It serves more than 200,000 pages of content every day. 15 percent of visitors are from outside the United States.

Over 3,100 students from 32 North American colleges and universities have contributed their research and writings to the ADW.

Submitted by George Hammond, logo: John Megahan