Thursday, September 25, 2008

I did not know that...

Fun Critter Facts I learned this morning:
  • Scallops are the only free-swimming bivalves. They swim by opening and closing really fast. Those cute little flanges on their symmetrical shells were probably put there by Burt Rutan.
  • Vultures regulate their body temperature by peeing on their feet.

20 comments:

JD said...

OK, the scallop thing was neat, the vulture thing is a bit on the too much info side of things. . . .

OA said...

I bet the vultures still smell better than an old billy goat.

Shermlock Shomes said...

"Vultures regulate their body temperature by peeing on their feet." I do that sometimes when I get up at night and am still 1/2 asleep. It does cool one off.

West, By God said...

If you are ever down in West/Central Florida, I'll take you scalloping. Basically, you don snorkelling gear, and dive down and grab them out of the seagrass. However, unlike other bi-valves, they try to escape, and can even nip you. It only takes a few hours to catch your limit, another hour to clean them, and only a few minutes to sautee and eat them.

If you enjoy grocery-store scallops, you'd really like fresh ones!

OldTexan said...

Vultures, nothing but feathers and vomit, not enought meat on them to make a decent meal but they do taste a little bit like spotted owl. Contrary to popular opinion they taste nothing like bald eagles.

OrangeNeckInNY said...

Bees regulate their body temperature by defecating in flight.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

well, how do YOU cool yourself off?

Anonymous said...

This suggests that all vultures are male and drunken.

OA said...

Stop hanging out with frat boys.

Neutrino Cannon said...

The latter applies, as far as I know, only to New World vultures, which are unrelated to Old World vultures, and possibly closer kin to storks. Nobody's quite sure; molecular phylogenics have shaken up avian taxonomy, but in a few years there should be a solid answer. I swear that they're doing this just so they can sell more books.

New World vultures, particularly turkey vultures also have the charming habit of vomiting profusely. In one captive example I observed, on ones' head apparently for his own amusement.

Assrot said...

I've seen a lot of two legged critters of the human variety that regulate their temperature like vultures do.

Most of them don't even realize they are doing it. That's why I quit going to bars. I can't stand drunks. Especially the ones that piss their self at the pool table.

Now that I think about it though, most of the humans that I've seen "regulate their temperature" in this manner looked like vultures too.

:-)

Joe

TattoedIntellectual said...

Some useless trivia: New World (NW) vultures are one of the few Families of bird w/ a well-developed sense of smell. The rest, not so much.

Turkey vultures prefer dead trees as perches, however if prime real estate is a live tree, they'll take it. They then proceed to puke and shit on it until it's dead. Both products are pretty caustic.

They (the mysterious "they") had pulled NW vultures from the raptor group and clumped them w/ storks. Vultures don't technically have the talon strength that is a raptor signature. However, it looks like they've re-thought that split and stuck NW vultures back w/ raptors. I'll have to double-check my literature to make sure on that last bit.

Neutrino Cannon said...


They (the mysterious "they") had pulled NW vultures from the raptor group and clumped them w/ storks. Vultures don't technically have the talon strength that is a raptor signature. However, it looks like they've re-thought that split and stuck NW vultures back w/ raptors. I'll have to double-check my literature to make sure on that last bit.


Grouping storks and new world vultures closely together is out of fashion as of 2007, at least according to:

Livezey, B. C. & Zusi, R. L. 2007. Higher-order phylogeny of modern birds (Theropoda, Aves: Neornithes) based on comparative anatomy. II. Analysis and discussion. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 149, 1-95.

They seem to favor having the Cathartidae (new world vultures) as a sister group to the Accipitridae, rather that being nested within them as per the good old days. Old World vultures are still kin of eagles and whatnot, and they lack especially strong talons. Caracaras and secretary birds are still considered closer to eagles than are New World vultures, and neither of them has particularly awe-inspiring talons, or indeed, particularly impressive flight capacity.

I'll wait a few more years until this is all definitively sorted out before getting too attached to any particular scheme of organization. All I know is that;
a) turkey vultures don't act like raptors.
b) You can see daylight through one nostril and out the other on a turkey vulture. Can't on a falcon, so I doubt they're all that close.

E said...

Stop grouping the storks!

TattoedIntellectual said...

Yeah nc, the phylogenetic trees based on genetic data can put some pretty odd groupings together, totally contradicts phenotypic classifications on occasion. I'll have to see if I can get to that original paper. Hafta see the visual of the tree otherwise it's all gibberish (can't see it in my head), I get they're proposing NW vultures as a sister species, but I'd like to see how OW vultures fit in w/ the "raptor" group and see what the bootstrap values look like.

LabRat said...

I just LOVE taxonomy. It's the gratuitous gladiatorial field of biology. Those letter sections reach heights of educated, semi-veiled invective that are just GOLDEN.

Jay G said...

Only at Tam's can you read a dissertation on the taxonomy of vultures...

Way too cool.

Anonymous said...

There's also another reason they 'pee' on their feet ... at least according to a documentary I saw regarding vultures. It's to keep them 'clean' of all the bacterial crud that comes with the territory.

Gmac

Neutrino Cannon said...

Given how bloody caustic their digestive juices are, I could buy that Gmac. Digestive juices? Oh yeah, they don't just pee down their legs.

reflectoscope said...

For reference bald eagle tastes like dodo, but the texture is more like carrier pigeon.