Whether you’ve been waiting a year, a month, or a week, the time has nearly come. Tomorrow, August 21, 2017, many people in the United States will be in the direct path of a total solar eclipse, and many more people outside of this path of totality will be able to experience the phenomenon in some way or another.
If you’ve seen a butterfly land on a flower, you mostly likely witnessed something amazing—pollination, the transfer of pollen from one plant to another for fertilization. Since plants can’t get up and pollinate themselves, pollinators like birds, bees, butterflies, bats, and small mammals do it for them.
Penguins are flightless seabirds that get around by swimming and diving, waddling around on land, and, sometimes, slipping and sliding on their bellies. Scientists have identified more than a dozen penguin species, and each one has an outer layer of waterproof feathers, webbed feet, and flippers for swimming. Penguins frequently preen (groom) and spread an oil-like substance on their feathers, which helps keep their bodies dry and insulated against water and wind.
‘Tis the season for freshly fallen snow, warm blankets, and holiday cheer (and scraping ice from car windshields). For humans in the northern hemisphere, it’s the time of year for sledding and ice skating, cookie baking and ugly sweater parties, and cuddling up by the fireplace to watch classic movies. Unlike humans, many animal species—particularly in Arctic regions—are simply built for wintery conditions. Some of them even seem to embody the season itself (ahem, reindeer). Grab a cup of hot cocoa, and let’s take a look at just a few of these wonderfully wintery creatures.
Some creatures make a living by pretending to be something they’re not. (Like Halloween, every day!) In one high-flying example, zone-tailed hawks fool prey down on the ground by mimicking the way turkey vultures fly, and sometimes even disguising themselves by flying among turkey vultures.
As humans, we tend to think we’re pretty special–we walk on two legs, we’ve figured out how to grow our own food, we’ve built pyramids and skyscrapers, and we can communicate complex thoughts and ideas. But despite all that makes us special, one human behavior–talking to our unborn babies–may not be entirely unique within the animal kingdom.