This page of animal facts is an introduction to the fascinating
world of animals as well as an overview of all the animal fact
When you look at the animal world, it's amazing how many different shapes, colors sizes and types of life there are on our planet. There are more different types of animals living in unusual landscapes all across the globe than most of us can really imagine, from the jungles of South America to the depths of the Pacific Ocean.
Kids are often fascinated by animals, especially the exotic animals often seen in zoos like gorillas, elephants and tigers.
When you need clip art of animals, chances are you're also going to need facts
to go with the pictures. That's what these pages are here for – even though this
is a clip art website, all these facts are accurate and well-researched.
You can use the information here for school projects or any writing that requires lots of information about animals. Here you'll find elephants facts, dolphin facts, owl facts, facts about sharks, eagle facts and a whole range of other animal facts.
Here's an assortment of facts about various animals that may
#1: Sharks are fish, but dolphins and whales are mammals
#2: The largest flightless bird is the ostrich (it's also the fastest bird on land)
#3: Anacondas swallow their prey whole – and they can dislocate their jaw to do it!
#4: The albatross claims the record for the widest wingspan at 11 feet (around 3 and a half meters)
#5: Cats sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day on average
#6: Pigs get sunburned easily
#7: Armadillos can walk underwater
#8: Giraffes are the tallest living animals
#9: The first animal to visit outer space was a dog
#10: Cheetahs are the fastest mammals on land, with a top speed of around 70 miles per hour (about 115 kilometers per hour)
#11: There are roughly one million different species identified living on Earth today. It's estimated there may be another 4-14 million species that are yet to be identified by scientists.
#12: Over 99% of all species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct
But there are a few animals that have more advanced brains which
have allowed them to go beyond purely acting from instinct.
Amongst these animals are the elephants and the dolphins. Both these creatures have very complex social structures and are capable of tasks that require a huge amount of intelligence.
Animal intelligence has been studied widely.
It turns out that many of the abilities we used to think separated humans from the rest of the animal kingdom can also be found in animal species.
For example, elephants can be trained to paint a picture of an elephant – they are not only able to recognize their own species, they can also create a picture of it.
When scientists look what facts about animals show animal intelligence, they look at a number of different abilities. There's not just one way to measure intelligence – it's made up of various brain functions, like memory, attention, the ability to use tools, communication, and the ability to solve problems.
The two groups of animals scientists rate as having the highest
intelligence levels are the primates (which
includes chimpanzees, monkeys, gorillas and human beings) and the
includes dolphins and whales).
The human brain actually has a lot more in common with a dolphin brain than it does with some species of monkey!
One way scientists study intelligence in animals is by using
It's been discovered that both rhesus monkeys and elephants are capable of counting and doing basic sums. Chimpanzees have also been found to have a talent for numbers (which is not a surprise, since chimps are the animals most closely related to humans genetically).
But intelligence doesn't seem to be all about brain size – even ants have been found to have some ability to count. Ants and bees are quite interesting in this respect, because they seem to have a 'hive intelligence' which allows them to work together as a group in harmony.
It's hard to give animals a 'ranking' in terms of smartest to dumbest simply because of all these elements that go into making up what we call 'intelligence.'
Corvids, for example – a type of bird –
are quite capable of using tools, but they don't perform anywhere
near as well as elephants when it comes to things like memory and
Bonobo apes and chimpanzees seem to perform the best when it comes to experiments on language use in animals.
Chimps are capable of having conversations with humans through fairly complex sign language, and Bonobos have even been able to write.
Of course, not all animals are cute and cuddly. Many animals are natural predators of humans.
Humans, as you may know, are related to
the apes – and before we developed the ability to use tools and
weapons, humans were very vulnerable to big predators like lions,
tigers and wolves.
What eventually saved humans was our big brains – we got smart enough to start building houses and making weapons to protect ourselves.
Still, there are lots of animals you wouldn't want to get stuck alone in a cage with.
Amongst the most dangerous animals to humans
are lions, tigers, leopards, bears, and sharks.
But there are other animals you might not usually think of as being dangerous – such as chimpanzees – which can do a great deal of damage to a person in the wrong situation.
Of course, there are also small poisonous animals
like snakes and frogs which can harm people, and even tiny insects
like spiders and mosquitoes can harm people.
In fact, mosquitoes are often called the most dangerous animals on Earth because of the way they spread diseases like malaria. And the poison dart frog of South America carries one of the most deadly natural toxins known to man. The box jellyfish is one of the most deadly marine creatures in the world.
But there are many other dangerous animals that we often don't think of, because many of them aren't predators that would normally attack humans.
For example, a buffalo only eats plants but they can be very dangerous to humans in the wrong situation. Animals like buffalo, elephants, and giraffes can all be extremely dangerous if they are put in a position where they feel like humans are threatening them.
Also on the list of very dangerous animals are polar bears and saltwater crocodiles. Crocodiles are particularly dangerous because they're so hard to spot when they're in the water.
However, it's worth remembering one of the most
important facts about animals:
The most dangerous animal in the world is humans. Because we are at the 'top of the food chain,' humans are capable of eating virtually any other animal in the world.
Our use of technology has made us dangerous to many species of animal which otherwise would be a danger to us, like the tigers.
Humans are a threat not just to
the animals we eat – human activity like logging and
overfishing has led to declining numbers of many types of
Humans have already been responsible for many extinctions (when there are no animals of a particular species left alive).
The Arctic (top of the world) and Antarctic (bottom of the
world) are some of the most difficult regions for animals to
survive in because of the incredibly low temperatures.
Still, an amazing variety of creatures have managed to adapt to living in these harsh conditions - it's not all just polar bears and penguins.
Arctic fox is one of the unique creatures to be found in
These foxes stand not much more than 10 inches tall at the shoulder (about 25 centimeters).
They are completely white to blend in with the snow, so their prey can't see them when they hunt (although some have a blue tinge to their fur, the color of Arctic ice).
When the summer comes, they lose their warm white coat and it's replaced by light brown fur so they can continue to blend in with the warmer snow-free surroundings. The mainly hunt small animals such as lemmings and some birds.
The walrus is one of the most unique and impressive of the
They look similar to elephant seals in terms of their body shape, but the most distinguishing feature of the walrus is their long tusks which point straight down.
A male walrus is called a bull and can grow up to 12 feet long (3.6 meters) and weigh 2 tons (about 4400 pounds).
In the Antarctic, the variety of animals is a lot more limited
because Antarctica does not join up to any other continents.
Unlike the Arctic, where large areas are snow-free during the summer, the entire Antarctic is mostly covered in snow and ice all year round.
That means land animals can't migrate to warmer areas when they need to. As a result, the Antarctic is populated mainly by sea life and by animals that can both swim long distances and live on land, like penguins and sea lions.
There are many species in the world today which are classed as
endangered or threatened.
There are many reasons for this.
While species have always gone extinct because of natural changes in the environment, a large number of the extinctions that are happening today are the direct result of human activities.
Many things we do endanger other animals, including things like hunting and fishing too much and polluting the environment.
Recently, the biggest concern for endangered species has been climate change caused by humans.
Human activity is changing temperatures around the world which can have severe effects on some species and the food chains that depend on them.
Sometimes animals become endangered because humans introduce
new animals into an area which puts the ecosystem (the food
chain) out of balance.
The kiwi is one such endangered animal. It's a flightless bird native to New Zealand.
Before the arrival of humans in New Zealand, the kiwi – and the many other flightless birds in that country – had no natural predators. They lost the need to fly over many years because there was nothing to fly away from.
Unfortunately, when humans arrived they brought with them all kinds of predators – cats, dogs, pigs and ferrets, for instance.
The kiwi has little chance of escaping from one of these predators, which is why this bird is now seriously at risk.
The way a food chain works means that even species that don't seem 'important' can have a big impact if they disappear.
There really is a 'circle of life' in nature where nothing is wasted – in an ecosystem, each species depends on each other species playing its role in order for the system to stay in balance.
As a result, taking away one species from the
ecosystem can have knock-on effects for every other species.
If a bear relies on a particular type of fish to survive and the fish dies out because of river pollution, the bear will then be in danger as well because it has lost a food source.
One of the most endangered animals in Europe is the Iberian
A lynx is a type of wild cat. The Iberian lynx population dropped as low as 60 in 2002, but it is now increasing again slowly thanks to conservation work and captive breeding programs.
The sea otter is another endangered species, although the sea
otter's story is somewhat happier than that of many other
The sea otter came close to extinction in the early 1900s after many decades of being hunted for its fur. At its lowest level the population is thought to have dropped to around 1000 otters.
But after the hunting of these animals was banned, the population has recovered somewhat on its own. However, they are still protected and still classed as endangered.
Although they largely disappeared from the Earth around 65 million years ago, dinosaurs are still a source of fascination to young and old alike.
Did you know there are still some creatures alive today that
are considered living dinosaurs?
The tuatara of New Zealand is a creature which has barely changed for millions of years and looks like a mini-dinosaur.
The movies have given us an idea of dinosaurs being huge
creatures, like the T-rex and the diplodocus.
While these creatures where some of the largest ever to roam the Earth, the average dinosaur was only about the size of a chicken!
The largest dinosaur fossil found to date was the
Argentinosauras, which from head to tail was about 120 feet
long (36 meters).
There may have been dinosaurs even larger than this, although scientists have been yet to find any larger complete fossils.
The largest meat-eating dinosaur was not the T-Rex but was in fact theSpinosauras, which is believed to have weighed up to 8 tons – making it tiny in comparison to the blue whales that swim through our oceans today, which weigh up to 180 metric tons.
Another big predator from the distant past that few people
have heard of is Megalodon, the biggest shark that ever
Megalodon may have been over 60 feet long (18.2 meters) and had teeth 7 inches long (about 18 centimeters), making the great white shark of today look like a dwarf by comparison.
In more recent times there have been extinctions of some other fantastic creatures that walked the Earth at the same time as humans.
Amongst these extinct animals were the Moa bird and the
The giant Moa was one of the largest flightless birds of all time, standing up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) tall. (Ostriches, which are the largest living flightless bird today, only reach around 9 feet tall). The Woolly mammoth was a type of fur-covered elephant with giant tusks.
Most of the mammoths disappeared during the last ice Age about 10,000 years ago, although the last of them died off about 4,000 years ago.
I hope you have enjoyed this page with facts about animals, and that you have learned something you didn't know before !
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