Friday, September 28, 2012

You Learn Something New Everyday

I'm a sucker for random facts. I always like to learn something new, even if it doesn't impact my daily life. That's why I was a big fan of The History Channel, Discovery Channel, and TLC many years ago before they devolved into reality TV.  There was always something on that made me go, "Wow, I didn't know that." Well, that happened twice today and for a completely random reason to boot!

Anyway, going through my regular lunchtime political web reads (Daily Kos, Huffington Post, Slate, Politico, etc.), I came across this article on Slate comparing human births with other mammals. Being a father of a soon-to-be 9 month old, I was interested.  The article linked to another fascinating, but much older article in the New York Times on the same subject, which explained that human gestation is much longer than others because of the needed brain development, but the difficulty in birth (much longer for humans) is that the baby is born facing backward due to the smaller pelvice which is necessary for bipedalism.  So being big brained and able to walk screws us in the birthing process. But hey, it's worth it.

The article also mentioned the most difficult birth in the animal kingdom, that of the spotted hyena. Female spotted hyena don't have an accessible vagina, so they actually procreate and give birth through an elongated clitoris that looks like the penis of the male spotted hyena. This organ ruptures upon giving birth and up to 18% of first time spotted hyena moms die because of it.  That blew me away. But having cub hyenas that can fend for themselves (they're born with teeth) it's worth it.

That was the first random fact, but the second which really blew me away because it completely changed what I had believed all my life.  What is it?  Hyena are actually in the cat family in the animal kingdom rather than the dog family and the only reason they look like dogs is because of convergent evolution. Totally. Blown. Away.

So I went looking for info on the election and learned something new about hyenas.  Only on the Net.

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