It’s Just Plain Weird: Ice Balls & Zebra-Striped Cows

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Ice Balls

This phenomenon comes about in cold climates where ice formed on water breaks apart into small pieces and is known as slushy ice. Layers of this ice stick together in the cool waters and come ashore on waves. The waves spin the balls of ice smoothing them into balls—and when they land on the beach, they look like they make a perfect stash for a grand snowball fight. Examples of this have been spotted in Finland, Sweden and Siberia.

A slightly different phenomena is seen on the shores of Lake Michigan in the winter, but these balls tend to more boulder-sized. Ice sheets in the lake break and are churned into the waves. As the current takes them to the shores, they are rolled and formed by the waves and become ice spheres which eventually land on the shores looking like great white boulders.

 

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Zebra-Striped Cows

Why would you paint a cow to look like a zebra? Turns out it could save on pesticide. Zebra stripes are considered to be great camouflage, especially in a herd where many animals congregate together. A group of researchers in Japan decided to test the theory that stripes might deter flies. Six Japanese black cows were used in the experiment. Two were painted with black and white stripes to mimic zebras. Others were painted with black stripes and another group were left all black.

Using cameras to document the findings, the researchers counted the number of biting flies landing on their cows and they also documented fly-repelling behaviors such as head throws, leg stamps and so on.

The number of biting flies on the black and white striped cows was considerably less than the other two groups.

Biting flies are a serious pest affecting livestock and most farmers will use pesticide to reduce the number of flies. The conclusion of the study suggests that painting cows with zebra stripes could reduce fly attacks on livestock and so reduce the need for pesticides.

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The Blob

It’s not a plant, an animal or a fungus? It has no mouth, but it can find and digest food. It can move and also heal itself if it is damaged and it can learn to go around a barrier if necessary.

It is in the news this week as specimens have been specially grown in petri dishes and put on display at the Zoological Park in the Paris Museum of Natural History. This particular “Blob” is said to creep along at about one and a half inches (4 cm) and prefers a meal of oatmeal. It’s nickname is the “Blob,” but it is actually a slime mold called Physarum polycephalum.

There are more than 900 species of slime molds and you may be lucky enough to spot one growing in damp woodland on bark or leaf mold.

 

Read more weird facts here! 

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