Nature

Nature

Where is the deadliest garden in the world?

The skull outside the entrance to Alnwick Garden in Northumberland isn’t just decorative. Many plants in these beds could actually kill. Foxgloves, snow-on-the-mountain, cow bell (left): over a hundred dangerous plants grow in this garden, laid out by Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberland.

Nature

What's the loudest animal?

Hint: it’s not the blue whale! The award goes to another underwater behemoth, the sperm whale. Its deafening clicks, used for communication, have been measured at a whopping 230 decibels (dB) – louder than the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883.

Nature

At what thickness is a tree immune to flames?

It’s a spectacular sight: 100-metre-high, 1,500-year-old forests spreading across the primeval landscape of the northwestern United States.

Nature

How clever are dogs really?

The dog chases its tail… again. You’d be forgiven for thinking that man’s best friend isn’t the brightest spark, but you’d be wrong, as psychologist Stanley Coren from the University of British Columbia in Canada has discovered.

Nature

Do sharks have a sixth sense?

Using its ampullae of Lorenzini – special pores filled with jelly – a shark can perceive electrical fields of just one millionth of a volt. That’s how it detects movements in the water, like a paddling surfer, hundreds of metres away.

Nature

Which animal is an alcoholic?

Like a glassy-eyed old soak, the Madagascan aye-aye has a rule of thumb: the stronger the brew, the better. In their natural habitat, the nocturnal lemurs drink fermented plant nectar.

Nature

What is the Great Green Wall?

It’s one of the largest projects in the history of Africa: a 4,400-mile wall stretching from Senegal to Djibouti along the edge of the Sahel region, just south of the Sahara Desert. However, the gigantic barrier isn’t made of bricks and mortar but trees.

Nature

What will remain once bees are gone?

Grapes, avocados, cucumbers: if bees were extinct, the list of fruit and vegetables we could no longer eat would be lengthy.

Nature

Was there a cannibal shark?

Academics have made a macabre discovery in the Minto Coalfield of New Brunswick, Canada: juvenile shark teeth in the fossilised faeces of an Orthacanthus shark, which roamed the freshwater swamps of Europe and North America 300 million years ago.

Nature

How do you turn the head of a female frog?

Two things generally do the trick: a booming voice and shiny green skin. Too bad, then, that tree frogs change colour depending on where they’re standing. On rough surfaces, they’re dark. Only on slippery surfaces in direct sunlight do they sparkle in that coveted green gloss.

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