When it comes to thinking about the animal kingdom, “mysterious” might not be the first word that comes to mind. Sure, we’ve only explored a small fraction of the Earth’s oceans, and there are more organisms in a square mile of rainforest than we can even count, but we humans tend to think that we know it all.
But there’s a pretty solid chance that you’ve never heard these 10 animal facts. From democratic buffalo to flu-ridden gorillas, here are the most bizarre bits of trivia that the natural world has to offer.
1. Dolphins don’t sleep.
Fellow insomniacs, rejoice. Next time you’re staring at the ceiling and cursing everything that the world stands for, remember that you’re not alone. Dolphins actually don’t sleep — not technically, anyway. Because dolphins are not reflexive breathers like humans are, they can only rest one brain hemisphere at a time. This keeps them from drowning.
2. Butterflies are so metal.
Butterflies typically don’t get enough sodium from flowers, so they sometimes resort to a practice called lachryphagy. That’s right, folks. Butterflies drink tears. They prefer to hang out near turtles’ eyes because these critters are notoriously slow, but the most metal of our lovely little friends drink crocodile tears. There’s a joke in there somewhere.
3. Squirrels wear perfume.
While we slap on a little white musk to draw people in, squirrels wear Eau de Terrifying Snake to keep predators at bay. Nothing says “stay away from me” quite like letting the world know that you just rolled around on a rattlesnake carcass.
4. Crocodiles don’t age.
Crocodiles don’t have to slather themselves with $400 face cream to stay young. All crocs have to do to stay young is exist and slay on into eternity. They’re not immortal, but as long as they avoid injury and disease, they can live for over a century.
5. Buffalo are into democracy.
Certain types of buffalo live in massive herds, so making sure that everyone’s on the same page is no small feat. When it comes to making choices for the whole gang, females vote on it by lying down, looking in a certain direction, standing up, and lying down again. They won’t be voting for Trump in 2016, and they don’t think that he should be the president. Just saying.
6. Gorillas can catch human colds and other illnesses.
There you have it, evolution naysayers. Our distant cousins get to suffer from the same illnesses that we deal with. They just don’t have to deal with the stress of waiting for the cable guy to show up, or succumb to total despair when the government cuts their paychecks in half.
7. The person who gave the red fox its scientific name was an uninspired fool.
The red fox is basically the William Carlos Williams of the animal kingdom, since it’s known in the scientific community as Vulpes vulpes. I’m pretty sure that these foxes love being called by their full name just as much as Tu Morrow (a real human who actually exists) does.
8. A group of owls is called a parliament.
Because if you’re going to have a bunch of animals running your country, they might as well be owls.
9. Even though they can’t see as many colors as we can, dogs have way better eyesight than humans do.
And this is the excuse they use when they claim that they can’t see why that nasty spot on the carpet is so terrible.
10. Humans, elephants, and humpback whales are the only animals that experience menopause.
Because the world is awful and nothing is fair.
As it turns out, the animals we share this planet with are far more complex than they let on, and that’s really cool. After all, it’s nice to know that there’s some menopausal solidarity floating around out there. Oh, and next time you see a butterfly, just remember that they have no qualms with drinking the tears of their enemies.