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Africa's Deadliest: Killer Tactics Facts

Photo: A Parabuthus

Photo: A Parabuthus (View larger version)

Photo by: Aquavision TV Productions / Brad Beltramo

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  • The cheetah can be traced back to a single African group of around 500 animals that survived the last ice age, which means all living cheetahs are as close as identical twins. Kings and Emperors of the 16th-century, kept cheetahs as pets and used them to hunt.

  • Scorpions give birth to up to 100 live young and they are one of the very few invertebrates to have independently evolved a womb where embryos are fed by teats linked to the mother. Once born the live young are complete replicas of the adult. Until old enough to venture out on their own, the live young will live on their mothers back. Here they are protected from other predators but not their own mother. If hungry the mother scorpion will simply pick the young off her back and eat them.

  • While the Fishing Spider uses the water’s surface as a web, normal spiders use a silk web to catch prey. A spiders' silk is actually five times stronger than steel and 30 times stretchier than nylon. Spiders constantly have to build or repair their webs, so throughout its life the average spider will produce more than four miles of silk.

  • To remain hidden underwater, the crocodile can close the valve to its four-chambered heart, releasing just enough oxygenated blood to its vital organs to prevent them from shutting down completely. If needed, they can remain submerged for up to 2 hours at a time, slowing their heart rate to 2 beats a minute.

  • Once lions have brought down their prey, they follow a rather precise eating pattern. First, they open up the soft belly and eat the heart, liver and kidneys, before tucking into the meaty parts of the carcass around the rump. It does not take long for a pride to completely strip a carcass bare.

  • The leopard has incredible hearing – five times better than the average human. Their concave ears capture more sound waves while their inner ears are sensitive to vibrations two octaves above what our auditory systems can detect.

  • Eagle mothers lay their eggs several days apart, once a year. The first eaglet to hatch gets an advantage over its younger siblings, since it has had several days to grow! In fact, the biggest eaglet will usually fight for the most food from its parents, and it may even kill its smaller, younger siblings.

  • Eagles have eyelids that close during sleep. For blinking, they also have an inner eyelid called a nictitating membrane. Every three or four seconds, the nictitating membrane slides across the eye from front to back, wiping dirt and dust from the cornea. Because the membrane is translucent, the eagle can see even while it is over the eye.

  • In the 1500s, easily tamed cheetahs were caught and trained. Adults were used because cubs had not learned how to hunt. Tamed cheetahs formed a strong bond with their keepers. Each cheetah rode to the hunt by horseback or on a cart. Its eyes were covered with a hood and uncovered when prey was sighted. The cat was released to chase down the prey then rewarded with meat fed from a wooden spoon.

  • The English word, ‘cheetah,’ comes from the Hindi word ‘chita’ meaning the ‘spotted one.’

  • In most cases, whiskers around the face, specifically the mouth area, help the animal feel its way through tight spots. In a way, they serve as ‘feelers,’ telling the animal whether or not it can fit into a specific area.

  • A single crocodile can go through at least 3 000 teeth in its lifetime! By the time a croc reaches a length of 4 metres, it may have used up to 45 sets of teeth. They replace their teeth at a rate of one new tooth per socket per month. As each old tooth breaks down, the new one growing in the socket is ready to replace it.

  • The lion’s (Panthera leo) behaviour is influenced by the seasons, by where they live, and by the humans who live near them or hunt them. They spend more than 20 hours out of every day resting and only about 2 hours a day walking anywhere. They walk an average of about 9.5 km per day.

  • In 1716 a lion was the first exotic animal known to have been exhibited in North America, in Boston, MA.

  • Wildebeest are noisy creatures. Bulls have an array of loud vocalizations, from moans to explosive snorts.

  • Up to 500,000 wildebeest calves are born in February and March each year, at the beginning of the rainy season. Calves learn to walk within minutes of birth and within days are able to keep up with the heard. Gnus can live to be 20 years old.

  • Some scorpion species “sing” by rubbing their legs together – just like crickets. However, it is thought that the song is used as a warning call instead of a call to attract a mate.

  • Scorpions can easily be seen at night with an ultraviolet light due to a fluorescent material found in their hard outer covering, which gives a "glow in the dark" appearance.

  • A zebra's eyesight at night is thought to be about as good as that of a cat or an owl.

  • Zebras are attracted to black-and-white stripes. Even if stripes are painted on a wall, a zebra will tend to go stand next to it! Each zebra has its unique stripe pattern-—like human fingerprints.
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