November 30, 2012

Red, White & Moo Facts

  • The vaccine for smallpox, a fatal disease, was developed from a similar disease in cows—cowpox—when Edward Jenner noticed that milkmaids who had been infected with cowpox while milking were immune to smallpox.

  • Although the image of a Native American is often iconically portrayed on horseback, Plains Indians had no knowledge of the horse, which was brought from Europe, until the mid 1700s.

  • Oxen are bovine animals like domesticated cattle, but trained and used as draft animals, and often made more docile by castration.

  • Horses can be fed corn to fatten them, but this may make them sweat more readily.

  • The pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were often buried with their favorite dog, so that the dog could protect them in the afterlife.

  • Although known as the "scourge of God", Attila the Hun may have had one good quality: It is likely he and his people introduced Europe to the stirrup.

  • Horseshoes do the same thing for horses' hooves as shoes do for humans' feet: protect them from wear on rough or hard surfaces.

  • Cows, sheep, and goats—ruminants that chew cud and convert this into milk and meat—are such a common part of the human diet that 60% of the world's farmland is meadows and pastures.

  • Cats' tongues have sharp spines that face backward at the tip, which they use to keep clean when licking themselves.

  • Although Michigan is known as the "Wolverine state," wolverines are very rare in the region; it is commonly held that the last wolverine was killed in the mid-19th century.

  • The modern-day Republican Party was formed in Michigan, holding its first convention in Jackson on July 6, 1854.

  • Dogs are used in hospitals and nursing homes to foster quicker patient recovery.

  • Particularly valuable cows can be induced to superovulate, or release multiple eggs. These are flushed out surgically and implanted in other females, allowing the more valuable animals to pass their genes on to more than the standard single calf a year.

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