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Naked Facts

A secretary bird chick waits for its parents to return with a meal.  Her keen eyes target reptiles and rodents.

A secretary bird chick waits for its parents to return with a meal. Her keen eyes target reptiles and rodents. (View larger version)

Photograph by Simon Thomsett

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  • The African savanna has the largest land animals on the planet – elephants—and the tallest – giraffes.

  • The word “savanna” comes from a 16th century word that means “treeless plain.”

  • The African savanna covers half the continent and spreads through 27 countries.

  • The secretary bird is capable of flying but tends to prefer walking – sometimes over 20 miles a day.

  • Secretary birds are one of only two terrestrial birds of prey.

  • Cheetahs can reach speeds as fast as a car on the freeway (at least 70 mph).

  • Only about 5 percent of cheetah cubs make it to adulthood.

  • The Mongolian Steppe is part of a larger grassland ecoregion that extends into surrounding countries and covers over 340,000 square miles.

  • Mongolia has the lowest human population density of any country in the world.

  • Marmots are key members of the steppe ecosystem, providing food for wolves, foxes, and eagles and providing shelter and homes for many mammal species.

  • Hunters kill one out of every five Mongolian wolves.

  • The long-eared hedgehog can survive up to 10 weeks without food or water.

  • Long-eared hedgehogs prefer to run rather than roll into a ball for defense – they are surprisingly fast.

  • The High Arctic is divided into “high” and “low” sections with polar deserts (barrens) in the high and tundra in the low. The climatic difference between High Arctic and Subarctic (Low) is reflected in natural vegetation. The Arctic islands are treeless.

  • 60 percent of the Svalbard landmass is covered in ice, and less than ten percent has any vegetation.

  • In Svalbard, the sun sets each year for the very last time on October 25th and will not rise above the horizon again for nearly four months.

  • Arctic foxes have the warmest fur of any land mammal on the planet, and even have fur on the soles of their feet.

  • Arctic foxes reuse their dens, which can be over 300 years old and have up to 100 entrances.

  • A group of polar bears has been called a “celebration.”

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