Dip Your Frog to Keep Your Milk Fresh

Russia Finland dipped frogs in milk to keep it from spoiling
Has anyone ever asked you if you have a frog in your throat? If you lived in Russia or Finland  you might literally have had that affliction, simply from drinking a cup of milk. 

In the days before modern refrigeration, inhabitants of Russia and Finland kept milk fresh by dipping a frog in it. 

The practice may seem bizarre, but it is well rooted in science. Russian brown frogs emit peptides that combat the growth of salmonella and other dangerous bacteria. 

Seed Sizes, Big and Small

epiphytic orchids Coco de Mer palm tree
(Left) A seed and mature specimen of the Coco de Mer tree. (Right) A seed pod containing thousands of seeds of an epiphytic orchid. Also pictured is a mature orchid plant.

When it comes to seeds, there is no standard size. Seeds are widely varied in shape and size. Consider the contenders for the extremes of seed size.

The world’s smallest seeds are produced by certain ephiphytic orchids. Seeds can be as small as 1/300th of an inch (85 micrometers). The weight of one of them is about 1/35,000th of an ounce (0.81 micrograms). By way of comparison, a typical grain of salt is about 300 micrometers in length. This tiny specimen can grow into a beautiful orchid that is known as an “air plant.” It does not grow on the ground in the dirt, but rather attaches itself to other plants, such as tree bark, and gathers moisture and nutrients from the air.

On the other end of the see spectrum is the massive seed of the Coco de Mer palm tree. The mature fruit can weigh up 66 pounds (30 kg) and can be up to 19.7 inches (50 cm) in diameter. The fruit, which requires 6–7 years to mature and a further two years to germinate, is sometimes also referred to as the Sea Coconut, Bum Seed, double coconut, coco fesse, or Seychelles Nut. The tree that springs from that massive seed can grow to be 112 feet (34 m) tall.

The Eyes Have It

tuatara has three eyes

The tuatara, a New Zealand reptile, stands out in several different ways:

  • They have a third eye on the top center of their heads.
  • They have two rows of teeth on the top of their mouths that overlap the single row of teeth on the bottom.
  • They are able to hear, even though they have no external ear.
  • They have between 5 and 6 billion base pairs of genes in their DNA, compared to the 3 billion in human DNA.


One Polar Bear, Please — Hold the Liver

 polar bear livers highly toxic vitamin a 
If you are stranded in the Arctic and happen to have access to a polar bear for your lunch, think twice about eating the liver. Polar bear livers are extremely high in Vitamin A, cadmium, arsenic, and a host of other toxic substances. Your little polar bear liver snack will likely result in hair loss, extreme flakey skin, headaches,  abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, etc. If you are already in a weakened condition, that polar bear liver may well be your last meal. 
Oh… and it’s not all that healthy for the bear, either. 


That’s Bloody Expensive!

value of horseshoe crab blood
A horseshoe crab (bottom) and its blood (upper right).

One of the most expensive substances on the planet comes from one of it’s unlikeliest — and ugliest — sources: the horseshoe crab. The bright blue blood of the of these inhabitants of shallow ocean waters fetches an astonishing $60,000 per gallon. With one gallon containing 75,708 drops, this equates to each drop of blood being worth 79 cents.

What makes this weird-looking substance from a weird-looking creature so weirdly valuable? Continue reading

Let it Snow … And Snow … And Snow

 most snow in one day 

The record for the most snow to fall in one day occurred on April 14, 1921 in Silver Lake, Colorado. 

The storm began at 2:30 pm, and by the same time the next day, residents were buried under 6.5 feet (2 meters) of snow.

The storm did not stop after 24 hours, however. It raged for a total of 32.5 hours, and by the time it was over, 8 feet (2.5 meters) of snow, which is the record for one continuous snowfall.


Today’s Forecast: Cloudy With a Chance of Amphibians

frogs fall from sky in Kansas City and Dubuque
Kansas City, Missouri and Dubuque, Iowa have experienced storms of falling frogs.
Parents routinely tell their children to dress appropriately for the weather. How should a child dress to be properly prepared for an onslaught of amphibians?

On July 12, 1873 residents of Kansas City, Missouri were astonished to find frogs falling from the sky. Scientific American reported the event, noting that the “shower of frogs darkened the air and covered the ground for a long distance.”

Not to be outdone, Missouri’s neighbor to the north also reported amphibian precipitation — this time in the form of frozen frogs. On June 16, 1882 The city of Dubuque, Iowa witnessed a hailstorm of frogs that battered its unsuspecting inhabitants.

Meteorologists speculate that the Kansas City phenomenon was caused by a small tornado that happened to pick up a population of unfortunate frogs and carry them in what must have been the biggest frog leap in history. The Dubuque incident was likely the result of a tornado or very powerful updraft lifting the frogs high into the atmosphere, where they were flash frozen before beginning their return to earth many miles distant.