5 Fun Facts About Sharks That May Surprise You

Sharks are vicious, scary, and ferocious – or so that’s what most people think. Movies like Jaws, The Shallows and more tend to portray sharks (particularly the great white sharks), as these cold-blooded predators but in reality, they’re actually just misunderstood creatures. Here are 5 shark facts that might change your mind about them.


1. Not All Sharks Are Huge

Dwarf Lantern Shark

Dwarf Lanternshark (Photo Credit: ocean.si.edu)

With a maximum length of about 20cm, the dwarf lanternshark is the smallest shark species in the world. That’s about the length of a human palm! In comparison, the largest shark species, the whale shark, averages at about 40 feet in length. Dwarf lanternsharks are an obscure species because their small size gives them relatively little economic value. In addition, these tiny sharks are rarely seen as they are only found on the upper continental slopes near Colombia and Venezuela.


2. Keep Going Forward

Blacktip Shark

Blacktip Shark (Photo Credit: wctv.tv)

A popular shark myth that is often circulated around is that sharks cannot breathe once they stop swimming. Contrary to popular belief, sharks don’t have to swim constantly to breathe. However, they do always have to swim forward. This is because their pectoral fins are stiff and cannot bend upwards, which means they can’t swim backwards or stop abruptly.


3. The Sixth Sense

Tiger Shark

Tiger Shark (Photo Credit: wikipedia.com)

Humans have 5 senses, but sharks are gifted with an extra sense – electroreception. Electroreception gives sharks the ability to detect electromagnetic fields, which they use to hunt their prey. They can sense and hone in on prey with amazing precision, even in pitch black conditions. In addition, sharks also use electroreception to navigate the depths of the ocean with ease.


4. Teeth For Scales

Whale Shark

Whale Shark (Photo Credit: goodthingsguy.com)

Another characteristic that makes sharks different from other fish is their scales. Instead of regular fish scales, sharks have miniature teeth called dermal denticles. These denticles point towards their tail, so if you pet a shark from head to tail, they feel relatively smooth, but it feels coarse if you pet them the other way. Additionally, denticles also help sharks swim quicker by reducing drag.


5. Fatalities From Sharks Are Rare

Great White Shark

Great White Shark (Photo Credit: smithsonianmag.com)

Despite what’s depicted in popular culture, fatalities from shark attacks are actually very rare. Sharks generally do not like the taste of humans, so they usually just perform a “test bite” and swim away. According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), there were only 5 fatalities out of the 88 unprovoked shark attacks in 2017. Based on these numbers, you’re more likely to die from a lightning strike than a shark attack!

5 Hornbill Facts: The National Bird of Malaysia

The hornbill is the national bird of Malaysia, so it’s no wonder Zoo Negara is home to 7 different species of hornbills. With their brightly-coloured casque and long curved bills, these birds are an interesting sight to behold. In addition, the hornbill is also an official mascot of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) in Malaysia and Sarawak’s official state bird.  Want to learn more about these fascinating birds? Here are 5 interesting facts about them!


1. Hornbills Have A Strong Neck

Great Indian Hornbill

Great Indian Hornbill | Photo Credit: steemit.com

Hornbills have strong necks because they need to support their long bills. Their necks are thicker than the average bird’s, as they develop powerful muscles from carrying their bills. On top of that, their first and second neck vertebrates are fused together – a unique characteristic of these birds – giving them the stability they need to carry their bills.


2. Sarawak, The Land of Hornbills

Rhinoceros Hornbill nipping a peanut

Rhinoceros Hornbill | Photo Credit: Thom Quine // Flickr

The Rhinoceros hornbill may be Sarawak’s state mascot, but you can also find 8 other species of hornbill here. This has earned the state its nickname “the Land of Hornbills”. The eight hornbill species native to Sarawak include the rhinoceros hornbill, black hornbill, oriental-pied hornbill, bushy-crested hornbill, helmeted hornbill, wrinkled hornbill, white-crowned hornbill, and the wreathed hornbill. Most of these birds live in Totally Protected Areas in Sarawak due to their vulnerable conservation status.


3. Not All Casques Are Created Equal

Helmeted Hornbill

Helmeted Hornbill | Photo Credit: Craig Ansibin // YouTube

A casque is the hornbill’s distinct structure that’s located on its upper mandible. In some hornbills, the casque is barely noticeable, but in others species, it can grow quite large. The casque does not seem to serve a purpose other than securing the bill and is typically hollow in the middle. However, the casque of the helmeted hornbill is filled with solid hornbill ivory, a precious material this hornbill is often slaughtered for.


4. Female Hornbills Are Prisoners During Nesting

Yellow-billed Hornbill peering out of nest slit

Yellow-billed Hornbill peering out of nest slit | Photo Credit: Trevor Kleyn

Female hornbills will usually lay their eggs inside a tree cavity, where the entrance is eventually sealed off using mud, fruit pulp, and droppings. All that remains is a small and narrow slit for the male hornbill to feed the female, and later on, their offspring. The sealing is done to prevent predators such as monkeys, snakes, or squirrels from entering. When the young hatch, the male makes up to 70 trips a day to bring food – talk about hard work!


5. Hornbills Have Loud Calls

Southern Ground-hornbill

Southern Ground-hornbill | Photo Credit: hbw.com

The calls of a hornbill are loud and each of them has their own distinct call. For instance, the Von der Decken’s hornbills produce a clucking sound, while the great Indian hornbill roars. The largest hornbill, the southern ground hornbill produces a deep resounding bass call that can be heard within a 2.5-mile radius – a testament to how loud hornbills are.

5 Animals That Are Now Extinct: Gone But Not Forgotten

Creatures from beneath the vast oceans, majestic birds that once took to the skies, behemoths that used to trample on the vast grounds; now reduced to the exhibits of museums the world over. Extinction is a very real threat that often rears its ugly head; at the expense of our actions that have lasting consequences. From the passenger pigeon that was driven to extinction due to our insatiable appetite for cheap poultry to the western black rhinoceros whose horns were poached for the greed of mankind; the list of our misdeeds continue taking its toll.

Gone but not forgotten, here’s our list of most memorable animals that used to roam our Earth:

Passenger Pigeon

Passenger Pigeon, once a force to be reckoned with.

Image Credit: Phys Org

Once a force in sheer numbers, passenger pigeons used to terrorise the skies, often darkening it with an ominous formation of birds. At the very pinnacle of their popularity, their numbers skyrocketed up to five billion, making these flocks the most populous species of birds on Earth!

What changed? The arrival and insatiable appetite of Europeans were their downfall. They hunted these harmless birds on a vast scale as a cheap source of meat. Their numbers were decimated as tens of millions of passenger pigeons were slaughtered each year, with the last sighting of the species last seen in 1901.

Closest Living Kin: Passenger pigeons are closely related to the Patagioenas, a category of New World pigeons that encompasses of 17 species.

The Dodo

The Dodo, probably the most famous bird.

Image Credit: Morning Ticker

Undoubtedly the most iconic of all extinct species, the dodo owes much of its popularity to its induction to pop culture. Case in point; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland where Pat the Dodo made a brief cameo to cement its place in the cartoon history books.

Of Mauritius origins, the dodo’s life on Earth was short-lived. Driven to extinction in just a few decades, they were first sighted by Dutch sailors in 1598 with the very last sighting of these flightless birds in 1662. Although its numbers were booming back in the 17th century, there remains very little evidence of its existence in museums today.

Its full form was once preserved under the collection of John Tradescant but he bequeathed it to the museum of Ashmolean Museum in Oxford where its condition quickly withered away and by 1755; it was burnt to ashes in a bonfire.

Closest Living Kin: The Nicobar pigeon, found in the Nicobar Islands and Andaman, India.

Western Black Rhinoceros

Western Black Rhinoceros

Image Credit: TreeHugger

A subspecies of the black rhino, Western Black Rhinoceros once stomped on the grounds of sub-Saharan Africa, but quickly fell prey to vast poaching. Its numbers were in the hundreds in 1980, but fell to 10 by 2000, and only 5 just a year later. Efforts to locate their kind were made in 2006 but to no avail and they were declared extinct in 2011.

Closest Living Kin: Similar to its namesake, the black rhinoceros, of Eastern and Southern Africa origins, are critically endangered.

Pyrenean Ibex

Pyrenean Ibex

Image Credit: The Christian Science Monitor

A subspecies of the Spanish ibex, the Pyrenean ibex has been extinct since 2000. They were once common in numbers but quickly declined in the 19th and 20th centuries. Until today, the reason behind their decline remain unresolved. That was until 2003, where they were brought back to life after a scientist managed to clone a female, but it died just minutes after being born.

Closest Living Kin: 

The Western and Spanish ibex of Picos de Europa and Sierra Nevada origins.



Image Credit: John Baez, WordPress

One part zebra, one part horse. Or at least that what it appears to be. The quagga belong to a subspecies of plains zebra that once lived in South Africa. They were overly hunted by Dutch settlers after they found it directly competing with domesticated animals for food. Quaggas went extinct in the wild by 1878, with the last captive specimen in Amsterdam in 1883.

Closest Living Kin: The Burchell’s zebra, currently flourishing in Namibia’s Etosha National Park.

Check Out These 5 Interesting Birds At Zoo Negara’s Bird Aviary

Zoo Negara holds one of the most extensive bird collections in Malaysia. From hornbills and cockatoos to pelicans, discover these wonderful creatures when you visit the bird aviary. The National Zoo also features a range of endangered species. Now’s your chance to catch a glimpse of these elusive birds because you’ll have a hard time spotting them in the wild. Here are a few of the many bird species that are on display at the zoo.


1. Fischer’s Lovebird

Fischer's Lovebird

Fischer’s Lovebird (Photo Credit: zoonegaramalaysia.my)

Bright and vivid, Fischer’s lovebird is one of the smaller lovebird species, hailing all the way from central Africa. A vivid shade of green covers most of its body, while its neck is a golden-yellow with a gradient that leads to its dark orange face. Lovebirds are social animals and require regular interaction, making them popular as pets too. If you’re thinking of getting one as a pet, you should know that they have a high-pitched chirp and can get noisy.


2. Asian Glossy Starling

Asian Glossy Starling

Photo by Lawrence Neo on Flickr

A contrast to the previous bird, the Asian glossy starling features a glossy dark green coat on its back with a matte black plumage. Their striking red eyes are a prominent attribute, making them easy to recognise – try to spot them in the bird aviary! On the other hand, the juvenile glossy starling has a grey-brown coat and gains its green gloss as it grows older. Just like the lovebirds, the glossy starling has a reputation of being one of the noisiest birds.


3. Milky Storks

Milky Storks

Photo by Andrea Schieber on Flickr

The milky storks are one of the endangered bird species in Zoo Negara. Strictly speaking, these birds aren’t housed in the zoo’s bird aviary, but they roam freely around the zoo’s compound. As it’s a vulnerable species, Zoo Negara took effort in the conservation of milky storks through captive breeding. The conservation efforts have been wildly successful; 20 years ago there were only about 10 of them, but today their numbers have grown to approximately 200!


4. Pink-necked Green Pigeon

Pink-necked Green Pigeon

Photo Credit: singaporebirds.com

The pink-necked green pigeon is a beautiful pastel-coloured bird found predominantly in subtropical and tropical areas in Southeast Asia. Although the species is named the pink-necked green pigeon, only the males have a pink nape and orange plumage. The females of this species are entirely green, as are the juveniles of both sexes. Unlike most birds species, both male and female birds are involved in raising the offspring.


5. White-bellied Go-away-bird

White-bellied Go-away-bird

Photo Credit: wikimedia.org

The white-bellied go-away-bird is certainly a mouthful, but the name actually stems from the distinctive “g’way” sound it makes. Additionally, these birds also make calls resembling a loud and nasal “haa-haa-haa”. Native to eastern Africa, this bird is often found in the open country or savannas. Both male and female birds are coloured a dark grey and white. Interestingly, the female birds sport a green beak that turns yellow-ish during the breeding season.

5 Ape Facts: Exploring Our Closest Living Relative

The ape family includes great apes such as gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos, as well as lesser apes like siamangs and gibbons. Apes are known for being human’s closest relatives. In fact, we share about 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees, but how much do we really know about apes? Go ape for these 5 ape facts!


1. Apes Have Fingerprints

Gorilla Hand

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

Fingerprints are not unique to humans. Apes like gorillas and chimpanzees also possess their own unique prints. Additionally, gorillas have hands very similar to a human’s too. They have five fingers including an opposable thumb, which is what most animals lack. An opposable thumb helps them grasp items just like a human.


2. Birth Control Pills Work on Gorillas


Photo Credit: pexels.com

Yes, you read that right, women’s birth control pills work on female gorillas too! Humans and apes may be more similar than you think. Even though gorillas are generally slow breeders, some zoos may put their gorillas on birth control to prevent inbreeding or overcrowding. It’s a pretty neat and convenient method of popular control.


3. Newborn Gorillas Are Half the Size of Human Newborns

Baby Gorilla & Mother

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

Although gorillas and humans have a similar gestation period, newborn gorillas are only half the size of human newborns. If you compare the size of adult humans and adult gorillas, the size of a newborn gorilla is remarkably small! In addition, ape mothers usually care for their young until they are ready to live on their own. Only after their offspring can fend for themselves, will apes mate again.


4. Great Apes Can Catch The Flu


Photo Credit: huffingtonpost.com

As we have so much DNA in common, greater apes can catch the same infections that affect humans. This includes the flu, the common cold, and even pneumonia. They develop symptoms similar to humans such as coughing and sniffling. Because of this, some zoos in temperate climates don’t let their apes outside when the temperatures drop. On top of that, it’s also possible for apes to catch a cold from humans.


5. An Ape’s Voice Box Is Similar To A Human Baby’s

Greater Ape

Photo by Rob Schreckhise on Unsplash

Apes cannot speak because their voice box (or larynx) is located too close to their mouth. Similarly, the placement of a baby’s larynx is similar to an ape’s, which is why babies can’t speak until they’re older. There have been studies showing that greater apes do have the ability to communicate with humans using sign language. However, it looks like a ‘Planet of the Apes’ scenario is impossible.