Following my tradition of wanting to learn something new every day, I came across these facts. You just never know when all this knowledge will come in handy, especially in a trivia quiz.
Here’s the first fact for consideration – Experts say a baby’s head’s gives off pheromones. When we inhale them, we fall in love and begin to feel protective. That explains a lot, doesn’t it? Also, the more an older child snuggles his little sibling, the better the bond will be. It seems pheromones are actually exchanged in the womb, even before a child is born, thus the deep bond between mother and child. After birth, breast-feeding also plays a major part in the passing of pheromones from mother to child. Scientists say a mother can identify her infant, not only by his smell, but also by his pheromones, even though she doesn’t realize it. Infants can identify their mother’s scent when only a few days old.
Both humans and other animals use pheromones as a means of nonverbal communication and maternal ties. For example, fawns use pheromones to identify their mothers among the female deer in the herd by sniffing the tarsal glands, located on the inside of the knees of the rear legs, eventually finding the correct one. Here’s the second fact, a crazy thing. Scientists lit a cave on fire in 1971 expecting it to burn for only a few days. It burns to this day and has been nicknamed the “Door to Hell.” It is located near a town of 350 people in the Karakum Desert located in the country of Turkmenistan, which was at that time part of the Soviet Union. It’s in central Asia and bordered by Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Iran and the Caspian Sea, to give you an idea of the location.
Russian scientists thought this would be a substantial oil field site. They set up a rig to assess the quality of the oil and instead found gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig and camp collapsed into a wide crater and disappeared. I don’t know if anyone died in that incident. Because it was part of the Soviet Union, details of the event are sketchy.
Potentially dangerous methane gas was exposed and began leaking. It seems such a waste that the gas has just been burning off for more than 40 years. The experts thought the best thing to do was burn the possibly dangerous gas off, estimating it would take only a few weeks. Turkmenistan has the worlds fourth largest reserves of natural gas resources. Since 1993, citizens of that country have received government-provided electricity, water and natural gas, free of charge due to the income from these reserves, what a nice perk!
Fact number three – Now, all pandas are owned by China and they rent them out to zoos for $1 million a year and a minimum of 10 years. From 1958 to 1982, China gave 23 pandas to nine different countries. Involved in that was the gift of Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing to the United States in 1972. This was a diplomatic move and it was clear China was trying to be a friend of the United States. By the 1980s, generosity and diplomacy were finished and they started charging for the animals. During the 10-year period of the loan of the pandas, any cubs born are also the property of The Peoples Republic of China.
Now, the fourth fact, one that I think is really sad – In Moscow, stray dogs have learned to commute from the suburbs to the city, to scavenge for food and then catch the train home in the evening. It has been said that in Moscow there are all sorts of stray dogs, but there are no stupid dogs. As many as 35,000 strays live in Russia’s capital city. They can be found all over, in markets, construction sites and underground passageways, scrounging for food and trying to survive.
The smartest of these dogs have actually learned to use the subway. As commuters travel in the crowded subways, there is almost always a stray dog on its own traveling, too. It is said they work the crowd for treats and emotional contact. They actually get on and off at regular stops. Often they recognize stations from the announcers voices.
During the time when the country was known as the Soviet Union, the government had no patience with these dogs and most of them were killed. They were used for fur and some for research experiments. As the country changed and became Russia, there was more oil money and more food around and that meant garbage for the dogs who live in the streets. Their population grew and the smart ones took shelter in the metro systems and then really learned how to work the system, so to speak.
Now, the new metro director has no patience for huge number of dogs, and there are vigilante dog hunters whose tactics even include using poison in parks. Still, those animals who survive are loved by many of those in Moscow. So you see this is a sad story with a somewhat good outcome.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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