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Bird-Brained Turkeys & Other Animal Urban Legends & Fallacies

IbisNibs

Exotic animal, sort of . . .
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Today I recalled a "fact" related to me years ago about domestic turkeys: they are so stupid that, if they are outside when it rains, they can drown because they look up in surprise at the rain coming down, and then drown because the rain gets into their lungs. Apparently this is not true, but it's interesting that an idea like this can circulate. It strikes me as an urban legend of sorts. What random and weird animal related "facts" have been shared with you?
 
Does the penuins-toppling-over-when-they-watch-aircraft-flying-overhead effect actually happen? That sounds like far too much of an UL to me....
 
Two 'facts' I remember reading as a child were

Gorillas can't swim.
Pound for pound, Shrews are the deadliest predators on Earth.

These facts might have been gleaned from a book compiled by Giles Brandreth.
 
Today I recalled a "fact" related to me years ago about domestic turkeys: they are so stupid that, if they are outside when it rains, they can drown because they look up in surprise at the rain coming down, and then drown because the rain gets into their lungs. Apparently this is not true ...

You're right - it's not true.

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/drown-and-out/
 
... Gorillas can't swim. ...

To the best of my knowledge, none of the great apes can swim naturally / instinctively.

The usual explanation concerns their bodies being too dense (much muscle; little fat) to provide any buoyancy. Beyond that, I'm not sure their limbs and range of motion are suitable for effective or sustained paddling / kicking.

Gorillas and other great apes have been observed wading, and even frolicking, in waters shallower than chest-high. The lack of swimming doesn't seem to be associated with a fear of water.
 
Elephants can't jump is another one in that vein.
 
Elephants can't jump is another one in that vein.
Not even when they see a mouse? Pretty sure that the sight of a rodent does not cause fear in an elephant.
 
Not even when they see a mouse? Pretty sure that the sight of a rodent does not cause fear in an elephant.

Yeah, that's another good one! Although elephants apparently do have fairly good memories, so that may be true.
 
Elephants can't jump is another one in that vein.

There are two variations on this claim:

(1) Elephants cannot jump.

This version is true, owing to their mass and their anatomy. For more details see:

Elephants can’t jump—and here’s why
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/01/elephants-can-t-jump-and-here-s-why

Ask Smithsonian: Can Elephants Jump?
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ask-smithsonian-can-elephants-jump-180957921/

Why Can't Elephants Jump?
https://www.livescience.com/54606-why-elephants-cannot-jump.html

(2) Elephants are the only mammals that cannot jump.

This version is false. Sloths, hippos and rhinos can't jump either.
 
At the other end of the spectrum from incredibly stupid turkeys there's the myth that owls are very intelligent. Owls are extremely proficient at what they do, but they're not particularly "intelligent."

But are owls actually wise? As it turns out, not so much. Their nocturnal habits and swift, silent flight make them seem mysterious, and they are certainly well-adapted for hunting small creatures in low light, but when it comes to measurable intelligence, owls have very small brains proportionate to their body size, and they are less trainable than crows, hawks, parrots or pigeons. In fact, most owls can't be trained to do simple tasks ...

Interestingly, in India, an owl is considered dumb and empty-headed, due to its tendency to sit and stare blankly into space. In fact, the Hindi word for owl, which is oolu, is also used as a gently derogatory term meaning "dolt" or "fool" ...
https://animals.howstuffworks.com/animal-facts/10-wildly-wrong-animal-stereotypes7.htm


However, it isn’t among the social birds, which are considered intelligent. These include crows and other corvids, starlings and house sparrows, which have all shown problem-solving ability, and parrots, which can associate words and phrases with objects and events. Many social birds have a wide vocabulary including calls for certain predators. Some even learn to dupe rivals by mimicking predators’ calls to scare other birds away from food sources.

Owls are mainly solitary. While they are marvellously adapted predators, their behaviour is very hardwired, and their vocalisation limited. Owls have many special attributes, but being avian eggheads isn’t one of them.
============================
Owls don’t have such relatively large, well-developed brains, and when tested in captivity haven’t shown above-average intelligence. ... In some Indian cultures, the owl is actually considered stupid. Owls evolved senses and physical attributes perfectly adapted to their night hunter lifestyles, and presumably had no need for extra abilities such as curiosity, which can result in greater intelligence.

https://www.newscientist.com/lastword/mg24532641-300-twit-or-true-are-owls-really-intelligent/
 
Turkeys are the only other animal along with humans that can blush.
I read this somewhere, dont know if its true

Pigs get sunburnt.
I know some pig farmers who apply sun block to their pigs.

Crane flies have venom but no mouth part to deliver it.
Heard that one from Eddie Izzard.
 
Regarding elephants being afraid of mice, they tested that on Mythbusters. In one of the more surprising results on that show, it seems to be true.
 
All I know about turkeys is that they are too fat to mate, so there is a real demand for turkeybators in Norfolk.

Ten quid an hour . . . finish it off yourselves!

Oh, supermarket is nearly an anagram of turkey sperm. :sneaky2:
 
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All I know about turkeys is that are too fat to mate, so there is a real demand for turkeybators in Norfolk.

Ten quid an hour . . . finish it off yourselves!

Oh, supermarket is nearly an anagram of turkey sperm. :sneaky2:
I remember being a student and getting in a lift at the uni building. Two lads got in and proceeded to talk about a mate who'd done that as a holiday job. Could be that they were just being outrageous to shock the other lift-users, but I don't think so.
 
Could be that they were just being outrageous to shock the other lift-users, but I don't think so.

Hinges on the date. It was featured in a gross-out tv documentary - probably the nineties or early 2000s, iirc. I seem to recall that the interviewee thoroughly looked the part.

If it was before this, those lads were one degree from a genuine bird-bator! So you would be two degrees away! :bdown:
 
Hinges on the date. It was featured in a gross-out tv documentary - probably the nineties or early 2000s, iirc. I seem to recall that the interviewee thoroughly looked the part.

If it was before this, those lads were one degree from a genuine bird-bator! So you would be two degrees away! :bdown:
This was 1983.
 
I'm not sure how stupid seagulls are generally, but I do have the following story.

I was with my wife, her mother, and her sister in a park near a bay. We noticed one gull with what appeared to be a broken neck: there was an ugly square-shaped bulge in the middle of the bird's neck. It was making choking and gagging noises, so we speculated it was not long for this world. Suddenly the gagging noises increased and it coughed up a square piece of fish that was the reason for the strange neck bulge. The bird immediately looked down, said "oh, look - fish!" to itself, and proceeded to try and swallow it again.
 
I'm not sure how stupid seagulls are generally, but I do have the following story.

I was with my wife, her mother, and her sister in a park near a bay. We noticed one gull with what appeared to be a broken neck: there was an ugly square-shaped bulge in the middle of the bird's neck. It was making choking and gagging noises, so we speculated it was not long for this world. Suddenly the gagging noises increased and it coughed up a square piece of fish that was the reason for the strange neck bulge. The bird immediately looked down, said "oh, look - fish!" to itself, and proceeded to try and swallow it again.
Seagulls are just fecking greedy

 
That ostriches bury their heads in sand and camels store water in their humps.
 
That ostriches bury their heads in sand and camels store water in their humps.
Alamy_A14A69-c-29b8790.jpg

MYTH: Ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they're scared or threatened. ... WHY IT'S NOT TRUE:Ostriches don't bury their heads in the sand—they wouldn't be able to breathe! But they do dig holes in the dirt to use as nests for their eggs. Several times a day, a bird puts her head in the hole and turns the eggs.
 
That ostriches bury their heads in sand and camels store water in their humps.
A camel's hump does not hold water at all – it actually stores fat. ... The hump is not used for water storage, but camelscan go for long periods of time withoutwater. They drink large amounts of water– up to 20 gallons at a time. This wateris stored in the animal's bloodstream.
 
A camel's hump does not hold water at all – it actually stores fat. ... The hump is not used for water storage, but camelscan go for long periods of time withoutwater. They drink large amounts of water– up to 20 gallons at a time. This wateris stored in the animal's bloodstream.

Exactly. How many of us of a certain age grew up believing such stories?
 
Oh, and I’m fairly certain that elephants can jump……I have a definite memory of seeing such an event in a Tom and Jerry cartoon when I was a wee nipper!
 
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