Series N, Episode 10 - Nature/Nurture
- Some bees hum to shake pollen out of flowers in order to collect it. They hold on to a flower and beat their wing muscles, producing forces up to 30G, which is about three times greater than the G experienced in a fighter jet making a tight turn. Bees have something called a "corbicula", which is a little basket they keep their pollen in. Bees can also harness electrostatic forces, by causing friction when flying through the air and thus making a positive charge. The flowers normally carry a negative charge, so when the positive bee approaches the pollen jumps from the flower to the bee. Bees can distinguish the different electrical fields around different flowers, so they can tell which flowers have been nearly depleted of their pollen and they know not to bother with them.
- Nature's top gear belongs to the immature planthopper. These are insects that are 3mm long that normally move really slowly to avoid attracting attention, but they can jump up to 1m from a standing start, which is 300 times their own body length. However, if they don't get the timing right between their legs the planthopper can spin out of control. To avoid this they have gears with cog-like teeth on the top of each hind leg, which lock together and synchronise the limbs within 30 millionths of a second.
- In order to make sure that your cows meet emission standards you can fit them with a cow equivalent of a catalytic converter. These are a device that go up the noses of cows, but can also be used in sheep and goats. They are retained in the nostrils by one or more springs, or a similar mechanical device, and are configured to ignite in the presence of methane. The converters can also be fitted with a GPS tracker so the cows don't get lost. However, this converter is a brand new notion and thus the results of its effectiveness are not yet known.
- The point of licking your own eyeballs is to keep them moist or clean. One eyeball-licking animal is the palmato gecko of the Namib Desert in Namibia. To get moisture, it perches on sand dunes in the morning, waits for the early morning fog to condense as water droplets on its eyes, and then licks off the moisture.
- In Namibia, a "ship of the desert" is a ship. The Skeleton Coast in Namibia is a menace to shipping and they are loads of shipwrecks there. However, due to silting and encroachment of the desert, some ships end up 500m inland. (Forfeit: A camel)
- The world's fussiest eater only eats the skin around a hippopotamus's bottom. The placobdelloides jaegerskioeldi is a type of leech, and as hippos have very tough skin the rectal region is the only place on a hippo's body where it can easily access blood. Hippos are also noted for the violence of their bowel movements, but the leech has front and rear suckers so they can hold onto the skin. One story told by the San people, a group of hunter-gatherers in South Africa, says that when the creator assigned each animal its place, hippos really wanted to live in the water, but it was feared they might eat all the fish, so the creator allowed them to live in the water on condition they would eat grass instead of fish and would fling their dung so it could be checked and inspected for fish bones.
- XL: The panellists are shown a picture of a bird in a crocodile's mouth and are asked what the bird is up to. The bird is actually doing nothing, because the image is Photoshopped, something that the creator of the image openly admits to. Birds do not go into crocodiles' mouths to clean them. The notion that they do goes back to writings of Herodotus in the 5th Century BC: "When the crocodile comes ashore and opens its mouth, the trochilus flies into its mouth and eats the leeches. The crocodile is pleased by this service, and takes care not to hurt the trochilus." The "trochilus" is considered to be the Egyptian plover. However, this has never happened, partly because crocodiles shed their teeth and thus don't need to clean them. (Forfeit: Cleaning the croc's teeth)
- XL: The nilgai lives in Northern India and its name means "blue bull". Its scientific name is Boselaphus tragocamelus, meaning, "ox-deer-goat-camel". It used to be called the "nilgor", meaning "blue horse". However, it is actually a kind of antelope. The nilgai is probably the most inaccurately named animal in the world. The scientific name was first used by English zoologist Philip Sclater in 1833, who was actually a trained ornithologist. Other inaccurately named animals include the nine-eyed eel, which is a two-eyed Scottish lamprey with an eye-like pattern on its body: it has seven gills, one eye and one nostril on each side.
- You cannot describe a bearded tit because the closest such bird is a bearded reedling, which is not related to the tit, and has what Sandi describes as a "Fu Manchu" moustache. It is a unique songbird, and no other living species seems to be related to it.
- XL: Naked mole-rats eat royal excrement. They live in colonies led by a queen and all the other members of the colony are infertile. But the mole-rats eat the pregnant queen's hormone-rich faeces, which gives them oestrogen and makes them more attentive to the needs of the young. Baby elephants also eat the dung of their mothers and other members of the herd in order to gain bacteria to help with digestion. Humans also consume "poo pills" and can have a faecal transplant. This has been done in China as far back as the 4th Century, where it is known as "yellow soup".
- The animal that can jump the highest is the shortfin mako shark, which can jump 20 feet out of the water. It is also one of the fastest fish in the world, swimming at 35kmph / 22mph. The flea is the highest jumper relative to its size, to a height of seven inches vertically. Another insect, the frog hopper, can jump four times further than fleas and weighs more. Red kangaroos can jump up to ten feet over a pile of timber. (Forfeit: Flea; Kangaroo; Planthopper)
- Wolves howl at each other. They howl to communicate. It just so happens that they sometimes howl when the Moon is out. (Forfeit: The Moon)
- A reversal of a classic QI question: how many Earths does the Moon have? The answer is two, according to most scientists. The most widely believed theory as to how the Moon was formed is the "Big Splat" theory, where about 4.5 billion years ago there was a collision between the Earth and another Mars-sized planet called Thea. The collision was a relative glancing blow causing Thea to spin off into space, and the debris left formed into the Moon. A more recent and increasingly popular idea is that the collision was head-on, in which case the Earth is a fusion of two planets, and thus the Moon has two Earths. (Forfeit: One)
- Friday 30th December 2016
- BBC Two
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Sandi Toksvig||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|James Harkin||Script Editor|
|Ben Dupré||Question Writer|
|John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE)||Series Producer|
|Sohail Shah||Executive Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|