Science Fun Facts

Why do zebras have stripes?

Zebra painting stripes on himself. Illustration by John Megahan.

The mystery behind zebra’s striped pattern may be solved. Alumnus Amanda Izzo (Ph.D. EEB 2011) and researchers at the University of California Davis, published a study in Nature Communications explaining their “black and white” findings.

Watch Bald Eagles in their nest and eaglets hatching in spring!

Decorah Bald Eagles video project

The Decorah Bald Eagles video project began when the first camera was installed in 2009.The eagle’s next is about 80 feet high, six feet across, five feet deep and weighs close to 1,367 pounds.

Porpoising penguins and plenty more!

Porpoising penguins

Did you ever want to know more about the waddling, flightless seabirds who appear to be dressed to the nines in handsome tuxedos? Here are some fun penguin facts and amazing photos.

We're not saying those mushrooms growing in your yard are your second cousins...

fungi are closer than you think!

Although traditionally studied by botanists, fungi are actually more closely related to animals (like you!) than plants. Animals and fungi are sister kingdoms of a “supergroup” called Opisthokonta.

Walking bats!

Walking bats!

The recent discovery of fossils of an extinct walking bat in northwestern Queensland, Australia, suggests that today's lesser short-tailed bats descended from 20-million-year-old Australian relatives.

Chimp plans stone attacks on zoo visitors

Chimp

A male chimpanzee in a Swedish zoo planned hundreds of stone-throwing attacks on zoo visitors. Keepers at Furuvik Zoo discovered that the chimp collected and stored stones that he would later launch toward onlookers.

Chimps invent brush-tipped tool

Discovery Earth screenshot

Wild African chimpanzees invented a new and improved brush-tipped tool to gather more termites to eat, according to a new study in the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.

Birdie boogie!

Picture of a cockatoo

Another ability long-thought to belong solely to humans, like tool-use or counting, does in fact occur in other species, according to two new studies, published in Current Biology.

Have you seen this tree?

Picture of the tree

While walking around near downtown Ann Arbor, Birgit Otte of U-M’s Department of Astronomy saw the tree pictured here. She had never seen it before and wondered what it was. Her curiosity led her to write to EEB for assistance.

Diet Coke and Mentos: An explosive combination!

A picture of cola spraying out of a bottle.

The "Mentos effect" occurs when a Mentos mint, the cult candy associated with dorky 1990s commercials, is dropped into cola.

An American Robin backyard mystery

A picture of robin eggs in a nest.

This fun fact was prompted by a question from Shirley Spence in Monroe, Mich. who watched this spring as one nest full of robin’s eggs hatched and then two weeks later, to her surprise, new eggs appeared.

Picture this: You vs. the chimp

A chimp playing a game on a computer.

Think chimps are chumps when it comes to serious mental powers like short-term memory? A new study says that young chimpanzees can significantly outperform you at some short-term memory tasks.