A Guide to QI. Series I, Episode 5 'Invertebrates'

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Back in 2009, Sarah Millican appeared on QI's sister radio show "The Museum of Curiosity" (you can listen to episode one here) offering us 'animals dressed as humans' as an exhibit for our virtual museum; she also talked about beedogs.com which we took as our stepping point for question one of this year's invertebrate special "What can bees do better than dogs".

The fact that bees are used to sniff out drugs is a fact that we've had up our sleeve for years, ever since we read this story in 2007

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6972526.stm

If you'd like to know more about what Inscentinel do, check out their website:

  http://www.inscentinel.com/InscentinelLtd/Pages/introduction.html


We don't think that dogs can look guilty, as shown in this article:

74% of dog owners claim that they can see a guilty look from their pet when it has done something wrong, but in most cases, it seems like they are kidding themselves. By setting up conditions where the owner was misinformed as to whether his or her dog had really committed an offense, New York researcher Alexandra Horowitz showed that people saw guilt in a dog's body language when they believe the dog has done something it shouldn't have, even if the dog is in fact completely innocent of any offense.
http://www.livescience.com/3669-guilty-dog-myth.html

Having said that, though, James Worthington pointed in the direction of this youtube clip via our e-mail elves@qi.com, in which the dog certainly appears very remorseful!



The fact about venus fly traps came from
BBC Wildlife magazine, March 2011.  They said:

Each of the sensory hairs inside the trap acts as a lever; when pressed, it releases a burst of two different compounds (a potassium salt and a sugar complex) into the trap's tissue. One lever being pressed releases an amount of these compounds that is nearly, but not quite, enough to trigger the response. The compounds dissipate over the next 30 seconds. But if a second lever is pressed within that time (by a live prey moving around) then the amount of the compounds in the tissue goes over the crucial point, and the trap is sprung.

So now you know. 

We couldn't get a good photo of the Bolas spider that catches is prey by lasso for the show, but thanks to the wonders of the internet - you can actually see one catching its dinner in this clip:




Much of our material about worm charming was orginally used in the G Series of QI, but it was cut from the final recording, and thankfully Alan didn't remember the answer, so we looked at the subject again, and found the rather lovely fact about the worm-charming festival where nobody caught a single worm.  Read all about the story here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7931029/PLEASE-PIC-AND-PUBLISH-Worm-charming-festival-fails-to-catch-a-single-specimen.html

There is a rather marvellous book about insects called
'Extreme insects' by Richard Jones which is full of amazing QI facts - we got the ladybird facts from there, and you can get it yourself here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Extreme-Insects-Richard-Jones/dp/0007310773



extremeinsects.jpg

You can read more about the incredible Mantis Shrimp here:

http://notexactlyrocketscience.wordpress.com/2006/08/28/mantis-shrimps-the-worlds-fastest-punch/

and while you'll have already seen the shrimp on a treadmill if you watched the show, you won't have seen it with this audio improvement...





and it's a real shame that we didn't have an antmill on the show - check this one out...




Our original source for the life-cycle of the stink-ant was Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Wechsler

cabinet.jpg

but if you want to read more online, then here's a good link:

http://www.mjt.org/exhibits/stinkant.htm

So onto General Ignorance:

Sharks are vertebrates but they don't have a backbone.  It's a basic point, but at least allowed Jimmy to make an excellent satirical joke.  Here is what we provided for Stephen:

Sharks skeletons are not like those of terrestrial vertebrates and bony fish, they, like skates and rays, do not have a backbone. Their skeletons are made of cartilage and connective tissue. This is flexible and hard wearing but half as dense as bone. Having cartilage reduces the skeleton's weight, saving energy. Sharks don't have a rib cage so on land a shark's own weight can crush it.

To save you from searching Google for gonorrhea, here's the link to the fact that they are currently thought to be the strongest-known organism:

http://www.medindia.net/news/Study-Finds-Gonorrhea-to-Be-the-Strongest-Living-Organism-in-Biological-World-35472-1.htm

Despite their name, Oystercatchers rarely eat oysters, as can be seen from this article from the BBC. 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/nature/sites/naturediary/pages/yellow_oystercatchers.shtml

It's just a slight mention, but one that got our General-Ignorance sense buzzing.  And here's a bonus fact:

They took so many cockles/mussels out of Morecombe Bay, in the early 1970s that the Ministry of Agriculture ordered a cull. 10,000 birds were killed but it had precisely the opposite effect to the one intended: with fewer oystercatchers, the cockle stocks collapsed. This was because the birds are excellent at weeding out the smaller shellfish, allowing room for the larger ones to grow and reproduce.

Water fleas have the largest genome of any animal studied, which means it can, apparently, be a "modern, high-tech version" of a canary in a coal mine.  More information here:

http://www.livescience.com/animals/water-flea-genome-environmental-testing-110203.html


Moths were the final subject of the night, we don't think that anyone knows why they fly to the light, but here is a rather nice list of the current theories:

http://www.livescience.com/13415-unsolved-mystery-moths-drawn-artificial-lights.html


And finally before we wrap-up insects and invertebrates here's a little guy who never made the show.  The question was to be "What do female stalk-eyed flies find sexy?"  Check out the answer in this video...


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by eggshaped published on October 10, 2011 11:53 AM.

A Guide to QI. Series I, Episode 4 'Indecision' was the previous entry in this blog.

A Guide to QI. Series I, Episode 6 'Inventive' is the next entry in this blog.

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