lnterlude Here are some facts about animals that may help you with the exercises in this chapter. *** The keenest sense of smell exhibited in all nature is that of the male silkworm moth. It can detect the sex signals of a female which is 6.8 miles away! *** The Gaboon viper has the longest fangs of any snake. The specimen kept in the Philadelphia Zoo in 1963 was a little careless and bit itself to death. *** Speed is so essential to the survival of the gazelle that nature has endowed it with the ability to run almost from the moment it is born. While most animals are weak and wobbly in the first few days after birth, a two-day-old gazelle can outrun a full-grown horse. *** Gazelles, prairie dogs, wild asses, and many other animals never drink water. They have a special chemical process which transforms a part of their solid food into water. *** The world's fastest animal is the cheetah. It hasbeen timed at 70 miles per hour, but many believe that it can do even better over a short haul. Sometimes called the hunting leopard, the cheetah has long been used in India to track down the black buck, the Indian antelope, and other fast game. *** The animal that takes the longest time to make its debut is the elephant. Its gestation period is 645 days or more than 21 months. *** The most long-lived animal is the giant tortoise of the Galapagos Islands. Specimens have been estimated to be as old as 190 years. [image] The blue whale is the largest and most powerful animal ever to have graced the planet. The largest accurately measured specimen was captured off Scotland in 1926; it measured 109 feet 4¼ inches in length. A whale caught off Argentina five years later is said to have weighed 195 tons. *** The longest of all worms is the Lineus longissfmus, or "living fishing line worm." ln 1964, a specimen washed ashore at St. Andrews, Scotland, after a storm. lt measured more than 180 feet in length. *** The tusks of some male African elephants eventually become so heavy that their owners must frequently rest them in the forks of trees. The longest African elephant tusk on record was some 11 feet long. [image] The wildcat is the most vicious fighter in the animal kingdom. Asleep, it resembles a gentle housecat - in a fight, it is a furry ball of rage. This spitfire's speed gives it an advantage over most other animals. ln one swift leap, it can rip open its enemy's throat with its razor-like teeth. *** The world's largest rodent is the capybara, also called the carpincho or water hog. A native of tropical South America, it can attain a length of 3½ to 4½ feet and a weight of 150 pounds. *** When in mortal danger, many animals feign death. But none do this as convincingly as the American opposum and the dingo, a wild dog of Australia. The dingo will allow its captor to beat it unmercifully until the chance to escape presents itself. The entrapped opossum will assume its famous "possum" pose, which is to lie limp with its tongue hanging out of its mouth and its eyes open and rolled back. *** Although the whale weighs over a hundred tons and the mouse tips the scales at only a few ounces, they develop from eggs of approximately the same size.