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10 fascinating mysteries of life that science cannot explain

10 fascinating mysteries of life that science cannot explain

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Science has certainly improved our understanding of the world enormously, but there are still many things that just don't seem to explain and continue to intrigue scholars for decades. How…

10. Cows Always Face North or South While Eating

When a team of scientists analyzed thousands of Google Earth satellite imagery of cows (don't ask me why), they discovered a detail that went unnoticed for millennia: animals always turn to the north and south magnetic pole while eating or resting . The pattern has remained consistent regardless of wind or other factors, and no one knows why. While other animals are known to contain an internal compass, this is the first time orientation has been found in a large mammal. Another strange thing is that the closer the cows are to the poles, the less accurate this orientation is. Scientists cannot say whether the phenomenon is related to navigation or a miscalculated attempt to fend off predators, although it must have a purpose (because of the consistency with which it has been observed in animals on six continents). The phenomenon can have an effect on agricultural production, as cows forced to be in an east-west orientation must be affected in some way.

9. Why did some mammals return to water

We know that marine animals moved from water to land long ago, developing limbs to crawl on the ground. It was the wisest thing to do, as the terrestrial regions contained a large amount of untapped resources, ideal for animal evolution. But why did some of these animals, such as the immediate ancestors of whales and seals, move back into the water? It is evolutionarily much harder for land animals to move to the sea than vice versa, since learning to swim to an already walking animal takes much more energy. Marine mammals have developed the most efficient method of navigating their tails rather than paddling much later in the course of their evolution, which leads us to ask: why go through this whole ordeal in the first place? This remains one of the greatest mysteries of evolution that modern science faces.

8. Alkaloids in plants

Alkaloids are naturally occurring substances in plants, one of the most popular being morphine. About 7,000 different types of alkaloids have been identified in plants, and although we have been able to study chemicals extensively, we are still not quite sure why they are there. These strong substances elicit a variety of responses when consumed by other animals. In the case of the morphine-producing poppy plant, some experts believe it is useful in keeping predators at bay. How it achieves this effect, as it is a very effective pain-reducing substance, is unknown. Some believe that, instead of external reasons, alkaloids may be useful for regulating the metabolism of plants themselves.

7. Why Flowers Are Everywhere

Flowering plants form a class called angiosperms. As you may have noticed, they are everywhere. What is a surprise, however, is that this was not always the case. Flowering plants outperformed other types of plants in a very rapid period of time about 400 million years ago, and as a result constitute about 90% of all plant species today. The problem worried Charles Darwin, who called it "an abominable mystery." The rapid evolution of flowers soon after their origin occurred directly against their theory of slow evolution through natural selection. And there is nothing evolutionarily beneficial about producing flowers. The plant could invest its nutrients in growth or other things that could put them higher up the evolutionary ladder. Since plants leave no fossil record when they die, it has been difficult to determine how this species came out of nowhere and so quickly conquered everything else.

6. Why is there so much diversity near the equator

About 200 years ago, a Prussian explorer named Alexander von Humboldt first realized that biodiversity increases as we approach the equator. Natural life and human culture become more diverse and vibrant, as do diseases. Whenever you hear about deadly epidemics in Africa or South America, it's not just because of poor healthcare in underdeveloped countries - the viruses and bacteria that cause these diseases are simply much more active and diverse in these places than they are. further north. There are more than 30 theories to answer the big question of why this happens, but it has been nearly impossible to reconcile all of these hypotheses into one conclusion.

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5. Phytoplankton paradox

Phytoplankton are a class of organisms found in large bodies of water. They are essentially floating plants, and have been discovered all over the world. It is an extremely diverse group, and it is this great diversity that seems to mock the face of evolution and natural selection. Lack of resources makes it impossible for a large number of different organisms to survive in an ecosystem without killing each other. But somehow it happens. The problem is not restricted to phytoplankton, by the way. Nutrient-abundant bodies of water generally have less species diversity than those that lack them. This is known as the “enrichment paradox” as higher nutrients should mean greater diversity.

4. How Argentine Ants Support Colonies on Every Continent

Argentine ants are possibly the only species other than human that have managed to colonize three continents. All three Argentine ant supercolonials in Europe, South America, and Asia consist of animals that share the same genetic characteristics and are essentially the same population. Because the geographical distribution of these colonies is frighteningly large, their social structure also confuses science. These insects immediately recognize their siblings, but are aggressive to ants of other species. Moreover, the genetic code of Argentine ants has not changed much for thousands of years. This is strange because organisms outside their native environment usually evolve rapidly, which was not the case with these pets.

3. The mysterious human ancestor

The lineage of modern humans has been well studied over the years, and it seemed that we had a good idea of ​​our origins - until scientists discovered traces of an unknown human ancestor in the DNA of an extinct species, Denisova hominins, a species. a closely related Neanderthal hominid named after the caves in which its limbs were found. Denisovan analysis indicated that they crossed into an unknown species about 30,000 years ago, which left a distinct mark on their DNA: a strange set of teeth not found anywhere else in the living world. We know nothing about this possible ancestral hominid species.

2. Animals that can live without oxygen

Almost every organism on Earth needs oxygen to live, whether it is consuming it or producing it. So everyone was shocked when the first animals that needed no oxygen were found at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. While some bacteria and other simple organisms may live without oxygen, the phenomenon was unheard of among complex multicellular animals. The newly discovered creatures are from the phylum Loricifera, a class of small animals that lived with oxygen, but eventually adapted to a new environment with very low gas levels, which eventually was replaced by salts. No complex organism previously known lived in environments without oxygen, so we have no idea about its evolutionary history. Further research could offer us a fresh look at marine life before the oceans had any oxygen, about 600 million years ago.

1. Sexual Reproduction

In addition to some microbes and plants, almost all living things in the world reproduce sexually. It seems so common and normal that we don't realize that sex can actually be an evolutionary anomaly. Half of an entire species - males - are unable to produce any offspring while using the same environmental resources as the other half - females. Why go through so much effort to develop a mechanism that is a clear disadvantage in the long run? Why is there not only asexual reproduction, which only depends on one being? One theory was that sex helps eliminate harmful mutations, but that does not seem to be the case. When scientists studied 700 genes from various organisms, they found that the number of harmful mutations still hovers around 0.5 per individual per generation, which is MUCH. Adding to the many drawbacks of sex, there is nothing sufficient to justify sexual reproduction. Mystery.