We have a special guest writer this week, bringing you some Costa Rican animal facts. Beanie has been practicing her Google research skills at school and at home: at TIDE Academy she is searching for facts about the Tenorio volcano in central Costa Rica. Her teacher wants the class to find not only facts about Costa Rican attractions, but also practical info to plan a visit, such as opening hours. I hadn’t thought about online search as a skill that kids needed to formally learn, but of course it’s one of the most important skills to have these days. It’s probably a very good thing for society if our children are now taught at least the basics of how to find information from credible sources.
Beanie started this animal facts project on her own, first compiling a long list of facts about animals she likes best, such as the owl (fact: a barn owl can eat up to 1000 mice every year) and the dolphin (fact: dolphins never chew their food). Since we now live in a land of immense biodiversity, Beanie decided to start another factsheet with Costa Rican animals. This is a country that has only 0.03% of the global land area but holds about 5% of all described species.
Beanie and I have talked about some of the ways one can judge whether information found online is reliable. If several sites list the same numbers, for example, you can have a little more confidence that these numbers are correct. But people might be copying one another’s bad data online—that happens a lot too, I told her—so she can’t take consensus alone as verification.
Online searches are a confusing landscape to navigate, especially when the first few results on Google are ads. We talked about that too, and she was surprised about it. “No wonder the first ones I see are about hotels,” she said, referring to her Tenorio volcano search results.
It’s eye-opening to step back and see what the online world looks like to someone who’s new to it. Though kids are so savvy these days and play with tablets and phones almost from birth (one of Beanie’s first words was “i-Piad”), they still need guidance separating the wheat from the chaff, and that’s not a one-time lesson. I anticipate there will be many nuances of distinguishing facts from misinformation and disinformation that we’ll need to explore together as she gets older.
OK, enough from me. Without further ado, here are some amazing animal facts, researched and typed up by Beanie:
Sloths are three times stronger than humans.
Sloths are faster in water than on land.
Sloths poop a third of their body weight at one time.
It takes a sloth 30 days to digest one leaf.
Their body temperature ranges from 74 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit. If it gets too cold, the bacteria in their stomachs can stop working and they will starve to death even if they’re eating enough food.
Sloths can fall one hundred feet without injury.
Sloths are nocturnal.
Sloths are solitary animals and only come together to mate.
Sloth fur is a microcosm. Many organisms live in their fur, including algae and insects.
White-faced capuchins know how to use plants as medicine. They rub themselves with citrus fruits, vines and seeds.
White-faced capuchins like to eat fruits, insects, nuts and invertebrates that are small and pastries if they can get their hands on them!
White-faced capuchin predators are tree snakes, jaguars and harpy eagles.
Male white-faced capuchin monkeys are 6.6-8.8 pounds and females are 4.4-6.6 pounds.
White-faced capuchin monkeys have an average lifespan of 30 years but if they are kept in a zoo or a wildlife preserve then their lifespan sometimes is 45-50 years old.
White-faced capuchins live in South and Central America.
Howler monkeys are the loudest land mammals in the world.
Howler monkeys mainly eat leaves as well as fruits, nuts and flowers.
Most of the time howler monkeys weigh between 8lbs to 22lbs.
The scientific name of the howler monkey is the Alouatta.
The average lifespan of the howler monkey in the wild is 15-20 years.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records the howler monkey is the loudest monkey in the world with a howl that can be heard as far as 3 miles away.
Olive Ridley Turtles
Olive ridley turtles weigh from 88-110 pounds.
Olive ridley turtles have a size of 70cm.
Olive ridley turtles lay up to 110 eggs per nest.
The female olive ridley turtles all go to shore together to nest at the same time, an event called “arribada.” Hundreds or thousands of turtles lay eggs on the beach at the same time.
Olive ridley turtles eat fish and mollusks.
Unspotted saw-whet owl
Unspotted saw-whet owls are 18-25.5 cm tall.
Unspotted saw-whet owls weigh 80-90 grams. They are tiny!
Unspotted saw-whet owls are mostly solitary animals except for the breeding season.
Unspotted saw-whet owls only live in Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala. They are rarely spotted and difficult to find.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this special edition of amazing animal facts. Beanie would like to conclude with a note of caution: “If you’re in Costa Rica with white-faced capuchins, be careful or they might steal your food.”
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Pretty Good Things
This Twitter thread of little life lessons writer Helen Rosner has learned over the past few decades, such as:
Be the friend who makes a decisive call when everyone else is waffling about what to eat.
If you’re stuck in a frustration loop with someone, change the medium: call if you mostly text, email if you mostly call, etc.
and slightly larger lessons like:
Love always takes work, but it should never take suffering.
The first episode of Seth Rogen’s podcast
Seth Rogen put out one season of his podcast, Storytime with Seth Rogen. The best episode is the first one, called “Glorious Basterds,” which features a then-less-famous Quinta Brunson, who has since won an Emmy for writing Abbott Elementary, which she also created and stars in. The podcast episode starts with Quinta before she entered show business, and the fortuitous encounter that changed her life.
It’s a great story of how the effects of small kindnesses can ripple beyond the people you ever directly meet. Also, it’s nice to learn Paul Rudd really is a mensch.
This is a great list of fun animals I'm still sad I didn't get to see a sloth up close while I was in Costa Rica three years ago.