A selection of some of the animals that appear in Furry Logic and the cool physics they use.



Red-sided garter snakes

These snakes writhe around in giant heaps after spending the winter hibernating in freezing underground bunkers in Canada. The males, though, pretend to be females so they can steal heat energy from wannabe suitors and so become warm enough to slither away fast from marauding birds keen on a snaky snack.


wet dog

Image: Daniel Mihailescu / Gettyimages

No-one likes a soaking from a wet dog but they'd be mad to get dry by letting evaporation takes its course. Instead, dogs – and other hairy mammals from mice to bears – fling water from their coats using a spin-dry action based on a simple physics formula.

Japanese honeybees

If attacked by a Japanese giant hornet, these bees surround the enemy in a buzzing ball that grows hotter than their rival can survive. But European bees imported into Japan for their greater honey yield cannot pull off this trick and a group of hornets can kill a hive of 30,000 in just three hours.

Japanese honeybee

Image: Shin. T / Gettyimages


Komodo dragons

This giant reptile has a bite only about as strong as a pet cat's yet it can kill animals the size of a water buffalo. It compensates for its feeble jaw with a can-opener style twist and pull.

Harlequin mantis shrimp

This colourful crustacean smashes through the shells of crabs and snails by accelerating its elbows at a rate of 100,000 metres per second squared, one of the fastest accelerations in nature. Not only does this produce a powerful force but it also creates a cavitation bubble that causes even more damage. Then the shrimp can eat the tasty meat beneath.


Pond skaters


Dirk Zabinsky / EyeEm / Gettyimages

These little bugs are in elite company: they're among the 0.1% of insects that can walk on water. Some people even call them “Jesus bugs” but we don't need miracles to explain why they don't sink – it's all to do with the super-high surface tension of water, which makes its surface bouncy like a trampoline. Turns out pondskaters scoot over the surface by creating tiny vortices – small swirls of water that move backwards beneath the surface.



Beautiful though male peacocks are, they don't make pretty sounds, but an ugly, loud racket as they coo and caw. Turns out, though, the guys also emit sounds that are so low in frequency that we humans need special equipment to pick them up. The males make these “infraound” waves by rustling their tails in an attempt to woo the stumpily-tailed females for sex.

African elephants

elephant babies

Image: Katrin Schürmann, private

African elephants "listen" out for danger via fleshy pads in their feet. These pick up sound waves that have travelled through the ground from a distant elephant's alarm call, or maybe even an earthquake. In her other job, elephant researcher Caitlin O'Connell is developing a vibration-based hearing aid for humans.

Electricity and Magnetism

Electric eels

These animals aren't eels, but fish. That's the least of our worries though: electric eels are extremely dangerous and can stun prey using a volley of high-voltage pulses. These mysterious animals inspired some of the earliest experiments into electricity back in the 18th century but only in the last few years have have we discovered that electric eels operate in almost exactly the same way as a police Taser.

Loggerhead turtles

Freshly-hatched two-inch long loggerhead turtles must heave themselves down the beach with their tiny flippers, running a gauntlet of diving seabirds. When they reach the sea, fish attack them from below whilst the birds still wheel overhead. To escape, they swim out to sea, looping 9000 miles around the Atlantic over the next 5 to 10 years before later returning to the beach where they were born. The Earth's slowly-changing magnetic field meant a Florida researcher could prove how these turtles perform such a feat — turtles on beaches where field lines have grown closer together make their nests closer together too.




Image: A. & J. Visage / Gettyimages

This stripy fish has one great claim to fame – it's a master spitter. Hiding just below the surface of the water, when it spots an animal on a leaf above, it can fire a jet of water through the air, killing the animal in one fell swoop. The prey lands in the water and the archerfish gobbles it up. It's a trick the animal pulls off only because it takes the bending – or refraction – of light as it passes from air to water into account.