8 Ridiculous Animal Myths You Probably Believe

#4. If You Throw Rice at Weddings, You're a Bird Murderer

The Myth:

If you throw rice, birds will eat it. And when they do, it will expand in their stomachs and cause them to explode like little feathery hand grenades. You may as well just hand out shotguns loaded up with bird shot for the guests to fire over the newly joined couple's heads as they make their exit.

On the upside, it's a cheap way to drum up extra entrees for the wedding dinner.

The Reality:

Fire away! With the rice, that is. Not the shotguns. It turns out that, as we expected all along, in order to make birds explode spectacularly you'll need something like firecrackers and some duct tape, or Randy Johnson's fastball. Oh, or Alka-Seltzer, because that one's totally for real (honest).

There are a few other options, of course.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, tons of birds eat rice in the fields. In fact, they say that "Some birds cause so much damage to rice crops that they are considered agricultural pests." But a bunch of facilities still ban throwing rice anyway -- either because they aren't willing to let something as crazy as the exploding-bird myth die, or because rice on sidewalks transforms all your wedding guests into potential America's Funniest Home Videos winners.

Still, the sad fact remains that if a little rice really did cause birds to blow up in a fusillade of feathers (we're imagining a '70s-era Elton John moonlighting as a fireworks designer), we would live in a significantly more hilarious universe.

Well now there's basically no reason to get married.

#3. A Goldfish Only Has a Memory Span of Three Seconds

The Myth:

A goldfish can only remember something for three, maybe five seconds, which is about how long it takes to swim from one end of its fishbowl to the other. See? You don't need to feel bad about storing your little guy in a cramped container smaller than a cookie jar. Each time he swims over to the little plastic castle, it's like a whole new experience! He's so stupid, he's having the time of his life in there!

That little bastard lives better than we do.

The Reality:

Fish can actually remember for three, maybe five months, which is plenty of time to decide that life might not be worth living if it's spent trapped in a cramped, transparent, aquatic penitentiary.

We realize that some of you immediately said "They did this one on MythBusters!" the moment you saw the headline. But even before Adam and Jamie taught their fish to swim through an obstacle course, a 15-year-old from Australia performed an experiment by training pet fish to associate a beacon with food. After removing the beacon and replacing it a week later, the fish still beelined to it.

"Steak please, garcon!"

Even more shocking, scientists at the Israeli Technion Institute of Technology spent a month training young fish to associate a particular sound with feeding time, then released the fish into the wild. The fish still responded to the sound, five months later.

You know, it's almost like natural selection wouldn't even allow a species to survive if it forgot that there was a predator behind it three seconds into the chase. Now we need a second round of experiments to see if goldfish are capable of hating their owners.

If they can remember, they can plot.

#2. One Human Year Is Equivalent to Seven Dog Years

The Myth:

Your parents probably taught you this one when trying to delicately break the news of how close little Spot was to moving away to live on a nice farm: The idea is that a 1-year-old dog is equivalent to a 7-year-old human, a 2-year-old dog is 14 in human years, etc.

Which makes Grandma the youngest person in this picture.

The Reality:

Treating your 1-year-old dog like a 7-year-old human is fine, provided you know a lot of sexually active 7-year-olds. Scientists and dog experts have been trying to quell the propagation of the seven-year myth for years, maintaining that estimating a dog's age is inexact and often changes based on the dog's breed -- average lifespans among the hundreds of different dog breeds can range from 8 to 16 years.

The math only gets more complicated from there, but generally speaking, it turns out that developmentally, a 1-year-old dog is closer to a 17-year-old human being than a 7-year-old one. Then the increments get smaller from there, you'd have to make a graph or something to track it. Or you could just get used to the idea that a 9-year-old dog is the equivalent of a 9-year-old dog and get on with your life.

"Goddammit, Bibbles. You should know better than that. Aren't you like 25?"

It's kind of surprising that this myth ever got off the ground ... surely you've heard of more 16-year-old dogs than humans who lived to be 112. But this will not be the last time in your life you'll see humans preferring their math to be simple rather than correct.

#1. Dogs See in Black and White


The Myth:

Everyone knows that dogs see the world in the same light as an edgy indie movie director. Which really makes us question the point of differentiating the various flavors of Milk-Bone by color -- maybe they should put little pictures on them or something.

Also, we kind of doubt any dog would see this shape and think "bone" in the first place.

The Reality:

The truth is more nuanced. It's true that dog eyes don't see colors the same way human eyes do, but they do see them:

Retriever Pro
So apparently we look like zombies to them.

Dogs' eyes don't have quite as many cones as humans' (if you didn't pay attention in biology class, cones are the little things that help us differentiate between colors), so they see different colors than we do. Instead of seeing the good old Roy G. Biv color spectrum, dogs see the rainbow as "dark blue, light blue, gray, light yellow, darker yellow (sort of brown), and very dark gray." In other words, dogs see the colors of the world as basically yellow, blue and gray. They see green, yellow and orange as all being yellowish, and they see violet and blue as being the same color.

So if you've ever bought a red or orange ball and tried to play fetch on green grass, your dog probably thinks you're a dick.

"You absolute bastard."

Jonathan Wojcik has more scary bugs waiting for you on Bogleech. More from Nathan can be found on TheRollerSkate.com.

For more myths you probably think are true, check out 5 Ridiculous Animal Myths That You Probably Believe and 5 Ridiculous Sex Myths From History (You Probably Believe).

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