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Wednesday 24th August 2016
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The Mystery Hour - Animals and Nature

<a class='autolink' href='/james-obrien-3537'>James O'Brien</a>Thursdays 12-1pm

Every week, James O'Brien enlists the help of LBC listeners to solve the questions you've always wondered the answer to.

It's all about shared human knowledge. Call up with a question and then another listener around the country will know the answer.

But we're strict - no reptition and no dullness (so leave the motoring questions out!). If it's something that most of the audience would say "yes, I've wondered about that", then we want to hear from you.

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Animals and Nature


Can starfish swim?

You never see them swimming but they do live underwater.

 lobster thermidor

Why do lobsters turn red when cooked?

They don't start off red so why do they end up that way?


Can you tell the sex of a pigeon by its appearance?

Is there a way to tell if it is male or female just by looking at it?

lightening small

When lightning hits the sea, do fish get electrocuted?

When lightning hits the sea, why don’t fish get electrocuted?

Why is Antartica a continent but not the Arctic Circle?

What is the difference?



What speed do a bee's wings go?

When a bumble bee flies, what speed does his wings go? They say it breaks the laws of physics for a bee to fly.

What’s the difference between a flower and a weed?

What’s the difference between a flower and a weed? Surely they both flower.

Why don't we harvest spiders' webs for use?

I heard that webs from spiders are stronger and lighter than steel. So why don't we harvest it for use?

What is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?

What is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Are they different breeds or different species?
sea monkeys

What are Sea Monkeys and how do they survive?

What are Sea monkeys – those little dried shrimp-type organisms you can buy? How do they survive being dried?

What are silverfish and can they drown?

We have silverfish - those tiny creatures that hang around in bathrooms. Where do they come from and can they drown?

Are elephants really scared of mice?

Is it true elephants are scared of mice and if so, why?

Do lemmings really run off cliffs in groups?

Do lemmings actually run off cliffs in huge numbers?
haiti earthquake

Did the other side of the Pacific Plate also shift?

We're told the Pacific plate shifted 8', so why hasn't the other side of the plate also moved that much?

Why can't animals learn to cross the road?

Why do animals have no sense of judgement when crossing the road? They always seem to run into the road at the wrong time.
Dog eyes

Why do dogs stick their heads out of car windows?

Why does a dog want to put its head out of a car door all the time? I see this more and more.

Why are foreign eggs white, but ours brown?

On holiday at breakfast, all the eggs were white, but back here, they are brown. Why is there a difference?


Why is there a squeaking noise when pigeons take flight?

Doves make it too but crows do not.

Why do wild animals not get stung by nettles?

How come many animals and birds spend time in stinging nettles? Why do they not get stung?



Why does the moon reflect so much light?

Why do we get so much light reflected from the moon? You don't get that much light when you shine it on a rock.

Why doesn't the Med have a tide?

On holiday, my 10-year-old asked me: Why is there no visible tide on the Mediterranean?

Why do mushrooms grow in circles?

Why do mushrooms grow in circles? You regularly see them in a neat pattern in the woods.

Why are some beaches sand and some stones?

So why are the beaches made of different things? Why isn't Brighton beach a sandy beach?
tuna fish

Do fish have hearts?

Do fish have hearts? You never hear of people eating them or see them anywhere.

If you jumped into a hole through Earth, where would you end?

If you made a hole through the middle of the Earth and you jumped down, where would you end up?

Why do worms hide under my gardening bags?

When I'm gardening, why do I keep finding worms whenever I pick up a bag? How do they get there?
tuna fish

How many tins can you get from one tuna fish?

I was watching TV and they were fishing for tuna, which were huge. So how many tins of tuna can you get from one tuna fish?

Why do some boiled eggs yolks have grey rings?

Why do I sometimes get a dirty grey ring around the yolk of an egg? Sometimes it's there and sometimes it's pure yellow.

Why do Indian elephants have smaller ears?

Why do Indian elephants have small ears and African elephants have big ears?

Why are anchovies so salty?

Why are anchovies so salty? No other fish tastes salty like that? Even fresh anchovies taste very salty.

What's the difference between a coyote and a wolf?

I was watching a documentary about Yellowstone Park yesterday and I wondered: what’s the difference between a coyote and a wolf?

Why does a rainbow form?

How does a rainbow form? Why are they those colours?

Do pets suffer from passive smoking?

Do cats and dogs suffer from passive smoking if their owners smoke? I've not heard of a dog having lung cancer.

Do fish actually drink?

You've heard of the expression "he drinks like a fish". Do fish actually drink? I know they suck water in through their respiratory system, but do they drink?

How are animals' umbilical cords cut?

When a baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut and tied. But when a lamb, calf or puppy is born, that doesn't happen. How come?

Do we only eat female chickens?

The chickens you buy in the supermarket... are they all female? If so, how do they get them all to be female?
Taxi In SNow thumb.jpg

Can it be too cold to snow?

I've heard people say "it's too cold to snow". Is that possible?

What is freezing fog?

Travel bulletins always warn me about freezing fog, but I’ve never experienced it. What is freezing fog?

What's the difference between mist and fog?

What's the difference between mist and fog? Are they the same thing?


How do bats give birth upside down?

How do bats give birth when they're hanging upside down?

Why do whales' and sharks' tails move differently?

Why do fish's and sharks' tails go side-to-side when swimming, but whales and dolphins go up-and-down?

Why does my wing mirror always have a spider's web?

Whenever I get into my car, there is a spider's web in the wing mirror. If I get rid of it, it will reappear the next day. Why?

If you bang eggs together, why does only one break?

If you are cooking and you need to crack an egg, if you crack two eggs together, why does only one egg crack?

How high can seagulls fly?

I saw a seagull over the Dartford Crossing last week and started wondering: how high can seagulls fly?

How can far a bee go and still find its hive?

When you get a bee in your car and you drive 200 miles, how does it find its way back to its hive? Or does it find another hive?

Do dogs give blood?

I was watching a vet programme and they gave a dog a blood transfusion. Where do they get the blood from?

Why do birds sit on street lights on motorways?

Why do birds sit on the street lights above motorways? Isn't there somewhere nicer they can relax?

Why didn't sharks die with the dinosaurs?

Why didn't large sea reptiles die with the dinosaurs? Sharks pre-dated dinosaurs, but they survived.

Why is chicken low-fat and eggs high-fat?

Why is chicken low-fat and eggs aren't? Surely they should have exactly the same nourishment?

Why is a butterfly so called?

Why is a butterfly called a butterfly, when it's nothing to do with butter and it's not a fly.

Why aren't the sea levels sinking?

If ice takes up more space than water, shouldn't the melting Polar icecaps lower the sealevel, rather than making it higher?

Do bedbugs survive when we're on holiday?

We're all told we have bed bugs in our homes which live off our dead skin. But what happens to them when we go on holiday?

Do trees die of old age?

Do trees die of old age? They obviously die of lack of water, disease etc, but do they die of natural causes due to old age?

Why does fish smell when it goes off?

Why does fish smell when it goes off? Is it the same reason as when it is cooked?

Where is the sunset time measured from?

You just said the sun is going to set at 8:21, but where is that going to be? Where do they measure that from?

Where do roses seeds come from?

Every year, daffodils flower in the same place, but some flowers don't, such as roses. So where do the seeds come from?

Do goldfish yawn?

Do goldfish yawn? My niece thinks that our goldfish always looks like it's yawning.

Why are raw prawns coloured grey?

Why do crustaceans always turn pink when you cook them? Prawns are grey when raw, but turn pink when cooked.

Why is it colder up mountains?

Why, when you go up a mountain and are closer to the sun, does the temperature go down, not up?

Do snakes have tails?

Do snakes have tails? And if so, where do they start on the body?

Why do they shoe horses?

Why do they shoe horses? And when did it start doing it?

What is second in the food chain?

We all know that humans are the top of the food chain. But what is number two?

What decides what sea level is?

What decides what sea level is? Surely the level of the sea changes all the time.

Are there sharks in the Med?

Has anybody ever caught or seen a Great White Shark in the Mediterranean?

Why aren't cashews sold in their shells?

When you buy nuts, they can all come in their shells - except cashew nuts. Why do you never see cashew nuts in their shells?

What is the difference between a sea and an ocean?

What is the difference between a sea and an ocean? Why is the Mediterranean a sea, but the Atlantic an ocean?
Dog eyes

Can dogs see in black and white?

People say dogs see in black and white. But how do we actually know that to be true?

When does a hill become a mountain?

When does a hill become a mountain? Is there a measurement? Has a mountain ever been reclassified as a hill?

Does skydiving through clouds make you wet?

This is something my grandson asked me and I couldn't answer. If you jumped out of a plane with a parachute and went through a cloud, would you get wet?

How do worms breed?

How do worms breed? You never see baby worms - it's always long, thin worms or long fat ones.

Is there a constant amount of water?

Does the amount of water in the world remain the same, or does it increase and decrease?

What is the difference between mist and fog?

What makes one mist and the other fog?



 jungle small

What is the difference between a jungle and a rainforest?

Why are wooded areas sometimes called jungles and other times forests?



Why do pigeons squeak when they take flight?

Why do they make a squeaking noise? Doves also do but crows do not?