Green Iguana

‘Falling Iguana’ Warning Issued In Florida As Temperatures Reach Record Low

Weather reports in Miami, Florida this week call for cloudy skies, below average temperatures, and a hefty chance of…falling iguanas? Well, according to the National Weather Service for Miami’s Twitter, a chance of snow and a major drop in temperatures means that falling iguanas are surely a possibility. 

However, there’s no need to worry about the well-being of these Florida reptiles, as they aren’t dead, but merely paralyzed. It’s definitely one of the weirdest phenomenons that’s brought on by the cold weather but once explained, it does make sense. According to reports from Live Science Magazine, when temperatures drop into the 40’s or lower (Fahrenheit) in Florida, an iguanas metabolism slows down to preserve the animals energy. Depending on how cold it actually is, the metabolism can slow so much that the iguanas become completely “stunned” by the cold, and are left immobile. 

Embed from Getty Images

This is, however, quite rare for Florida in general, but there have been reports of random storms of “raining iguanas” in the past; such as in 2008 and 2018. Iguana’s more often than not spend the majority of their days and nights in trees where they blend in from predators, but can still catch some sun and find a shelter for sleep. So when they’re in a more relaxed sleep-induced state at night, and their metabolisms begin to drop along with the temperatures, they have a tendency to just succumb to their own weight and fall from the trees; thus creating a “rainstorm” of iguanas.

“Iguanas — and most reptiles — are ectothermic, which means they rely on external temperatures to regulate their own body temperatures. If the weather becomes too cold, iguanas enter a state known as torpor, a type of hibernation in which they conserve precious heat by dramatically slowing down their metabolic functions,” wrote Mindy Weisberger, a Senior Writer at Live Science. 

Last week the temperatures in Miami reached 33 degrees Fahrenheit, which prompted a now viral video from Ginger Zee, a chief meteorologist at ABC News, to circulate around the internet. The video from Zee’s Twitter shows camera footage of a frozen iguana with stiffened limbs falling from a tree branch. Zee also mentioned in the tweet that the temperature was the lowest it’s been in Miami in nine years, so this type of bizarre event made a lot of sense to experts. 

Embed from Getty Images

Specifically, the Green Iguana is the lizard subspecies that is most commonly known for falling out trees and giving Florida residents quite the shock. The species is most commonly found in southern Florida, however, to scientists they’re viewed as an invasive species, as they’re not native to this part of the country. 

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), females can lay up to 76 eggs at a time, hence the “invasive” nature of the species. According to their site, the FWCC claims that green iguanas aren’t protected under traditional wildlife protection laws because of their non-native classification; however, they are protected under animal cruelty laws. 

When it comes to what Florida residents should do if they see an iguana frozen on the ground, it’s recommended that they just leave them alone, as it doesn’t take that long for the iguanas to reheat and revive their mobility. Unless you find that the iguanas somehow managed to land in a dangerous setting, such as the middle of the road, it’s best to just keep the creatures where they are. Male green iguanas can grow up to 5 feet in length, so it’s unlikely any predators will come out of the woodwork’s to try to hunt them in their frozen state, and if that is the case, it’s best to just let nature take its course. You don’t want to mess with the circle of life anymore than Florida residents want a frozen iguana to land on their head in the middle of winter. 

Blue Whale

Scientists Take A Blue Whale’s Heart Rate For The First Time And Are Shocked By What They Hear

Blue whales are the largest, and potentially most majestic, mammals on the planet. They can grow up to 100 feet in length, and weigh up to 150 tons! Scientists have long studied the blue whale to greater understand the way it lives, how it’s body functions and thrives as it does at such a massive size. For the first time ever, scientists have gained a greater insight into an aspect of the blue whale’s anatomy that can be considered one of the most important bodily functions in all living things; its heartbeat. 

Scientists have never been able to properly take a blue whale’s heartbeat. It’s massive size, thick blubber, and constant mobility made it nearly impossible for scientists to create a device that would accurately take a reading of the whales heartbeat; until now. According to Live Science Magazine, a team of marine biologists were finally able to take the measurements by combining a pulse monitor with suction cup technology that allowed for the monitor to stay stable and attached to the blue whales back. The research took place off the coast of California, where scientists watched and recorded the blue whale diving and resurfacing for nine hours straight. Blue whales do this to alternate between filling their lungs with a high amount of oxygen for their deep dives, and then filling their stomach with hundreds of thousands of tiny fish that are below the surface. 

Embed from Getty Images

As the scientists were monitoring the whales heartbeat, they made a very intriguing discovery. The average heart rate of the blue whale that was studied was four to eight beats per minute. The highest it got during its deep dive was 34 beats per minute, and the lowest was a whopping two beats per minute! 

The study based on this data was published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which concluded that “the simple act of catching a bite [to eat] may push a blue whale’s heart to its physical limits and that could explain why no creatures larger than blue whales have ever been spotted on Earth. Animals that are operating at physiological extremes can also help us understand biological limits to size,” lead study author Jeremy Goldbogen, an assistant professor at Stanford University in California, said in a statement.

Embed from Getty Images

The study is revealing the science behind how the Earth’s largest creatures develop an anatomy strong enough to keep such a massive living being alive. Blue whale’s hearts are, on average, around 400 pounds, and are roughly the size of a golf cart. While that data is staggering, it makes sense considering that heart needs to pump blood in an animal that’s about the size of two large school buses. 

While the team of marine biologists expected that the blue whale’s heart rate would be relatively slow, the data they recorded was 50% slower than what they originally hypothesized. The study meticulously measured how long the whale was under the surface of the ocean, at the surface, diving, breathing, etc. What they found was that the whale’s longest dive lasted a total of 16.5 minutes and had traveled 600 feet below the ocean’s surface in that time. The whale also didn’t spend any more than 4 minutes at the surface to refill its lungs. 

As the whale got progressively deeper and deeper, its heart rate slowed down. Scientists know this is because their bodies are more concentrated on distributing whatever oxygen is in the whale’s lungs to their heart and brain exclusively. On the opposite end, when the whale would come back up to the surface, it’s heart rate would accelerate up to 25-37 beats per minute. This occurred so that the whale’s bloodstream could rapidly distribute oxygen throughout its entire body and recharge it for the next dive. Researchers believe that it’s unlikely the massive heart of the blue whale would have the capability of beating any faster than that, hence the limit to its size and why the Earth doesn’t have any other animal larger than it.