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Expert Voices

10 Amazing Animal Facts, Illustrated

Weird animal facts

animal facts

(Image credit: Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström)

Maja Säfström is a Stockholm-based architect, illustrator and author of "The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts" (Ten Speed Press, 2016). For more of her works, visit www.majasbok.se or follow her on Instagram @majasbok. Säfström contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.


In 2014, a friend told me some crazy facts about octopuses that I had never heard before. Inspired, I began researching more fun things about them, and then I made a drawing of an octopus with these crazy facts written all around it. At that time, I was working as an architect, but I had started an Instagram account one year earlier, sharing my daily drawings and doodles (often animals). The account had gained quite a few followers, and the love and comments that I received from all across the world encouraged me to spend more time drawing.

When I posted the octopus illustration on my Instagram account with the title "Amazing Octopus Facts," the creative director at Ten Speed Press discovered it, and this book was the result.

I chose 55 facts, selected because they are unexpected, stunning and, well, awesome — not just typical facts that you might usually find in a fact-based book. These facts are merely glimpses of the crazy, fantastic and interesting things that make these animals special, and that remind us of the fascinating beauty of the animal world.

Images reprinted from The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Octopuses

animal facts

(Image credit: Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström)

Octopuses have more brain cells than humans do. Most of their neurons are in their arms — you could say that their arms have minds of their own!

Sloths

animal facts

(Image credit: Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström)

Sloths are so slow that they grow green algae on their fur. They climb down to the ground only once a week … to poop!

Tigers

animal facts

(Image credit: Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström)

Tigers have the same pattern on their skin as on their fur.

Moose

animal facts

(Image credit: Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström)

A moose can feel a fly landing on its antlers.

Ostriches

animal facts

(Image credit: Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström)

Ostriches can run faster than horses — but they can't walk backward.

Sea Otters

animal facts

(Image credit: Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström)

Sea otters hold hands when they sleep in the water so that they don't float away from each other!

Badgers

animal facts

(Image credit: Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström)

Badgers dig amazing underground dens that can have up to 50 exits and host several badger families.

Pandas

animal facts

(Image credit: Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström)

Pandas' diets consist of 99 percent bamboo — but their stomachs are actually designed to eat meat, so they have to eat up to 100 lbs. (45 kilograms) of bamboo each day to get enough nutrients to survive.

Owls

animal facts

(Image credit: Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström)

Owls can rotate their heads almost 230 degrees — but they can't move their eyes!

Sea Horses

animal facts

(Image credit: Copyright 2016 by Maja Säfström)

Sea horses live in pairs and travel holding each other's tails!

Follow all of the Expert Voices issues and debates — and become part of the discussion — on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on Live Science.