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Park hotspots' real-life creatures have superpowers, too

A mock Pokemon card of a squirrel

Pokemon Go is the virtual reality craze sweeping the nation—with some surprising side-effects. Even the most screen-addicted players say the game is encouraging them to venture out of the house and explore neighborhood "hotspots," often located in local parks. From New York City to Chicago, parks across the country are receiving an influx of visitors on the hunt for digital creatures visible only through their screens. 

Whether you're totally over the trend or you're caught up in it yourself, you've got to hand it to a game that can convince park-shy people to get outside. Players who come looking for a Charizard or a Jigglypuff might very well discover something else: even the smallest city playground is home to creatures with some amazing abilities you can see with your own eyes.

Squirrel

via GIPHY

  • Deception: Squirrels put on elaborate shows of pretending to bury food—all to confuse other animals trying to discover their stash.
  • Semaphore: By twitching their tails, squirrels signal danger to other squirrels without drawing too much attention to themselves.
  • Zig-Zag: Squirrels' erratic pattern of movement is meant to confuse predators: you never know which way they're headed.

Ant

via GIPHY

  • Super-Strength: Ants can carry more than 50 times their own body weight.
  • Chemical Code: Ants communicate by secreting chemicals that signal specific message (like "I found the food!" or “Bad guy alert!”). Ants from the same nest recognize specific chemicals on each others’ bodies. 

Bee

via GIPHY

  • Magic Potion: People disagree on whether honey is a true "superfood," but it sure does taste good on toast. A typical hive can produce up to 400 pounds of honey per year.
  • Flying Farmer: Worker bees—which venture out of the hive in search of nectar—are all female. As they buzz from flower to flower, these industrious insects pollinate hundreds of fruits and vegetables that support human diets, from peaches and melons to onions and tomatoes.
  • Master Architect: Bees make hives to store honey and to sustain and house the colony through the winter. The hives are a network of thousands of hexagonal tubes made of wax, which bees produce from a gland in their abdomens. 

Deer

via GIPHY

  • Levitation: Most adult deer can clear a six-foot fence from a dead stop.
  • Battle Helmet: Male deer grow a new set of antlers each year. In general, the older the deer, the larger the antlers he can grow. In the fall, some deer will wield their antlers against rival males in a battle for mates.  

Pigeon

via GIPHY

  • Navigation: An Oxford University study over the course of a decade found that pigeons use human roads and signs as reference points, even changing direction at highway intersections. 
  • PhD: Pigeons can be trained to distinguish between letters of the alphabet and between different people in photographs. Unlike household pets like cats and dogs, they can even learn to pass the "mirror test," recognizing their own reflection.
  • Loyalty: Pigeons mate for life. Both parents take turns keeping their eggs warm and feeding the chicks once they hatch.

The best part about visiting a park to see these superpowers in action? You don't have to download anything! Of course, you shouldn't literally try to catch these (or any) real-life creatures—but if you can capture them on camera, we'd love to see the shot. Send your photos our way on Facebook.

Comments

Allison M
This is my favorite blog post ever! I'm sharing it with everyone!
Leeza Vinogradov
The info bits are great-enjoyed it*****
Patricia Lowder
Love it. We raised our kids by going to parks and nature preserves.
Jonathan Stuart...
As a Climate, Environment and Wildlife supporter this was a joy to read. We all need to stand against the Big Corporations like Monsanto, Bayer and others who are killing all three with toxic chemicals, pesticides, and legislation that affect not only them but humans as well.
Randy B
"Absorption" is the more correct English spelling. Great otherwise.

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