Things have been falling from the sky for centuries. The usual things are frogs and fish. However, some odd things fell to earth in times past. A Roman era pillar was seen to settle gently on the ground. Unfortunately, this was not proven as fact. It could have happened, though.
Apparently, spiders covered farms in the Southern Tablelands. They have been appearing there for some time now. The occurrence has only just been announced. Threads from the webs is what people usually see, not so much the spiders themselves. You have to look closer to see the tiny spiders floating along with the webs.
This happens all over the world. We just don't notice the arachnids sticking up their rear ends, pumping out silk and floating off into the blue yonder. It has a name: ballooning. Spiders do this as a group taking off from an isolated spot and landing in another. The weather has to be in a specific condition for this to take place.
Small spiders and babies of larger species partake in ballooning usually in autumn and spring in Australia. Some scientists say that it is possible for an involuntary exodus to another place to happen. The arachnids are so small a strong gust of winds could sweep them up.
Have you heard of the person who got part of a needle stuck in his hand and it came out 10 years later through his foot? Strange things like this do happen. It is the body's way of safely ridding the body of potentially dangerous objects. Work on Australian frogs show they deal with such things in a different way.
Tiny bead-like radio transmitters were implanted into frogs. They were put into body cavities of frogs and even toads. Oddly, the small devices disappeared. The beads moved along the body into the bladder where they were, in due course, fully expelled from the body.
This may sound like something quite obvious and unremarkable until one is informed that the beads were two centimeters long and some of the frogs were only eight centimeters long. It is no mean feat for such a small animal. It was discovered that tissue from the bladder grows out and envelopes the foreign object. The object is then drawn into the bladder.
Apparently, frogs have evolved this to rid their bodies of the sharp extremities and extrusions of insects, their main diet. Furthermore, frogs have thin skin and they hop, landing clumsily. Thus, thorns from plants can easily pierce their bodies.
Researchers had assumed that when a transmitter was no longer mobile, the host animal was dead. Now they will have to find out if the transmitter was naturally expelled.
Australia's death adder is contributing to its own extinction. Moving around to hunt their prey is not their method. An adder tempts its victims by laying in ambush and wiggling its tail tip. By wiggling its tail, however, it is noticed by cane toads, frogs and lizards who eagerly gulp down the tasty meal.
After cane toads were introduced into Australia death adder numbers plummeted. Ironically as the cane toad attacks the snake it is bitten, so after its meal the cane toad dies - mutual suicide. Even if the snake eats the toad it will end up dead because cane toads are poisonous.
For millions of years death adders have survived by enticing their prey within easy reach. Now this behavior is leading to their demise. Man cannot intervene to prevent this. There is nothing that can be done.
Australian green tree frogs live in the dry desert without dehydrating. This has been a mystery - until now. They move from a cool night into warm burrows. Then they "mist-up". They sit in the cold air for hours until they can hardly move. There is a good reason for this.
It has been discovered that their skin "takes-on" water. Inside the burrows water is in the air due to the warmth. Droplets form on their cold skin by condensation. A group of tree frogs frequented a hollow tree in the dry outback. Researchers caught some frogs, cooled them in the cold night air, lowered them into the log in a cage for a quarter of an hour, Then tested them. The frogs gained 0.4 grams in weight, their bodies glistening with water droplets.
It is now believed that lizards and spiders also use this technique to get water. Earlier work in the laboratory indicates this. Just a little water is enough to survive.
Things have been falling from the sky for hundreds of years with no solid explanation. It has been claimed that marble pillars from ancient Rome fell gently to earth a century or so ago. This is deemed to be just a story, but Frogs, fish, worms and squid being dumped onto the earth during rainstorms is fact.
The main theory is that they were picked up from small shallow ponds by whirlwinds. This is just theory and has not be proven. Indeed, no one has observed actual "pick up" occurring. When a fall has taken place more of the same can be expected. The species of frogs and fish are not always local. They are from different climes than the dumping location. Such passengers of storm have one thing in common: they are generally small.
Although stories of small creatures falling with rain are usually much the same, some cases are truly extraordinary. Fish fell from the sky during a Singaporean earthquake in 1861. Leonard Bourne was running in a rainstorm in 1966 in Australia when a large fish hit him on the shoulder.
The explanation of pick up has one major flaw: Why are creatures of only one species selected with no pond debris? Furthermore, the dumped animals are always alive so the move from one area to another must have been short.