Caterpickles Cleans House, Again

The “Pigs in Space” cast, 1980. (Image via the Muppet Wiki)

Despite my best effort, The Four-Year-Old’s unanswered question index keeps getting longer. I’m at 137 and counting (I haven’t entered today’s questions yet. I’m afraid to, frankly.) Anyway, what with the holidays coming up, I thought I’d clean house again and see if I can’t take care of some of the easier ones all in a batch.

“Are there pigs in space?”

As far as I can tell, pigs in space is a phenomenon limited to Muppet Show skits and Russian mockumentaries. Although animals were the primary astronaut life-form during the 1950s and 1960s, most were mice, dogs, or monkeys. The closest thing to a pig I could find was a pig-tailed monkey named Bonnie who was lead astronaut on NASA’s Biosatellite III mission, which was launched on June 28, 1969. Well, unless you count that chimp named Ham who was sent up in the Mercury Redstone rocket for a suborbital flight in 1961.

“Do ducks have tongues?”

Yes. Birds, including ducks, have tongues. Let’s all take a moment to be grateful that they (usually) don’t have teeth.

“Do mosquitoes have hearts?”

Yes, but they look so different from ours you probably wouldn’t be able to pick them out from a drawing. Go ahead, give it a try (scroll down for the diagram).

What? Back already? Mosquito hearts are really long skinny tubes running along their backs (the red bit in that diagram I sent you to). The lower bit (the part that runs up from the bug’s anus to its chest) is considered to be the mosquito’s heart. The upper half of the tube doesn’t contract and is considered to be its aorta. When it’s not in this tube, mosquito blood, which by the way is either green or colorless, flows freely throughout the bug’s body. The heart tube pulls blood in from the bug’s main body cavity and as the tube contracts, pushes it up through the aorta to flush the brains and other organs in the mosquito’s head.

“Were there butterflies in dinosaur time?”

Yes. Although butterfly bodies decay rapidly, making butterfly fossils extremely rare, scientists have found fossilized butterflies in rocks dating from the Cretaceous Period, when flowering plants began to become more common.

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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5 Responses to Caterpickles Cleans House, Again

  1. Pingback: Caterpickles Cleans House a Third Time | CATERPICKLES

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  4. Pingback: Caterpickles cleans house, Part 4 | CATERPICKLES

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