Sandi Toksvig looks at nature and nurture with Ross Noble, Cariad Lloyd, David Baddiel and Alan Davies.
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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Very nice! Lovely!
Thank you very much.
Good evening and welcome to QI,
where tonight we are nurturing nature
and our guests are a natural selection.
A natural woman, Cariad Lloyd.
A natural gas, Ross Noble.
A natural resource, David Baddiel.
And a natural disaster, Alan Davies.
And we have a natural selection of buzzers.
Oh, that's rather pretty, isn't it? Ross goes...
I went out with somebody like that once.
Wow. Alan goes...
BUZZER YAPS EXTENSIVELY
SHOTS FIRE AND YAPPING CEASES
I don't know if that means you can ever press it again.
-I'm afraid to, in case another one dies.
Question one concerns the most natural noise in the world.
Why do bees hum?
I've noticed this, when people are a bit embarrassed.
-Because they don't know what to say
-and I wondered if bees did it.
-Yeah, so, no.
Is it something to do with pollen?
-So it's about finding pollen?
It is to do with pollen.
Is it sending out a vibration?
Absolutely right, absolutely right, that there are bees...
It looked like people were going to applaud, there,
but they weren't sure if they wanted to applaud.
Some bees, not all bees,
literally shake pollen out of flowers
by humming very loudly at them.
-Isn't it astonishing? They hold on to the flower and they beat
their wing muscles phenomenally fast and those rapid muscle contractions
produce forces of up to 30G,
so that is about three times what you would get from a fighter jet
making a tight turn. I mean, it's absolutely astonishing.
It's also the reason why they banned sex toys from Kew Gardens.
Because... It's true...
Is that actually in the rule book? "No sex toys"?
That's certainly why I got thrown out!
-They got confiscated.
HE IMITATES BUZZING
"What are you doing?! We need that pollen."
"I'm sorry, I can't turn it off!"
How big was the sex toy?
That was like a fishing rod!
-I don't want to know.
-She's a very lucky woman, my wife.
But it is incredible,
that thing you can see on their leg there is called a corbicula
and it is the little basket that they keep the pollen in.
Scientists, they did research and the best bit of the bee
-is its knees.
Shortly followed by the testicles of a dog.
-All in science, all in science.
-No, I'm glad you brought it up.
There is a bee that, when it goes near, it creates, like, electricity.
So this is an extraordinary thing,
it can also harness electrostatic forces,
so when a bee flies through the air, the friction that it causes,
it causes their bodies to build up a positive charge.
This is incredible - when they get close to the flower,
which usually carries a negative charge,
the grains of pollen literally jump from the plant to the insect.
They learn to distinguish the different electrical fields around
different flowers so they can tell which plants have nearly been depleted of pollen
-and they don't bother with it.
-Do they work for npower?
-You said some bees.
-Some are electric, some are acoustic bees?
There's a wasp in the background going...
And they don't hum, they go...
-I'm good in the library...
That does sound like...
Dylan obviously sounds like a bee, doesn't he?
Yeah. He does.
And that's why, a lot of his gigs, pollen all over him.
He's got terrible hay fever.
Has anybody ever heard bees having sex?
Oh, yeah. Yeah. It was one of the worst porn films I ever saw.
-There it is, in fact.
-They got kicked out of Kew Gardens for that.
The extraordinary thing is, that it makes an audible sound.
It's a very female centred society, the women do all the work.
I know, Cariad, no change there.
-And the drones, the boys,
their sole job is to mate with the queen and hardly any of them get a
chance to do so, but if you manage to mate with the queen,
once you have done so, your phallus ejaculates from your body,
the whole thing tears off with an audible pop.
I think most blokes would think that's worth it.
Well, it actually plugs up the vagina.
That's the whole point, it stops the semen coming back out again.
So all of the drones want to mate with the queen,
but only a very few of them are able to do so.
It's like Beyonce and Jay-Z, so many want Queen B,
she chooses one who lets her down and then she steals his phallus
and makes an album about it.
She has sex with multiple drones and then...
What does she do with all the spare, er...?
They get ejected eventually, she gets rid of them.
That must be intimidating,
you go in to see the queen and they're all on a shelf.
It's not a shelf! It's a dartboard!
Don't open the door!
The bee that's just had sex with her,
he walks out and there's a big long queue and then his cock just hits
him on the back of the head.
"Take that with you!" "Sorry."
Now, describe nature's Top Gear.
-Oh, is that a thing? Drugs?
-Gear, you know, your gear, man.
"I've got some top gear for you."
OK, it's not gear in the sense of drugs.
What other kind of gears are there?
-In a car.
-The cogs of something.
-Yes, yes, yes.
Nature is full of tremendous wonders and nothing I think more wonderful
than the immature planthopper or a nymph and gears.
Now, you can't really tell cos it's a massive picture,
but they're only three millimetres long.
I'm really glad that's a massive picture.
They tend on the whole to move very slowly cos they don't want to
attract attention, which is really sweet,
but they are able to jump up to one metre from a standing start.
So, that is 300 times their own body length.
Imagine if it was me,
I would be able to jump from a standing start a third of a mile.
I'd love to see that.
And now, the thing is, if you jump that far
and you don't get your timing spot on,
you spiral out of control, so they have little tiny,
tiny gears that enable them to synchronise their legs
within 30 millionths of a second.
You can see here, the top of each hind leg has a circular set
of minute teeth, and just before takeoff, the insect's thighs,
they squeeze together.
You can see they're kind of ratcheting up,
causing the teeth to mesh like gears and the legs are then locked
together and then they can thrust off like that in perfect unison.
It's amazing, but it looked like CCTV of it,
so I wonder if it committed a crime.
"Seen fleeing the scene!"
Nobody will be surprised to hear that cows emit a lot of methane,
so what would you use to ensure your cow meets emissions standards?
Is this about cows farting?
Well, it doesn't come out just one end, does it?
-Farts don't come out of just one end?
-No, the methane.
-Oh, are they burping as well?
I know how they feel. It's difficult if you're a gassy lady.
-Are you a gassy person?
-I'm so gassy.
-Yeah, it's insane.
Are you responsible for global warming? Is it you?
An area of North London, yes.
-That's me, soz.
-I don't know why it is that some people are and some
people aren't. In my entire life - this is a very odd thing to admit -
-I have never farted.
Seriously. That is a very bold claim.
-So what you mean is you haven't let rip?
-Have you found yourself ever rising off a seat?
Or perhaps you just have incredibly taut buttocks.
I'm happy to take that claim, yes.
Only dogs can hear them.
-They're just in a different frequency from everybody else's.
It's no wonder our dog goes mad every now and then.
Is the dog down there, going, "Blame it on Sandi"?
Come on, now, what are we going to do?
We need... So, a badly tuned car belches out all sorts of pollutions.
-What do we do?
-Is it something to do with what you're feeding them?
Erm, no, it's an actual device.
A catalytic converter?
It is, a catalytic converter for cows.
These particular catalytic converters go in the nose
of the cow, so they go like that.
That's a scientific drawing right there!
Is that a gin and tonic going into its nose?
It doesn't have to be cows, it can be sheep or goats or whatever
and the apparatus is retained in the nostril by one or more springs or
other mechanical devices and configured to ignite in the presence
of methane gas.
Incredible, because then it would be like a sort of a cow-dragon.
And then late at night, if you were lost in the hills...
Ah, here's the thing. You don't need to get lost because it can also be
fitted with a GPS tracker.
Is it actually succeeding, this,
in stopping the methane emissions from cows?
Not yet. It's a brand-new notion as to how to do it.
Something that is succeeding is fistulating cows.
-What, they've got holes in?
-Yeah, they've got holes in them.
I've seen this. When you look in, all it is, is grass,
like a big hopper full of grass, honestly, it is,
and I seen a documentary where a doctor or a vet, I suppose...
I'd hope so.
..put his arm in, rummaging around and showing you the...
It's really weird and the cow's just standing looking, it looked fine.
They don't seem to be in the slightest bit bothered by it. It is a sort of rubber cannula...
It unscrews, a bit like a petrol can, and you're quite right,
you can put your hand right inside the cow.
Why might you want to do that?
Because he's got a very busy day and you want to have
a business meeting with James Herriot.
He's got his hand up the cow's bum and he goes...
-You shake his hand.
-..put it in, shake the hand...
You've sorted that deal with James Herriot.
-So it just vents? It vents the cow?
No, you actually want to get to the stomach contents.
Why might you want to do that? There's something in there that...?
Yeah, so, basically,
you may have a sick cow and the cow that is fistulated
is perfectly healthy.
You want to get some of the bacteria from the stomach
of the healthy cow and give it directly to the other cow.
-It is a cunning plan.
-It IS a cunning plan.
You also can check exactly what the nutrients that the cow was eating,
how they're breaking down in the stomach.
-It doesn't bother them in the slightest.
-Are you sure?
Honestly, it's the weirdest thing I've ever seen.
It would bother me, I think, if I had one of those here.
Which is a shame, because we were going to do...
-Yeah, come on, that would be a hell of a party piece,
-though, wouldn't it?
-What? If you had it in your head?
No, no, just, you know, "Baddiel's here, come on,
"let's see what he's had for dinner."
Then if you were a bit peaky,
someone would reach inside and give my bacteria to Ross Noble.
-That's what would happen.
-It would be a strange thing.
Yeah, like, say you had the last French fancy...
You can't just have it if you wanted my food.
That's not how it works.
You've understood that the French fancy direct from his stomach is not
going to look as attractive as when he first ate it?
That's the thing about Mr Kipling,
he makes such exceedingly good cakes whatever form they're in.
Anyway, what's the point of licking your own eyeballs?
Oh, quite a lot of animals lick their eyeballs.
-Lizards do that.
-They do. Why do they?
For moisture. So this is the palmato gecko, lives in the Namib Desert,
so that's kind of Namibia, South Africa, that area.
It's one of the driest places on Earth,
so it needs to use all its ingenuity to get moisture,
so it gets a little bit of moisture from its diet of insects,
but it perches on a sand dune and it waits for the early morning fog
to condense as water droplets on its absolutely massive eyes
-and then it licks it off with its very long tongue.
-That is very clever.
-They also don't have eyelids, so licking also helps
-to keep their eyes clean.
-I mean, to be fair, I have been to that desert.
I rode a motorbike across that desert.
- I've been to that desert, too. - Have you?
Fight, fight, fight!
Lick your eyes, lick your eyes!
It's amazing, it's an incredible place.
Yes, extraordinary and incredible. Quick supplementary question,
what do they call a ship of the desert in Namibia?
You mean a camel?
How stupid of me.
The question was "in Namibia".
-Is it not camel, it's the other one?
-What's the other one?
-A Dromadon's from Star Wars.
Hey! There is nothing wrong with something from Star Wars.
There are different kinds,
there are Bactrian camels and there are dromedaries.
Do you know how you can remember which is which?
-Cos one's got two humps and one's got one.
The dromedary begins with a D, which is one hump,
and the Bactrian begins with B, which is two humps,
so that's how you can remember, and it's completely the wrong answer.
Is it a Toyota pick-up or something like that?
-It's nearer that.
-It's an actual ship.
-It's an actual ship.
-I know this, there's a coastline...
Don't click your fingers at me!
Sorry! I wasn't clicking them AT you.
Suddenly I've turned into a waiter with no English!
Yeah, the Skeleton Coast in Namibia. Skeleton.
Yeah, stop saying skeleton!
You should have your own separate programme about Namibia,
where you can fight about how much you love...
This is sort of extraordinary to see a ship right in the desert like that.
That's the so-called Skeleton Coast.
It's long been a menace to shipping and carcasses of hundreds of vessels
litter the coast but you also get silting and encroachment
of the desert, so you sometimes get ships as much as 500 metres inland.
There are ghost towns as well in Namibia
that are completely covered in sand, but you can go and stay there.
Yeah, a bit like Tatooine.
-Star Wars reference.
OK, Star Wars. OK.
What does the world's fussiest eater eat?
Is the world's fussiest eater not a human being?
Is it something that is so fussy it just doesn't eat and then dies?
No, it is very specific.
It only likes one thing on the menu.
Is it bees' penises?
Well, you're not far off the area that we need to be looking to.
It's so deeply unpleasant,
there are few parasites who have cornered a market so decisively.
It's a little leech.
It rarely sees the light of day because it lives
up a hippopotamus' bottom.
That is where it lives.
It's called the placobdelloides jaegerskioeldi.
Here's the thing, hippos have incredibly tough skin, right?
So, if the leech is looking for a blood meal off the hippo,
it really has to go to the rectal region because that's where
the blood vessels are, the skin is vascular.
Where the best restaurants are.
Seriously, best place to hang out.
It is literally a pain in the arse, this leech.
So it's a big, gaping hole, like that, and it's like...
Much like the sarlacc pit.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Here's the thing, has anybody ever seen a hippo being excused?
No, I've not seen that.
Well, it's the most extraordinary thing, because they are noted
for the violence of their bowel movements, OK?
So, they fire out an absolute explosion of slurry.
I know how they feel, guys.
A hippo is incredibly...
We went to a zoo in Spain and they had a hippo
and they are incredibly heavy.
-They weigh 3,000 kilograms.
What were you doing at this zoo?
-What do you mean?
I wasn't carrying it! It's got a little plaque,
you can read all about it.
I thought you were going, "Come on, kids!"
There's no-one here, we'll get another one!
They're incredibly heavy but they're incredibly dangerous.
They weigh the same as 150 people.
I made that number up.
Oh, sorry. He was just saying it wasn't 150 people.
I just made that up. It might be about 50.
-I was trying to get attention, that was...
Why are the bowel movements so violent? I'm interested.
Well, OK. So, it is extraordinary.
What's amazing is that the leech is able to hold on while...
It has a fantastic grip.
It's got a pair of suckers, front and rear,
which provide incredible anchorage.
So, while this poo is spraying everywhere...
And we don't know the reason, but there's a really nice story,
which I like, which is the San people, which is the wonderful
-hunter-gatherers of Southern Africa...
-The Sand People, you say?
-Yeah, you've got to be careful,
cos they're a lot more aggressive than the Jawas.
-You can get them mixed up easily, but those Sand People,
don't trust them.
It's like I've moved into a parallel universe.
The thing about the Sand People is, they always travel in single file.
-IMITATING ALEC GUINNESS:
-Beware of the Sand People.
Yes, Ross, is it something helpful?
Yeah, it is. It is.
I have a slight confession.
-whilst bored in a hotel room...
If you go online and type in "hippos pooing", there are...
Sorry, I'm just going to stop you there. Why would you do that?
Just, I was...
Start with the dogs.
Work your way up. Bears.
In the woods.
And there are huge amounts of videos of people
-filming hippos at zoos...
..who, the tail goes up and they go...
People... I don't know how it...it just sort of...
You've got a leech.
There's a reason that the hunter-gatherer people
of South Africa, the San people, which I really, really like...
So, when the creator assigned each animal its place in nature,
the hippos really wanted to live in the water,
but it was feared that they might eat all the fish,
so they were finally allowed to live in the water on the condition
that they would eat grass instead of fish and would fling their dung
so that it could be checked and inspected for fish bones,
and that is the reason.
Isn't that sweet?
Is this scientific research?
-Yes. It is.
So, the world's fussiest eater won't eat anything but hippo's arse.
Now, can you describe a bearded tit?
If anyone says "David Baddiel", I'm leaving.
Well, once you get past 30, it does happen.
No woman should be without tweezers.
Or the skill of plaiting.
-That's true. Give the children something to hang onto.
Save on a sports bra. Tie them together around the back. Bosh.
I sometimes feel, when I speak to you, Ross,
that I haven't thought things through.
All I'm saying is, "You're welcome."
There are many, many tits in the woods, aren't' there?
There are, my darling. Yes.
Is this not one of them?
No, it's not a tit at all and, indeed, it hasn't got a beard.
It has, in fact, got a rather fine...
what I can only describe as a Fu Manchu moustache.
It's not even closely related to - can I call them "true tits"?
-I'm going to.
It's more accurately called the bearded reedling.
It's actually a unique songbird and no other living species seems to be
particularly closely related.
I wonder if the person who invented
-the word for birds that are called tits...
..how upset they would be to know that now no-one
says them without sniggering.
Unless when he did it, he was like, "tits".
He's the same bloke that, when he had chickens, he went, "cock".
I don't know how you boys get there so quickly.
So much focus on something so undependable. Now...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Oh, yes, there's been a regime change.
Are you saying your tits are undependable?
Seriously, it is a weird thing, isn't it?
Boys are constantly fiddling because your bits are not the right place.
You never see a woman going, "Oh, how's that got up there?"
You see it all the time.
My Gran...like that.
-Your gran used to do that?
Was your gran Les Dawson?
Which naturally brings us to the matter of general ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers, please.
So, a nice, easy one to start with.
Which animal can jump the highest?
It's not the flea.
It's the kangaroo.
No. The record, in fact, for a red kangaroo is ten feet
over a pile of timber, so we're looking for something
that can jump higher than that.
That one we learnt about earlier that has cogs for legs.
Anybody any more for any more?
-A monkey with a jet pack.
-Could be any animal with a jet pack, to be honest.
-No, because you need to have the straps over the...
The monkey's got to hold on.
If you put a jet pack on a horse, it's standing like that.
It's just going to shoot straight...
-Its side. You could put it on its side.
-That's two jet packs.
We sometimes do experiments on this show and why that hasn't come up...
It's not that. It's not that. It's not even on land.
Dolphin. Flying fish.
No, it's the shortfin mako shark.
It can jump 20 feet clear of the water.
-Isn't that unbelievable?
Then pluck something out of the sky?
Yeah. A monkey on a jet pack.
More than a dolphin, even?
Yeah, it's one of the fastest swimming fish as well in the world.
35 kilometres an hour. 22 miles per hour.
But it is the highest jumper.
Wasn't flea right, relative to the flea's size, though?
Ah, but that wasn't the question.
Which animal can jump the highest?
Not in relation to its body size.
-Oh, you're so strict.
-I like it, though.
-I know you do.
Fleas can jump, vertically, to a height of about seven inches,
which I suppose, for a flea, is a fantastic amount.
Frog hoppers, which is also a tiny little bug,
they can jump four times further than fleas and they're heavier
as well, so a bit more impressive.
Now, what do wolves howl at?
-Women walking past not wearing enough because they're very sexist.
-I like that and I want it to be correct.
-But it's not.
That's what always got me about the idea of the wolf whistle,
cos wolves can't actually whistle.
So, like, strictly speaking,
if you're a builder on a building site and a woman walks past,
you should go...
But what are they howling at?
-Are they howling at other wolves?
It is other wolves. They're very intelligent animals.
They have very strong family ties and rather complicated
social relations and they howl in order to communicate.
It so happens they sometimes howl when the moon is out.
Would you like to hear a mouse howling at the moon?
-Here we go.
VERY HIGHPITCHED SQUEAK
-Is that your mic feeding back?
Isn't that the sweetest thing?
That is brilliant.
That is the southern grasshopper mouse of southwestern USA and Mexico.
It's also known as the wolf mouse because it has a reputation
of howling at the moon.
I love these little creatures.
They're extremely aggressive hunters.
They catch and kill all sorts of prey,
and they have a resistance to poison.
They can actually catch and kill and eat
a scorpion while it's repeatedly stabbing it in the face.
I think they're astonishing.
I like little and aggressive.
I have no trouble with that at all.
How many earths does the Moon have?
So, there's a staple question,
"How many moons does the Earth have?"
At various times, you'll get different answers. Two, several, one, more.
They're all arguable answers, but this is turning the question on its head.
How many earths does the Moon have?
Now, if you asked me about the ice planet Hoth...
We'd be in there. We'd be in there straightaway.
-It's more than one, then?
Well, it depends on what theory you believe in.
So, the most widely accepted theory of how our moon was formed
is the big splat, OK. That proposes it was created...
By a hippo?
About four and a half billion years ago, there was a collision
between the Earth and another Mars-sized planet known as Thea.
And we've always assumed that the thing was a glancing blow, right,
and Thea would have spun off into space and left a large debris from
the collision and that is our moon.
There's a more recent development of this idea,
which is that the collision was head-on, in which case,
the Earth is a fusion of two planets and it would mean the moon, in fact,
has two earths.
If that is the thing that we believe.
Which brings us to a nice, natural ending.
Let's have a look at the scores.
In last place, with minus 23, it's Alan.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
In third place, with minus 16, it is David.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
In second place, with minus five, it's Cariad.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And tonight's winner, with minus four, it's Ross.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
So, it only remains for me to thank Cariad, David,
Ross and Alan, and, as we seem to have wandered onto the moon,
I leave you with this tale from the News of the World long ago.
A Guinness heiress yesterday protested that a busload of
cheeky airmen mooned at her when she visited the Greenham Common Peace Women.
"I don't know if they were American, because I only saw their buttocks,"
said novelist Lady Caroline Lowell, 51.