Blood not-so-simple

Even broken down into its simplest parts, blood is a pretty complex substance. Vampires drink it, humanitarians donate it, and just the thought of it makes queasy people faint. It makes up 7% of our body weight, and it’s the stuff that keeps us living. So it’s not surprising that the sticky substance is the subject of much speculation, myth, fable and folklore–as well as good old-fashioned fact. Here’s a brief sampling of blood-related oddities:

Lobsters have blue blood.

If someone were to literally rip your heart out and place it on the end of a long-jump track, the pressure of its pumping mechanism would squirt blood upwards of 30 feet.

If you’ve ever seen a hippopotamus basking under a hot sun, you probably wondered what the sticky, oily, blood-colored substance secreting out of its pores is. The ancient Greeks thought the hippo’s skin was so sensitive that it bled when exposed to the sun’s rays. But according to a team of Japanese scientists, the “blood” is actually the mammals’ sweat, which also works as sunscreen and as protection against harmful pathogens.

Bloodstain specialists use a combination of biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics to analyze the circumstances of a crime, including where the victim and perpetrator were physically located when blood was shed and the object or weapon used to commit the crime.

The vampire bat is a heavy drinker, consuming more than its body weight in blood each night.

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The ancient Greeks believed that the blood of the gods, which they called Ichor, was poisonous to mortals.

Humans suffering from sulfhemoglobinemia ooze blue or greenish blood.

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