• The Arctic Tern is a relatively small bird, but it is also one of the most determined. Despite its modest size, it is still able to accomplish the remarkable feat of migrating over 22,000 miles (35,000 km) each year – the longest distance of any bird.

• Beluga whale skin is amazingly thick. Not only does its density help keep Belugas warm in icy waters, but their skin was also used in the first prototype of the bulletproof vest!

• The name Narwhal means “corpse whale” because it often swims belly up, sometimes lying motionless for several minutes.

• The thicker portion of the Musk Ox horn is called the “boss.” It is a combination of four inches of horn and three inches of bone that lie directly over the brain with no other skull in-between. The boss protects Musk Oxen from being hurt when they fight. It is estimated that when Musk Ox bulls hit head-on it is equivalent to a car driving into a concrete wall at 17 mph (27km/h).

• Tugtupite is a brilliantly fluorescent crimson red mineral found only in the Arctic, particularly in Greenland. Its Inuit name, Tuttupit, means ‘reindeer blood.’

• Snow Fleas – the only insects found near both poles. The 1/16th inch hexapods date back to well before dinosaurs, to the middle Paleozoic era, about 400 million years ago. Like all springtails, they have an unusual appendage (a furcula) that folds under the abdomen and is used to propel them by several inches. This means a Snow Flea can jump about one hundred times its own length, a feat equivalent to a grown person jumping the length of two football fields!

• One of the rarest whales in the world, Narwhals are medium-sized toothed whaled that live exclusively in Arctic waters. They typically travel in family groups – in pods of about 10 and up to 100, and they communicate by means of a great variety of squeals, trills, whistles, and clicks.

• In Finnish Lapland, the Northern Lights are called ‘revontulet,’ which means ‘fox fires’ – a name derived from an ancient legend that describes how the Arctic fox starts fires by spraying up snow with its brush-like tail.

• Baby belugas are usually born in estuaries, which are areas where rivers meet the ocean. They are a brownish/grey color for the first few months of their lives, which helps them blend in with the muddy waters. The gestation period of Beluga whales is about 14 months. At birth, Beluga calves have hair on their upper lip!

• Polar Bear fur is not actually white. Resembling a drinking straw, each hair shaft is transparent with a hollow core, which helps trap and direct sunlight and warmth down to the Polar Bear’s black skin.

• The record distance between the tips of Musk Ox horns is 29.74 inches!

• Beluga whales are generally slow swimmers, typically travelling at speeds of about 3 to 9 km/h. Belugas are the only whales that can swim backwards!

• Snow Fleas possess a special protein that protects them from freezing. This “antifreeze” is being studied for its properties that may lengthen the shelf life of human organs for transplantation.

• The dens of Arctic Foxes typically have between four and twelve entrances, and cover approximately 30 sq. m (323 sq. ft.). Some dens may be used for centuries, by many generations, and eventually become so large that they can have over 100 entrances.

• Reindeer can’t walk too far without answering the call of nature. In fact, they are unable to walk and pee at the same time, so they have to take a bathroom break roughly every 6 miles. In Finnish, this distance is known as “poronkusema” or “reindeer’s pee,” and was an old-fashioned description of distances in the countryside.

Language:
• The Inuit use the same word, sila, to mean both ‘weather’ and ‘consciousness’
•  Inuit – meaning ‘the people’ or ‘human beings’ – the name the Inuit give themselves
•  Inuk – one person
•  Kabloona – Inuit word for Caucasian
•  Nanoq – Greenlandic word for polar bear
•  Tangaagim – Aleut word for polar bear
•  Inuit tamarmik inunngorput nammineersinnaassuseqarlutik assigiimmillu ataqqinassuseqarlutillu pisinnaatitaaffeqarlutik. Silaqassusermik tarnillu nalunngissusianik pilersugaapput, imminnullu iliorfigeqatigiittariaqaraluarput qatanngutigiittut peqatigiinnerup anersaavani – The Greenlandic translation of the phrase: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

• The term ‘ice blink’ refers to the white glare reflections seen on the underside of low clouds, indicating the presence of ice beyond the range of view or even over the horizon. Conversely, the term ‘water sky’ refers to dark streak reflections seen on the underside of low clouds, indicating the location of open water in the sea ice beyond the range of view or over the horizon. Such techniques helped explorers navigate polar waters and have assisted the Inuit to travel over sea ice more safely.

• Using radiocarbon dating on the lens of the eye, scientists have discovered that at 400-years old, Greenland sharks may be the longest-living vertebrates on Earth. Inhabiting the frigid waters of the Arctic Atlantic, Greenland sharks are among the largest sharks on the planet, some measuring 20-ft in length. Reaching sexual maturity at 150 years old, it is estimated that some of today’s sharks were born in Shakespeare’s time or even before Columbus sailed to North America.

• A few years ago, scientists uncovered bewildering fossil evidence on Ellesmere Island in the Arctic archipelago that determined that camels originated in the High North about 45-million years ago. Watch Latif Nasser’s entertaining TED talk to learn more: You Have No Idea Where Camels Come From

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