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Well Good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening and welcome to QI, where tonight we're having fun with flora and fauna.
It's like animal, vegetable and mineral onlywithout the mineral.
In the flowerbed tonight, we have a perennial favourite, Jimmy Carr.
APPLAUSE Thank you very much.
A hardy annual, John Sergeant.
APPLAUSE A heavily scented late-bloomer, Jo Brand.
APPLAUSE And a cat having a crap in a flowerpot, Alan Davies.
APPLAUSE But before we plunge into my arboretum and bestiary, let's go wild with our buzzers.
John goes LION GROWLING LAUGHTER Jimmy goes WOLF HOWLING Jo goes ELEPHANT TRUMPETING LAUGHTER And Alan goes MONKEY CHATTERING ***, CRASH, GLASS SMASHING Oh, dear.
So let's start on our sofa-bound safari.
What does my buttonhole tell you about me? TRUMPETING That you're a closet heterosexual.
How dare you! I'm sorry! It tells us that you are what you are.
Your own special creation.
It's not going to fire water at me, is it? No, it's a real flower and it's a member of a family of flowers and it has a name.
It's a rhododendron.
> It's not a rhododendron.
It is! Well done.
And you are La Dame Aux Camelias.
Tell me about La Dame Aux Camelias.
It's a novel.
It's a novel.
About a lady.
Do you know what this meant? Who liked camellias.
But there is a thing about the red camellia that is very extraordinary, unbelievably shocking, to mid-19th-century France.
You're so right.
Marguerite Gautier, the heroine of the novel La Dame Aux Camelias, wore for 25 days of the month a white camellia.
For five days, a red one, to tell her lovers that she was not available That Arsenal were playing away! Playing at home! At home! The decorators were in, theetc.
Are you saying that you ARE available or you're not? I've got a period on, John.
LAUGHTER You can't have me, I'm sorry.
Was this in some play? A novel by Alexandre Dumas fils, the *** son of the creator of The Three Musketeers.
Can I just say, that was so sweet, cos no woman in her entire life has ever said, "I've got a period ON"! LAUGHTER Well I either say "I've got a period" or "I'm on".
Fair enough! OK! You don't conflate them together.
"I've got a period on"! And anyway, it became a play.
Sarah Bernhardt was in it thousands of times, in 1854 Verdi saw the play and turned it into the opera for five points? Is that what the opera's called? No! It's called Camellia something the flower.
Audience will know.
< La Traviata.
Audience get ten points.
That's very good.
It was La Traviata.
They're not in the lead again! So La Traviata, which I've heard of and is a proper grown-up thing, is about a woman having a period? No, no.
It's the story of a famous courtesan who was in love - and the real one - there were seven men who were so passionate about her but couldn't afford her prices, they clubbed together and bought her a chest of drawers with seven separate drawers in so they could keep their own clothes.
It was turned into a film, which was Snow White.
The seven guys with the one girl is a bit Very good! APPLAUSE Very good.
And the film based on La Dame Aux Camelias is? Carry On Menstruating.
Camille? Yes, in La Dame Aux Camelias and La Traviata, the heroine indicates her availability by wearing different-coloured camellias.
The book caused an outrage and made the flower an overnight gardening sensation in Paris and beyond.
Something more wholesome now.
It's good news.
Daddy is taking you to the flea circus.
Which bit are you most looking forward to? What do you know about flea circuses? I had fleas in my flat once.
Did you really? Rentokil quoted 600 quid to get rid of it.
I found a bloke in the local paper did it for 40.
I don't know what he sprayed! The cat was going like this for a few days.
Do you know what the biggest destroyer of human fleas has been - much bigger than pesticides? I know the answer.
It's vacuum cleaners.
It's their woof-woof-woof.
And the fleas don't like it.
Do you think your vacuum cleaner may be broken? If it's going woof-woof-woof? You might want to take that back and get a new one.
They're not specialised, these vacuum cleaners.
They kill lots of fleas? The other thing you've got to know about them is that the back legs of fleas are incredibly powerful.
And if a human being had as powerful legs, they could jump over the Eiffel Tower.
Eighty times your own height is what you'd be able to jump.
These flea circuses, though, we don't have them in our time, but they were amazingly popular in the 1920s and '30s, because they had to find something interesting to do between the two world wars.
They were filling in.
So fleas were very exciting a lot more of them about.
In fact, they died out in the early '60s, probably.
But you will see, there's some film here showing you that - you're right, these strong legs allow them to pull - they were harnessed to wire Are they real? Yeah.
They I thought it was No, you're thinking Michael Bentine's mechanical ones with little automatic machines that You thought you could see the fleas but No, there were fleas.
Genuinely people-trained fleas? No.
Unfortunately, they were basically tortured.
You would glue them to musical instruments and other things and then heat the underpart where they were so their attempts to make themselves free would look as if they were playing instruments.
That's like Britain's Got Talent.
That sounds horrible.
Almost as horrible as Britain's Got Talent.
But let's see some film, if we can, Mr Man In The Gallery.
There we are.
JIMMY: Why are they performing on his arm? They get fed with his blood.
Ah! JOHN: That's to show how small they are.
He's going to burn them with the sun.
Why have they got a serial killer operating the JOHN: That reminds me of a very old joke.
Are you ready for a very old joke? I'd love to hear one.
How do you build a flea circus? You have to start from scratch.
Is that stuck into the flea or glued on? It's glued or they make wire harnesses for them.
And people like Michael Bentine invented these mechanical ones.
He did one in a Royal Variety Performance in the '60s.
And that's when I first saw it.
I realised there were no fleas and, like you, I thought there was no such thing and it was just a joke.
It was part of an idea that you had freak shows.
You'd have all sorts of daft things It's awful to raise this.
You two aren't related, are you? Are you suggesting we're some kind of freak show No, I just .
that should be next to the flea circus? There's not a There's a bit of a likeness, we're brother and sister.
That explains it! Flea circuses covered a range of acts, including chariot races and fencing matches as well as acrobatics and Techniques included glueing the fleas to musical instruments and then heating the floor so they seemed to be playing as they struggled.
What is the really odd thing about the only fish in the world that lives in a tree? Is it going to be an underwater treething? Like fish that can live in anemones cos they're the only ones that aren't poisoned by them? These are trees above the surface.
Stephen, is that meant to be a perfect picture of? No.
I know that's a salmon for a start.
It does not like to live in a tree, I know that.
We can actually show you the real fish in a tree.
There we are in the mangrove swamps of Florida.
Where is it? You can't see it yet, but this is its habitat.
These pools shrink and it goes up these little grooves made by insects, whole groups of them go up into the tree.
We can see one poking its eye out.
And what's the unusual thing? Can it whistle one tune while it hums another? Kind of almost an *** version of that.
It is the only vertebrate that is a hermaphrodite that self-fertilises.
That's how it breeds.
It pleasures itself and Why don't we all do that? In terms of natural selection, why don't we all, because that'd be fun.
My teenage years You're right.
there would've been thousands.
It'd be fun to tell yourself you've got a headache.
"No, I can't tonight.
" Isn't it asexual reproduction? No, it's hermaphroditic.
Parthenogenesis you may be thinking.
Oh, right, I was.
LAUGHTER He's new.
It's called a killifish and there are 1,270 different species of them.
That's not the same one we've seen.
That's his sister! It's not, but it's certainly a killifish.
Now, while we're at the water's edge, why does a flamingo stand on one leg? JOHN'S BUZZER I think I have the answer.
Because it wants to go to sleep.
Is it? You're right! Ah, well.
I was going to say land mines! APPLAUSE Are they pink because they're on their period, but it's not a very heavy flow? No, you're right.
They have, like other animals, the ability for half of themselves to go to sleep.
So the half with the leg up is asleep.
That whole half of their body is in a torpid state and the blood flow's less.
When that has had enough sleep, they swap over and the other leg goes up.
There must be an in-between moment when they fall on their ***.
You wonder, don't you! How does that work? Does it go naturally down the middle of their face and neck or does their *** go to sleep, and then their face wakes up? One assumes I don't know.
The phrase "my leg's gone to sleep" has a whole new thing.
And they are pink because? It'snot crayfish, prawns or something.
KLAXON It's not prawns.
It's a common fallacy that they're pink cos the eat pink food like prawns Or Angel Delight.
Or Angel Delight.
No, they eat a blue-green algae which is full of carotenoid that makes them pink.
In zoos they give them supplements to make them pink.
The flamingo version of Where's Wally is hard.
LAUGHTER Interestingly, they can drink boiling water.
How did they find that out? A very cruel man found that out.
"Here you go!" They live near geysers where the water is that temperature.
They can eat a McDonald's apple pie.
The only species that can! Which is the hottest substance known to man.
Verified by NASA.
LAUGHTER I think we've sucked all the nutrient out of the flamingo.
Now, what kind of tricks could you play on a naive rhinoceros? Ooh! JIMMY'S BUZZER You could tell it it's a unicorn that just needs to moisturise.
Poor thing! You could tell it that you are the wife of a Nigerian ambassador and that if it sent you 4,000 It would probably go for it, wouldn't it? It might! So this is a naive rhino? As opposed to Sometimes you get a rhino that's quite worldly-wise.
It's the zoological or natural history meaning of the word "naive".
It has a special meaning when applied to animals.
Do you know what that is? Naive animal? Just, he's a bit? Is it very old? No, it's to do with an animal that is suddenly put into a terrain or an ecosphere which its evolution has not prepared it for, or Like a rhinoceros going to Peckham, for example? Exactly.
or the other thing that can happen, that into, for example, the classic example is an island, a new species arrives that can cause absolute havoc.
Something like a dodo, for example, or all kinds of birds and animals in Bermuda and various islands that had literally evolved with no sense of fear whatsoever.
Because a sense of fear uses up energy - constantly running and looking and being nervous.
If you live on an island where all the species are friendly, none of them wants to eat you, you completely over the thousands of years lose any sense of fear.
So when people first arrived on Bermuda, for example, all these birds would wander into their hands, you could pick them up and put them in a cooking pot.
The other birds would cluster around quite happily.
The point is you can play almost any kind of trick on a naive rhinoceros - the term is applied to animals that meet threats their environment hasn't prepared them for, such as a new predator.
Now as night falls on our expedition, the evening chorus starts up from the waterhole.
It's spring and love is in the air.
What are these toads saying to each other? CROAKING It's very repetitive.
These are natterjacks.
Natterjacks, like a lot of toads, have explosive *** engagements Not just toads.
when suddenly it's ready and the male toad will jump on anything - animal, vegetable or mineral.
But hopefully a female toad.
But very often it will jump on a male toad.
That's OK, too.
Which is fine.
But the male toad underneath often doesn't like it Well, you know, reach around! .
and it makes a noise, and that is the noise you hear during the mating season.
A boy at my school used to catch frogs and skin them and let them go.
Oh! Well, he let them GO! Why have you always got to focus on the negative stuff? He was a humanitarian.
He said, "It's amazing, you can see all their insides!" Just one word comes to my head - Essex.
I don't know why.
He says it was a school - it was a Borstal! Well, he said he did that, anyway.
Said you had to leave a little bit around their eyes.
Oh! Yeah, you don't want to be cruel.
So you're saying the sound we heard there was a lot of frogs going "I'm a bloke!" I can't understand the idea that this toad would have evolved and gone, "When the mating season comes round, just go for your life," rather than trying to chat a girl upin a froggy way.
Do you know the difference between a frog and a toad? Spelling.
LAUGHTER Very good! You might as well be right - there's no definitive difference.
Generally speaking, toads have dry skin and dry lives, but there is no real difference.
I used to have an Alsatian and she came to wake me up one morning.
Normally she'd wait for me.
She came and put her head under the duvet and pulled it off me.
I said, "What are you doing?" She went to the bedroom door and looked at me like that.
I got up and she went to the kitchen door still looking at me and led me to her water bowl by the back door.
She was looking at it and looking at me.
I looked at it and there was a frog in it.
That's so sweet.
It must've come in the back door the night before, then found itself in the kitchen, and then got in the water bowl and sat there all night like with this huge dog staring at it! He said, "I'm going to get Alan, this isn't" I love the idea of the relationship between you and your dog.
You're on quite a level "Have a look at this, Alan.
" We shared a flat.
Thing was, I had a walled garden, I don't know how the frogs got in, but they did every year.
The odd thing, you're saying A huge quantity of toads are killed every year on the roads.
About 20 tons of toad lose their lives.
We're trying to make it less with toad tunnels.
Do you know why so many die on the road? It's mating season.
They have ancient mating ponds they've had for hundreds of years.
Whether there's a road there or not, that's the way they've always gone.
You used to have them in a pond in Buckhurst Hill.
People would go out with frying pans They'd hop into a frying pan, and then you'd flip 'em.
There's scores of them.
It combines fun with doing good.
They land on another toad and it's all done.
Did you hear an extraordinary story in Hamburg in 2005? About the exploding toads? Vaguely, yes.
Toads started exploding during the mating season.
More than 1,000 toads swollen to three times their usual size crawled out of the water, making screeching noises, and blew up, propelling their entrails up to a yard away.
People thought it might be a virus or pollution, but do you know what was the cause? < Al-Qaeda.
It wasn't They were all fundamentalists and misguided They go to a busy market place and splatter everyone with toad entrail.
"That'll learn ya!" "Toad rights!" It was crows.
Crows had discovered how to fly in and, in one swift movement, remove the liver of the toads.
They'd go in and pull out the liver.
Are these ninja crows? What are you talking about? They come in, scalpel ready No, they use their beak.
And just? Birds have worked out how to do that with a single strike.
The toads' defence mechanism did the rest.
They puffed themselves up to intimidate their foe, forcing their intestines out of the hole that had been made and had a kind of fatal hernia.
The other thing about toads is it sometimes does rain toads, doesn't it? That does happen.
It rained fish once in Knighton in Wales.
I do know that.
Cos what happened, there was like a mini tornado and it just picked a load of fish up out of the river and blew them along and rained on the town, so that can happen.
D'you know that joke about the librarian who sees this hen come into the library, and the hen comes up and says, "Book!" And the librarian gives her a book.
Tucks the book under her arm.
The next day the hen comes in and goes, "Book, book, book!" Librarian gives her three books.
Puts them under her arm, takes them away.
Next day, comes in, "Book, book, book, book, book!" Five books! Librarian thinks, "This is weird I've never known of a hen that's this fast at reading.
"I've got to find out what's going on.
" So she grabs her macintosh and follows the hen out of the library to a house.
She looks in through the keyhole and there's the hen sitting on a bed.
And there's a frog in the bed with a thermometer in its mouth, obviously not very well.
The hen is tending it, and offers a book, and each time, the frog goes, "Read it, read it, read it" LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE Silly joke, but What's this? That's a seagull.
And what's this? That's a seagull coming back from the library.
Wanna hear my library joke? Go on.
A man walks into a library, "Fish and chips, please.
" The librarian says, "This is a library.
" (WHISPERED) "Sorry, fish and chips, please.
" Excellent! But the reason I mentioned my particular joke is that there's something very odd about this perception we have that frogs go "reddit, reddit" or "ribbit, ribbit".
D'you know why it is that all around the world people do jokes or imagine that frogs make this noise? Because there's only one species of frog that actually makes that noise.
D'you know where it is? Ah JIMMY: In Hollywood, California? Yes! It's the Pacific tree frog.
And when sound came into movies and they wanted to do soundtracks to everything from Sanders Of The River to Tarzan movies, anything that basically was an outside they'd send their sound recordist out to record frogs and things for their archives for sound.
All the frogs down the coast of the Pacific sound like "ribbit, ribbit, ribbit".
They don't in Africa, Europe, Central America, Asia So in all American films for about 30 or 40 years you would hear this "ribbit, ribbit" noise, and it became the sound of a frog.
But it just happens to be - as you rightly said, five points, Jimmy Carr - in Hollywood, California.
Anyway APPLAUSE The most common tone of a toad is "get off" because it's the high-pitched croak of protest it makes when a male accidentally mounts it.
Now, what's the worst that can happen in the middle of a fairy ring? Well, I'm not taking that! You know what, there's a time and place for this sort of thing - Thank you for not saying "sand in the Vaseline" or something obvious like that.
No, I'll get to that! All right.
I'll talk over him.
It'll be some sort of flora or fauna, I'll wager.
Oddly enough, it's neither.
But it is a living thing.
It's a living thing? And if it's a living thing and it's not flora or fauna Oh - leprechaun! LAUGHTER Fungus.
Fungus! They're magic, aren't they, fairy rings? They're said to be magic .
by simple people.
because fungus can grow in these circles.
And when the mushrooms shrink back, you get discoloured grass in a ring as well.
Some of them There's one in France up to 700 years old.
What's the thing that happens, then? There are myths and legends about it.
For example, Jo Brand, if you were a young lady Don't know why you're looking at ME! I was trying to be gallant! It doesn't suit you.
Imagine a young lady, Jo Brand I'll try.
Apparently, if she goes into a fairy ring on a May Day morning and washes her face with the dew from the grass inside, she will turn into a hag.
So, are you saying that obviously I'VE done that?! No! I'm saying whatever you do, don't do that.
Don't go into a fairy ring.
And don't do that again.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE That's mean! There are worse things that can happen to a fair young maiden these days at the swings with half a bottle of cider.
Anyway, supposedly you might turn into a crone or get stuck in a time vortex, all kinds of superstitions.
Actually, fairy rings aren't caused by dancing fairies, they are a fungus.
Now, what use is a frog after a one-night stand? JOHN'S BUZZER I think I have the answer.
It's about sex, isn't it? It kind of is.
I knew it.
Some sort of natural morning-after pill effect? No, not that.
For 30 years, between 1930 and 1960, this was used by Western science in a serious way to perform a very important function.
Do they turn a different colour if a woman's pregnant? It's not exactly that, but that is the use they were put to.
Not really?! Pregnancy tests? Yes.
A woman pees on that?! No, a woman's urine is injected into it.
How? With a needle? How else? Oh, OK.
No wonder he looks so pissed off.
That's an African bullfrog, I think, but actually they use the clawed toad as much.
So hang on, that frog's just had another frog on his back trying to bum him, suddenly there's a woman's pee being injected into him.
He's having a horrible day.
LAUGHTER Point is it's a female clawed frog.
If the woman was pregnant, the female frog, within 8-12 hours, would ovulate.
It's as simple as that.
I wonder if they have a little blue line on their back so you look at like this LAUGHTER A plus or a minus! But it was a standard pregnancy test.
The best way to test if a woman is pregnant is leave it nine months, see if it gets a flat.
That's a cruel test.
If it gets a house, it's twins.
There was a terrible outcome having these African frogs around.
The National Health Service in Britain kept a lot of them, and some of them escaped.
Unfortunately, they had a disease They were full of ***.
It's threatening a third of the world's amphibians now.
It's spread around the world.
It's actually a deep tragedy, and these frogs have caused part of it.
So our Western desire to know whether we're pregnant before nine months has caused huge damage to lots of amphibians.
There we are, African clawed frogs ovulate if injected with the urine from a pregnant woman.
Until the 1950s, this was the only available pregnancy test.
From frogs to hogs.
Why should we feel particularly sorry for the pygmy hog-sucking louse? JOHN'S BUZZER Yes.
I think we've got to worry about this, because the louse goes onto the hog, right? Yeah.
But the hogs are very small and they're not very interesting.
And they're dying out.
Is that the answer? Absolutely right.
It's an easily forgotten fact that when a species that we care about - as humans we tend to care about big woolly species - when they become endangered, we forget there are many other species that depend on them.
Such an example is the pygmy hog of which there are only And there is a whole species of louse which is only able to live on I can't belief it's able to sustain that louse, cos they're about the same size.
It's You get a couple of those on your back, no wonder they're dying out.
We have lice, human lice.
We have Well we didn't want to discuss that in front of other people.
Go and see a specialist.
And they're quite interesting.
They tell us a lot about ourselves.
For example, the body louse only lives in human clothing.
It's only 70,000 years old, as a sub-species of louse.
And that sort of tells us that humans started to wear clothing And we didn't mention this about our fleas.
We were talking about the flea circus they only used human fleas.
Oh, did they? And the human fleas are now dying out and may be extinct.
Because of Vacuum cleaning and all that.
Going woof-woof, yeah.
That is odd, isn't it? Absolutely right.
It is a bizarre thing, where we care a lot more about the little fluffy things than the horriblethat beastie-looking thing.
Isn't there the thing about the panda? It is the emblem of the World Wildlife Fund.
So a disproportionate amount goes to saving the panda, because it looks like a battered wife.
The pygmy hog-sucking louse is the only species of louse classified as critically endangered.
It's co-endangered with the dwindling pygmy hog population in northern India.
Now, whilst the pygmy hog-sucking louse is in decline, it's up, up and away for ferrets.
So tell me, how does a ferret build an airliner? JO'S BUZZER Yes.
Oh! Oh, no.
I'm sorry, we've got there before you! APPLAUSE Oh, dear! If it's any consolation, I was seconds behind.
LAUGHTER Boeing used them.
What? Sorry? Boeing used ferrets.
To build a plane? To help build a plane.
Not the whole plane They don't put that in the ads, do they? They're not ashamed of it.
They were used for the wedding of Charles and Diana, for the Millennium Party In The Park Looking for things? Nope.
Their fur? Nope.
To get something down a very long tunnel, you tie it Brilliant! Absolutely.
That's precisely what it is.
You use it for wiring - it happily goes through the narrowest spaces, and it comes out the other end and you've got the wire through.
It was used by Boeing right up until the 1960s, and It's a brilliant idea! Isn't it? Very clever.
Anyway, they are now the third most popular pet in America, after cats and dogs.
They welcome you when you come back from a day's work like puppies.
They're very like puppies.
Come in! Yeah.
They're thrilled to see you, very pleased.
Do they run up your trousers, though? The trouser business is interesting.
There are people who claim this is a Yorkshire sport, of having ferrets in your trousers, but no-one's sure if it is.
It's become one, but it kind of started as a hoax in a famous interview Always in '70s sitcoms, someone with a ferret up the trousers.
Ferret up your trousers, that's right! Ooh, aah! You'd laugh at home.
LAUGHTER They're used now for pet therapy, cos they are very friendly animals.
You mean they sit opposite you And talk you through your problems.
"How does that make you feel?" LAUGHTER Interacting with them reduces your stress hormones.
Helpful for the elderly, depressed and children recovering from severe illnesses.
And they're used for that.
So, get a ferret.
And so once more we plunge, ferret-like, into the black hole of general ignorance, fingers on buzzers.
What's the fastest thing in the natural world? ALAN'S BUZZER Alan.
Ho-ho-ho! Every time! APPLAUSE It's never gonna be a blue whale, is it? Never gonna be blue whale.
Any other thoughts? Fastest thing.
ALAN'S BUZZER Cheetah.
Oh! Alan Davies I don't know It's got to be alive.
Something like a cheetah but it's not? No.
It's not an animal.
It's a flower.
So you're on a road, and suddenly it overtakes you? No.
We're talking ***.
Ah! We're talking again, sex.
It's the sex obsession! What do they do? Sorry, the fastest thing on Earth? Is this a personal slight at me? LAUGHTER Because I'd had a very busy week.
No, it's not! It's not that.
It's a flower called the white mulberry, and it pushes out its pollen at half the speed of sound.
Over 350 miles per hour.
It's the fastest thing in biology.
Nothing moves faster.
But what about an aircraft? Oh.
LAUGHTER What about a naturally reared organic aircraft? LAUGHTER Made out of ferrets.
It's the morus alba, and what do I have on me that owes itself to? Your flower, surely? No, something owes itself to the white mulberry I'm wearing.
Silk tie? Silk, of course.
There are thousands in China in particular, cos the silk worm lives on the white mulberry leaves.
But it pollinates, it pushes out its pollen at this astounding speed.
Stored elastic energy in its stamens.
So if you've got hay fever, you've got no chance of escape.
Coming out quite a pace.
Have your eye out! LAUGHTER No wonder it's itchy.
STEPHEN GROWLS So there you have it.
What is? JIMMY: What was THAT noise?! I was just Nice.
I was just growling.
R-R-R-R! R-R-R-R! I want it as a ringtone.
R-R-R-R! There you have it.
We move on, fingers on buttons.
What do you call a slug with a shell? I'm not falling for that one! LAUGHTER Er, I'll take the bullet.
JIMMY'S BUZZER Snail? Oh! Just for a moment, I thought you'd say, "yes, you do" and then carry on.
So you asked what do I call? A-ha! No, you can't get out of it that way.
No, a snail with a shell is a snail, a slug with a shell is a slug.
Some slugs have shells and they are slugs, not snails.
Vestigial snails, small snails, snails like the glass slug, and slugs we think of as being sort of shell-less snails, but they can have little things on.
They eat each other's slime as an act of foreplay, then afterwards So do I.
LAUGHTER Does the female then bite off your ***? Huh? Well, it nibbles.
We can but hope! They're obviously terrible garden pests, but they are, after insects Used to live in our kitchen, when we were students.
There'd just be trails across the floor in the morning.
We didn't do anything about it.
LAUGHTER Just had bits of cornflakes stuck Eurgh! Carry on.
Yeah! There are 37,000 species of gastropod.
After insects, they're the most common class of animal on the Earth.
Yep, if you would.
I will test you next week.
How do peacocks impress the ladies? Again Hm? This I'm Yeah? By doing the thing, by doing the No.
So what? I don't know what you're saying.
LAUGHTER Do they say to the female peacock, "How do you like your eggs in the morning?" "Protected from foxes.
" It's good that you've avoided our trap, because you're right.
You'd think it was fanning.
Look at that.
It's real, not made up.
But some Japanese scientists at the University of Tokyo have discovered, much to everybody's surprise after a long study, that peahens seem to select peacocks according to other criteria.
It seems to be Sense of humour.
Exactly! That's it! It's personality and sense of humour, not colour and the drama of fanning.
Often I find they SAY that, but when it comes down to it they go off with a much hunkier guy.
They took seven years to do this and they observed 258 matings.
It seems a very surprising result, but they've been wasting their time growing their tails, if we're to believe these Japanese people.
They took their tails off? How did they experiment with them? I don't know how the experiment was done.
They judged tail quality in two ways - by simply measuring tail length, and by taking photos of each male during the fanning ritual, counting the number of eye spots.
They examined whether females chose mates with the best-quality tails.
According to those criteria, but that may not be the peahens' criteria.
I think it's dodgy research.
I sort of agree with you, I have to say.
We have to do the whole thing all over again, and dress them in raincoats.
Anyway, what happened after Captain Cook shot an albatross? JOHN: Ah So this fella shot that fella? I can see why he's looking right at him.
That's Captain Cook, supposedly.
He looks rather like Roy Dotrice, the actor, for some reason.
But it's Captain Cook.
And the answer is, they ate it.
Joseph Banks, the great botanist, after whom Botany Bay is named, he served with him and describes in his diary, he said everybody commended them, the albatross steaks and ate heartily of them though there was fresh pork upon the table.
So this idea that it was bad luck to eat albatross seems to have come after Captain Cook.
In fact, it probably came from the poem, The Ancient Mariner, the Coleridge poem, with which you're all familiar, of course.
What do we know about? .
Of course you know it! What do we know about albatrosses? Anything interesting about them? They get caught up in fishing lines.
Everyone gets very upset about it.
Cos they're rather extraordinary birds.
And they fly thousands of miles? The young wandering albatross will set off and will be in the air for ten years before it lands again.
That one's looking at me.
It is! It's looking at the camera, shall we say? Feels like it's looking at me.
Ten years without landing Why does it land after ten years? It must feel a fool.
It must go, "I think I could go 11.
Mating - the eggs can't be laid and hatched and incubated with its mate.
You couldn't lay the eggs on the move? No, darling.
Do they fly into the water to get food? They dive in and get fish.
And airborne food they might pass by? No, it's fish.
They dive, but they don't actually land.
And they can go for six days without flapping their wings.
They can glide for that long.
They preserve their energy amazingly.
JOHN: They're on thermals.
Actually, they're not like JIMMY: They hire thermals?! No.
They take the wind off the surface of the water.
Try and listen to the headmaster.
LAUGHTER And finally, before we stagger back to civilisation, is a mushroom an animal or a plant? A plant.
Or an animal.
Or a It's not either, it's a fungus.
Which is it closer to? If that makes any sense.
Animal or plant, you mean? Yeah.
There, it's closer to a plant.
Very good(!) Next to that grass.
You'd think it was a plant, so I'll say animal.
It recently was discovered it has more in common with animals than with plants.
Now, it's time to have our guests gassed, stuffed and mounted in glass cases, as we come to the scores.
Taking the laurels of victory this week is the audience with plus ten! CHEERING How about that? Well done, audience.
You see? It pays to know about opera.
Just that Traviata, and there you are, they win.
But in a creditable second place with minus one, Jimmy Carr! APPLAUSE In third place, with an excellent score for a beginnerminus four, John Sergeant! APPLAUSE Thank you.
And in his usual fourth place, but oddly not last with minus 18, Alan Davies! APPLAUSE And in this F series, finally and fifthly, it's the filthily fabulous Jo Brand with minus 27! APPLAUSE Sothat's all from this florid and faunal edition of QI.
It's good night from Jo, John, Jimmy, Alan and from me, and I leave you with those floral tribute from Richard Brinsley Sheridan, a great pick-up line.
"Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.
" Good night.