The English Learners' Blog

A blog for English learners and their teachers everywhere, initiated in 2010 with the contribution of students from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. More about me on the On-line Profile below. Welcome!

Strong Marks & Tough Characters in the Wild

How do you leave your mark on

the world surrounding you?



There are a lot of  signatures in the wild, many more than on paper. That is because animals can sign on wood, earth, even  underground, through air or water, in a nutshell, by channels that may involve any of and all the senses.

The wildlife surrounding us is extraordinary! That’s why I’d like to thank my biology students for the great presentations they had this semester.

This post was inspired by an Animal Planet documentary on the smelliest animals on Earth. Have fun reading it!

Here are some photos of ten of the most odiferous animals. Take a look & choose the top three that can leave the strongest smelliest signatures ever known.

ALASKA ZOO Musk-ox Calf

The musk ox is a large hoofed mammal with up-turned horns, a massive body and a short tail. They live in social groups, where the adults work together to defend and nurture the young. When threatened by a polar bear or wolf, the adults form a protective circle around the younger members of the herd.


Beluga whales are often found around the Arctic seas, and migrate when the sea freezes over. They often travel in groups, also known as pods, and live mainly in shallow waters which sometimes are barely deep enough to completely cover them.

Beluga whales are almost forty percent blubber which insulates them in the cold Arctic waters. This blubber also helps to streamline their body which enables them to move more quickly through the water. Also, when Beluga whales dive, their blood circulation decreases, allowing them to conserve body heat.

Beluga whales are also known as “sea canaries” because they are very vocal. They make sounds that range from clicks and high pitched whistles to bell-like sounds. These sounds can be heard above water.

Red Fox Cubs

Adult red foxes usually live alone except during the mating season in January and February and when raising young.
Instead of sleeping in a den, an adult fox usually curls up with its fluffy tail over its nose and feet to protect itself from the cold. In the winter, sometimes the snow will cover them in a blanket which insulates them from the wind and cold weather.


Wolverines are fierce and entirely under-estimated predators. Read more on these animals on Deleene’ blog, Wild Muse. I was pleased to discover that this blog was a finalist in the run for the Research Blogging awards 2010, so it’s worth checking if you’re a wild life fan. 🙂


The North Pacific is home to five species of salmon and steelhead, a migratory form of trout. Each kind of salmon is known by different names: Chinook (king), sockeye (red), coho (silver), chum (dog), and pink (humpback). All are commercially valuable, but the Chinook were the prize of the Columbia River system. On the Water is the site where you can read more about the Columbia river salmon.


Stink bugs have 5-segmented antennae and shield-shaped bodies.

Some stink bugs are pests of cultivated plants, and their feeding not only damages the plants, it also damages or disfigures fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds and helps spread plant diseases.

Stink bugs get their name because if handled or otherwise disturbed, a stink bug will release a stinky odor from glands on its thorax.


Skunks are legendary for their powerful predator-deterrent — a hard-to-remove, horrible-smelling spray. A skunk’s spray is an oily liquid produced by glands under its large tail. To employ this scent bomb, a skunk turns around and blasts its foe with a foul mist that can travel as far as ten feet (three meters).

Skunk spray causes no real damage to its victims, but it sure makes them uncomfortable. It can linger for many days and defy attempts to remove it. As a defensive technique, the spray is very effective. Predators typically give skunks a wide berth unless little other food is available. (Info taken from the National Geographic site)

American Beaver

Beavers are more than intriguing animals with flat tails and lustrous fur. American Indians called the beaver the “sacred center” of the land because this species creates rich habitats for other mammals, fish, turtles, frogs, birds and ducks. Since beavers prefer to dam streams in shallow valleys, much of the flooded area becomes wetlands. Such wetlands are cradles of life with biodiversity that can rival tropical rain forests.

Besides being a keystone species, beavers reliably and economically maintain wetlands that can sponge up floodwaters (the several dams built by each colony also slows the flow of floodwaters), prevent erosion, raise the water table and act as the “earth’s kidneys” to purify water. The latter occurs because several feet of silt collect upstream of older beaver dams, and toxics, such as pesticides, are broken down in the wetlands that beavers create. Thus, water downstream of dams is cleaner and requires less treatment.

Tasmanian Devil

As comical as it is, the familiar Looney Tunes portrayal of a Tasmanian devil as a seething, snarling, insatiable lunatic is, at times, not all that far from the truth.

Tasmanian devils have a notoriously cantankerous disposition and will fly into a maniacal rage when threatened by a predator, fighting for a mate, or defending a meal. Early European settlers dubbed it a “devil” after witnessing such displays, which include teeth-baring, lunging, and an array of spine-chilling guttural growls.


Many animals come away from a porcupine encounter with quills protruding from their own snouts or bodies. Quills have sharp tips and overlapping scales or barbs that make them difficult to remove once they are stuck in another animal’s skin. Porcupines grow new quills to replace the ones they lose.

Hyena Pup

Wherever you go on safari in Africa, don’t be lulled into thinking these animals are like domestic dogs! If you stick your arm out your vehicle window, a hyena is capable of snapping it off with one bite. They have powerful jaws and teeth specially adapted to splintering and crushing bones.

While a lion or leopard is unlikely to enter your safari tent, hyenas have been known to take a bite out of sleeping tourists.

Every living creature can find itself in situations in which it can leave strong marks in its environment.

Choose the strongest olfactory marks the animals above are known to leave.

And last, but not least, what are the strengths that make you noticed?

Filed under: 6►THEME CHEST, 6▼ Questionnaires, ■ Biology, ■ Perfumes

48 Responses

  1. Aga P. says:

    Sometimes people also leave their ‘smell marks’. While I am in tram, especially in summer when it’s hot, I can feel it 😉

    Usually people are aware that their smell is a very important thing, some kind of a mark for other people. So that’s why they use perfumes. But we, on the contrary, use artificial fragrances. Also our ‘aim’ is different, and we use our smell (perfumes, essential oils, etc.) in order to grab the attention of others, not deter it, when we are in danger.

    • Alina Alens says:

      I suppose that by “we” you understand “women,” which brings me to an interesting point: perfumes! 🙂

      Girls, what is your favourite fragrance? Have you got more than one preference? How do you choose the perfume that is right for you?

      I’ll start: my all-time favourite is L’Eau by Kenzo. I also like other perfumes, but they come second in comparison.

      • Rafał G. says:

        I highly recommend this one:
        Yves Rocher “Ode a l’amour“. I have never felt a better one 🙂
        For men: “Route 66” is good but of course, we cannot forget that apart from perfumes, we should wash up!

      • Agnieszka Kow. says:

        Mine is Midnight Poison by Dior and Miss Dior Cherie also by Dior… in general J’adore Dior (which is also a fragrance ;P).
        I like strong, heavy & sweet perfumes.

        About the animals… I’ve had once the “pleasure” to squeeze a stink-bug in my pocket. Never again I want to feel that smell. Yuck!

      • Justyna French Accent says:

        Mine is Noa by Cacharel for everyday and Armani Code for special evenings 😉 I don’t find better ones, they are my best and the ones and only.

        I’m totally crazy about Grey Hugo Boss, I could follow a man that wears it.

        The look of the bottle is very important for me. My favourite are crystal bottles with retro bulb atomizer. here you can find a short history of perfume bottles and perfumery

        The art of creating perfumes is so magical.

      • Magda Ł says:

        Great website Justyna! There is a kind of magic in all those perfume bottles. My favorite ones are transparent, streamlined and tiny – this kind of bottles makes every kind of perfumes special 😉

    • Magdalena G. says:

      Well, many animals use scents to catch the attention of others (especially of the same species) as well. Pheromones, anyone? They are even used to get rid of some insect pests.

      • Imladris says:

        Well, I remember a neurophysiology lecture during which I found out that the human nasopalatine nerve or the part of the brain (!?! heck, me and my memory) responsible for detecting the pheromones is reversed, but it is still present, nonetheless.
        Is there more to perfumes mixed with anyone’s unique scent and pheromones than we are aware of?

  2. Magda Ł says:

    Actually I have two favorite ones: Femme by Hugo Boss on special occasions and Emerald by C-thru for every day. But mostly I do forget to put them on 😉
    I think that some men perfumes have a really good scent as well – I love a note of fresh basil in some of them.

    • Justyna French Accent says:

      mmm fresh basil, it’s always about eating and summer 😀

      • Imladris says:

        Justyna, thank you for the page http://www.museudel.
        I like archeology, so the ancient perfume bottles are interesting for me. And yes, the scent of basil, thymus (Thymus Vulgaris), pine, oregano (Origanum Vulgare) are like holiday songs – another reason to go in for essential oils.

  3. Matylda says:

    This porcupine is very majestic 🙂 It looks like a small peacock 😉

  4. Matylda says:

    Skunks have got really interesting furs and tails! Only why do they smell so bad? 😉

  5. Chrisco says:

    As for perfumes and fragrances – I’ve been using the classical toilet water “BOSS” by Hugo Boss (total coolness for reasonable money, quite popular, let in in ’98); also occasionally Gucci pour home (stolen from my brother) and Yves Saint Laurent “Opium” pour home (by courtesy of my father). These are my favourites… 😛

  6. mike says:

    I’ve read somewhere that a good way to get rid of the smell of skunks is water with soap and tomato sauce… I remember that Adam and Jamie from “Myth Busters” spared no efforts to verify the correctness of this method but unfortunately I don’t remember the results. :/

  7. Aga P. says:

    I remember that when I was a little girl my favourite fragrance was my father’s perfumes, it was the fragrance by Jean Paul Gaultier, but now I don’t remember the name of it. Unfortunately it was for men so I didn’t use it 😦
    Now I still like fragrances for men, but I use those which are unisex. I like One by Calvin Klein. However, I have got a female fragrance that I like very much and use very often, it’s Cerruti 1881.

  8. Patryk-Filip says:

    1) Unisex Calvin Klein is sexy, I like it, but I would feel embarrassed if I smelled it and had it at the same time. 😉

    2) Do you know that about 30% of Polish women take a shower once a week??

    As far as animals are concerned, I love cats. They are mysterious, strong and uncontrollable.
    They can’t run, but they don’t need to because of their unbelievable jumping skills. Ideal killers.

    • Alina Alens says:

      One little note:

      Perfumes are worn, you can have them on, but I’m afraid you can’t have them (as in drinking them with your tea) other than putting up with prolonged stomach ache.

  9. Aga P. says:


    1) perfumes on each person smell a little bit different so I suppose that unisex perfumes are different on a woman’s body than on a man’s body – I have to check it one day 😉 Everybody has his own smell and when it mixes with the fragrance, which is unique 🙂

    2) are you suggesting that I smell not good and I should take a shower more often? I am not among these 30% of Polish women and I do it more frequently 😉
    But this information is really surprising, maybe they have a good fragrance? 😀

  10. Matylda says:

    The best way to catch a whiff of perfume is trying perfume testers on our body and next go outside.Then pedestrians will smell it, of course 🙂

  11. KasiaU2 says:

    Last year a friend of mine gave me a small sample of rose perfumes bought in Bulgaria. I’m really fond of their smell. 😀

  12. Łukasz G. says:

    This scent is the most recognizable of all mars I think. Once remembered it will never get out of your head – especially if it comes to women ;]

  13. swistak says:

    The English name for “white whale” is very similar in spelling, but different in the derivation. The Polish Białucha is strongly associated with the word “biały“= white, just like the colour of Baluga’s skin.

  14. Laska says:

    I heard that the hyena is the real king of the safari, not the lion.

    p.s. for me a simple deodorant works just fine 😉

  15. Piotrek says:

    i encourage all of you to read cejrowski’s book “gringo wsrod dziich plemion“. He describes there a few really strange species of frogs or butterflies… It’s interesting that in the jungle of the Equatorial region, there are some butterfly species that spray something from their wings to the air which when it gets inside your lungs and u just can’t breathe – so the advice for young gringos was to listen to and do what the guide tells, and if he tells you not to breathe – then better for u is not to breathe – or u simply die.. 🙂

  16. Patryk-Filip says:

    *Aga P

    1) Yeahhh but we still can recognize those smells as the same perfume

    2) ofc not, women should take a shower frequently, opposite to REAL men XD

  17. Piotrek says:

    Maybe men should have kept the tradition from four centuries ago, when they covered their bodies with horse sweat

  18. Laska says:

    Men, girls should make their bodies perfect (I mean: smelling, tasting), and guys should take care of themselves. That’s my opinion (and many other wise people:D)

    • Alina Alens says:

      Hmm, I see… That’s your opinion, and that of many other wise people…
      Do you address the men at the beginning of your sentence or you’re just exclaiming “Man!”?

      • Laska says:

        ‘Men’ actually refers to Piotrek and Patryk-Filip, but I didn’t want to list them so openly. 🙂

  19. Ada says:

    …honestly, horse sweat as a perfume doesn’t sound as shocking as the real perfume we use.
    Do you know what “musk” (piżmo in Polish) is?

    …a substance with a penetrating odor obtained from a gland of the male musk deer, which is situated between its back/rectal area. The substance has been used as a popular perfume fixative since ancient times and is one of the most expensive animal products in the world…

    and that is the afrodisiac that makes our body smells so sensuously 🙂

    • Mariusz says:

      Hmm… I wonder, how was this nice property of musk discovered? 🙂

      • Ada says:

        Good question…
        I’ve heard that the smell of musk is very strong and unpleasant. It seems to be close to the smell of ammonia smell, but after mixing it with alcohol it becomes fabulous 😀

    • Imladris says:

      The Siberian musk deer (Moschus moschiferus) is classified as threatened by the IUCN, thank God. Of course that doesn’t mean that the animals are safe. There are some attestations that the perfume producers should confirm that no animals were hurt during the process of manufacturing or obtaining any raw materials.
      As for the fragrance – deodorants work just fine for me, but perfumes catch my attention because of another reason. I love Oriental culture; I could nearly smell the fragrance of rose jasmine and sandalwood oil while reading the Kitāb ‘alf layla wa-layla (One Thousand and One Nights) or the books of Karl May. The Kitab describes the life of aristocracy (or at least the way simple people imagined it). Natural oils were unbelievably expensive and they stayed up until today:
      it takes many pounds of rose petals to distill one ounce of essential oil. Depending on the extraction method and the plant species, the average yield can range from 1:1500 to 1:10000 (Wikipedia). Furthermore, the countries from One Thousand and One Nights are still the main producers of these expensive oils, or at least culturists of raw materials such as:
      Rosa damascena, the Damask rose, which is widely grown in Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Iran and China
      Rosa centifolia, the cabbage rose, which is more commonly grown in Morocco, France and Egypt (Wikipedia). I had the good fortune of smelling a rose oil from Iran and the sensation was incredible not only for my senses but for my imagination as well. I have never stumbled upon such a remarkable fragrance before. When comparing the manufactured perfumes with the natural oils I can say that the latter leave a deeper impact on me.

  20. Alina Alens says:

    Reading your comment, Imladris, I can imagine that the IUCN deals with statistics of endangered animal species.
    I may also imagine “regulations or conditions according to which” instead of “attestations that” and “cultivators” instead of “culturists”.
    Imagination is a powerful thing…

  21. Chrisco says:

    I have to say that after reading this text once again I’ve learned a lot of unusual qualities and info about all these species.
    As for beavers, in Poland many clerks treat them negatively and blame them for this year’s flood… 😉 Such an attitude seems to be deeply unfair…

  22. Chrisco says:

    By the way.I find the photos outstanding.I like the one with Tasmanian Devil and Porcupine.After all the one with “Hyena Pup” – ROCKS!!!;d

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