The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®

Issue 974

(Continued from front page)

• Pigs are also very social, forming bonds with other swine, and enjoying curling up next to each other. Even wild pigs live in cohesive groups called sounders, some with as many as 300 members.

• Pigs were one of the first animals to be domesticated. Descended from the wild boar, China began domesticating them about 6,000 years ago. Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto brought pigs to the North American continent in 1539.

• Have you ever heard the expression “sweating like a pig”? Well, that’s nearly impossible, since pigs have hardly any sweat glands. Their favorite way to cool off is to roll in the mud, which leads to another common misconception – that they’re dirty animals. They’re actually one of the cleanest animals in the barnyard, and won’t defecate anywhere near where they sleep or eat. Covering themselves in mud not only cools them, it protects the pig from sunburn and bug bites.

• A pig’s eyesight is among the worst of all farmyard animals. However, their sense of smell is very powerful, and the nostrils on its leathery snout are very sensitive to touch, enhancing their search for food. They have even been used to sniff out buried land mines during wars.

• A hog named Reggie set the record for the heaviest pig at the Iowa State Fair in 2012. This swine weighed in at 1,335 lbs., compared to the usual weight range of 300 and 700 lbs.

• In the wild, the largest boar is the giant forest hog that reaches a length of 6.9 feet. The heaviest is the Eurasian wild pig, which grows to 710 lbs. In contrast, the pygmy hog weighs just 21 lbs. While domestic pigs have curly tails, wild pigs have straight ones.

• In the 1920s, Nobel Prize-winning Canadian researchers developed the use of pig insulin for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes. In 1922, the first shot of animal insulin was given to a 14-year-old boy. Soon animal insulin was being widely used for diabetes’ treatment. At that time, pigs’ pancreas glands were a waste product of the meatpacking industry. Unfortunately, it required more than two tons of pig parts to extract eight ounces of purified insulin. In addition to insulin, about 40 other medicines are made from pigs.

• For over 40 years, doctors have been using pig heart valves to repair humans’ defective heart valves. It takes about four weeks to prepare a pig valve for transplantation into a human. The pig valve lasts for about 15 years.

• In 12th-century England, the church offered a side of bacon to any man who could honestly swear before the church that he had not had a fight with his wife for a full year, giving rise to the phrase “bringing home the bacon.” These individuals were among the most highly respected in their community.

• The word “gammon,” commonly used in Britain, and refers to the hind leg of pork after it has been cured in a salty brine. A gammon knuckle is the foot end of the joint. It’s a popular dish at Christmas time, and on Boxing Day, December 26.

• The Chinese have included the pig in its zodiac as the last of the 12 animals. It represents fortune, honesty, happiness, virility, and fertility. In fact, statues of pigs are prominently displayed in bedrooms of Chinese couples trying to conceive.