Do you know where you’re from? If you take a DNA test, you may be surprised to find out that genetically speaking you are from more places than you had thought. My heritage is mostly Scottish, and the national animal is the Unicorn! How cool is that?
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DNA tests can be expensive, but if you use an Ancestry.com coupon their testing is actually very reasonably priced. Don’t worry, the test is nothing painful all you need to do is apply a cotton swab to the inside of your cheek, seal it up, and then mail it back to the company. About 6 weeks later you will get an email link with the results of your DNA test which will tell you your genetic makeup, and also if you have any living extended relatives who have also taken a DNA test. In addition they have services where you can look through historical records and trace your family tree, possibly going back hundreds of years!
National Animals, What Are They?
National animals are self-proclaimed by each country, I was very disappointed to find out that there was no committee at the United Nations or such that approved or denied applications for national animals, flowers, fruits, etc. I suppose that makes sense, as far as I know national animals have never been important to world government or security. But they are fun! They are supposed to be important culturally in the country, usually are found in that geographic area, and can be changed. For example India changed their national animal from the Lion to the Bengal Tiger in the early 1970s.
Not Always A Unanimous Choice
A couple of years ago Estonia recently had a somewhat heated national debate over whether to choose the wolf or the hedgehog as their national animal. They went with the wolf. Aside from just being adorable, a beloved character is an Estonian epic is a wise hedgehog which threw a lot of support behind the small creature. Unfortunately it wasn’t put up for public referendum (I suspect the hedgehog may have come out on top if it had), but rather was decided by a jury of 20 cultural and wildlife organizations. It was far from a unanimous vote, and most public opinion polls showed the hedgehog in the lead. Alas althought the hedehog was the people’s champion, it just wasn’t meant to be.
Not Always a Real Animal
Some national animals seem pretty obvious such as the beaver for Canada and the Elephant for Thailand. But did you know that several countries have elected to use mythological creatures for their national animal instead? I already mentioned that Scotland has the unicorn, but we also have the phoenix as the national animal of Greece, a dragon for both China & Bhutan, and a double tailed lion for the Czech Republic. That’s right England, the Czech Republic saw your lion and raised you a double tailed lion. Actually, the lion is the national animal for 14 different countries!
For the countries that choose mythic beasts as their representatives, it’s usually because they have deep roots in the local folklore or religion. Some of the stories are very interesting, I highly recommend looking them up.
The Scariest National Animal: The Komodo Dragon
My vote for ‘most terrifying’ goes to the Komodo Dragon, the national animal (reptile?) of Indonesia. Unlike the dragons chosen by a handful of other countries, this one is very real and very dangerous. They are the largest lizards on earth, and they have venomous saliva that can kill their prey in 24 hours although they are immune to it themselves. Which is good, because they fight each other often. They are fierce predators and carnivores, and it’s estimated that about 10% of the adult Komodo’s diet is made up of new Komodo hatchlings making them cannibals as well! They are some of the oldest animals on earth too, they have been around for millions of years. They are also very good swimmers, and the only thing scarier than a Komodo on land is a Komodo by sea.
Once You Get Your DNA Results Look Up Your National Animals!
Most of us will have genetics from many countries around the world, that means you get to have a few national animals. Don’t forget to use your Ancestry promo code to save when ordering your test! You may be surprised at the animals of some countries, or even learn about a few new species. Look into the history of why each country chose that particular animal, there are usually some interesting stories (or heated national debate) about it!