Bats give birth upside down, penguins shed their feathers when they lose their water resistance, and the milk of a mother whale has the consistency of toothpaste.
You could have heard a pin drop as Patricia Piccinini held court on Monday morning before a lecture hall full of students at Narrabundah College.
The award-winning artist - who grew up in Canberra - spoke at her alma mater for an hour about the genesis of her provocative sculptures, her fears for the future of the planet, and her constant fascination with the natural world.
She also gave a sneak peek of her much-anticipated follow-up to Skywhale, the controversial balloon sculpture that has become synonymous with Canberra and its art scene.
The talk was part of a whistle-stop tour of Canberra schools in the lead-up to the long-awaited appearance of the Skywhale in Canberra's skies next week.
The National Gallery of Australia, which acquired Skywhale last year, has also commissioned Skywhalepapa, a male figure - complete with a brood of Skywhale babies - to accompany the familiar, many-breasted beast that was originally created for Canberra's Centenary in 2013.
She spoke of how whales, originally land-dwelling mammals, could just as easily taken to the sky as the depths of the ocean.
"That's why the Skywhale doesn't seem that incredible to me," she said. "It's just ... a Skywhale."
She compared this with another of her works, Eulogy, a lifelike sculpture of a young man holding a blob-fish. It's a creature that stands up to many of her mythical creations - often half-human, half-plant - and yet it's one that actually exists.
"It's a gelatinous fish that's one of the few that stays with its offspring," she said. "But it's becoming extinct because when it's trawled to the surface of the ocean, it gets thrown away."
Her point was that many of her works emphasised nature's ability to adapt to an artificial world, and existed on a spectrum on which it was hard to distinguish the real from the imagined.
She also emphasised how much the world had changed since her days as a student at Narrabundah College in the early 1980s.
And she emphasised why her Skywhalepapa would be an important representation of masculinity in the sky.
"Even in my lifetime, men of my generation didn't have much to do with bringing up kids," she said.
"Putting others' needs before yours is a big deal, and a big life lesson...Nurturing is just such a key value, and CEOs should take heed."
Skywhale will be taking to the sky on March 6 from 8pm, and on March 9 as part of the Canberra Balloon Spectacular. The gallery will also be relaunching its learning gallery with a Skywhale-themed space exploring Piccinini's journey to creating Skywhales: Every Heart Sings, on March 7.
Skywhalepapa will launch on May 2.
- Visit nga.gov.au for details.