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BEES: We all know that bees sting, but they also have a sweet side. Between all the buzzing, these insects help pollinate plenty of plants, keeping our environment rich and thriving. Science has recently discovered that the bugs make great detectors, too. Bees have been used to locate abandoned (but active) landmines and as indicators of when toxic chemicals have been released in an area. This impressive skill will allow officials to monitor pollutants and cases of chemical warfare.

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SHARKS: The movie Jaws may have given sharks a bad reputation, but these predators are always helping us out. Expert say we should be thanking sharks for keeping the oceans in line. Sharks feast on weak, old and sick fish, which prevents disease from spreading among marine life. By removing competition in general from the waters, sharks help with biodiversity and bolster the gene pool. This effect trickles down to organisms like algae, which, if it wasnt controlled, could create devastating…

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SQUIRRELS: Take a look at the trees around you. You can probably thank a forgetful squirrel for a few of them. Every year, countless squirrels stash their nutty food supplies throughout the yards and forests of the Earth. Quite often, the squirrels arent able to recall everywhere they stored food, allowing nuts to take roots and grow into trees. Many kinds of trees depend on this process to stay alive and spread, since the nuts cant scurry to a new spot on their own.

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FROGS: Frogs dont just spend their days hopping from lily pad to lily pad. They also spend a good block of time slurping down bugs. These amphibians are crucial for controlling the insect population. Researchers are also finding that frogs are a good barometer for water quality. When the animals start to suffer, it is often a sign of a serious problem that has gone unnoticed or ignored.

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BEAVERS: Originally seen as pests, beavers were almost hunted to extinction in the 1800s. Luckily, the numbers have rebounded and beaver protectors are reintroducing the animals into parts of nature in need of a little regulation. The gnawing and damming behavior of beavers has many benefits to the Earth. These animals help prevent floods, droughts and forest fires.

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RATS: Public opinion about these rodents isnt too high, due to years of plague spreading and subway crawling, but the little guys are doing their part to protect us. Recently, rats have been trained to sniff out landmines and bombs left forgotten in the grounds of many countries. The animals learn quickly and have an impressive success rate. Additionally, they are cheaper to use than dogs, allowing many countries dealing with landmine problems to take more action against the issue.

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