My list of strange looking animals that I never knew about is unending. In this post, let me introduce you to a few more. NB: all the photos here are from the internet as I have yet to see any of these creatures in person.
STAR NOSED MOLE – A truly bizarre looking mammal, this mole, whose habitats ranges from Eastern USA to Canada, nevertheless has some astonishing statistics:
- They eat faster than any other mammal on Earth – in less than .2 of a second
- Their :star” is the most sensitive known touch organ in any mammal.
- They can smell underwater.
- Their front legs are efficient shovels.
- Although their eyes are very weak, the star center acts very similar to our vision
A little more detail on its star organ,. It contains more than 100,000 nerve fibers which makes it extremely sensitive. The center of the star is called “the touch fovea” – which helps the mole to “see.”
BLOBFISH – This deep water fish of Australia and Tasmania may win the prize for grumpiest looking. The first iconic photo taken of this fish, which lives between 2000 and 4000 feet deep was taken in 2003 off the coast of New Zealand and it was a mucousy sight:
Unlike most fish which have a swim bladder to stay buoyant, the blobfish does not. The blobfish lives so deep in the ocean that this organ would simply burst under the pressure, While underwater, their flesh which is a bit gelatinous keeps them somewhat floating above the seafloor. You can see from these photos that the blobfish is not so blobby underwater:
However, once the intense water pressure is no longer there if the blobfish is removed from the deep, their flesh gets flabby.
ECHIDNA – If you think that the echidna looks like an anteater, you aren’t exactly wrong. However though both are mammals, the similarity ends there,
- Echidnas are monotremes. They are mammals, but they lay eggs. The only other living monotreme us the platypus, which I wrote about in this post.
- The male echidna also has spurs on their hind legs like a male platypus but the former’s spurs are not poisonous. Instead they are used for scent marking
- Echidnas long nose is called a beak, but it is not a beak, Their noses can be long or short.
- They do have hollow barbless quills.
- Females lay one egg at a time and it goes into a pouch on the mother’s stomach. Once hatched, the baby, called a “puggle” nurses from the mother in the pouch for 6to 8 weeks. After it leaves the pouch the puggle continues to nurse until about 7 months old
TARDIGRADE – This is a favorite of mine , even though they are microscopic – only 0.059 of an inch big. Tiny they are but oh so tenacious, so much so that they have actually been sent into outer space!
These segmented, 8 legged micro-animals were originally called named “Kleiner Wassrbar”meaning “little water-bear” due to its lumbering bear-like gait in 1773 and finally Tardigrada” meaning “slow stepper in 1776. They are asexual, meaning they reproduce via parthenogenesis (development of an unfertilized “gamete” – cells that can join to gether to make a living creature).
What makes the Tardigrade so freaking awesome is its perseverance in the face of seemingly deadly surroundings such as:
Temperatures below -330 F. or as high as 300 F.
Freezing and Thawing – boiling water or freezing ice
Lack of water or oxygen
Low pressure of a vacuum or the high pressure 6 times that exerted by the deepest ocean water
Radiation that is 1000 times greater than a dose lethal to humans
Tardigrades are so amazing! If conditions become perilous, the Tardigrade dries itself out completely by replacing almost all the water in their bodies with a sugar called trehalose and subsequently reversing the process once the danger has passed. To test this hardiness, Tardigrades were sent into outer space in 2007, exposing them to cosmic and UV radiation and vacuum conditions, and most of them survived. I am sure the government is feverishly trying to figure out how to harness this.
More strange beasties to come!