Tag Archives: nature

Weird Animal Monday: Feather Star

Characterized by a mouth on the top surface that is surrounded by feeding arms.
Characterized by a mouth on the top surface that is surrounded by feeding arms.

Although it may be hard to tell from just images alone, this is a very weird creature. From photos it resembles an aquatic plant but they are in fact marine animals. They are Crinoids, and they live in depths as great as 9,000 meters. When they are adults, they are attached to the sea bottom by a stalk and are commonly called sea lilies. When they are unstalked and out swimming, they are called feather stars. The majority of Crinoids are free-swimming and have only a vestigial stalk.

Crinoids feed by filtering small particles of food from the sea water with their feather like arms. The tube feet are covered with a sticky mucus that traps food that floats past. They then use the arms to propel the mucus towards its mouth located in between all the arms. It doesn’t have a true stomach so the esophagus connects directly to the intestine. There are both male and female Crinoids (Feather Stars), and they reproduce by releasing sperm and eggs into the surrounding water.

Why do I think these are weird animals? If the description you just read about them doesn’t convince you, check out the video below.

Source: Wikipedia

Weird Animal Monday: Orchid Mantis

Camouflaged to mimic orchid flowers.

Mantis are already really neat and unique creatures, but this particular species has taken it to the next level. This is the Orchid Mantis, characterized by brilliant pink or brown coloring and physical adaptation for camouflage, mimicking parts of the orchid flower. Its four legs resemble petals, and its front pair are used for grasping prey, as with other mantises. It can actually change its color to either pink or brown, depending on its surroundings.

This mantis is carnivorous, as with other mantises. It is an ambush predator, which means it likes to sit patiently until prey comes around, then it snatches it and eats it. The way this creature catches food is slightly unique to its species.

“The nymph has what Cott calls “Special Alluring Coloration”, where the animal itself is the “decoy”. The insect is pink and white, with flattened limbs with “that semi-opalescent, semi-crystalline appearance that is caused in flower-petals by a purely structural arrangement of liquid globules or empty cells”. The mantis climbs up and down the twigs of the plant until it finds one that has flowers. It holds on to these with the claws of its two rearmost pairs of legs. It then sways from side to side, and soon carious small flies land on and around it, attracted by the small black spot on the end of its abdomen which resembles a fly.”

Source: Wikipedia

Weird Animal Monday: Panda Ant

One of 3,000 species of wasps.

I’ve never been a fan of insects, but there are some that I tolerate more than others. Ants are the only insects besides flies that I would tolerate being around or touching. As adorable as this panda colored insect looks, it’s actually not an ant, it’s a wasp. It belongs to a family of more than 3,000 wasps better known as cow killers or cow ants due to their painful sting. The reason they look like ants is because they are wingless females. There are also some red/orange ones often referred to as velvet ants. A lot of these species of Mutillidae are found in the southwestern United States and adjacent parts of Mexico (far away from me thankfully).

Source: Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Chris Lukhaup

Weird Animal Monday: Bioluminescent Octopus

The adhesive suckers on the female are all the same size while the ones on the male vary in size.

I’ve seen this image a few times and decided to find out a little more about this amazing looking octopus. This is the Bioluminescent Octopus, scientifically known as: Stauroteuthis syrtensis. It is found in the North Atlantic Ocean, at extreme depths that range from 500 to 4,000 m. It has eight tentacles that are unequal in length, the longest extending to about 14 in., and they are joined by two webs, which gives it its umbrella-like shape. There are a total of about 60 adhesive suckers on each arm, 40 of which are modified to emit a blue-green light, known as photophores. It is believed that the function of these photophores is as defense, to scare off predators, and to also lure small crustaceans, its primary diet. The texture is gelatinous (as you would expect), and it is reddish-brown and translucent (you can see its organs through its skin!).

I’ve always been amazed by deep-sea creatures, the mystery of what we haven’t discovered yet has always interested me. Unfortunately this creature is so rare there are no videos of it. The known information is known only from a few gathered specimens.

Source: OurBreathingPlanet


Goblin Shark

Rare Goblin Shark caught off the coast of Brazil in 2011.

Some of you may have read about or seen photos of this scary looking shark. It looks like something taken out of a Hollywood movie. This is the kind of thing nightmares are made out of. Although it may seem too scary to be real, it’s as real as the Narwhal. Although they are not in the endangered species list, some people believe they are rarely seen because they are low in numbers, but don’t know for sure. They live well below where sunlight reaches. They have a very unique way of attacking their prey. When they approach it their jaw goes out similar to how a human can stick out its tongue. Then with a sucking motion they draw they prey into their mouth where very powerful teeth are waiting to consume it.

Check out this rare video of the shark in action.