From pink blind fish to mushroom shaped animals to flic-flac jumping spiders, here is a pick of the weirdest animals described in 2014.
1. Hoosier cavefish (Amblyopsis hoosieri)
A live specimen of A. hoosieri, measuring 6.07 cm (2.39 in) long.
The Hoosier cavefish (Amblyopsis hoosieri) is a subterranean blind fish from southern Indiana, U.S.
First discovered during a 2013 study on ... Read more »
Chakrabarty P, Prejean JA, & Niemiller ML. (2014) The Hoosier cavefish, a new and endangered species (Amblyopsidae, Amblyopsis) from the caves of southern Indiana. ZooKeys, 41-57. PMID: 24899861
Just J, Kristensen RM, & Olesen J. (2014) Dendrogramma, new genus, with two new non-bilaterian species from the marine bathyal of southeastern Australia (Animalia, Metazoa incertae sedis)--with similarities to some medusoids from the Precambrian Ediacara. PloS one, 9(9). PMID: 25184248
Hrbek T, da Silva VM, Dutra N, Gravena W, Martin AR, & Farias IP. (2014) A new species of river dolphin from Brazil or: how little do we know our biodiversity. PloS one, 9(1). PMID: 24465386
There are about 200 species of caecilians (pronounced ‘seh-SILL-yuns’) but it's highly unlikely you have or will ever encounter one. Why? Because they live underground, burrowing through loose soil and ground litter with their long, snake-like bodies.
Read on to learn 9 weird and interesting facts about these unusual creatures.
Bombay caecilian (Ichthyophis bombayensis)
Credit - Wikicommons... Read more »
Mohun, S., Davies, W., Bowmaker, J., Pisani, D., Himstedt, W., Gower, D., Hunt, D., & Wilkinson, M. (2010) Identification and characterization of visual pigments in caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona), an order of limbless vertebrates with rudimentary eyes. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213(20), 3586-3592. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.045914
Kupfer, A., Müller, H., Antoniazzi, M., Jared, C., Greven, H., Nussbaum, R., & Wilkinson, M. (2006) Parental investment by skin feeding in a caecilian amphibian. Nature, 440(7086), 926-929. DOI: 10.1038/nature04403
Penis, the primary sexual organ that male and hermaphrodite animals use to inseminate sexually receptive mates (usually females and hermaphrodites respectively) during sex. Almost all species use some variation of the organ to transfer sperm into females' eggs in order to create more offsprings.
However, thanks to evolution, some species have come up with some really remarkable and weird ... Read more »
McCracken, K. (2000) The 20-cm Spiny Penis of the Argentine Lake Duck (Oxyura vittata). The Auk, 117(3), 820. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2000)117[0820:TCSPOT]2.0.CO;2
Sueur, J., Mackie, D., & Windmill, J. (2011) So Small, So Loud: Extremely High Sound Pressure Level from a Pygmy Aquatic Insect (Corixidae, Micronectinae). PLoS ONE, 6(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021089
Yoshizawa, K., Ferreira, R., Kamimura, Y., & Lienhard, C. (2014) Female Penis, Male Vagina, and Their Correlated Evolution in a Cave Insect. Current Biology, 24(9), 1006-1010. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.022
Engh, A., Van Horn, R., Szykman, M., Holekamp, K., & Boydston, E. (2007) Courtship and mating in free-living spotted hyenas. Behaviour, 144(7), 815-846. DOI: 10.1163/156853907781476418
Credit: Dorit Hockman from the University of Cambridge
This cute alien-like thing is actually a bat embryo of the species Molossus rufus, the black mastiff bat. Adorable, ain't it?
The photo was taken by Dorit Hockman from the University of Cambridge during a study on the species' embryonic development. It was one of the finalists in the Nikon Small World 2012 photomicrography ... Read more »
Nolte, M., Hockman, D., Cretekos, C., Behringer, R., & Rasweiler, J. (2009) Embryonic Staging System for the Black Mastiff Bat,(Molossidae), Correlated With Structure-Function Relationships in the Adult. The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology, 292(2), 155-168. DOI: 10.1002/ar.20835
Credit: Dr. Devi Stuart Fox
A new study by researchers at the University of Melbourne suggests that Draco Cornutus, a species of gliding lizard from Borneo, mimicks the red and green colors of the falling leaves to avoid falling prey to birds whilst gliding.
According to the study, D. cornutus have evolved extendable gliding membranes, like wings, which closely match the ... Read more »
Klomp, D., Stuart-Fox, D., Das, I., & Ord, T. (2014) Marked colour divergence in the gliding membranes of a tropical lizard mirrors population differences in the colour of falling leaves. Biology Letters, 10(12), 20140776-20140776. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0776
Pseudis paradoxa in a pond
Credit: Mauricio Rivera Correa
Species: Pseudis paradoxa
Common Name(s): Paradoxical frog or Shrinking frog
Conservation Status: Least Concern (Not Threatened)
Looks like a pretty much regular frog, doesn't it? Well.. it's not! Meet P. paradoxa, a frog that grows down ... Read more »
Abdel-Wahab YH, Power GJ, Ng MT, Flatt PR, & Conlon JM. (2008) Insulin-releasing properties of the frog skin peptide pseudin-2 and its [Lys18]-substituted analogue. Biological chemistry, 389(2), 143-8. PMID: 18163889
Arias, M., Peltzer, P., & Lajmanovich, R. (2002) Diet of the giant tadpole Pseudis paradoxa platensis (Anura, Pseudidae) from Argentina. Phyllomedusa: Journal of Herpetology, 1(2), 97. DOI: 10.11606/issn.2316-9079.v1i2p97-100
Male Osedax priapus
The entire body of males has evolved as a tool for mating
Osedax is a genus of weird, deep-sea polychaetes worms, commonly known as boneworms, zombie worms, or bone-eating worms.
The story of these creatures began twelve years ago, when researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) first discovered them, using the submarine ROV Tiburon in ... Read more »
Rouse GW, Worsaae K, Johnson SB, Jones WJ, & Vrijenhoek RC. (2008) Acquisition of dwarf male "harems" by recently settled females of Osedax roseus n. sp. (Siboglinidae; Annelida). The Biological bulletin, 214(1), 67-82. PMID: 18258777
Vrijenhoek RC, Johnson SB, & Rouse GW. (2008) Bone-eating Osedax females and their 'harems' of dwarf males are recruited from a common larval pool. Molecular ecology, 17(20), 4535-44. PMID: 18986498
Pacific barreleye fish
By Isa2014 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
Species: Macropinna microstoma
Common Name(s): Pacific barreleye
The Pacific barreleye fish is one the weirdest creatures lurking deep in the ocean. Named after its eyes that are ... Read more »
Robison, B., & Reisenbichler, K. (2008) Macropinna microstoma and the Paradox of Its Tubular Eyes. Copeia, 2008(4), 780-784. DOI: 10.1643/CG-07-082
The duck-billed platypis is one of the handful
mammals with the ability to sense electrical fields
By TwoWings, via Wikimedia Commons
Electroreception is the biological ability to perceive natural electrical stimuli or in simpler words, the ability to perceive the world via electricity.
Electroreception is quite common in aquatic or amphibious animals, since water is a much better conductor... Read more »
Czech-Damal NU, Liebschner A, Miersch L, Klauer G, Hanke FD, Marshall C, Dehnhardt G, & Hanke W. (2012) Electroreception in the Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis). Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 279(1729), 663-8. PMID: 21795271
Spectacled flying fox (Pteropus conspicillatus)A non-echolocating speciesCredit: MnolfContrary to what most people think, bats are not blind. The truth is that all one-thousand something bat species can see. Most people also think that since bats are blind they rely on their echolocation to get around. Again a mistake, since many bats don't possess echolocation.For example, most species of Megabats [Suborder: Megachiroptera] have to rely exclusively on their vision. Or that's what we thought up ........ Read more »
Boonman, A., Bumrungsri, S., & Yovel, Y. (2014) Nonecholocating Fruit Bats Produce Biosonar Clicks with Their Wings. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.10.077
Bipalium kewenseNotice the distinctive hammer-like headBy Ajaykuyiloor (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsKingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: PlatyhelminthesClass: TurbellariaOrder: TricladidaSuborder: ContinenticolaFamily: GeoplanidaeSubfamily: BipaliinaeGenus: BipaliumSpecies: Bipalium kewenseCommon Names: Hammerhead slug, Greenhouse PlanarianNicknamed as the "hammerhead slug" due to its half-moon shaped head, Bipalium kewense is not your ev........ Read more »
L. Winsor. (1981) The taxonomy, zoogeography and biology of Bipalium kewense Moseley, 1878 (Tricladida, Terricola). Hydrobiologia, 84(1), 17-17. DOI: 10.1007/BF00026158
Yasuko Shirasawa . (1991) Pharyngeal regeneration in the land planarian Bipalium kewense. Hydrobiologia, 227(1), 57-57. DOI: 10.1007/BF00027581
Daly JJ, Farris HE Jr, & Matthews HM. (1976) Pseudoparasitism of dogs and cats by the land planarian, Bipalium kewense. Veterinary medicine, small animal clinician : VM, SAC, 71(11), 1540-2. PMID: 1049475
Stokes, A., Ducey, P., Neuman-Lee, L., Hanifin, C., French, S., Pfrender, M., Brodie, E., & Brodie Jr, E. (2014) Confirmation and Distribution of Tetrodotoxin for the First Time in Terrestrial Invertebrates: Two Terrestrial Flatworm Species (Bipalium adventitium and Bipalium kewense). PLoS ONE, 9(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100718
Kiwa PuravidaCredit: Andrew ThurberKingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: ArthropodaSubphylum: CrustaceaClass: MalacostracaOrder: DecapodaInfraorder: AnomuraFamily: KiwaidaeGenus: KiwaSpecies: Kiwa puravidaConservation Status: Not assessedCommon Name: Yeti crabMeet Kiwa puravida, a recently discovered deep-sea dwelling decapod and one of three species informally known as "yeti crabs". The other two are kiwa hirsuta and a creature commonly known as the "Hoff cr........ Read more »
Thurber, A., Jones, W., & Schnabel, K. (2011) Dancing for Food in the Deep Sea: Bacterial Farming by a New Species of Yeti Crab. PLoS ONE, 6(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026243
Roterman CN, Copley JT, Linse KT, Tyler PA, & Rogers AD. (2013) The biogeography of the yeti crabs (Kiwaidae) with notes on the phylogeny of the Chirostyloidea (Decapoda: Anomura). Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 280(1764), 20130718. PMID: 23782878
Jorunna funebrisPhoto by © Mark Rosenstein [CC BY-NC-SA 3.0]Kingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: MolluscaClass: GastropodaSuperfamily: DoridoideaFamily: DiscodorididaeGenus: JorunnaSpecies: Jorunna funebrisCommon Name: Dotted nudibranch, Polka DotWhen I was writing my "14 Most Amazing Nudibranchs" post I had a really hard time choosing which species to include and which not.This animal group is very diverse and full of beautiful, alien-like or simply weir........ Read more »
Pattira Kasamesiri, Shettapong Meksumpun, and Charumas Meksumpun. (2012) Observations on Embryonic Development of Black-Spot Jorunna, Jorunna Funebris (Kelaart, 1859) (Gastropoda: Nudibranchia) . Journal of Shellfish Research, 33(2), 111-117. info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.2983/035.031.0114
Camacho-Garcia, Y., & Gosliner, T. (2008) Systematic revision of Jorunna Bergh, 1876 (Nudibranchia: Discodorididae) with a morphological phylogenetic analysis. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 74(2), 143-181. DOI: 10.1093/mollus/eyn002
Cyborg CockroachCredit: Eric Whitmire.Researchers at the North Carolina State University (NCSU) issued a press release today announcing that they have developed "cyborg" cockroaches with electronic circuit boards strapped to their backs. The cyborg cockroaches (or biobots) can be used to pick up sounds with their attached microphones and seek out their source.Hopefully, the technology will one day help emergency personnel to find and rescue survivors in the aftermath of disasters, like earthquak........ Read more »
Tahmid Latif, Eric Whitmire, Tristan Novak, and Alper Bozkurt. (2014) Towards Fenceless Boundaries for Solar Powered Insect Biobots. Aug. 28 at 36th Annual International IEEE EMBS Conference, Chicago, Illinois . info:/
Silky AnteaterCredit: Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad Costa Rica (INBio) (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)Kingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: ChordataClass: MammaliaSuperorder: XenarthraOrder: PilosaSuborder: VermilinguaFamily: CyclopedidaeGenus: CyclopesSpecies: Cyclopes didactylusConservation Status: Least Concern (Not Threatened)Common Name(s): Silky anteater, Pygmy anteater, Dwarf anteater, Two-toed anteaterThis cute, squirrel-sized critter is a silky anteater, the world’s smallest ante........ Read more »
Miranda, F., Veloso, R., Superina, M., & Zara, F. (2009) Food habits of wild silky anteaters (Cyclopes didactylus) of São Luis do Maranhão, Brazil. Edentata, 1-5. DOI: 10.1896/020.010.0109
Nagya, K., & Montgomery, G. (2012) Field Metabolic Rate, Water Flux and Food Consumption by Free-Living Silky Anteaters (Cyclopes didactylus) in Panama. Edentata, 13(1), 61-65. DOI: 10.5537/020.013.0106
Bhagratty, H., Taylor, K., Lawrence, A., Devenish-Nelson, E., & Nelson, H. (2013) Population density of silky anteaters (Cyclopes didactylus Xenarthra: Cyclopedidae) in a protected mangrove swamp on the island of Trinidad. mammalia, 77(4). DOI: 10.1515/mammalia-2012-0122
Jorge W. (2000) Mitotic and meiotic chromosome studies in silky anteater Cyclopes didactylus (Myrmecophagidae: Xenarthra). Cytobios, 101(397), 95-100. PMID: 10756982
Musk deers use their distinctive fungs tusks during the rutting season to compete with other males.Photo shows a Siberian musk deer, a similar and closelyrelated species.Credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCSIt's been more than 60 years after the last confirmed sighting of the Kashmir musk deer in Afganistan, a strange deer with vampire-like fangs native to Afghanistan, Republic of India, and Pakistan.Now, a new study appearing in the latest edition of the journal Oryx reveals that the Kas........ Read more »
Ostrowski, S., Rahmani, H., Ali, J., Ali, R., & Zahler, P. (2014) Musk deer Moschus cupreus persist in the eastern forests of Afghanistan. Oryx, 1-6. DOI: 10.1017/S0030605314000611
Adult and juvenile AardvarksCredit: By Scotto Bear from North Beach, MD, USA (aardvarks) [CC-BY-SA-2.], via Wikimedia CommonsKingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: ChordataClass: MammaliaSuperorder: AfrotheriaOrder: TubulidentataFamily: OrycteropodidaeGenus: OrycteropusSpecies: Orycteropus aferConservation Status: Least Concern (Not Threatened)Common Name(s): Aardvark, African antbear, Cape anteaterMeet the Aardvark, a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal from Afri........ Read more »
Lehmann, T. (2009) Phylogeny and systematics of the Orycteropodidae (Mammalia, Tubulidentata). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 155(3), 649-702. DOI: 10.1111/j.1096-3642.2008.00460.x
Taylor, W., & Skinner, J. (2003) Activity patterns, home ranges and burrow use of aardvarks (Orycteropus afer) in the Karoo. Journal of Zoology, 261(3), 291-297. DOI: 10.1017/S0952836903004217
Taylor, W., Lindsey, P., & Skinner, J. (2002) The feeding ecology of the aardvark Orycteropus afer. Journal of Arid Environments, 50(1), 135-152. DOI: 10.1006/jare.2001.0854
Mutlow AG, & Mutlow H. (2008) Caesarian section and neonatal care in the aardvark (Orycteropus afer). Journal of zoo and wildlife medicine : official publication of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, 39(2), 260-2. PMID: 18634220
White, J., Williams, G., Samour, J., Drury, P., & Cheeseman, P. (1985) The composition of milk from captive aardvark (Orycteropus afer). Zoo Biology, 4(3), 245-251. DOI: 10.1002/zoo.1430040305
Photosynthesis, a process used by plants and some bacteria to convert light from the sun into chemical energy which can be later released to fuel their activities. Animals on the other hand, have to consume other organisms in order to cover their energy needs. But every rule has an exception.In recent years, researchers have discovered a small number of animals that much like plants have found a way to directly harness and feed off the Sun’s energy.1# Oriental Hornet (Vespa orientalis)Typicall........ Read more »
Mujer CV, Andrews DL, Manhart JR, Pierce SK, & Rumpho ME. (1996) Chloroplast genes are expressed during intracellular symbiotic association of Vaucheria litorea plastids with the sea slug Elysia chlorotica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 93(22), 12333-8. PMID: 8901581
Rumpho ME, Worful JM, Lee J, Kannan K, Tyler MS, Bhattacharya D, Moustafa A, & Manhart JR. (2008) Horizontal gene transfer of the algal nuclear gene psbO to the photosynthetic sea slug Elysia chlorotica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(46), 17867-71. PMID: 19004808
Plotkin M, Hod I, Zaban A, Boden SA, Bagnall DM, Galushko D, & Bergman DJ. (2010) Solar energy harvesting in the epicuticle of the oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis). Die Naturwissenschaften, 97(12), 1067-76. PMID: 21052618
Moran, N., & Jarvik, T. (2010) Lateral Transfer of Genes from Fungi Underlies Carotenoid Production in Aphids. Science, 328(5978), 624-627. DOI: 10.1126/science.1187113
Valmalette, J., Dombrovsky, A., Brat, P., Mertz, C., Capovilla, M., & Robichon, A. (2012) Light- induced electron transfer and ATP synthesis in a carotene synthesizing insect. Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep00579
Gilbert, P. (1942) Observations on the Eggs of Ambystoma Maculatum with Especial Reference to the Green Algae Found Within the Egg Envelopes. Ecology, 23(2), 215. DOI: 10.2307/1931088
Gilbert, P. (1944) The Alga-Egg Relationship in Ambystoma Maculatum, A Case of Symbiosis. Ecology, 25(3), 366. DOI: 10.2307/1931284
Kerney, R., Kim, E., Hangarter, R., Heiss, A., Bishop, C., & Hall, B. (2011) Intracellular invasion of green algae in a salamander host. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(16), 6497-6502. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1018259108
Graham, E., Fay, S., Davey, A., & Sanders, R. (2014) Intracapsular algae provide fixed carbon to developing embryos of the salamander Ambystoma maculatum. Journal of Experimental Biology, 217(16), 2983-2983. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.111732
This is the hololotype specimen that the researchers used to describe the newly discovered Andinobates geminisaeCredit: Cesar Jaramillo, STRIA team of scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí in Panama, and the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia recently announced the discovery of a new bright orange poison dart frog. The new species is so small that it can fit on a fingernail and was found in a rain forest near the Caribbean coast, Do........ Read more »
BATISTA, A., JARAMILLO, C., PONCE, M., & CRAWFORD, A. (2014) A new species of Andinobates (Amphibia: Anura: Dendrobatidae) from west central Panama. Zootaxa, 3866(3), 333. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3866.3.2
The "Immortal" JellyfishCredit: Peter Schuchert/The Hydrozoa DirectoryKingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: CnidariaClass: HydrozoaOrder: AnthoathecataFamily: OceaniidaeGenus: TurritopsisSpecies: Turritopsis dohrnii (formerly classified as T. nutricula.)Common Name: The immortal jellyfishMost of the animals featured on the site are chosen based on their unusual looks. However, this not the case with Turritopsis dohrnii, which seemingly has no notable morphological characteristics. On the outside, i........ Read more »
Martínez DE. (1998) Mortality patterns suggest lack of senescence in hydra. Experimental gerontology, 33(3), 217-25. PMID: 9615920
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