Nature will probably never cease to fascinate us as it seems capable of creating incredible shapes and colors. Our daily life only exposes us to a tiny part of these wonders and we get used to seeing certain shapes. As soon as we step out of the animals that are familiar to us, we are amazed and marveled at so much inventiveness. Our top 10 tells you about some of these weird creatures. And since we inhabit the blue planet, you will not be surprised to find a majority of marine animals there.
1 – the naked mole rat
About the size of a large mouse, the hairless mole rat lives in arid regions of Ethiopia and the southern Sahara. He never leaves the underground galleries that he digs. With his eyes atrophied, the organization of his life relies on his well-developed hearing and smell. It is thanks to its prominent incisors that it can drill the ground. It is said to be naked because it has no hair: it does not need it because it lives at a constant temperature. Her skin is pink and translucent.
It has few predators, which only contributes in part to a longevity of around 30 years which is attracting a lot of scientific attention, although there are animals that live much longer. Because besides its appearance, this animal is exceptional: it seems to have a immunity against cancer, cardiovascular disease and nerve degeneration. Will we be able to unravel all its secrets to eventually benefit man?
2 – The macropinna microstoma
The abyss is home to a number of mysterious and foreign inhabitants of whom little is known. Macropinna microstoma is one of them. It is usually found at depths between 500 and 1000 meters. Its transparent head reveals astonishing elements. His cranial cavity is filled with a transparent gel within which two large barrel-shaped eyes can turn forwards or upwards, to allow the fish to observe its surroundings.
3 – The grimpoteuthis
The grimpoteuthis is another inhabitant of the abyss. This one lives between 500 and 4000 meters deep. It is a small octopod belonging to the family of umbrella octopuses which includes a total of 17 different species. It is nicknamed the “dumbo” octopus because of the presence of two fins whose shape evokes the ears of the flying elephant made famous by Walt Disney. But these fins are not its only means of propulsion: a veil of skin connects its eight legs, like the 16 other species of the family, which allows it to reach sufficient speed to escape its predators, tunas and sharks. These octopods can also crawl on the seabed with their tentacles. Another peculiarity, they vary the color of their skin at will and tint of pink, brown, red or white. These animals are rare. Scientists believed for a long time that they were only 20 to 30 cm in length, until one day they came across an individual measuring 1.8 meters.
4 – The harlequin starry night frog
In Colombia, the harlequin star frog is an animal considered sacred by an indigenous tribe. This small frog less than 5 cm in length takes its name from its black color spotted with large white spots. It belongs to the large family of harlequin frogs, made up of 96 species. They mainly feed on insects such as flies and midges, but also on small arthropods. Although commonly called “frogs”, they are actually toads. There is something to get lost in …
Many harlequin frogs have black skin but with orange or yellow, green or red spots. This appearance is akin to aposematism, an adaptive strategy which consists in sending the predators the signal (here visual) according to which the animal is not edible. In case of danger, this toad secretes a venom under its skin that can help it escape death.
5 – the star-nosed mole
This mole inhabiting North America has a very special physique. It owes its name to its nose formed from 22 pink epidermal appendages, reminiscent of tentacles. The rest of the body resembles that of the mole commonly found in Europe. In addition to its astonishing appearance, its nose is very powerful because it has five times more mechanical-sensory receptors than on a human hand. The appendages turn out to be very lively. When the mole needs to explore an object, they allow it to hit 10 to 13 different places per second. Another peculiarity, the star-nosed mole is the only species of mole to live in the muddy soil of wetlands. She is a very good swimmer, able to stay submerged for several seconds but also to detect odors underwater.
6 – The lamprey
The lamprey is a special animal because it is a basal vertebrate that has no even members or jaws. She still has functional eyes and a spine. It is one of the last surviving animals of primitive vertebrates, having practically not evolved for 500 million years. Its mouth is round and funnel-shaped, armed with hard pointed parts resembling teeth, but made of keratin. The sea lamprey is a true parasite native to the Atlantic Ocean. When she is an adult, she clings to fish called “hosts” by means of her mouth which acts as a suction cup, and uses her raspy tongue to penetrate the flesh of what becomes her victim because she will then suck the bodily fluids from them. and blood.
7 – The yeti crab
Here’s the third deep-sea dweller on our list: the yeti crab. It is only found between 2000 and 2500 meters deep. It owes its name to its white body and its claws and legs covered with hair of the same color. In the depths where he dwells, there is no more light and he has simply gone blind. He must also endure extraordinary pressures. To resist freezing cold that he meets, the 3 species of the genus have adopted different strategies. Let us mention here only that of the Kiwa tyleri which lives in colonies, near natural chimneys from which the heat of the Earth escapes: the water reaches 400 ° C. But he must not be too close, otherwise he would die. Also, the ideal distance is quite small, hence the need to concentrate: in favorable areas, we can count 700 crabs per square meter.
8 – The dwarf armadillo from Argentina
The Argentine dwarf armadillo is also called a truncated armadillo. It is an endemic animal of Argentina that measures between 12 and 15 cm in length, which has an articulated pale pink carapace, composed of 23 to 25 bony plates, and whose belly is covered with white hairs. It was discovered in 1825 and constitutes a rare species. It is a very fragile animal, sensitive to stress: it therefore does not survive in captivity. Little is therefore known about him, especially since the Argentinian dwarf armadillo is a very discreet animal, which digs quickly in the ground in case of danger. He lives in his galleries, only rarely to come out. It is very difficult to meet, including for scientists who are not able to know how many individuals there are. This is why it also has the status of a fantastic animal, nicknamed the “pink fairy” armadillo.
9 – The sea pig
The term “sea pig” applies to cetaceans, fish or scotoplanes. It is the latter that interest us. The scotoplane is the fourth inhabitant of the depths on our list of the strangest and most mysterious animals on the planet. This species of animal was discovered in 1879. It has suction cups on the ventral surface and retractile papillae on the dorsal surface, like all sea cucumbers. It is its appearance that earned it its name: it has a plump shape and a pink color. There is no need to look very far for the evocation of the pig. It is not at all a rare animal but it is not common to meet it since it lives between 6000 and 9500 meters deep. Only scientists have been able to cross him. It feeds on the bacterial biofilm that is found in the top layer of the sediment. This food is quite poor. That is why his whole life is organized to save energy.
10 – the glaucus atlanticus
To close our top 10, we have chosen a beautiful gastropod mollusc. The glaucus atlanticus is also called “blue dragon” or “sea swallow”. It is a pelagic sea slug that is found in temperate and tropical waters, in all the seas of the world. It can happen that specimens wash up on the beaches. The dorsal papillae that stretch on either side of the central body give it the appearance of a lizard whose limbs end in star shapes. The colors it sports are white and a blue which comes in different shades, some of which are intense. The Atlantic glaucus feeds mainly on hydrozoans (which are designated, in the adult stage, by the term jellyfish) from which it derives its stinging power: in nature, beauties are often dangerous!
Photo credit: Ltshears – Trisha M Shears