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Animals Nature

The slender sunfish shaped like a Dorito

One of the more peculiar fish you’ll ever see, the slender sunfish (Ranzania laevis), looks like a mutant fish that’s been cut in half.

Yes, this Dorito-shaped fish is in its complete form! Interestingly, they also can’t close their funnel-like jaws, which makes them look like mouth-breathers of the ocean.

The Ranzania laevis is a species of mola but longer — up to 3 feet — and is primarily found in the world’s tropical waters. In fact, the fish was originally discovered off the coast of Adelaide, Australia, in 1944.

The slender sunfish can give off the impression of a shark from its side view, allowing it to scare off would-be predators. Despite its small fins, the slender sunfish is a skillful and quick swimmer.

The incredible (and slender) Ranzania Laevis is shaped like a Dorito
Close-up of a slender sunfish (Photo: Wikimedia/Escapemodule)
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Animals Nature

The Picasso bug, where art and nature collide

You can’t beat the brushstrokes of nature. Native to tropical and subtropical Africa, the oval-shaped Picasso Bug or Zulu Hud Bug is truly nature’s work of art.

The Picasso Bug (Sphaerocoris annulus) is a shield-backed bug species with a vibrant carapace that does more than illustrate its aesthetic beauty. The mosaic markings serve as a warning to predators.

Nicknamed “stink bug,” the tiny creepy crawler also emits a putrid smell when disturbed.

As the famous abstract artist Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” But seeing a bug like this would’ve tempted Picasso to become a naturalist instead.

The Picasso bug, where art and nature collide
Photo: Eu Curto Biologia (via TW/Nature_Is_Lit)
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Animals Nature

The Pink Amazon River Dolphin

Did you know that freshwater dolphins are living in the Amazon River?

The Amazon River Dolphin, also known as boto (the Portuguese word for dolphin), is an entirely separate species from its saltwater counterpart.

While the common dolphin is grey, the Amazon River Dolphin has an incredible pink coloration that gets even pinker as they get older. In fact, the brighter a male’s pink color — which often amplifies during times of excitement — the more attractive it is to mates.

According to Latin American folklore, the boto can also shapeshift into a handsome man and seduce (“Encante”) women in nearby villages back to their underwater city.

The Boto possesses a long, toothy snout and an elongated tail. Its flat molars allow it to feed on various prey, including piranhas, cichlids, river turtles, and crustaceans.

Due to murky waters, it uses sensory hairs and uses echolocation to find critters in hard to get river beds. The Pink Dolphin is also one of the most intelligent dolphins, with brains 40% larger than humans.

However, these freshwater dolphins are now listed as endangered due to fishers hunting down their meat and blubber as bait to catch catfish.

Pink Amazon River Dolphin
Pink Amazon River Dolphin
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Animals Nature

The huge neck of the East African gerenuk

The Gerenuk is an antelope often referred to as a giraffe-necked antelope or “giraffe gazelle.”

They are unique-looking creatures due to their huge necks, small heads, and big eyes and ears. In short, they look like a gazelle had a baby with a llama.

Amazingly, they can survive their entire life without ever taking a drink of water. This is because the gerenuk derives water from the leaves that it eats.

To better reach this foliage it has evolved a long, slender neck and head. It often raises its front legs and props them against a tree trunk in order to reach higher branches.

Mostly found in the Horn of Africa and the drier parts of East Africa, the gerenuk is near threatened due to trophy hunters seeking their mount.

gerenuk
gerenuk
gerenuk
gerenuk
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Animals Nature

The crazy face-like underside of a sawfish

You may have seen a sawfish from up above or from the side but have you ever seen one from below?

The underside of a sawfish houses their nostrils and gills. But what they look like up close is a person’s face in the midst of making some judgment.

Just look at this thing:

Take a closer look:

Photo: Twitter/@ddoniolvalcroze

The sawfish uses the 88–128 teeth in their upper mouth and 84–176 teeth in the lower jaw to grind crabs and small fish into bits. They use their “saw-like” snout, called a rostrum that juts out of their flat head to detect, stun, and manipulate prey in the murky waters they inhabit.

There are transverse teeth on the saw extension as well.

Once widespread across the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, sawfish are now classified as endangered species — commonly hunted for their liver, fins, meat, and skin.

underside of sawfish
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Animals Nature

How the Mary River Turtle breathes for 72 hours underwater

The Mary River Turtle is a remarkable creature for two main reasons.

One, it possesses specialized glands on its bottom that allow it to stay underwater for 72 hours—yes, it breathes through its genitals. It does this by releasing oxygen bubbles through its cloaca, the hole (aka butt) it excretes waste through.

Two, the animal sports an algae-infused mohawk. It uses the algae growing on its shell to camouflage itself from predators. The Mary River turtle is easily one of Australia’s largest turtles extending beyond 20 inches in carapace length.

The turtle lives exclusively in Mary River streams in southeastern Queensland, Australia, where it’s listed as one of the world’s most vulnerable reptiles. The species is listed as endangered due to its limited home range and numerous threats posed by humans, such as pollution, habitat loss, poaching, and boat strikes.

A number of organizations are working to protect the species, including the Australian Department of the Environment, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, and the World Wildlife Fund.

The Mary River turtle’s sighting is becoming increasingly rare, and it’s important to help the species survive for future generations to come.

The Mary River Turtle
Photo: Chris Van Wyk
The Mary River Turtle
Photo: Chris Van Wyk
Photo: Chris Van Wyk
Categories
Animals Nature

The Mwanza flat-headed rock agama aka Spider-Man agama

The Mwanza Flat-Headed Rock Agama is a small lizard found primarily in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania. The male lizard, which has a flattened head, is also known as the Spider-Man agama because of its bright red and dark blue coloration and its ability to climb vertical surfaces with ease.

The Mwanza Flat-Headed Rock Agama grows to a maximum length of about 12 centimeters (5 inches). Its short, rounded snout are a distinctive feature of this species and give it a unique appearance among agamas.

Although it is primarily diurnal (active during the day), the Mwanza Flat-Headed Rock Agama is also busy at night. An agile lizard, it can quickly run around and ascend up and over surfaces to chase insects, spiders, or worms.

spiderman agama 3
spiderman agama 3
Categories
Animals Nature

The Tasmanian Giant Crab is the king of crabs

Add the Tasmanian Giant Crab (Pseudocarcinus gigas) to one of the animals you’ll want to see in person one day.

Weighing up to 39lbs with a shell length of up to 18 inches, the Tasmanian Giant Crab is the fifth largest crab species. Its wild geometry makes its claws appear more massive than its body — just look at it held by humans.

This monstrous “king” of crabs resides in the deep ocean of Southern Australia, mostly at depths of 460–885 feet.

Unfortunately, the crab is a prize catch among fishers where’s it’s been fished in Tasmanian waters since 1992.

The Tasmanian Giant Crab is the king of crabs
Photo: Seal Life via Twitter/@StrangeAnimals
The Tasmanian Giant Crab is the king of crabs
Photo: Courtesy of Pure South Dining
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Animals Nature

Meet the Dracula Parrot, the most metal birds on the planet

Thinking of parrots usually conjures up images of the brightly colored blue, red, and green creatures.

But with the shape of a parrot and the dark beak of a vulture, Pesquet’s parrot, commonly known as the Dracula parrot, is one of the more unique-looking parrot species.

The rare vulture-parrot hybrid found in New Guinea’s rainforests

The vampiric-looking bird from the mountains of New Guinea looks bloodthirsty but snacks on a diet of figs. Its unusual goth-like appearance, a mishmash of black and red plumes, is also quite beautiful. Male Dracula parrots have an extra red dot behind the ears.

Unfortunately, the Dracula Parrot’s mesmerizing feathers make it attractive to poachers. The bird has been listed on the endangered species list by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Pesquet's parrot aka Dracula Parrot
Pesquet's parrot aka Dracula Parrot
Categories
Animals Nature

How the Honduran white bat converts large leaves into tents

Some of the most bizarre wildlife exists in the Honduran rainforest. Take the Honduran white fruit bat (Ectophylla alba), for example.

The size of a golf ball, these tiny fluffy creatures love to snuggle together like peas in a pod in leaf tents. Polygamous, each little colony houses up to six females and one male.

The tent-making bats

These white-winged cotton-ball-looking bats create their nook by nibbling the side veins jutting out from the Heliconia plant, causing the large leaves to fold down to form a tent.

The leaf tents allow the bats to avoid parasites such as bat flies. When sunlight filters through the canopy, their white fur appears green — superb camouflage!

While most bats sleep in caves, these magic bats, also called Caribbean white tent-making bats, spend their leaves eating figs and roosting in peace.

Honduran white bat
Honduran white bat
Honduran white bat