The rainbow of different colors on the lilac-breasted roller bird is gorgeous.
Native to sub-Saharan Africa and the national bird of both Botswana and Kenya, the bird is known to perch on treetops by the roadside so it can pounce on rodents and insects moving about on the ground.
Multicolored and aggressive — especially when intruders get too close to their nest — these birds are also renowned for the rolling flight pattern that sees them dip and dive from high in the sky in torpedo-like motion.
Attenborough’s fan-throated lizard (Sitana attenboroughii) is a species of fan-throated lizards endemic to India, primarily found in the state of Tamil Nadu.
The males flaunt their colorful dewlaps — loose skin on their necks — to woo potential mates during mating season. They also flash the fan-structured throat to challenge a potential rival in a territory. Females, meanwhile, have smaller white colored dewlaps.
This superb lizard lives mostly on the ground in open ground patches and takes its name after natural historian, David Attenborough.
The Mary River Turtle is a remarkable creature for two main reasons.
It possesses specialized glands on its bottom that allow it to stay underwater for 72 hours—yes, it breathes through its genitals—two, the animal sports an algae-infused mohawk.
Named one of the world’s most vulnerable reptiles, the turtle lives in Mary River streams in southeastern Queensland, Australia. It uses the algae growing on its shell to camouflage itself from predators.
“We need to be a little bit more tortoise-y and a little less hare-ish,” best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell once said. While his message encourages people to slow down in this hyperspeed era, perhaps we need a little more punk in our lives too.
Of course, there’s always one band member who sports the bowl haircut (re Ringo of the Beatles). Here’s the Mary River turtle with algae strands on its body.
Pink sea urchins house five teeth, each supported by a separate jaw in a circular arrangement at the center of their spiked spherical bodies.
But researchers at Northwestern have discovered that the teeth of pink sea urchins are specially equipped to self-sharpen themselves.
The enamel break bits off regularly to maintain sharpness, the same way a knife sharpens upon a blade.
“The material on the outer layer of the tooth exhibits a complex behavior of plasticity and damage that regulates ‘controlled’ chipping of the tooth to maintain its sharpness,” said Northwestern University Professor Horacio Espinosa.
The teeth continue to grow throughout life, helping the sea urchins ward off predators.
Not sure what’s more amazing about the African dung beetle, one that it rolls immaculate balls out of other animals dung or that it navigates from home to manure piles and back via celestial cues.
“These clever insects use the polarized light of the moon to navigate in a straight line,” writes Popular Mechanics. “Their eyes cannot see individual stars but a group of stars together, like the Milky Way, is dense enough to create a luminous line for them to follow.”
No stars, no problem! When the sun gets blocked or is directly overhead, the beetle uses its antennae to perceive wind signals. This way it can roll across the desert without getting lost.
But entomologist and photographer Piotr (Peter) Naskrecki of the Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique believes the Kheper subaeneus beetles are more interesting for what they do for mother Earth.
Few animals are as important to the African savanna ecosystem as the dung beetles and without their thankless toil the entire ecosystem would soon collapse, covered in a thick layer of waste.
Keep in mind that the gathered feces, in which the beetle rolls into big balls, often weigh more than the beetle itself.