Here’s a creature that will stop you in your tracks. Endemic to the Philippines, the giant golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatus) grows as large as 3 feet with a wingspan of 5-6 feet. It is one of the largest bats in the world.
You’d think that the megabat the size of a 6-year-old kid would be a threat but it’s actually harmless — it’s vegetarian and primarily munches on fruit. As pollinators, the bats even help spread seeds.
Unfortunately, the species is endangered and facing extinction due to poaching in the forest.
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.
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 urches 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.