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

The stealthy ghost crab

The ghost crab is about as big as your hand but as fast as lightning. 

The eight-legged little creature moves across sandy beaches at 100 body lengths per second, which is blazing fast compared to the human and cheetah, which achieve speeds of 11 and 20 body lengths per second. 

The stealthy ghost crab

In other words, you’d be lucky to photograph one. Be prepared for it to dash away as soon as it gets a glimpse of you. The ghost crab typically burrows deep holes in the sand and reemerge late in the day.

But within those stalky eyes and cute little faces are teeth that growl at predators when threatened. The ghost crab is the first example of an animal that uses its stomach to communicate. 

Meanwhile, the crabs survive off insects, small clams, and other sand crabs. 

The stealthy ghost crab
The stealthy ghost crab
The stealthy ghost crab
Animals Nature

The flamboyant cuttlefish

The cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus) is a real master of color change. 

The bioluminescent fish can modify their appearance and shape using flashing LCD-like bands to hypnotize prey before snatching it up. 

That’s right — these fish use their strobing disco lights to psyche-out crabs and small fish!  

Like the octopus, the cuttlefish have pigmented chromatophores in their skin, allowing them to camouflage with their surroundings. 

Learn more about the cuttlefish in the video below. 

Nature Travel

The edge of the Earth: Australia’s Nullarbor Cliffs

What looks like the end of the Earth is really just the end of Australia.

The Bunda Cliffs of Nullarbor Plain, Southern Australia, form part of the longest uninterrupted line of coastal cliffs (62 miles long) in the world.

These limestone sea cliffs, which are 200 feet to 400 feet high, drop off into the Great Australian Bight, one of the most pristine ocean environments on Earth.

The cliffs also head 7 centimeters north every year, thanks to continental drift.

PS: The Bunda Cliffs are not to be used as evidence for flat Earth believers.

Animals Nature

Pink sea urchins have self-sharpening teeth

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.

pink sea urchin teeth

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.

pink sea urchin teeth
pink sea urchin teeth
pink sea urchin teeth
Culture & Society Nature Travel

Born to dive: The Bajau sea nomads

The Bajau sea nomads are people from the Malay Archipelago (Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia).

Among the world’s best divers, the sea nomads act like the real mermaids — aquatic life is literally in their DNA.

According to a study from the journal Cell:

They are renowned for their extraordinary abilities, diving to depths of over 70 m with nothing more than a set of weights and a pair of wooden goggles (Schagatay, 2014) and spending 60% of their daily working time underwater (Schagatay et al., 2011).

They’ve evolved to harbor extreme breath-holding capabilities with up to 13 minutes underwater. Even without weights, the Bajau can stay negatively buoyant enough to walk across the sea bottom as one does on terra firma. 

For thousands of years, the Bajau people have developed expanded spleens due to their dependency on diving underwater for food.

No one knows what originally compelled the Bajau to dive other than their need to survive and feed entire families.

Without experimentation, evolution does not exist. It is through struggle and adaptation we evolve.

Learn more in the video below.

Featured photo by James Morgan.

Animals Nature

The incredible (and slender) Ranzania Laevis is shaped like a Dorito

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

Yes, this Dorito-shaped fish is in its complete form!

The Ranzania laevis is a species of mola mola 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.

Interestingly, the slender sunfish can give off the impression of a shark from its side view which allows it to scare off would-be predators.

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

This is the biggest wave ever surfed

Nature always makes you feel small.

Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa surfed a record-setting 80-foot wave from trough to crest in November 2017 in Praia do Norte, off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal. The 38-year-old Koxa is the official world record-holder for riding the biggest wave ever.

Nazaré is renown for hosting surfing competitions every winter where the waves can get up to 98 feet.

Just look at the lighthouse and onlookers in perspective to the surfer surrounded by the mountainous wave, or shall we say avalanche.

Watch it for yourself after the jump.

World Record: This is the biggest wave ever surfed
The 80-foot monster (Photo by Pedro Cruz)
World Record: This is the biggest wave ever surfed
via Twitter
World Record: This is the biggest wave ever surfed Rodrigo Koxa
Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa wins the XXL Biggest Wave Award (via Twitter)

Architecture & Design Nature

Waves in progress

Here’s something you can look at for hours: looping waves in progress.

Created using visual effect software Houdini by Polish motion designer who goes by the name 00.032, according to her dribble page, the piece takes after Matthieu Lehanneur’s original physical work of the same vein.

Waves in progress
Gif by 00.032

The French designer Lehanneur constructed a furniture collection called Ocean Memories that depicts three-dimensional ocean currents frozen into stone and bronze sculptures.

Lehanneur and 00.032 demonstrate both static and motion-centric representations of the Earth’s ocean.

Waves, a symbol of natural energy, have been a fascination with artists such as Hokusai for centuries.


The Octopus in my house

BBC Earth is back with another excellent special, this time focusing on the intriguing creature of the octopus.

Octopuses are intelligent, containing nine brains, three hearts, and half a billion neurons in their arms which allow the tentacles to function independently from the brain.

The Octopus: Aliens living on Earth?

Alien-like, it is also believed that octopuses have a consciousness. So otherworldly, Hawaiian mythology believes that the octopus is the only surviving member of a previous version of Earth.

The octopus can also adapt to different colors and textures with fluidity, completely camouflaging with their surroundings. Be sure to check out the rainbow octopus!

From the BBC’s show notes:

A professor develops an extraordinary relationship with an octopus when he invites it to live in his home. The octopus, called Heidi, unravels puzzles, recognises individual humans and even watches TV with the family.

The episode also shows remarkable behaviour from around the world – from the day octopus, which can change colour and texture in a split second, to the coconut octopus, which carries around its own coconut shell to hide in. But most fascinating of all is seeing how Professor David Scheel and his daughter Laurel bond with an animal that has nine brains, three hearts and blue blood running through its veins.