UNBELIEVABLE Things Animals Are Able To Do

Here are some unbelievable things animals are able to do!

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Animals are pretty incredible. Humans may be smart, but we’re not naturally able to do things like fly, breathe underwater, or lay an egg. And while we think we know almost everything about the animals in our world, there are some that seem to defy mother nature herself with the things they can do!

From ravens that can talk like humans, to lizards that can walk on water like Jesus, let's take a good look at some of the most unbelievable things animals are able to do!

No Time to Die

There are three certainties in this world: life, death, and taxes. Although there’s a small exception to that second rule, and its name is turritopsis dohrnii, a tiny species of jellyfish with a very special talent: they can’t die.

These jellyfish are one of the only species on earth considered “biologically immortal.” Unless they get gobbled up by a predator, these aptly nicknamed ‘Immortal jellyfish’ will be swimming around until the end of time.

UNBELIEVABLE Things Animals Are Able To Do

Fully grown, they measure in at less than 0.2 inches across, smaller than a standard pinkie nail! But their size doesn’t stop them from replenishing any damaged cells through a process called transdifferentiation.

When they get injured or hungry, they take a leap back in their development process and amazingly regress to their juvenile polyp state. The adult cells effectively turn back time to a younger form, before budding and releasing baby jellyfish that are genetically identical to the injured adult!

Providing they can hang on to an essential part of their anatomy called the nerve center, which triggers the transdifferentiation process, these jellyfish can keep on swimming forever and ever.

UNBELIEVABLE Things Animals Are Able To Do

Incredible Camouflage

You’ve heard of a copycat, but have you heard of a copyoctopus? Scientists call it the Indonesian Mimic Octopus; an intelligent ocean dweller that has the amazing ability to expertly impersonate other sea creatures!

And not just one or two. This amazing cephalopod can mimic up to 15 other marine animals, including lionfish, sea snakes, and sole fish!

Mimic Octopus mimics sea creatures

Most octopi hide by blending into their surroundings when they see danger coming, which scientists call “crypsis”. But the mimic octopus changes its shape, boldly pretending to be the predator of its predators so that they leave it well alone!

Not only that, but when the octopus gets hungry itself, it can use its talents to sneak up on prey unnoticed! After all, if you saw a single slithering sea snake, the last thing you’d expect it to be is a hyper-intelligent, eight-legged octopus.

But the Mimic Octopus isn’t the only sea creature out there that gets creative with its camouflage. Nicknamed ‘The Chameleons of the Sea', Cuttlefish can rapidly change the color of their skin in order to blend into any background they encounter.

But they don’t just change their colors! These swimming marine mollusks have the ability to mimic the shape and even the texture of what they’re copying. For instance, can you find the Cuttlefish in the video below?

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How did it do that? Cuttlefish skin contains millions of specialized pigmented cells called chromatophores. The cuttlefish can alter them at will, expanding and contracting to change its color in the fraction of a second.

With this flashy skill up their sleeves, cuttlefish can use their quick color changes to avoid predators, hunt, and even communicate with other cuttlefish! Meanwhile, The only way most people can communicate with their skin is going bright red whenever they get embarrassed.

cuttlefish color changing

Sky Serpents

When you see something flying in the sky, what could it be? A bird or a plane, right? Could it be a snake, though? Not all snakes, but the Paradise Tree Snake, found around Western India and Indonesia, can fly or tries to.

At just 3 ft in length, this species of tree snake prefers living up high in tree canopies rather than crawling around on the rainforest floor. Up here, it’s easy to hunt tree-dwelling prey and blend into the branches.

But getting from one tree to another is no easy feat. So, instead of slithering all the way down one tree and up another, paradise snakes draw up their scales and spread out their ribs to make their undersides concave. Then, they coil themselves into a J-shaped bend and launch into the air, gliding into the next tree, or wherever else they want to go.

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On a good gliding day, they can travel more than 300 ft in a single leap! Some scientists believe this is helped by that signature snake-like movement they do in the air. If they just launched from the tree and stayed still as a log, they’d likely crash into the ground.

So, the strange ribbon-like movement they do is believed to help stabilize them in the air and keep them on target! However, it’s such a unique trait that scientists aren’t sure why these snakes have taken to flying so much. Some even speculate that they might do it just because they enjoy it! Who knew snakes could be such adrenaline junkies?

snake flying

Boss Beetle

Have you ever heard of the Dung Beetle? With a name like that, it’s pretty clear this insect species loves feces!

Found all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica, these interesting insects fly around in search of manure deposits from herbivores. These contain half-digested grass and some super smelly liquids that most dung beetles feed on.

To preserve the precious poop soup, many will roll balls of the dung away and bury them. But to save them making multiple trips, the beetles roll up huge balls and push them around with their strong back legs!

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At less than half an inch long, these guys aren’t exactly the biggest beetles on the block. But despite their small size, they’re, surprisingly, the strongest animals on the planet!

Even though they look like they’re struggling with that big ball of poop, dung beetles have the greatest body weight to lift ratio of any animal on earth, meaning they can happily push more than 1,100 times their own body weight! That’d be like an average human lifting six double-decker busses!

human lifting bus

The Salmon Run

Salmon have to be one of the tastiest animals on the planet, but weirdly, they’re also one of the creepiest! These fish are born in freshwater rivers or lakes, and once they’ve developed into adults, they move to the salty ocean where they can better feed and grow.

When it’s time for them to spawn offspring of their own, they migrate back to the exact same rivers and lakes they grew up in because they know that they’re safe! Most of us wouldn’t be able to find the exact spot we were born without a map.

But salmon have tiny iron particles in their heads that act like compass needles, directing them back to their birthplace via the earth’s magnetic field.

salmon compas

But it’s a long and difficult journey. The salmon travel hundreds of miles upstream, crossing waterfalls, braving currents and dodging predators. Some even swim across flooded roads to get back to their precious breeding waters.

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That is what determination looks like! Once the salmon finally make it back and spawn, they’re so exhausted that they’re ready to leave this Earth for good. But life doesn’t always let you out that easily!

The fish begin a process called deterioration, where they’re dying but not yet dead. This is the creek of the living dead! But thankfully, they aren’t hungry for your brains, even though they definitely look like they are!

Frosty Frogs

When summer starts to fade, and a bitter winter begins to sink in, life gets hard for many animals. Food suddenly becomes scarce and it’s harder to stay warm, so some animals have evolved to conserve their precious energy by hibernating.

After fattening up in the summer, they’ll instinctively drop into a torpor state, where their metabolism and heart rates slow, allowing them to stay inactive and asleep for most of the winter. But the Wood Frog of Alaska takes hibernation to a god-tier level.

Temperatures in Alaska can drop to a frosty -79.8° F, so the body of this tiny amphibious frog doesn’t just slow down, it freezes solid! But when the ice melts, sometimes up to 7 months later, the frog thaws out and, amazingly, hops away!

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As the temperature drops, the wood frog’s heart and lungs gradually stop working, meaning the frog can be classified as biologically dead! But while this would kill almost any other creature, the wood frog survives thanks to its blood glucose levels.

They’re up to 10 times higher than that of your average frog, which helps keep water locked inside the cells.

wood frogs glucouse level

Frostbite in humans is caused when the water in our blood turns to ice, and our cells get so dehydrated they die. So, by keeping its cells super sweet, wood frogs can retain the right amount of water even when up to 65% of its body is frozen from the inside out!

Amazing Mimicry

This might sound odd but take a listen to the bird in the video below. What do you hear?

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It's impressive but that bird just made the same sound as a camera! This is the Australian Lyrebird, a creature with the most incredible ability to perfectly mimic almost any sound it hears.

From the calls of an entire flock of kookaburras to the noises from a toy gun:

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Lyrebirds use their syrinx, which is a bird’s vocal organ, to produce these incredible complex sounds. They have three pairs of muscles in their syrinx, while most birds have four pairs, resulting in an extraordinary flexibility of sounds they can create.

Unlike other birds that can mimic noises, lyrebirds tend to learn their sounds from older males of the species. So, these sounds are passed down through the generations! In captivity, this ability extends even further, with lyrebirds able to mimic everything from car alarms to flutes, camera shutters, even R2D2 from Star Wars!

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Rambling Raven

If you thought mimicry only occurred in tropical or exotic birds looking for a mate, just take a listen to the video below:

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That’s a raven that just said ‘Hello’. Ravens are a pretty common species of bird but you’ve probably never heard one talk like this before! Is this some super good sound editing? Nope, this is Mischief, a white-necked raven who’s been trained to mimic human speech!

It turns out, ravens can be trained to mimic speech because of their sophisticated brain structure, which connects the area responsible for communication to the section responsible for memory and language.

how ravens talk

Maybe you’ve heard parrots talking before and they have the same, marginally stronger, connection in their brains, enabling them to mimic up to 1,000 words! But ravens can only really mimic up to 100 words on average.

The scientific name for this kind of speaking is “lingual articulation”; so, the ravens are able to repeat the sounds they hear but have no idea what the noises they’re making actually mean.

No Pain, Good Gains

The horribly named naked mole-rat is a creature that’s just as disturbing as it sounds! Native to East Africa, it’s blind at birth, completely hairless, and thrives in dark, harsh underground habitats.

Not only are naked mole-rats the only mammalian thermoconformers, which means they can self-regulate their body temperature, these creepy little creatures also lack the neurotransmitters responsible for pain sensitivity! In other words, they’re wired to feel no pain!

The wrinkled rodents have evolved to survive in areas deep underground that contain so much carbon dioxide, they have seizures if they don’t get enough of it!

naked mole rat

But living with so little oxygen means that lactic acid, which is produced by muscles when they’re used, pools dangerously in their bodies. It’s this same acid that makes your muscles feel sore after a hard workout, so these mole rats have evolved not to feel the pain in their own bodies just to be able to move!

Not only that, but the large quantity of acid in the mole-rat’s body tissue makes them one of the few species resistant to cancerous tumors. That’s right: the naked mole-rat cannot get cancer. That means it can smoke all the cigarettes it wants!

naked mole rat smoking

Amazing Eyes

Chameleons are incredibly cool or hot depending on what color they’re currently sporting! These incredible reptiles are famous for being able to change color and blend into their surroundings or grab the attention of a mate.

Because they’re entirely defenseless, they rely heavily on their ability to blend seamlessly into the background to avoid predators. But while you may not be able to see it, it will be able to see you no matter where you are!

Chameleons have a unique eye anatomy that enables them to rotate each of their eyes 180° horizontally and 90° vertically, entirely independent of each other! That means chameleons can move whichever eye they want in whatever direction they want, whenever they want!

Chameleon eyes

When chameleons look out both eyes simultaneously, just like we humans do, it’s called binocular vision. But sometimes they can choose to look out of just one, like we humans don’t, and that’s called monocular vision.

Monocular vision comes in handy when the chameleon is searching for prey and can point each eye in a different direction. When the chameleon finds its prey, it switches to binocular vision and locks both eyes in on its target. All these capabilities mean chameleons can see the whole 360° surrounding them, without ever moving their heads!

chameleon binocular vision

But chameleons aren’t the only animals with 360° vision! Dragonflies have the largest eyes of all insects in terms of ratio and devote a whopping 80% of their brain power to controlling and processing sight.

That’s a lot of effort just to look at something, but what makes it all worthwhile is that dragonflies are able to see the world in ultra-multicolor. What does that even mean?

Humans have three teeny-weeny, little things in our eyes called opsins. We have one red opsin, one blue opsin and one green opsin, meaning every color we see is some combination of those three colors. Dragonflies, by comparison, have thirty opsins, meaning they can see polarized and ultraviolet light on top of those basic reds, greens, and blues.

Lady Lizards

Native to North America, the small Desert Grasslands Whiptail Lizard is just like any other average reptile, except in this sub-species, there are no males. You might be wondering, ‘If there are no males, how can these lizards reproduce or exist, for that matter?’.

Well, this all-female species reproduces through a complex process called meiosis. Meiosis happens when one of the lizard’s cells divides to form “daughter cells.” The DNA in those cells multiplies and multiplies, until there’s enough DNA for the miracle of life to occur and fertilized eggs are laid.

meiosis

These lizards aren’t just all-female, they’re also all-clones. Since no new DNA gets introduced into the reproduction process, the lizard’s offspring are exact replica clones of themselves! Despite being an all-female species, some whiptail lizards do exhibit male-like behavior; they take on masculine characteristics and can even act as a pseudo-mate to other members of their group.

The only downside to being a whiptail lizard is that, due to the cloning process, there is very little genetic diversity among the population. Any threat, biological or environmental, to an individual becomes a threat to the entire group because of their genetic similarity.

That being said, desert grasslands whiptail lizards aren’t going anywhere soon. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified them as a species of “least concern”, so long may these Amazons thrive!

Head Who?

You might have heard that owls are able to rotate their heads a full, breakneck 360° around. However, that’s wrong, it’s just an urban legend. But most owls can rotate their head 135° in either direction, giving them a total of 270° of rotational space, horizontally and vertically.

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Instead of spherical eyeballs, owls have "eye tubes" that go far back into their skulls. While this gives them incredible long-range vision, it means their eyes are fixed in place, so they have to turn their heads to see.

The way in which the owl’s bone structure works means that they can turn their heads almost all the way around without cutting off the blood flow to their brains.

owl turning head

If humans tried that it wouldn’t end well! We don’t need to though: humans do just fine with our heads facing forwards and our orb-like eyes that can swivel around in their sockets. Owls have had to develop this neck-breaking ability due to the poor mobility of their eyes, so thank goodness they’re so good at it!

Flight of Fancy

There are very few animals that live up to their name, but the Superb Bird of Paradise is definitely one of them. Spread throughout the rainforests of New Guinea, the Superb Bird of Paradise is a small, blue, and black bird with a hidden talent!

When a male is courting a female, he releases a large black, feather cape from his back, revealing his striking blue-green breast and transforming himself into the unholy vision below.

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Once the male has captivated a nearby female with this transformation, he begins tapping his tail against the ground, creating the beat for a dance he circles the female with. So, a costume change, a fancy flourish, and a dance? Why go through all this trouble just to impress a potential girlfriend?

When it comes to the Superb Bird of Paradise, there’s a huge gap between the number of females and males, with females typically rejecting between fifteen and twenty suitors before settling down with a mate! That’s some fierce competition; no wonder this guy’s pulling out all the stops.

The Mudskipper

We all know fish can’t breathe on land, right? Well, think again, because the mud-splattered frog-like thing in the image below is, in fact, a fish. It’s called a Mudskipper and they can grow up to 12 inches in length.

Boleophthalmus pectinirostris AQUAS 1
Totti, CC BY-SA 4.0 <creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

While technically classified as a fish, this species has developed air pockets around its gills giving it the ability to breathe on land for several minutes at a time. When they’re wet, mudskippers can also breathe through the lining of the skin on their mouth and throat.

Scientists call this kind of breathing cutaneous respiration, which means the mudskipper lacks the respiratory structure to remain on land indefinitely and must, eventually, return from whence it came.

While out of the water, the mudskipper uses its fins to propel itself across the ground. Scientists often point out that the development of this ability is evidence of evolution.

Jesus Christ, Lizard?

Native to Central and South America, the Green Basilisk Lizard is no ordinary lizard. In fact, he’s the son of the great lizard in the sky; the lizard who created the lizard world in just six lizard days.

lizard jesus

And now this lizard has come down from lizard heaven to save us from our lizard sins. Praise be to Jesus Lizard!

Well, this is not entirely true as Jesus Lizard isn’t real. But the Green Basilisk Lizard is nicknamed the Jesus Lizard because of its astonishing ability to walk on water:

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How does the green basilisk lizard achieve this extraordinary feat? This little reptile is pretty low on the food chain in its natural habitat, and is frequently preyed upon by birds and snakes. So, it’s developed this unique ability as a means to evade those predators.

To escape over the water so quickly, it relies on its large hind feet which have flaps of skin stretched between each toe. As it slaps its foot down on the water, the web of its toes creates a cavity, almost like an air bubble.

Gathering enough speed, it uses the air to push forward. To stop it from sinking, the lizard minimizes downward forces by pulling its foot upward before the cavity collapses!

how lizards run on water

Considering they’re mortal, these lizards are exceptional water-walkers. They can reach a speed of five feet per second across a watery surface, traveling a maximum of fifteen feet before they have to swim.

If you were amazed by the unbelievable things animals are able to do, you might want to read this article about animals that evolved to eat deadly food. Thanks for reading!

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