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25 Most Amazing and Unusual Animal Abilities and Behaviors

Updated on September 26, 2019
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Writing has been a passion of mine from a very young age. I enjoy writing everything from poetry to horror stories.

Real World Superpowers

From super strength, to masterful camouflage, the idea behind all of our favorite superheroes exist in the natural world. Some have ability to regenerate damaged body parts, others the ability to withstand extreme heat and cold. See some of the deadliest, and most creatively evolved species on the planet. Perhaps one will spark the idea for the next superhero.

#25 Unusual But Effective Defense - The Kamikaze Ant

The Camponotus Saudersi is an unusual species of carpenter ant found in Malaysia and Brunei. By normal observation this ant is as normal as the ants found in your back yard. But these ants have developed a very special defense mechanism when their nest, or their queen is attacked. The worker ants have over sized mandibular glands that run the length of the body. If the threat is too great, or a battle is going badly, the muscles contract rupturing the gland. A poisonous glue is ejected that can trap, and potentially kill the attacker.


#24 - How Do You Spell Relief? - The Macaw

Defined mainly due to their lack of facial feathers, these colorful birds of the amazon live in relative peace. The Macaws survive mainly on a diet of fruit, and this diet has led to their unique and un-birdlike adaptation. In the off season, the fruit that they ingest is typically not yet ripe and causes indigestion. Therefore every evening the Macaws gather in large groups on clay licks (areas of exposed clay) which scientists have found that the birds will ingest this salty clay daily to curb indigestion. Because this a daily gathering place this is also where single Macaws will most likely meet their mate, and stay with that mate for life


#23 The Mudskipper - Proof Of Evolution?

If you every had doubts about evolution, perhaps you should take a close look at the Mudskipper. Phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Perciformes, family Gobiidae. The Mudskipper, found mainly in coastal Pacific and Indian oceans, lives mainly in mudflats and mangrove swamps. It has a frog like appearance, but is in fact a fish.

One of it's special abilities the adaptation to survive out of water for long periods of time. They have large developed gills that are able to form an air pocket around moisture surrounding the gills, allowing the fish to survive out of water for several minutes at a time, this is called cutaneous air breathing.

Secondly, the mudskipper has strong pectoral fins that allow it to propel itself along the ground at a rapid pace.


David Attenborough's BBC Life series episode 04 Fish - Miudskipper

#22 The Key to Immortality

The Turritopsis Dohrnii was discovered in 1883, but it's amazing ability wasn't discovered until the mid 1990's. Once at sexual maturity, this species of jellyfish develops the ability to regenerate dead cells. This is called transdifferentiation, meaning that it can transform its own cells into other types of cells needed to survive.

The small species of the jellyfish (4-5mm) have been found in the waters of Japan, Spain, and in the Atlantic ocean near Panama.

Now this in no way suggests that this jellyfish can come back from the dead, but while alive and uninjured, this jellyfish has the potential to live forever.


Strange But incredible Immortal Jellyfish

#21 Bombardier beetles

Found in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, the bombardier beetle spreads across approximately 500 different species of beetle family Carabidae. Has an unusual ability when threatened it can mix two chemical compounds stored in its abdomen, hydroquinone (humans use this for skin whitening) and hydrogen-peroxide. When in danger, the beetle mixes these two compounds along with water and catalytic enzymes inside its body. This mixture generates a violent chemical reaction, and is expelled through the abdominal tip, which can be aimed by the beetle. This mixture burns (and possibly kills) attacking predators as it gets ejected by the beetle. This mixture can be painful to humans as well.


#20 Mastering Cryogenics

Man has aspired for decades to have the ability to freeze oneself and come back at some future date, presumably when a cure has been found for what may be ailing them. The answer to that question may lie with the simple yet amazing North American Tree Frog. Their metabolism is designed to be able to freeze and reanimate in the spring thaw.

When temperatures begin to fall, Urea is built up around the skin, liver, and soft tissues in preparation for winter (Urea or carbamide is an organic compound CO(NH2)2 that aids in metabolizing nitrogen compounds). When the cells begin to freeze glycogen is converted to glucose limiting the amount of ice that is able to form around the cell walls. This in turn prevents shrinkage of the cell which is why normal cells cannot survive the thawing process.


National Geographic Wild - Freaky Frozen Frogs - Wildest Wonders

#19 The Most Clingy Boyfriend - The Male Anglerfish

incapable of feeding themselves after they mature, male anglerfish must quickly seek out their mate by smell in the dark depths of the ocean for any chance of survival. After the male anglerfish finds a mate, he bites her skin. This releases an enzyme that dissolves his lips and her skin so they're connected at the blood level. as they his body dissolves, he is then able to permanently attach himself to her, allowing him to obtain nutrients. He is also able to inject her with sperm when hormones in her blood signal that she's ready to release eggs.

#18 The Juggernaut

The Rhinoceros Beetle, aptly named as the horns it grows appear very similar to a rhinoceros horn. The Dynastinae is part of a subfamily of the scarab beetle family containing more than 300 different species. Most are on the large size, most growing over 6 inches in length. One type of Rhinoceros Beetle, the Hercules beetle can carry up to 850 times its own body weight.


The Amazing Giant Rhinoceros Beetle

#17 Clownfish - The First Transgenders

Clownfish are born male, but can change gender to female at will, for mating purposes.

Clownfish live in coral reefs off the coasts of Australia, and Southeast Asia as far north as Japan. Like in the movies they are mostly found living in and around Sea Anemones. Clownfish have developed a natural immunity the toxins exuded by the anemone. The anemone protects the clownfish from most foreign invaders and in turn the clownfish provides valuable nutrients to the anemone creating a symbiotic relationship.

All clownfish are born male but have the ability to turn themselves into females if breeding is necessary. Once the change is made however there is no going back.

While the clownfish is not currently endangered the overfishing of the species (sales of both the clone anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) called false clownfish because of their close resemblance to the (Amphiprion percula) true clownfish have tripled since the airing of Disney's Finding Nemo. That coupled with the fact that the Coral Reefs are disappearing at an alarming rate would indicate that this cute little orange fish has a grim future ahead.

Sex Changing Clownfish

#16 Unusual Defense - The Sea Cucumber

Sea Cucumbers are an extraordinary creature that lives in virtually every sea and ocean across the globe. They can range in meters from two centimeters to two meters in length. This includes more than 1250 known species of the invertebrate echinoderms. Most spend their entire lives searching for food along the deepest depths of the ocean floors. First of all, they breathe out of their anus. Additionally some species possess the unique ability to be able to actually change states of matter when threatened. Changing from a solid mass to a liquid state of and then able to reverse the condition once the threat has passed. Another type of Sea Cucumber will self-eviscerate its self leaving it's own stomach and entrails to feed the attackers. Allowing itself to flee. The stomach grows back after only a short time.

The Amazing Sea Cucumber

#15 Walks On Water - The Jesus Lizard

The Green Basilisk Lizard,(Basiliscus basiliscus), a species of lizard in the familyCorytophanidae, is also known by a nickname, The Jesus lizard (legarto de Jesus Cristo). It lives only in Central and South America and is primarily known for its ability to run on water. The common Basilisk has a fin like crest along it’s back allowing it to run on its hind legs and skim across the top of the water. Very handy when it comes to evading potential predators. It is also an excellent climber and swimmer and can even stay underwater for upwards of a half an hour.

Nat Geo on Basilisk Lizards

#14 The Original Spider-Man- The Velvet Worm

The Onychophora, or Velvet Worm is an amazing and unique creature that has been on this planet for a very long time. Experts estimate their origins around 500 million years ago. Unlike most arthropods they have Hydrostatic skeletons, they do not have an external skeleton. Their bodies are covered with a thin skin that is kept rigid by pressurized fluids. They alternate fluid pressures to move their appendages as well. Each little stubby appendage is equipped with a hooked claw allowing them to climb on virtually any surface. Their skin is covered with bristles sensitive to touch and smell making them adept hunters and trackers. Once they’ve located their prey, usually other small invertebrates, they shoot a quick hardening sticky slime from two glands on either side of their head. Once ensnared the worm will bite into it and inject saliva that liquifies the prey making it easier to consume.

The Velvet worms also have some very interesting and varied mating habits which includes one species that reproduces asexually, but I think we’ll save that for another article.

#13 Or Is This The Real Spider-Man - The Gecko

The Gecko is one of more than 1000 lizard species that make up the suborder Gekkota. Most Geckos have feet that are specially developed for climbing. The pads of their long toes are covered with smaller pates that are in turn covered with small hairs. These act as microscopic hooks clinging to even the smallest abnormality on a surface including ceilings. With around 14,000 seta on each footpad, these hair-like tentacles can grip any type of material except Teflon.

The Gecko’s Amazing Climbing Prowess

#12 - An Impermeable Dinosaur Still Walks The Earth - The Pangolin

The Pangolin is one of eight species of armored placental mammals that have been around on this planet since the time of the dinosaurs. Fossil evidence shows that they’ve been around since the Eocene Epoch around 33.9 to 56 million years ago. Penggulung a Malay word for roller is a representation of their natural defensive position where they roll themselves into a ball hiding any exposed skin in a tightly compact ball strong enough to withstand most predators. Unfortunately, this defense mechanism makes it easy for poachers to pick them up and sell the endangered species for profit. If you would like to aid in supporting this ancient animal, you can actually adopt one at;

#11 Most Deadly - The Box Jellyfish

The deadly box jellyfish that reside in the warm coastal waters of Australia, New Zealand and Sothern China, have potentially developed the deadliest venom on the planet. The toxins are overwhelmingly painful and attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells. So much so that many victims fail to even make it back to shore before succumbing to the painful toxin. Approximately 100 deaths per year are reported to be due to the box jellyfish. Those lucky enough to survive will endure weeks of pain and a lifetime of scarring from the up to 15 tentacles that grow up to 10 feet from each corner of the bell. Each tentacle contains around 5,000 stinging cells that are triggered by the touch any foreign chemical.



How Deadly Are They?

#10 Tree Climbing Goats? Agean Goats

While goats around the world are known for their climbing and balancing prowess, the goats of southwestern Morocco have a style that is definitely unique. The goats in this region have taken to spending most of their time in the branches of the Argan tree (Argania spinosa) eating the fruit that it produces. Farmers in the region support this habit as the undigested seeds are collected from their feces and turned into cosmetics, food, and other expensive products. In the summer months when the fruits are ripe the goats will spend up to 70 percent of their time grazing in the trees.

CBS News report on Agean Goats

#9 Masters Of Illusion - Mimic Octopus

The Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) earned his name by being the most efficient and creative master of disguise. Most of the things it chooses to mimic are either deadly predators that other sea life don’t want to mess with, or inanimate objects. Some examples of other sea life that the Mimic Octopus has been seen imitating include a sea snake, a stingray, the lionfish, eels, rocks, and coral. They only reach a length of around 2 feet at maturity so it pays to be intimidating or stay hidden.

Most Intelligent Sea Life

#8 Designed Survival In The Harshest Conditions - The Arctic Squirrel

The Arctic Squirrel (Urocitellus parryii) can spend up to nearly three quarters of a year in a hibernation state. Longer than any other animal on the planet. Found in the arctic regions of Canada, Alaska, and Eastern Russia. During its long hibernation it’s body temperature can drop as low as 37.2°F, the lowest body temperature of any mammal. Once its brain temperature drops below safe levels, certain portions of the brain wake up and body begins to shiver. Once the body temperature raises, and the temperature in the brain returns back to safe levels, the body quiets again and rests.

The study of the capabilities of this little mammal could lead to treatments or even cures for a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases.

The Wonder Of Canada’s Ground Squirrels

#7 Sonic Attack - The Pistol Shrimp

The Pistol Shrimp from the Alpheidae family is a common name given to one of any of hundreds of shrimp species. The common name comes from the popping sound it makes when snapping the larger of its asymmetrical claws, snapping closed with such power and speed that it creates a shockwave through the water able to kill or stun enemies. The sound that emits from it actually ranks as one of the loudest sounds emitted by any animal on Earth. So much so that if grouped together they could easily disrupt sonar. The sound is actually created by the bursting of a bubble. The claws snap together with such tremendous force that a bubble shoots out at speeds up to 62 miles an hour and reaching temperatures of 4700 degrees for a very brief period. The popping of the bubble creates a sound louder than firing a gun and is powerful enough to break glass. Don’t know if I’d take the risk of keeping one in my aquarium.

Nat Geo’s Worlds Deadliest

#6 - Most Deadly - Shocking Pink Dragon Millipede

Another example of one of the smallest creatures on the planet being one of the deadliest. The 3cm long Desmoxytes Purporosea or Shocking Pink Dragon Millipede lives up to its name. This small but deadly creature found in the in the Hup Pa Tard limestone cavern in Thailand emits the chemical Hydrogen Cyanide. Deadly to humans in 300 parts per million in an hour or less. Lethal in under a minute in doses of 3500 ppm or higher.

#4 An Oddity With A Hidden Talent - The Platapus

The Platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, at first sight is just an average if not a bit odd little animal that is a little tough to classify. It is a mammal, but it lays eggs. Despite these oddities, Platypus have a hidden superpower that is pretty amazing. They are the first higher vertebrate to be found to have electroreceptors in their unique bill, allowing them to detect the muscle function in live prey, or predator. This is a trait that has been found in some fish in and amphibians but has never been recorded in a mammal.

Nat Geo’s Worlds Deadliest

#3 The Indestructible Microscopic Tardigrade

The first time I learned about the Tardigrade, Ecdysozoa Tardigrada, it made me certain that there was life elsewhere in the universe. This amazing creature can survive the vacuum of space, the pressures of the deepest oceans, temperatures ranging from minus 328 degrees to more than 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Discovered in 1773 by Johan August Ephraim Goeze in Germany. Tardigrade which translates as slow stepper has the unique ability to enter a state called cryptobiosis meaning that if deprived from water they will curl up into a little dehydrated ball called a tun, and essentially die. However, .001 percent of their activity remains, their organs are protected by a gel called trehalose and it creates a large amounts of antioxidants awaiting decades for water to return. A 1948 report alleged that a Tardigrade was reanimated after 120 years. Though this research has never been able to be duplicated. In 2016 scientists were able to revive. All these facts coupled with the fact that Tardigrades can reproduce by lying up to 30 eggs at a time, or asexually if there are no partners around tells me that these tiny creatures, maxing out at 1 mm, will outlive everything on this planet, and could live anywhere in the universe.

#2 Most Adept, And Cutest, Aquatic Regeneration - The Axolotl

The Axolotl, (pronounced Ack-Sul-Lah-Tuhl) Ambystoma mexicanum, are found exclusively in the lake complex of Xochimilco near Mexico City, though there are more bread around the world in labs and aquariums. These unique and remarkable amphibians are on the decline and are currently on the critically endangered list. Their primary distinction from other salamanders is that they rarely advance to maturity, they practice Neoteny. That means that they reach sexual maturity without losing juvenile traits, meaning that most maintain a tadpole like appearance. Most remain underwater for the duration of their lives, which is why they earned the local nickname of walking fish, or water dogs by the Aztecs. The branches that grow off of their heads are their gills. Growing outward to increase surface area for maximum gas exchange from the water. In rare cases, or if given a push by scientists the Axolotl will reach maturity and be forced from the water. Afterwards they look nearly identical to their relative, the Tiger Salamander.

Their true superpower lies in their powers of regeneration. It’s not uncommon for amphibians to be able to replace limbs or tails, but the Axolotl can replace parts of it’s spine, jaw, or even their brain without any scarring.

#1 Creation Of The Strongest, Brilliant, and Baffling Element By Any Creature - Chitons

A Chiton described as a flat symmetrical mollusk in the class Placophora, Polyplacophora, or Loricata, phylum Mollusca. They cover the globe existing in every ocean but are more prevalent in warm waters.

The dorsal surface is a row of eight overlapping plates of varying colors. They use one large flat foot to creep along ocean floors and rocks. Almost all across the globe max out at a length of around 5 cm, with the exception of the North American Crypotochiton Stelleri which can grow up to 33 cm.

Their special adaptation is their shell, or more specifically a tough crystalline material that develops on their back, this material also creates hundreds of tiny eyes. The eyes themselves are inorganic and made of the same tough crystalline material as their shell. This little mollusks ability to create this material is currently being studied. Theoretically by uncovering the how this simple organism creates this miraculous shell could lead to insights to both material and medical applications.

External Links

Here's where I found all this stuff

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Matthew I Crawford


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