Which animal can survive a 100-foot fall? Which creature’s eyes change color throughout the seasons, and which mammal has a face full of holes? Buckle up for some truly weird animal facts that will make you rethink the natural world — and maybe leave you a little uncomfortable.
1. Sharks Are Older Than Trees
Borderline horrifying to think about, sharks populated Earth for a staggering 90 million years before the first tree took root on land. Sharks are also older than Saturn’s rings, flowering plants and the Rocky Mountains — and they could be around long after we’re gone.
2. The World’s Smallest Dog Has Been Cloned 49 Times
Miracle Milly, a one-pound chihuahua who earned the title of world’s smallest dog in 2013, piqued the interest of the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, a company that clones canines. Wondering if her small size could be replicated, Sooam diligently made 49 copies of the tiny pooch.
The result? Forty-nine adorable chihuahuas, all of them bigger than Milly herself.
3. Frogs Swallow With Their Eyes
Why do frogs always close their eyes when eating? Hint — it isn’t because they’re savoring the taste of the cricket they just caught. When a frog swallows, it drags its eyes downward into the roof of its mouth to help push the food along. How’s that for table manners?
4. Birds Can Be Poisonous
Although it’s an incredibly rare trait, some birds have poisonous skin or feathers. Most become toxic from the plants and animals they eat.
One such species is the hooded pitohui, which scientists discovered was poisonous when museum specimens’ feathers burned their hands. Eating a spur-winged goose can be deadly due to the bird’s diet of blister beetles. Similarly, dining on common quail that have eaten certain wild plants can cause coturnism, an illness that may lead to kidney failure.
5. Octopuses Have Three Hearts
As if it wasn’t enough to have eight arms, an octopus also has three hearts. The main heart, also called the systemic heart, circulates blood through the body. The two gill hearts keep blood flowing through the animal’s gills.
Octopuses can also change color to match their surroundings, flex their body into the shape of a different animal and regrow their arms. They prefer to crawl rather than swim.
6. Rodents Cannot Vomit
One reason rat poison works so well is that once a rodent ingests something, the substance has to travel through the animal’s entire digestive system. Mice, rats, squirrels, beavers, chinchillas, shrews and other rodents share this trait. Interestingly, so do horses — which is why they’re infamous for their stomachs rupturing if they eat or drink too much, too quickly. Be grateful you can puke.
Another weird animal fact is that although rats can’t throw up, they can actually laugh when being tickled and seem to enjoy the experience. Being a rat doesn’t sound half bad!
7. The Only Animal to Have Asked a Question Was a Parrot
Alex the African grey parrot, whom researchers had been training to count and name objects, looked at himself in a mirror and asked, “What color?”
After the researchers told him a few times that he was grey, he learned the color grey.
8. Pigs Can Be Bigger Than Bears
China is the world’s largest consumer of pork. Consequently, Chinese farmers are breeding bigger and bigger hogs, with one pig clocking in at 1,102 pounds — larger than the average polar bear.
9. Snails Shoot Each Other With Darts
Before mating, many snail species fire chemical-laden darts at each other’s bodies, piercing each other in the process. Getting stabbed with these so-called love darts causes a snail’s reproductive tract to change shape, making it easier for sperm to reach the recipient’s eggs.
Cupid would approve.
10. Snakes Never Eat Plants
You aren’t the only one who hates salad. Although different snake species vary in what they eat, absolutely none of them eat plant matter of any kind. This makes snakes true obligate carnivores in the purest sense of the word.
11. Muntjac Deer Have a Face Full of Holes
All deer have deep slits just outside the corner of their eyes called preorbital glands. The secretions from these glands help deer mark their territory or establish dominance.
Muntjac deer, however, are blessed with an extra pair of holes called frontal glands between their eyes. Bizarrely, muntjacs can turn all their facial glands inside out in an alien-esque display.
12. Peregrines Fly Faster Than Racecars
What’s the fastest animal in the world? If you guessed “cheetah,” you’re about 165 miles per hour behind the curve. The world’s fastest animal is the peregrine falcon, clocking speeds of up to 240 miles per hour in a dive. These birds are lightweight, arrow-shaped and have advanced respiratory systems that help them take in enough oxygen to not pass out.
13. Sloths Can Fall 100 Feet Without Injury
Sloths spend almost their entire lives in the tree canopy. Luckily for them, they’ve evolved a remarkable ability few other vertebrates possess — they can fall 10 stories without breaking a bone.
14. A Reindeer’s Eyes Change With the Seasons
The reflective layer of a reindeer’s eye, called the tapetum lucidum, is gold throughout the summer. In the dark days of winter, however, it turns a rich iridescent blue. Scientists believe this change helps the animals see better in low-light conditions. This adaptation is especially useful when you live in a place where it’s dark all winter!
15. Salamanders Can Regenerate Body Parts
For most animals with a backbone, once you lose a limb, it’s gone forever.
Not so with salamanders. These remarkable amphibians can regenerate their toes, legs, tail and even pieces of their spine and heart. Scientists hope that by studying salamanders, we could one day help people regrow damaged body parts.
Which Weird Animal Fact Is the Hardest to Believe?
From color-changing sea creatures to deer that look like aliens, there’s a big, wild world out there. These weird animal facts might be hard to believe, but sometimes, nature really is stranger than fiction.
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