The World’s Fastest Animal Reaches Speeds of Over 300 Km Per Hour

Cheetahs are famous for their speed, but they don’t even come close to the world’s faster animal, a falcon that swoops on its unsuspecting prey at speeds of over 300 km per hour.

The peregrine falcon is one of the most efficient predators on Earth, and it owes much of that efficiency to its unrivaled speed. During its characteristic dive, this majestic creature reaches an average speed of 320 km/h, but the highest measured speed of a peregrine falcon is actually 389 km/h (242 mph), which makes it faster than the vast majority of commercially available cars. And it’s obviously much faster than the cheetah’s 64 mph record.

Read More »

Honeypot Ants – The World’s Only Honey-Producing Ants

Honeypot Ants, or honey ants, are specialized workers of several species of ants whose sole job is to gorge on nectar until they become living honey-storage.

Did you know that honeybees aren’t the only insects capable of producing the sweet, viscous, and brown-to-golden-colored natural product we know as honey? Several other species of bees, as well as bumblebees and even wasps are known to produce the sugary treat, but perhaps the most unusual insect able to convert nectar into honey is the honeypot ant. Belonging to a number of ant species, the most common of which is Camponotus inflatus, honeypot ants are specialized workers that act as living storage for their colonies when food is scarce.

Read More »

World’s Smallest Snake Can Easily Be Mistaken for an Earthworm

Measuring around 10 cm, with a diameter comparable to that of a cooked spaghetti, the Barbados Threadsnake (Tetracheilostoma carlae) is by far the smallest snake in the world.

Spotting a Barbados threadsnake for the first time, you could swear it was an earthworm. They are actually comparable in size and diameter, with the largest specimen ever found measuring only 10.4 centimeters, and are also blind. They also typically weigh under one gram and are small enough to coil on an American quarter. The species was officially discovered slithering beneath a rock near a patch of Barbadian forest in 2008 by evolutionary biologist S. Blair Hedges, but little has been discovered about its ecology and behavior since.

Read More »

This Bird Is the Heaviest Animal Capable of Walking on Water

Using their large feet and fast stride, the Western and Clark’s grebes can run as far as 20 meters on water, making them the only bird and the heaviest animal on Earth capable of doing so.

If you exclude Jesus Christ, whose biblical feat of walking on water is literally considered a miracle of the New Testament, only a handful of creatures are known to be able to walk or run on water. Most of them are small insects, but there is also a small basilisk nicknamed the Jesus Christ lizard for very obvious reasons, but the largest of them all are two bird species – the Western and Clark’s grebes. They can run on water for up to 7 seconds and distances of about 20 minutes as part of an impressive mating ritual.

Read More »

Meet Dexter, the Dog That Learned to Walk Like a Human

Dexter, a 7-year-old Brittany Spaniel from Colorado, has become an inspiration for many around the world after he taught himself to stand up and walk on his hind legs after suffering an accident.

When he was only a puppy, Dexter escaped his owners’ yard in Ouray, Colorado, darted into traffic and got hit by a car. One of his front legs had to be amputated and the other was severely damaged. But he survived, and that’s all his owners cared about. They assumed he would need some kind of wheelchair to get around without his front legs, and he did use one for a while, but only until he learned he could walk much faster on his hind legs alone. Since then, he has been walking like a human, turning heads around town and inspiring the entire world.

Read More »

Ukrainian Family Returns Home After Four Months of War, Finds Dog Waiting for Them

When a Ukrainian family returned to their war-ravaged home in Hostomel after four months, the last thing they expected to find was their beloved pet husky, Belyi.

In March of this year, when Russia started targeting Hostomel’s strategically important airport with its artillery, 35-year-old Kateryna Tytova and her family had to make a heartbreaking decision. Kateryna, her husband Olexandr and their two young children fled the city and left their white husky, Belyi behind. It sounds cruel, but those were desperate times. Russians were advancing, there was shelling around the airport, and there was no time to plan their escape. A photo of Kateryna holding her 5-year-old’s daughter as they run from artillery shelling has made international headlines. But despite leaving Belyi behind, the family always hoped he would be waiting for them when they came back.

Read More »

This Marine Mollusk Has Teeth Literally as Hard as Steel

The gumboot chiton, a marine mollusk also known as the Wondering Meatloaf, has teeth made of the hardest biological material known to man.

Magnetite is a geologic mineral commonly found in the earth’s crust, but it’s also somehow produced by the gumboot chiton and synthesized into rows of small teeth hard enough to scrape algae off of rocks. The top of these teeth is layered with magnetite, which makes them literally as strong as steel, but the root is also incredibly tough, thanks to another iron-like material that has never been observed in living creatures before – santabarbaraite. This unique combination makes the chiton’s teeth the hardest biological material in the world.

Read More »

This Small Snake Uses Farts as a Defense Mechanism

The western hook-nosed snake, a small snake endemic to the deserts of the United States and Mexico, is famous for the shape of its snout and for farting to confuse its enemies.

Cobras and rattlesnakes have their deadly venom, constrictors like pythons and Boa have their strong musculature, but the western hook-nosed snake doesn’t have either, so it relies on a more unusual defense mechanism – farting. When threatened, it emits rumbling air bubbles from the cloaca – the common opening for excretion at a snake’s rear end. Known and cloacal popping or defensive flatulence, this strange means of defense is designed to confuse predators long enough for the snakes to escape.

Read More »

‘Door Head Ants’ Use Their Large Flat Heads as Doors to Shut Down Their Nests

The workers of several ant species have large, flattened, and slightly concave heads that they use as plugs to block entrance to their colonies’ nests.

The so-called ‘door head ants’ are soldier ants with armored heads that match both the size and the shape of the entrance to their colonies’ nests almost to perfection. They function as living doors, using their heads to plug shut the nest and only allow access to other members of the colony while keeping unwanted guests out. Door head ants can be found in several ant genera, including Cephalotes and Carebara. How these species developed the exact size and shape as the entries to their nests is the result of millions of years of evolution.

Read More »

Onagadori – A Japanese Chicken Breed With Majestically Long Tail Feathers

The Onagadori (‘honorable fowl’ in Japanese) is a rare chicken breed known for its exceptionally long tail, which can reach over 10 meters, putting even peacocks to shame.

Of the seventeen chicken breeds considered Japanese national treasures, the Onagadori is the only one to have “special” status. Ever since it received this status in 1952, exports of Onagadori birds and eggs were forbidden, so there are very few specimens, if any, found outside of Japan today. The breed is famous for the non-molting, and thus incredibly long tails of roosters, which, if kept in the best conditions with high levels of animal husbandry, can grow for the lifetime of the bird.

Read More »

This Fascinating Bird Looks Like a Feathered Dragon

What do you get if you mix a bird, a squirrel and a lizard? Well, I think you’ll have a tough time finding a better answer than the Great Eared Nightjar.

Seeing a great eared nightjar for the first time, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a squirrel or even a lizard. The fact is it kind of looks like a combination of animals, or even a real-live version of Toothless, the dragon from DreamWorks Studios’ hit animation “How to Train Your Dragon“. You could say it’s living proof that birds are more closely related to dinosaurs than reptiles.

Read More »

Cuban Painted Snails – Probably the World’s Most Beautiful Gastropods

Out of the roughly 1,400 species of land snails that call Cuba home, the six species of the genus Polymita, fondly known as painted snails, are without a doubt the most eye-catching.

When it comes to snail per se, there’s probably no beating the spectacular red-and-black contrast of the Malaysian fire snail, but as far as shells go, Cuba’s painted snails are in a class of their own. Just a look at the stunning swirling colors on their shells, and it’s easy to understand why they are considered by many to be the world’s most beautiful snails. However, this flattering title comes with a downside. Because their dazzling shells are so sought after by collectors, all six species of the genus Polymita are now critically endangered.

Read More »

Fish With 555 Sharp Teeth Loses 20 of Them Every Day, Grows Them Right Back

Scientists recently found that one of the world’s “toothiest” animals, the Pacific lingcod, keeps its 555 teeth razor-sharp by losing up to 20 of them every day and growing them right back.

The Pacific lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) is a carnivorous fish found in the North Pacific. You couldn’t tell just by looking at it, but this 20-inch (on average) fish has one of the scariest mouths in the world. Instead of the incisors, molars, and canines we’re used to seeing, it has hundreds of nearly microscopic teeth lining its jaws. Their hard palate is also covered in hundreds of tiny spikes, as are the pharyngeal jaws, a set of accessory jaws that the lingcod uses to chew its food the way we use our molars. Now scientists have found that Pacific lingcod keep their hundreds of teeth sharp by losing and then growing dozens of them in a day.

Read More »

The Surprising Love Story Between a Cow and a Leopard

Viral photos of a leopard and a cow cuddling somewhere in rural India tell the unique love story between two very unlikely friends.

Cows and leopards are usually not the best of friends, with the latter sometimes preying on bovines to survive. However, you wouldn’t even be tempted to think that looking at a set of viral photos that have been doing the rounds on social media for nearly two decades now. They show an adult leopard cuddling and playing with a cow, which, if the accompanying caption is to be believed, adopted and breastfed the feline as a cub. The story behind the photos has been exaggerated over the years to attract even more attention, but the photos are real and the relationship between the two animals is a testament to the fact that miracles can happen.

Read More »

Caterpillar Wears Its Molted Heads as a Bizarre Multi-Tiered Hat

The caterpillar of the Uraba lugens moth is deserving of the nickname “Mad Hatterpillar”, as it stacks the heads of its molted exoskeletons into an intriguing headpiece.

The Uraba lugens caterpillar molds up to 13 times while in its caterpillar phase, but it doesn’t shed all of its previous body parts. It uses some of the empty shells that once housed its head to create a rather impressive tower-shaped headpiece. As the caterpillar grows, so does its head, so each of the empty shells on top of its head is bigger than the next. Every time it molds, the head portion of its exoskeleton stays attached to its body, giving the critter a unique look as well as a handy decoy in the case of an attack.

Read More »