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 »

The Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound Actually Has Two Noses

Once believed to be the stuff of legends, the double-nosed andean tiger hound is an extremely rare dog breed used by Bolivian hunters to track jaguars through the Amazon rainforest.

The first mention of double-nosed dogs in the Amazon jungle can be traced back to 1913, when legendary explorer Colonel Percy Fawcet told tales of such animals on his return from an expedition. No one believed him, they laughed at his stories, and the double-nosed dog remained a cryptozoological beast up until the mid-2000s, when Colonel John Blashford-Snell returned with photographic evidence of the dog’s existence. It’s an extremely rare breed believed to only exist in Bolivia, where it is used to track jaguars because of their enhanced sense of smell.

Read More »

The Danish Protest Pig – A Rare Breed Designed to Be a Living, Breathing Flag

Husum Red Pied is a rare domestic pig breed popularly known as the Danish Protest Pig because its whole reason for being was to imitate the Danish country flag at a time when an actual flag could not be raised.

The story of the Danish Protest Pig can be traced back to the mid 19th century when Denmark and Prussia went to war over control of the southern Jutland Peninsula. The two countries couldn’t decide where the border between their lands was, so they eventually went to war. In 1848, Denmark won the war and the claim to the contested land, but only a decade later the Second Schleswig War erupted, and this time Prussia emerged victorious. In the years that followed, Prussian authorities launched a campaign against anything Danish, especially the Danish flag, which didn’t sit too well with farmers in the disputed Jutland territory. So they devised a cunning plan to bypass the ban…

Read More »

This Shrimp Punches So Hard It Can Chip And Even Crack Fish Tanks

The peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) is recognized as having the fastest punch in the entire animal kingdom, with an acceleration comparable to a .22mm bullet fired out of a handgun.

One of several known mantis shrimp species, the O. Scyllarus is native to the seabed of the Indo-Pacific, from Guam to South Africa. It is an agile and active predator, using its club-shaped appendages to smash its prey, which mainly consists of other crustaceans, gastropods, and bivalves. The peacock mantis shrimp is known as a ‘smasher’ for a reason, as it uses its appendages to repeatedly deliver blunt force to its victims until it breaks their exoskeletons in order to reach the soft tissue underneath. Every blow travels at a speed of over 50 miles per hour (80 km/h), the fastest recorded punch of any living animal.

Read More »

This Australian River Valley Is Home to the World’s Largest Earthworms

The Bass River Valley of South Gippsland, in the southeastern Australian state of Victoria is home to the world’s largest earthworms, which can grow up to 6.6 feet in length.

The giant Gippsland earthworm (Megascolides australis) is one of the world’s most elusive and fascinating creatures, able to survive in an environment completely changed by its human inhabitants and rarely showing up above ground. These enormous earthworms can only be found in a 150 square mile area, a habitat once blanketed by dense forests but that has now been completely converted to farmland. Apart from its size, this ability to survive in a landscape in which the native vegetation has been entirely removed is another fascinating trait of the giant Gippsland earthworm.

Read More »

Meet Spitfire, the Michael Jordan of Dock Diving Dogs

To a regular person, Spitfire the dog may look like just another Whippet, but to connoisseurs of the dock diving circuit, he is an incredible athlete in the same league as icons like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods or Babe Ruth.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, eight year-old Spitfire and his 16-year-old handler, Sydney, dominated the dock diving circuit like never before in the history of the sport. If you’re unfamiliar with the sport of dock diving, it’s essentially canines running on a wooden dock and jumping as far or as high as possible before diving into a pool of water. And no dog does this better than Spitfire. Between 2016 and 2019, he broke a whopping 21 world records, jumping farther and higher than any other competitor and securing his status as the GOAT of dock diving.

Read More »

The Malayan Leaf Frog Lives Up to Its Name

The Malayan leaf frog, a.k.a long-nosed horned frog, is one of the most remarkable creatures on Earth, at least in terms of natural camouflage.

We’ve featured some truly impressive masters of camouflage in the past, from the dead leaf butterfly to a plant that evolved to mimic the rocky terrain it grows on, but the Malayan leaf frog is definitely up there with the best of them. As an ambush hunter that waits for unsuspecting prey to cross its path, this amphibian needs to remain unnoticed for as long as possible, and what better way to do that than blend into the leaf-covered forest floor it calls home? Its unique physical features make it almost impossible to visually detect in its natural habitat, and looking at the photos below, it’s easy to see why.

Read More »

Remarkable Slug Can Sever Its Own Head and Grow a New Body

Japanese researchers recently the incredible ability of a sea slug to basically sever its own head and simply grow a new body, complete with fresh vital organs.

Autotomy, the behavior whereby an animal sheds or discards one or more of its own appendages, usually as self-defense mechanism, only to grow them back later, is well documented in the animal world. However, autotomy usually involves limbs or tails, appendages that don’t feature vital organs, whish is why a sea slug that can apparently sever its own head and then grow a new body complete with these vital organs has stunned scientists.

Read More »

Natural Sharpshooter – Archerfish Uses Its Mouth as a Water Gun to Hunt Prey

The archerfish is famous for its ability to accurately shoot prey from several meters away with a powerful jet of water generated from its mouth.

Toxotes jaculatrix, commonly known as the archerfish, lives in the in mangroves of southern and southeast Asia, where they spend much of their time stalking prey from beneath the surface of the water, ready to hit it with a powerful jet of water, knock it out of the sky or whatever surface it’s sitting on, and then swallow it whole. The incredible accuracy of the arrow fish has long fascinated scientists, especially as studies have shown that it can adjust for various factors, like gravity, or the distance its target is at, to maximize its chances of success.

Read More »

Cat Survives Three-Week Journey Locked in Shipping Container With No Food or Water

A resourceful feline has surprised the workers of a shipping company when it emerged from a locked container after spending three weeks at sea with no food or water.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian logistics company Star Shine Shipping LTD took to Facebook to report a rather unusual tale of survival involving a curious feline. When opening a sealed container that had traveled over two thousand kilometers from Ukraine to Israel, over a period of three weeks, the company’s staff found a grey cat inside. The animal looked a bit scared, but was otherwise in good condition, despite having endured a long journey without any food or water.

Read More »

Gravity-Defying Ibexes Climb Vertical Walls in Search of Precious Minerals

The Alpine Ibex is a species of big mountain goat-like herbivores that inhabit the highest peaks of the European Alps, using their pincer-like hooves and impressive agility to climb up even the steepest cliffs, thus avoiding most predators. But it’s their ability to climb even vertical walls that has made ibexes famous all over the world.

The Cingino Dam, located in Italy’s Piedmont region is one of many masonry dams in the European country, but it became somewhat of a tourist attraction a few years back, after photos of ibexes climbing the vertical damn all the way to the top went viral online. And looking at these photos, or watching the videos of the herbivores expertly traversing the seemingly unclimbable structure, it’s easy to see why millions around the world declared themselves fascinated. Somehow, the ibexes are able to grip any rock that protrudes from the dam ever so slightly, which allows them to scale the 50-meter-high wall and reach the mineral they so desperately crave – salt.

Read More »

Born to Fly – The Bird That Spends Up to 10 Months Without Landing

Scientists have long suspected that some species of birds can eat drink, mate and even sleep while flying, but even they were stunned when data showed that one such species could go up to 10 months without landing.

As its name suggests, the commons swift (Apus apus) is a common bird that lives all across Europe and much of Asia, but their flight time is anything but common. This medium-sized bird currently holds the record for the most time spent in the air per year, with data showing that some specimens can spend up to 10 months out of 12 without landing even once. They drink and eat in the air, feasting on any insects that they can capture in flight, they can mate in the air as well, and, like the much larger frigate birds, they can also sleep in the air by gliding on warm air currents known as “thermals”.

Read More »

World’s Smallest Bird Lays Its Eggs in a Nest the Size of a Quarter

Only slightly larger that the insect it’s named after, the Bee Hummingbird weighs no more than two grams and lays eggs roughly the size of coffee beans. It is officially the world’s tiniest bird.

Found only in Cuba, the Bee Hummingbird is extremely small even for a hummingbird, so much so that people often mistake it for an actual bee when they see it hovering over flowers. But this tiny flier not only looks like an insect, it also competes against them for resources. It is the result of a phenomenon scientists call “island dwarfism”, where certain species have problems competing against larger species for resources, so they get smaller and smaller over evolutionary time to avoid running out of food and start competing against other categories of organisms.

Read More »

This Lizard Shoots Blood Out of Its Eyes to Keep Predators at Bay

We’ve featured some interesting animal defense mechanisms in the past, from moths that camouflage as two flies feasting on bird poop, to caterpillars that mimic snakes, but this horned lizard’s secret weapon is on another level of weirdness.

The regal horned lizard is a small reptile native to Mexico and the southwestern United States. Their main habitat is  the Sonoran Desert Mountains, where they spend most of their time eating harvester ants and other small insects. They can eat up to twenty five hundred ants in one meal, but if you think that’s impressive, you’ll love its most unusual self-defense mechanism – squirting blood out of its eyes.

Read More »