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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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