Devious Parasite Grants Host the Gift of Eternal Youth, But For a Price

Scientists have discovered that Temnothorax ants infected by a certain tapeworm parasite can live at least three times longer than their uninfected peers while maintaining a youthful appearance and getting special treatment.

A multi-year scientific study published in May of this year has revealed a phenomenon worthy of a science-fiction or fantasy blockbuster – a parasitic tapeworm that grants its host eternal youth while making them irresistible to their uninfected peers, who work harder just to bring them food and fulfill their every wish. It sounds unreal, but scientists at the  Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Austria have studied colonies of Temnothorax ants and found that when they are infected with the tapeworm Anomotaenia brevis, they become virtually immortal.

Temnothorax-nylanderi is a relatively common species of small ants that live in forests throughout Central Europe. They form small colonies on the forest floor, inside acorns or wooden branches, and most importantly, they serve as an intermediate host for the tapeworm Anomotaenia brevis. Up to 70 parasitic larvae can survive in the hemolymph, the body fluid of insects, but instead of competing for resources with their hosts and slowly killing them, the parasites appear to extend their lives considerably, possibly even indefinitely.

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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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Stray Canine Is Istanbul’s Most Popular Public Transport Commuter,

Boji, a stray dog from Istanbul, Turkey has become so familiar with the local public transportation system that he casually uses several means of transportation (bus, subway, train, and even the ferry) every day.

Dogs using public transportation is not unheard of. Back in 2011, we wrote about Moscow’s impressive subway-riding dogs, and three years ago we featured Eclipse, Seattle’s famous bus-riding canine. But in both cases, the animals used a specific means of transportation that they had become familiarized with. Boji the stray, on the other hand, is comfortable using several types of public transportation every day, including the ferry, to get around the ancient Turkish city and even travel between continents…

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World’s Loneliest Orca Has Been Living Alone in a Concrete Tank for Over 10 Years

Kiska, the last living killer whale at the Marineland marine park, has been dubbed the world’s loneliest orca after it was revealed that she has spent the last 10 years of her life alone in a concrete tank, with little to no stimulation.

Orcas, dolphins, and whales are among the world’s most intelligent animals; they are social creatures that require a lot of interaction and stimulation which those raised in captivity, unfortunately, don’t receive enough of. In one extreme case, a lonely orca that has spent most of her life in captivity and the last decade completely alone in a concrete tank, at a marine park in Ontario, Canada has been showing signs of extreme distress, like floating listlessly and banging her head against the sides of her enclosure.

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This Slender, Pointy Fish Can Literally Stab People

You couldn’t tell by looking at its slender, rather frail frame, but the needlefish is one of the world’s most dangerous fish to humans, with multiple cases of injuries and even fatalities reported throughout the years.

A member of the family Belonidae, the needlefish is a piscivorous species whose most distinctive feature is the long, narrow beak filled full of sharp, saw-like teeth. But it’s not the teeth that should worry you – they’re only used to catch smaller fish – but the combination of an extremely pointy beak and incredible speed. Needlefish swim close to the surface of the water and like to jump over obstacles like shallow boats rather than go around them. The problem is that they jump at speeds of up to 60km/h (37mph), and since their obstacles sometimes happen to be humans out at sea, they literally impale them with their long beak, causing serious, sometimes fatal injuries.

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Translucent Caterpillar Has Eerily Visible Insides

The caterpillar of the Brazilian Skipper Butterfly has translucent skin that offers an eerily clear view of its insides, especially the circulatory system.

Brazilian skipper butterflies are larger than most skipper butterflies, but it’s not their size that sets them apart as a species, it’s their appearance during the caterpillar stage. What really makes this tiny critter special is its translucent skin, which offers a very clear view inside the caterpillar, revealing the organs and especially the circulatory system. This see-through skin gives the Brazilian skipper caterpillar a very strange look, especially when you realize that the twitching dark line that runs down its back, from its head to the rear of the abdomen, is the heart.

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Pleń – When Thousands of Tiny Larvae Move as One Giant Unit

The larvae of a certain species of gnats have been known to migrate by assembling into a large snake-like shape numbering tens of thousands of individuals and crawling on the ground as one. The bizarre phenomenon is known as “Pleń” in Poland and “Heerwurm” in Germany.

As far back as the 17th century, the larvae of sciaria militaria, a species of dark-winged fungus gnats found throughout Central Europe, have been observed moving on the ground as a giant slithering unit ranging from 50 centimeters to a reported 10 meters. Called Pleń by the Polish people who first documented the rare and poorly understood phenomenon, this method of migration numbers between a few thousand to several tens of thousands of tiny larvae. They crawl on the ground as one unit, towards an unknown goal that scientists have so far only speculated on.

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YouTuber Documents Raising Piglet for 100 Days Before Allegedly Eating It on Camera

A Japanese YouTuber recently sparked controversy after apparently cooking and eating a piglet that he had raised on camera for the previous 100 days.

In May of this year, a Japanese man started a peculiar YouTube channel named “Eating Pig After 100 Days“. True to its name, the channel was all about raising a small piglet for 100 days, before cooking and eating it. The idea was intriguing enough to attract a decent audience of over 100,000 on the world’s most popular video platform, but few of its followers actually believed the man behind the project would actually go through with it. After all, what kind of monster would slaughter and eat the adorable piglet that won the hearts of so many, right? Well…

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The Brazilian Treehopper – The Most Alien-Looking Creature on Earth

The Brazilian treehopper, a pea-sized, rainforest-dwelling insect that spends its days munching on treetop leaves, is almost certainly the most otherworldly-looking creature on our planet.

From the double-nosed Andean tiger hound, to the painting-like “Picasso fish“, we’ve featured our share of strange-looking creatures on Oddity Central, but none of them come close to the bizarre Bocydium globulare or the Brazilian treehopper. This tiny, solitary insect looks like something out of a sci-fi/horror film, featuring a headdress made up of four spheres of chitin covered in many bristles, which suggests they have some sensory purpose, but scientists have no idea what these weird balls actually do.

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This Adorable Tabby Is the World’s Deadliest Feline

Felis nigripes, the African black-footed cat, stands at just 8 to 10 inches tall and weighs roughly 200 times less than the average lion, but it is actually the most efficient feline predator on the planet.

The black-footed cat is actually the smallest African feline, smaller even than the average alley cat, but you shouldn’t be fooled by its demure stature, because it is actually the deadliest of all the world’s felines. This adorable furball has an accelerated metabolism that requires it to hunt almost non-stop, which means that it kills an average of 10 to 14 rodents or small birds every night, more victims than a leopard hunts in a month. To top it all off, its predations success is around 60 percent, while lions only succeed in catching their victims about 20 to 25 percent of the time.

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Hagfish – Weird Slime-Spewing Monsters of the Ocean

At first glance, the humble hagfish looks like just another species of ocean-dwelling eel, but they are something much weirder and at the same time fascinating. From the bizarre slime-like substance it produces as a defense mechanism, to the lack of a backbone, there’s a whole lot of weirdness to address.

The hagfish is a primitive, virtually blind creature that spends its life on the bottom of the ocean, slithering and feeding mostly on dead or dying fish. Among the several things that make the hagfish unique is its body structure. It has a skull, but no jaw and no vertebral column. This allows them to tie their bodies into knots in order to scrape the sticky slime they produce off of their skin. They can burrow into dead or dying animals through various orifices and even through their skin – using two rows of keratinous teeth – and devour them from the inside. But they don’t really need the teeth, as they can absorb nutrients through the skin and can go months without eating. Pretty freaky stuff, and we haven’t even talked about their slime-producing capabilities.

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Rat King – Russian Farmer Finds Five Rats With Their Tails Mysteriously Knotted Together

Reports of the bizarre rat king phenomenon date back to the 16th century, but the recent discovery of a Russian farmer who found five small rats with their tails tied in a giant knot is once again causing scientists to scratch their heads.

A rat king occurs when the tails of multiple rodents become so entangled that even an adult human, let alone a creature without opposable thumbs and advanced brain, would have trouble detangling. Rat kings have been reported numerous times since the mid-16th century, but scientists have yet to properly understand how and why it occurs, or even if it is a natural phenomenon or just a man-made hoax. The discovery of a new rat king in a flooded field in Russia has once again brought the very existence of the phenomenon into the debate.

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Cat Miraculously Survives 52 Days Alone Locked in an Abandoned House

A lucky cat somehow managed to survive 52 days locked in an abandoned house in the Dutch town of Vlaardingen, eating paper and struggling to find water sources.

At the end of last month, the new owners of a house in Vlaardingen were shocked to see a thin, visibly malnourished cat race past them as they opened the front door of their property. They had bought the place at an auction, so this was the first time they set foot in it. Animal Shelter Vlaardingen was contacted and they managed to catch the feline and started an investigation. It turns out that the former owner had disappeared on July 1st and the cat had been struggling to survive by itself ever since.

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The Parlor Roller – A Unique Pigeon Breed That Does Backflips Instead of Flying

Although there are plenty of flightless bird species on Earth, the Parlor Roller pigeon is believed to be the only one selectively bred by humans until it lost its capacity to take to the skies and developed a completely new and bizarre means of getting around – backflips.

Seeing a parlor roller pigeon roll on the ground, you would think it was having some sort of seizure, but in reality, the birds are rolling on the ground because it comes naturally to them. No one knows exactly how or when the breed was created, but experts and enthusiasts speculate that its origins can be traced back to mid-19th century Scotland when someone probably encountered a specimen with a slight tendency to roll on the ground and decided it was worth emphasizing via selective breeding. It is believed that over years of selective breeding, pigeons that rolled over long distances were obtained.

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