This Caterpillar Mimics a Scary Skull to Keep Predators at Bay

The caterpillar of the rare pink underwing moth has a very peculiar defense mechanism. When disturbed, it suddenly arches its back to reveal a pair of large, frightening eyes and what looks like a two rows of barred teeth.

The pink underwing moth is a rare and enigmatic insect found from subtropical New South Wales through Queensland and New Guinea. It feeds on rotting fruit and, although nocturnal, doesn’t seem to be strongly attracted to light. The moth’s name was inspired by the bright pink bars on its hidden hind underwings, which some experts believe act as a defense mechanism. The theory is that a sudden display of color can startle or surprise a predator for long enough to let the moth escape. But that defense strategy pales in comparison to that used by the pink underwing moth in caterpillar form.

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This Rare Bird Could Go Extinct Because It Has Forgotten Its Mating Song

The regent honeyeater is already one of the world’s rarest birds, but experts are worried that it could soon go extinct, because they have forgotten how to sing.

Flocks of hundreds of regent honeyeaters could once be spotted all over south-eastern Australia on a regular basis, but today the species is critically endangered, with only 300 specimens believed to exist in the entire world. They were also known for the complexity of their mating songs, but as their numbers started dwindling, ornithologists started noticing this complexity diminishing, to the point where male regent honeyeaters didn’t even sound like their species anymore. Today, there is ample evidence that regent honeyeaters have forgotten how to sing, which could render the entire species extinct.

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Golden Tortoise Beetles – Nature’s Living Jewels

Ever seen a tortoise the size of a fly? How about a golden one that can actually fly? Well, today’s your lucky day, as you get to discover one of nature’s shiny treasures – the golden tortoise beetle.

Before you open a fresh tab to search if these adorable critters are real or just the result of digital editing, make sure you use the species scientific name, aspidimorpha sanctaecrucis, as “golden tortoise beetle” is a really common name shared by a number of beetles, like charidotella sexpunctata, among others. What makes this species of beetle special is that the gold pattern on their transparent protective carapace actually makes them look like tiny tortoises.

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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.

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This Cuddly Rodent Coats Itself in Lethal Poison to Keep Predators at Bay

The African crested rat, an elusive rodent that lives in forested areas of Eastern Africa, has a very strange yet intriguing defense mechanism against would-be predators – it licks deadly toxins onto its own fur.

People inhabiting the highland forests and woodlands of countries like Somalia, Sudan or Ethiopia have long known to stay clear of the large maned rat that makes its home in those areas. Known as Lophiomys imhausi to scientists, this long-haired rat is the world’s only poisonous rodent. But the most interesting thing about it is that it’s not born poisonous; it actually “borrows” the lethal toxin of a plant known as the “poison arrow tree”, which contains a poison strong enough to kill an elephant, when applied to an arrow head. The rat applies this toxin to specialized hairs on the sides of its body, turning itself into as lethal weapon against anyone foolish enough to attack it.

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Orchid Bees – The Living Jewels and Expert Perfumiers of the Insect World

The Euglossines, aka Orchid Bees are often described as the world’s most flamboyant bee tribe, and looking at their brilliant metallic coloration, it’s easy to see why.

Orchid bees are probably the closest thing to real living jewel. Sporting bright metallic colors – with green, blue and gold being the most common – and very few hairs compared to other families of bees, these pollinators really stand out as some of the most visually striking insects on Earth. But it’s not just their bright, shiny exterior that sets them apart from other bees. Euglossines don’t make honey, they don’t build hives, most species of the tribe are solitary, and perhaps most fascinating of all, males collect and mix fragrances which they then use to impress females.

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Russian Far East Region Experiences Particularly Bad “Mosquito Tornadoes”

Villages on the east coast of the Kamchatka peninsula, in the Russian Far-East are experiencing scenes that seem taken out of an Alfred Hitchkok movie. Only instead of birds invading their community, it’s billions of mosquitoes swirling into visible “tornadoes”.

Villages like Ust-Kamchatsk are used to being invaded by large number of mosquitoes every summer, it’s normal for this insects to swarm near bodies of water, but this year it’s much worse than usual. Because of an unusually hot summer, the number of mosquitoes is much larger, making them an even bigger nuisance than they usually are. Window and door nets do little to keep the pesky buzzers out of people’s homes, as they seem to get in through the smallest of cracks, and going outside means dealing with large swarms of mosquitoes that seem to reach the sky when seen from afar.

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Parasitic Wasp Turns Its Helpless Host Into a Bodyguard for Its Eggs

Thyrinteina leucocerae, the caterpillar of the geometer moth, is targeted as a host for a species of parasitoid wasp that can lay up to 80 eggs inside its body. The caterpillar’s reward is a job as bodyguard for the very parasites growing inside it and a slow, agonizing death.

The Glyptapanteles wasp is one of nature’s most fascinating and, at the same time, terrifying body-snatchers. Not only does its lay dozens of eggs into caterpillar hosts, but scientists claim that the insect can somehow change the behavior of the host, turning into a mindless bodyguard whose only mission is to protect the wasp’s eggs against predators. Once the wasp grubs hatch out of its body and begin to spin their pupae, the caterpillar stops moving, stops eating, gets on its hind legs and goes into statue mode. But at the slightest threat for the wasp “babies”, it starts swinging its head violently to drive predators away.

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The Heartbreaking Story of the World’s Loneliest Plant

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, in the UK, are home to thousands of fascinating plants, but none as lonely as the Encephalartos woodii, an ancient cycad species and, most likely, the last one of its kind.

It was in 1895 that botanist John Medley Wood noticed this interesting-looking palm tree on a steep slope in Zululand, southern Africa. Intrigued by its multiple trunks and arched palm fronds, Dr. Wood — who made his living collecting rare plants – had some stems removed and sent to London in a box.It ended up in the Palm House at the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew, where it has been waiting for a mate for over a century. Despite numerous efforts to find it a mate, the Encephalartos woodii at Kew remains alone, unable to produce an offspring and propagate its species. For this reason, many consider it the world’s loneliest plant.

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Misleading Photo of Creepy “Zombie” Toes Throws Twitter Into Overdrive

A photo of what looks like a creepy zombie foot peeking from under a log has been doing the rounds on Twitter this week, confusing a lot of people and blowing the minds of others.

Believe it or not, this picture shared online by Indian Forest Service officer Susanta Nanda isn’t taken out of a horror movie, nor is it showing the toes of an actual zombie or a real-life White Walker. Nanda actually challenged his followers to identify the animal, which was just as misleading as the photos, because what you’re looking at isn’t an animal but a fungus aptly named “Dad Man’s Fingers”.

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Experts Baffled by Lake That Changed Color From Green to Pink Literally Overnight

Lonar Lake, also known as Lonar crater, which formed after a meteor hit the Earth some 50,000 years ago, baffled experts in India after changing hues literally overnight.

Located around 500 km from Mumbai, in India’s Maharashtra state,  the Lonar lake has long fascinated scientists with its seasonal change in color. This natural phenomenon has been attributed to the salinity of the water and the presence of algae, but the change has never been as sudden or as glaring as this year. Plus, while the water of Lonar lake usually turned a reddish hue, this year it turned pink, baffling scientists and locals alike.

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These ‘Ice Cream’ Tulips Look Good Enough to Eat

I don’t normally think of food when looking at flowers, but these lovely ‘Ice Cream Tulips’ really get me thinking about a nice cold treat to cool me off on a hot summer day.

If you’re a flower enthusiast, you probably already know about the ice cream tulip variety, but for most people they are still somewhat of a novelty, especially just before their petals open, when they truly look like an ice-cream cone good enough to eat, or even as a whipped cream-topped treat. They are a relatively new tulip variety, and even though bulbs seem to be widely available for purchase online, they are rather expensive, so you probably won’t see them sold at most flower markets too often. Still, if you’re trying to make your garden stand out, or just make your neighbors constantly crave ice cream, they are worth the investment.

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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”.

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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.

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The Tailor Bird Uses Its Beak as a Needle to Literally Stitch Up Its Nest

As children, we learn that birds build their nests out of twigs and dry grass, but the truth is that bird nest architecture varies greatly, as demonstrated by the tiny Tailor Bird, which uses as its beak as a needle to stitch a protective nest out of leaves.

Orthotomus sutorius, or the Common Tailor Bird, is a small, warbler-like songbird that lives in tropical Asia, but it’s not its singing that’s intriguing, it’s the bird’s nest building skills. It stitches one or two solid tree leaves together to create a cup that provides both a comfortable shelter and camouflage from predators. And when I say stitches, that is exactly what I mean. The female tailor bird uses its sharp beak as a needle to first pierce the leaves, then takes cobwebs or plant fibers and guides it through the holes as thread, until the pouch is nice and secure. It’s unclear how the tailor birds picked up this talent for sewing but it’s clear that it is passed on genetically.

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