Saturday, May 14, 2011

14 Exotic Animals

Creative Commons License
Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

When I was younger I believed that some of the most fascinating animals stemmed from the imagination. While that is true, in our world exists astonishing marvels. While there are countless of amazing animals, here are some that intrigued me.

1. Barreleye Fish: 
Google Image
 Its eyes are in its transparent head, which are the green orbs protruding at the top of its head. Since barreleyes live in the deep ocean, the transparent dome-like head helps collect more light to help them maneuver their way around the dark ocean depths. Also, their eyes look upward, allowing them to detect the movements/silhouettes of prey above them. Studies suggest that they are able to look forward as well to see what they're consuming. 
National Geographic

Yoda (Google)

2. Tube-nosed Fruit Bat:  Yoda-Bat
So a flying Yoda was discovered  hiding out in a rainforest in Papua New Guinea in 2009. It shares the same characteristics of the typical fruit bat, ingesting fruits and dispersing the seeds throughout the rainforest to help new plants grow.

3. Encantado Dolphins: Pink Dolphins!
These dolphins live in the Amazon river. Not all are pink, some are white or gray. Their pink color is due to the expansion of their blood vessels, which helps them release body heat. In other words, the red blood vessels make them appear pink! They can turn their necks 180 degrees due to an unfused vertebrae. Unlike other dolphins, they have a hump on their back, instead of a dorsal fin. They are called Encantado or "Enchanted One" because according to legend the pink dolphin transformed into a handsome young man at night and came ashore to seduce girls using music. Their love affairs often resulted in illicit children.

4. The Mexican Axolotl
When I read the short story "Axolotl" by Julio Cortazar a few years ago, it led me to research what exactly an Axoltol is. I found their faces adorable (ok, some are pretty creepy) because they seem to have a tiny cartoonish smile. In any case, this mole salamander remain in the larval stage meaning they never fully become a salamander. They can grow back body parts torn away or bitten off by predators (making them neotenic) Some people keep them as pets. So who wants one?

5. The Golden Tabby Tiger a.ka. Strawberry Tiger

Their unique coloration is caused by a recessive gene. Strawberry tigers are extremely rare, even rarer than the white tiger. Apparently less than a 100 exist in the world.
 6.  The Dumbo Octopus
Unlike other octopuses, the Dumbo Octopus swallows its prey whole. It earned its name due to the tiny fins on the side of its head that resemble ears, which it uses, along with its arms, to swim.

7.  The Anglerfish: A Courtship To Envy
Male Anglerfish
Female Anglerfish
Have you seen Finding Nemo? Then chances are that you've seen an anglerfish. The lovely overly attractive fish to the right is actually a female. The glowing fishing rod-like object on her head is used to attract prey. Hence, they are called the Fishermen of the sea. The male anglerfish is attached to this Aphrodite, but he's so tiny you hardly notice him. Not sure what he sees in her, but beauty lies in the eye of the beholder no matter how questionable it may be at times. When mating, he attaches himself to the back of the female, biting deeply into her skin and releasing an enzyme that slowly consumes the male as he loses his internal organs and life. His eyeballs, heart, brain and all that is him are sacrificed to fuse the pair together, thus leaving behind a pair of gonads that release sperm. Truly the most romantic of courtships, right?

Can you spot the male?

8. Glass Frog

These unusual critters have semi-transparent skin that reveals their intestinal tract, heart, and liver. Since they are extremely small, only about 1 inch to 3 inches long, they are difficult to find.

9.  Star-nosed Mole

The Star-nosed Mole has a set of 22 tentacles surrounding its nose. Although they have eyes, they are functionally blind and so use their tentacles to detect its surroundings, find prey (yummy earthworms), and prevent particles from entering its nose. Besides digging tunnels, they are surprisingly great swimmers and also eat fish.

10. Angora Rabbit
"It's so fluffy I'm gonna die! It's so fluffy!"- Despicable Me
They make great pets, have extremely soft, silky, fur that require a great deal of brushing. Good 
news though, they love being brushed.

11. Narwhal

The Unicorns of the sea! The tusk protruding from the head of the male arctic whale is actually a twisted tooth projecting from its upper jaw that can grow up to 10 feet long (That's two of me!). Males joust with their tusk to gain dominance or to win over the heart of a female. They weigh almost 2 tons, are between 13-16 feet long (females being smaller, around 13 feet), and can live up to 40 to 50 years.

12.  Yeti Crab  (Kiwa Hirsuta)

Discovered in 2005 near the Easter Islands, the yeti crab has long silky hair covering its legs that contain filamentous bacteria. This fashionista was named after the abominable snowman, the mythological yeti. The use of their hairy pincers has yet to be concretely determined, however they may be used for feeding, mating and possibly to clean out harmful toxins because it lives near hydrothermal vents that release poisonous toxins threatening the lives of some animals.

13.  Sea pig

Aren't these guys adorable? Okay, maybe not.  This pig-slug is actually a clear sea cucumber that can grow up to 4 inches long. They live in the deep ocean in the Pacific Northwest eating particles they find in the sand.

14. Rosey-lipped Batfish

Pucker up, because the rosy-lipped batfish is ready for a kiss :) Off the coast of Costa Rica on Cocos Island this red-lipped beauty awaits. Do not confuse with the
Red-Lipped Batfish

red-lipped batfish found on the Galapagos Island. The Rosey-lipped batfish does not swim. Instead it uses its fins to walk.

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