All year the Cool Green Science team has been bringing you stories of nature’s quirky, unexpected, alright sometimes just downright weird side. We’re celebrating Earth Day with nine stories that prove science fact is sometimes stranger than science fiction.
The Magnificently Weird Mola Mola
The mola’s odd shape disguises its true claim to fame: it’s the heaviest bony fish in the world. Slimy and brimming with parasites, they’re shapeshifters that out-gun every vertebrate fish in the ocean and even dupe unwitting scientists. Meet the Mola mola, quite possibly the weirdest fish in the sea.
If you were to pick up a yellow-spotted millipede, it would likely curl into a spiral and exude hydrogen cyanide on you, accompanied by the strong scent of toasted almonds. Cyanide millipedes use chemical warfare to ward off predators. They also make critical nutrients available in forest ecosystems. Read more about these amazing, yet understudied, critters.
Strange Shrew Facts
Some shrews use echolocation: they emit sounds producing sonar that helps them navigate their world (much like bats). They walk on water, they’re one of the few venomous mammals in the world, and they can win epic battles with snakes and scorpions. Learn more about one of the most ferocious and bizarre predators, and it’s probably roaming near you.
Really Weird Anthropocene Animals
Male mallards are extremely aggressive during breeding season, to put it mildly. So aggressive that they’ll readily breed with other species, resulting in some really wild-looking hybrids. From cloned wolves to high-cholesterol foxes to radioactive pigs, learn more about the weirdest creatures now roaming the age of humanity.
Fantastic Fecal Phenomena
Each day a single wombat lovingly deposits between 80 and 100 cube-shaped pellets all around the edge of its territory. Where there is life, there is also poop. And that’s where things get interesting. Read on for seven incredible tales of excrement from the natural world.
Insanely Weird Plants
Instead of capturing insects, like most pitcher plants, Nepenthes lowii evolved to capture the excrement of tree-dwelling mammals and birds, like the mountain treeshrew. Meet the plant that eats shrew poo, the orchid that has sex with itself, and the embarrassingly phallic titan arum.