When it comes to animals, their abilities can seem like something out of a comic book, but they’re totally real. For instance, dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in ours. And hawks can see about eight times as far as humans can, allowing them to spot and focus in on a rabbit or other animal at a distance of about two miles. Here, we are listing facts about 11 such animals, who abilities are extraordinary, to say the least.
1. Bumblebees can sense the electric field of a flower and use it to find pollen.
In 2013, scientists discovered that it’s not just sharks that have an electric sense. The little bumblebees are not only utilizing colors, fragrances and air humidity, they are also sensing electric fields in flower petals. When they flap their wings, they create a positive electrical charge which helps pollen to stick to their hairs. And when a bumblebee lands on a flower, the charge is transferred to the flower, which other bumblebees can detect and understand that the flower has already been plucked of its sweet nectar.
They are also capable of detecting the amount of the electric field, which tells them if the flower has been visited multiple times or just once. This allows them to use their energy more efficiently by visiting flowers with the most nectar. (source)
2. Opossums are capable of self-immunization. This means that their bodies can detect and neutralize venom of snakes, bees, scorpions and nearly all venoms to ensure their survival.
The Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins has found that the American opossum produces a protein known as Lethal Toxin-Neutralizing Factor (LTNF). The LTNF protein is exactly what it sounds like, seeking out otherwise lethal poisons that have entered an opossum’s body and neutralizing them. Scientists studied opossums to see how many types of venoms they can neutralize and to their surprise, it’s not only local snake and animal venom they are capable of neutralizing, but venom from other continents as well.
Studies show that the LTNF can neutralize venom from creatures, including Thailand cobras, Australian taipans, Brazilian rattlesnakes, scorpions and honeybees. In order to test whether the protein would work on other animals, scientists injected the protein onto mice and found that it was able to diffuse the poison, leaving the mice unharmed. Today, scientists are working to make the protein available for humans. (source)
3. Addax Antelopes can change their hair color without the use of expensive dyes.
The addax is a rare species of antelope. The animals have learned to remarkably adapt to the harsh conditions of Africa’s Sahara desert by changing the color of their mane, every season. Without the use of expensive hair dyes or products, the Addax antelope can give itself a new mane whenever the seasons change. During summer, it’s white to reflect the heat of the sun and it turns grayish-brown in the winter to help itself stay warm. Both male and female addax antelopes have horns, so they’re kind of hard to tell apart. (source)
4. The Scarlet jellyfish can restart their life cycle. When injured, the jellyfish can return to the ocean floor and turn back into a polyp, then spend a couple of months growing back into a fully rejuvenated adult.
In a way, the Scarlet jellyfish is immortal. Shin Kubota, a professor at Kyoto University’s Seto Marine Biological Laboratory, started studying the creatures in 1979. According to the professor, when they are adults or at their mature state, the jellyfish can rejuvenate itself. The professor first discovered this by accident when he was helping an injured jellyfish.
“One day in my plankton net, there was a small scarlet jellyfish from (the) south, which had many sharp sticks stuck into its body,” he recalls. “I thought ‘poor thing’ and removed all of the sticks, hoping it may become better and swim again. But it didn’t and shrunk. However, it rejuvenated!”
When an adult scarlet jellyfish — or medusa — is injured, it goes to the bottom of the ocean floor. There, it morphs back into its infant state, known as a polyp. Then the polyp becomes a new medusa, allowing the jellyfish to move between an adult and infant state in about two months. The professor has observed a single Scarlet jellyfish rejuvenate an incredible 12 times in the lab. (source)
5. The Hagfish can secrete thick slime when scared. These icky slime when mixed with water, expands up to 1,000 times its initial volume and can be as strong as kevlar.
Hagfish are pinkish eel-like creatures that have an ingenious defense mechanism. When they are scared, the wiggly critters activate their slime glands and produce a slime that is capable of clogging up their enemies. This gives then enough time to escape to safety. Today, the US Navy is studying these creatures and utilizing their slime to keep divers safe in the deep. The slime is actually made of microscopic filaments and are extremely thin. However, they can be extremely long and strong, expanding up to 1,000 times their volume when mixed with water.
The Navy is now trying to utilize the properties of the slime to create vests for divers that protect them from sharks and other underwater animals. If successful, the vests would be extremely light weight but six times stronger than a normal diving vest. (source)
6. Peregrine falcons have lightening speed. The adults have been clocked at 242 mph, making the black and gray birds the fastest members of the animal kingdom.
While cheetahs can clock up to speeds of 65 – 75 mph, they are nowhere close to the Peregrine falcons. The Peregrine falcon is the fastest bird – and in fact the fastest animal on Earth – when in a dive. When ready to make a dive, the bird soars to great heights, then dives steeply at speeds of over 200 miles (320 km) per hour. When in a dive, the peregrines tuck their wings into their bodies, creating an aerodynamic teardrop shape, perfect for quickly striking unassuming birds and small mammals. (source)
7. Sea cucumbers can shape-shift by essentially liquifying their bodies to squeeze through small gaps.
Sea cucumbers are bottom-feeders, meaning they literally feed off the ocean floor. They are crucial for the ocean since they are like filters, taking in carcasses and other materials while releasing a sandy substrate that is beneficial for marine life. These little critters also have a unique defense mechanism. When they need to get away from an enemy, sea cucumbers can turn their bodies like play dough and squeeze through small gaps. Once they are safely inside a crevice, they can revert back to their hardened shape. (source)
8. Salmon sense the Earth’s magnetic field, which helps them find their way back home.
How animals migrate has always been a mystery to us. Salmons however, are an exception. They hatch in a gravel bed in a stream somewhere deep in the wilderness. Once hatched, they wiggle their way into a water current and make their way into oceans, where they would swim with whales and sharks and avoid other predators. When migrating, the salmon is known to travel thousands of miles back to that same little stream in that same wilderness where they reproduce, then wither away.
They are able to do this because their brains can communicate with the Earth’s magnetic field. Scientists discovered that it is one of the handful of tools salmon use for migrating. Their sense of smell also plays an important role in leading them back to the precise stream where they hatched and reared. (source)
9. The Cuttlefish has some of the best camouflage skills in the animal kingdom. They can distort their bodies to resemble nearly any aquatic shape to blend in with their surroundings and hide from predators.
When cuttlefish know that danger is lurking nearby, they immediately hold their breath and stay perfectly still. According to new findings published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, by freezing in place and essentially holding its breath, a cuttlefish can cloak its electrical cues to prevent predation by hungry sharks. Using a tactic called bioelectric crypsis, the cuttlefish can create a visual camouflage. Scientists studying cuttlefish observed that when a shark was nearby, they flattened their body against the bottom of the tank, slowed their breathing, and covered their body openings with their arms. They even have sacs in their skin containing pigments so they can change colors at a moment’s notice. (source)
10. Elephants have extremely versatile noses. They can easily lift one ton, using only their trunks.
Elephants are strong animals. Their trunk is an upper lip, a nose and also an extra limb. The animals are capable of utilizing the limb to easily lift up to one ton. Apart from that, depending on the situation, it can act as a hose, snorkel, poker, or fork. Elephants are excellent swimmers and when they are in water, they use their trunks as a snorkel to swim great lengths. Their trunks are also equipped with millions of receptor cells, that provide them with a phenomenal sense of smell. (source)
11. The Cardinal fish can spit out bluish fire.
The beautiful bluish fire is actually a defense mechanism exhibited by a tiny crustacean called an ostracod. When the translucent cardinal fish eats plankton, they accidentally eat the tiny 1mm ostracod. The ostracod however, has plans to survive and it ensures its survival by activating its light (a bioluminescent chemical). Since the cardinal fish is translucent, the light will attract bigger fish, making them vulnerable. So, as a defense mechanism, the cardinal fish will spit out the ostracod, while making a beautiful display of colors. (source)