11 Amazing Creatures With Superpowers
This blog post will focus on ten creatures with extraordinary superpowers; read on to find out the animals who are indestructible, invisible or immortal!
The Indestructible Animal Who Travelled To Space
Tardigrades, also known as water bears or moss piglets, are tiny micro animals that live worldwide, from rainforests to oceans, mountains and the Arctic. These eight-legged wonders can survive extreme conditions that quickly kill other life forms, such as extremely high or low temperatures, pressure, and radiation. Tardigrades can even survive in the vacuum of space! Scientists believe that their ability to withstand such extreme conditions is due to their ability to enter into a state of "cryptobiosis". In this state, the tardigrade's metabolism slows down to an almost undetectable level, and it can remain in this state for years at a time. When conditions become more favourable, the tardigrade will "reanimate" and return to its active form. Tardigrades are fascinating creatures that have amazed scientists for years with their ability to endure nearly any environment.
The Invisible Cystisoma
A Cystisoma is a transparent crustacean that lives in the ocean. They measure between four to six inches and have huge eyes. Because the Cystisoma is transparent, it is almost invisible underwater because it doesn't cast a shadow. Cystisoma legs have a particular anti-reflective brush structure which diffuses light; this helps it hide from predators who use bioluminescence for hunting. Watch a video of the cystisoma in action.
The Oldest Land Animal
Jonathan is a 191-year-old Seychelles Giant tortoise who lives on the island of St Helena. We don't know the year of Jonathan's hatching, but based on historical records, his vet, Joe Hollins, thinks he hatched in 1832. Jonathan lives with two other giant tortoises on the grounds of the residence of the Governor of the island. The average lifespan for his species is 150 years, and his weight is estimated to be between 150Kg and 200Kg. Learn more about Jonathan here.
In contrast to Jonathan, let's look at the other end of the spectrum. Dolania americana is a type of mayfly that lives in the clean sandy riverbeds of the southeastern United States. These insects have (what is thought to be) the shortest adult lifespan. The adults emerge from the water before dawn in early summer, ready to mate. The males fly over the river looking for a female. Once they have bred, they fall from the sky in exhaustion and die. This whole process happens in the space of 30 minutes. The female's adult lifespan is much shorter; she mates then deposits her eggs in the water and dies within five minutes.
The Immortal Jellyfish
Turritopsis dohrnii is a jellyfish with a unique superpower; they can revert to an earlier stage of their life cycle and begin their growth again. If they experience an environmental stressor - such as an injury, these jellyfish can revert to a polyp (a little stalk of tissue that attaches to a fixed surface.) It will then grow into a tiny jellyfish and eventually reach the fully grown adult stage. In theory, they could live forever (unless predators eat them first!)
Living In The Hottest Place On Earth
The Rüppell's fox lives in the desert and semi-desert areas of North Africa, the Middle East, and southwestern Asia. One of the places you'll find this fox is the Dasht-e Lut desert, Iran. Scientists have recorded temperatures of 70.7 °C (159.3 °F) here, making it one of the hottest places on Earth. These nocturnal foxes live in underground burrows that remain cool during the heat of the day and has evolved to survive hot temperatures. Its wide paws help enable it to walk on soft sand, and they are covered in fur to prevent them from being burnt by the hot ground.
The Squirrel Who Hibernates
For Eight Months
Arctic ground squirrels live in the sub-arctic and arctic areas of North America and Asia and are well-adapted to their cold, harsh environment. One of the ways they survive the long, dark winters is by hibernating. During hibernation, their body temperature drops, and their metabolism slows down, allowing them to survive on very little food. Arctic ground squirrels can hibernate for eight months at a time. During this time, they do not eat, drink, or defecate. Instead, they rely on their stored body fat to keep them alive. Their body temperature can drop to 27 degrees F / -3 degrees C, and they produce proteins that act as antifreeze in their blood. These proteins help to keep their body fluids from solidifying, even when the temperature outside is below freezing.
A Mine Detecting Elephant
African elephants have nearly 2,000 scent-detecting genes, giving them a sense of smell that is probably the strongest ever identified; for context, dogs have around 811. They use their extraordinary abilities to protect themselves and their herd; in Angola, tagged elephants were noted to avoid areas where landmines were buried. Researchers later discovered they could smell the TNT from mines.
The Underground 'Devil-Worm'
The deepest living animal, Halicephalobus mephisto was found in was found in water thousands of years old flowing from a crack in the rock of a a South African mine. It lives 2.2 miles (3.6 kilometres) underground in a hot, high-pressure environment. They feed on bacteria and reproduce asexually, which needs just one parent to produce genetically identical offspring. Scientists believe finding life so deeply underground may have significant implications for the prospect of life on other planets in our Solar System. Read more here.
Devil Worm by Gaetan Borgonie, Ghent University
The Longest Jump Ever Recorded
The longest kangaroo jump was 42 feet (or 12.8 meters) and was made by a female red kangaroo in New South Wales, Australia. Red kangaroos are the largest kangaroo species and the best jumpers. Their powerful hind legs and long tails help propel themselves forward to cover considerable distances in a single bound. They have strong muscles in their thighs and hips, which help to generate the force needed for jumping. Kangaroos use their powerful hind legs for more than just jumping; they also use them for kicking and fighting. In addition to being excellent jumpers, kangaroos are also strong swimmers; they use their tails for swimming and their forepaws to drown pursuing predators.
The Insect Who Lives
On Top Of The World
Climbers have found Himalayan jumping spiders 6,700 m (22,000 ft) up Mount Everest! They live higher than any other animal and hunt by jumping on tiny springtails and flies that the wind has blown up the mountain. Jumping spiders are a special type known for their unique hunting style. Rather than building webs, jumping spiders actively stalk their prey. They use their large eyes to spot potential targets and pounce on them.
A Himalayan Jumping Spider stands upon a snowy hill.
Why An Eagle Can See For Miles
|Bald eagles have incredible long-distance eyesight; they have 20/5 vision compared to an average human with 20/20 vision. This means eagles can see something 20 feet away that we can only see five feet away. Their eyes are large in proportion to their head size, taking up half of their skull. The eyes of a bald eagle are positioned on the side of the head, allowing for 340-degree vision, and they can also rotate their head an amazing 270 degrees. This helps them scan the landscape for prey, even from a huge distance - an eagle can reputedly spot a rabbit from 3.2 km (2 miles) away.
Portrait of a Bald Eagle by Saffron Blaze
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