From a lizard that can walk on water to an insect that can eat its own silk, the animal kingdom is packed with astonishing superpowers. These superhuman powers help animals adapt to their natural environments and increase their chances of survival.
For instance, the pit viper’s ability to detect the heat of its prey is like having a superhuman radar. Or take the African Elephant, whose social and family behaviors are incredible examples of natural intelligence.
Axolotls are carnivorous creatures that consume worms, mollusks, crustaceans, insect larvae and even small fish. They thrive in cool water and are effective predators with undeveloped teeth.
A favorite exotic pet, the axolotl defies biological laws of metamorphosis and can regrow lost parts of its body, including hearts and parts of its brain. It can also accept transplanted limbs and organs without rejection.
Its ability to regenerate led to its use as a delicacy and for medicinal purposes, which in turn contributed to its decline in the wild. It is now classified as Critically Endangered. In captivity, however, the axolotl is flourishing. Its large genome has been sequenced, which scientists hope will help them understand its regenerative capabilities.
Cuttlefish are among the most intelligent invertebrates, surpassing even octopuses and squid. They have the largest brains in proportion to their bodies, allowing them rapid reaction times and full control over their color changes and tentacles. They can also count and exert self-control.
These cephalopods are often called the chameleons of the sea, thanks to their amazing ability to change colors and textures in the blink of an eye. They use this to camouflage, hunt, and ward off predators. They can even flash patterns that move down their body to communicate with other cuttlefish — a kind of visual language. This is how they tell each other to stop and watch them, a behavior some have compared to hypnosis.
The ability to shapeshift is a power that you’d expect to see in the realm of superheroes like Magneto, but it’s not just limited to humans. The aptly named mimic octopus is capable of transforming into various shapes and sizes to lure and manipulate its prey.
Dolphins are highly intelligent, wide-ranging marine mammals that form complex, family-based social structures and exhibit emotional depth. They are also one of the few animals (along with apes and humans) that can recognize themselves in a mirror.
Zoological facilities and aquariums provide a great opportunity for people to learn more about the incredible world of dolphins. Their knowledgeable professionals can help educate the public, promote conservation, and showcase these amazing creatures.
Lyrebirds are native to Australia and are known for their incredible ability to mimic sounds from their environment. They can imitate other birds’ songs, chainsaws, car engines and even human voices! This uncanny ability is used by males to attract mates during the breeding season.
These ground-dwelling birds are well-known for their ostentatious tail feathers which they fan out in courtship displays. They also have short, rounded wings which make them poor fliers.
Dung beetles have extraordinary strength, allowing them to roll dung balls up to 1,100 times their own weight. This is the equivalent of a person pulling six double-decker buses! This incredible strength is a result of specialised muscle groups in their thorax.
Dung beetles are already famous for their ability to roll a ball of excrement over long distances, but it seems that these hard-working insects have a few more tricks up their poopy sleeves. It turns out that some dung beetles (specifically, the African Scarabaeus zambesianus) can use polarized light patterns cast by the moon to navigate and steer their balls of poop in straight lines.
Scientists divide dung beetles into three groups based on how they make a living: rollers, tunnelers and dwellers. Rollers form a bit of dung into a dung ball and roll it away to bury it for food or to make a brood ball.
The African Elephant is the largest land mammal, weighing up to 6000 kg (13,500 lb). Its dexterous trunk, which resembles an arm or hand, can hold up to 11.5 gallons of water and has two finger-like projections on the tip.
Their specialized ears enable them to gather an extraordinary amount of multi-modal sensory information in their habitats. Olfactory and auditory cues complement one another in guiding elephant behavior, including their reaction to potential threats and regulation of relationships with known and unknown individuals.
They also have remarkable memory, which is why herds with older matriarchs survived a drought better than younger herds. They might even remember the details of how they escaped from danger in the past.