20 Weird Animal Facts That Prove Mother Nature Is Far Stranger Than People Give Her Credit For

Scientists have estimated that there are approximately one to two million different animal species on the planet — and some of them we don’t even know about yet! Each species has evolved over time, which has created animals with crazy, unique, and even baffling features.

You might think you know everything there is to know about animals, but you’d be surprised. Some have talents and traits that sound positively made up. These 20 crazy animal facts will have you saying, “no, that’s not true” — but, oh man, they totally are!

1. Chameleons’ tongues are extremely fast. They can go from zero to 60 miles an hour in a 100th of a second, so they only need 20 milliseconds to snatch their next meals. Their tongues can also be up to twice the length of their bodies.

Smarter Every Day / YouTube

2. The blue whale is the largest known mammal to ever exist. The largest recorded blue whale was 98.09 feet in length and weighed 173 tons. Their tongues alone are about 3 tons each, which is about twice the weight of a Toyota Camry.

3. Bats can range in weight anywhere from less than an ounce to several pounds. The bones in their legs and feet are so thin that even the smallest of bat’s legs are too weak to hold them up.

iStockphoto

4. Just as humans have a dominant hand, either right or left, Elephants do, too. Well, they are either right-tusk or left-tusk dominant. You can tell which side they favor because one tusk will be more worn down than the other.

Elephant Voices

5. Hippopotamus sweat acts as a natural sunscreen. Initially, their sweat is clear and dries to a red-orange color, then to a brown color. Good thing! The sun in the sub-Saharan African terrain is extremely strong.

YouTube

6.  Cows “go to the bathroom” around 15 times per day. They also produce, on average, 65 pounds of manure per day — or 12 tons in a year! No wonder farms are so fragrant. 

Think Stock

7. Elephant seals spend their days hunting in the deep sea. In fact, the deepest recorded elephant seal dive was to a whopping depth of 7,835 feet. They can hold their breathes for up to two hours while deep diving, and they’ll even stop blood from circulating to certain organs in the process.

Justin Hofman / Nature’s Best Photography

8. Dolphins can stay awake for about two weeks at a time. When a dolphin does need to recharge, it has the ability to let half of its brain go to sleep and keep the other half awake. This allows them to come up for air and be alert to impending predators.

Earth, Wind, and Daisies

9. Once a mother kangaroo is pregnant, she will give birth about 30-36 days after conception. The joey is born about 2 cm long — or about the size of a lima bean. Then, they crawl into their mother’s pouch and develop further for the next 9 months.

10. Homo sapiens have been around for about 200,000 years; meanwhile, the oldest known bee fossil was found in a mine in the Hukawng Valley of Myanmar (Burma), and is about 100 million years old.

11. It’s a common misconception that camels store water in their humps and that’s how they go long periods of time without water. In reality, on average, a camel can drink about 30 gallons of water in around 13 minutes. 

12. A reindeer’s eyes will change color based on the season. During the summer months, their eyes are golden, but in the winter, they change to blue. This helps them see better during the dark Arctic days.

David McDougall

13. African buffaloes hold votes to determine which direction the herd should go. This is decided based on what direction the majority of the females in the heard are facing. That’s right: only the females are allowed to vote!

Living Like Water

14. Certain species of female dragonflies will actually freeze mid-flight and go crashing down to the ground in an effort to fake their own deaths. They do this because they are trying to avoid mating with certain males.

Dreamstime

15. Starfish have the ability to regenerate lost limbs. They are known to rip off one of their appendages if they feel like they’re in danger. The original starfish will regrow its lost appendage, and the lost appendage will actually grow an entirely new starfish.

BBC / YouTube

16. Manatees regulate their buoyancy by using flatulence. The gas they naturally hold within them makes them float near the surface of the water. When they want to dive deeper, they will pass gas, which helps them sink.

Paul Nicklen / National Geographic Creative

17. The Turritopsis Dohrnii jellyfish can make itself younger. Once the jellyfish reaches maturity, it has the ability, under certain environmental stresses or threats, to revert back to its immature state. 

Takashi Murai / The New York Times Syndicate / Redux

18. Koalas have fingerprints that are similar to humans’. They are so similar, in fact, that there have been reports of crime scene investigators collecting the animals’ fingerprints at the scene!

San Diego Zoo

19. Sloths spend the majority of their lives hanging upside down in the trees, and it can take up to 30 days for a sloth to digest a single leaf. Because of these two facts, sloths will only leave the trees to defecate about once a week.

BBC

20. Finally, Mantis shrimp are extremely strong for only being several inches long. They can throw a punch with the same speed as a rifle bullet and only needs three-thousandths of a second to hit its target. Don’t mess with the mantis shrimp.

Wired, Time

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