Bioddities

Nature in all her splendour

Giant Weta

Photo credit SOLENT

  • Heaviest species of extant insect 
  • Endemic to New Zealand and an example of island gigantism
  • Most specimens live on small islands around the main landmass having been exterminated by non-native mammals

http://gizmodo.com/5864195/the-worlds-biggest-insect-is-so-freaking-huge-it-can-eat-a-carrot

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Turquoise Puya

Photo credit www.strangeandwonderfulthings.com

  • Relative to the pineapple native to Chile
  • Has turquoise and orange flowers. 
  • The plant is relatively hardy and can withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees F. 
  • The word “puya” is derived from the Mapuche Indian word meaning “point.”
  • Popular among gardeners of exotic plants

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puya_berteroniana

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Rock Hyrax

Photo credit: Me

  • A medium-sized mammal whose closest relatives are elephants and manatees 
  • Characteristics similar to elephants include tusk-like incisors and testes that remain in the body cavity
  • Live in groups of 10-80 individuals with sentries that will sound alarm calls if predators approach
  • Due to poor thermoregulation, hyraxes like to cluster together to keep warm 
  • Can be found in Israel and are not considered kosher. Proverbs 30:26 notes them as being wise animals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Hyrax

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Coconut Crab

  • Largest terrestrial arthropod. The legspan can reach up to 3 feet. 
  • Uses giant claws to crack open coconuts
  • Juveniles must use gastropod shells like hermit crabs to protect themselves until their exoskeletons harden
  • Also called the robber crab due to their tendency to steal and hide shiny objects
  • Considered a delicacy where it is naturally found

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut_crab

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Spotted Salamander

Photo credit George Grall

  • A common salamander on the East Coast of the United States
  • Photosynthetic algae live within the salamander cells
  • Symbiosis where single-celled organisms live within other cells is rarely found in vertebrate animals. Vertebrates have adaptive immune systems programmed to destroy foreign objects. 
  • The algae provides oxygen and carbohydrates to the salamander cells giving them a boost in growth rate
  • The salamander cells provide carbon dioxide to the algae

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100730/full/news.2010.384.html

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Water Deer

Photo credit http://stonecirclesandnature.wordpress.com/

  • A small deer with two subspecies living in China and Korea
  • Males have long tusks (5.5 cm - 8 cm/ 2.1 in - 3.2 in) that grow from the upper jaw. The tusks in females are smaller. 
  • The fangs are loosely held in their sockets and can be controlled by facial muscles. They are pulled back while the deer eats and thrust forward during confrontations. 
  • Also called vampire deer. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_deer

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Balmain Bug

Photo credit http://thegutsygourmet.net/

  • A type of slipper lobster found off the coast of Australia
  • Has no claws and feeds on algae and small crustaceans buried in sand
  • Subject to small scale fishery and eaten widely in Australia around fisheries

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibacus_peronii

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Vegetarian Spider

Photo credit National Pictures

  • Primarily eats a fat and protein rich plant substance called Beltian bodies
  • Acacia trees produce Beltian bodies at the tip of their leaflets as part of a symbiotic relationship with guardian ant colonies
  • Spiders must “hunt” their food by avoiding ants protecting the tree
  • Young spiders resemble ants in appearance and possibly chemical signature allowing for easier access to Beltian bodies
  • Spiders do not eat the ants, but will occasionally steal their larvae

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagheera_kiplingi

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Bar-Headed Goose

Photo credit Darlyne A. Murawski

  • Spends winters in Southeast Asia and breeds by mountain lakes on the Tibetan Plateau
  • Migrates over the Himalayas and has been seen flying over Mt. Everest (8,848 meters or 29,029 ft) making it the highest flying bird
  • Adaptations to the low oxygen levels at high elevations include an increased number of blood vessels, hemoglobin with higher affinity to oxygen, more mitochondria per cell, and the ability to hyperventilate without passing out 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar-headed_Goose

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Baobab Tree

Photo credit Bernard Gagnon

  • Includes six species of trees native to Madagascar, one to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and one to Australia
  • Can live thousands of years
  • Does not produce growth rings making dating difficult
  • The swollen trunk can store up to 120,000 L (32,000 gallons) of water for times of drought
  • Multiple parts are consumed by humans: 1) the leaves are eaten as a vegetable, 2) the fruit is eaten directly or as candy, cream of tartar, or a cheese-like flavoring, 3) the seeds are roasted, used as soup thickener, or provide vegetable oil, and 4) the pulp provides a citrus flavor that has been used in Japan’s Baobab Pepsi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adansonia

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