With over 9 million species and 36 phyla, the Animal Kingdom contains a plethora of animals from every corner of the world. Some of these animals live in very inhospitable places, hence, have adaptations that help them to survive. To us, most of these adaptations seem logical and self-explanatory. However, some adaptations are rather extreme and sometimes perplexing. Following are some animal adaptations that might surprise you.
Dragonfish’s Crystal Teeth
At just over three inches in length, the dragonfish or the Aristostomias scintillans has an unusual teeth structure – it is made of nanoscale-sized crystal particles – which makes its teeth much stronger than bigger fish such as great white sharks. Interestingly, it also makes the teeth of the dragonfish more transparent – which means it can remain hidden from prey. The fish has also evolved a complex sensory system that allows it to sense prey under pitch-black environments. Another interesting fact is that these fish live more than 1500 feet under the sea, and they exhibit bioluminescence – which means they are able to create their own light.
The deep-sea angler fish has one of the most unusual mating habits of any animal on earth. The mating ritual is so bizarre that the males end up losing most of their vital organs and body parts as they start physically fusing into the female’s body. After this ritual, the female angler fish is seen with small bumps protruding from its body. However, before this phenomenon was discovered, scientists were perplexed when they found the females. Initially, these bumps were speculated to be its eggs, but that theory was later disregarded. The mating process involves the male finding a suitable mate. Once found, the male bites into the belly of the female and latches on, until the male’s body starts fusing. Eventually, the male loses its eyes, gills, fins and most organs as they are not needed anymore. Their skins and blood vessels coalesce – which enables the male fish to acquire nutrients from the female. After a while, the male becomes nothing more than a lump of flesh hanging off the female.
Homicidal Praying Mantis
If the mating rituals of the deep-sea angler fish seemed grotesque, then the mating rituals of the praying mantis is sure to shock you. The female praying mantis engages in sexual cannibalism – a phenomenon where she eats the male after mating. In fact, the female bites off the head of the male and starts devouring him soon after mating. Research suggests that females who eat the males lay more eggs than the females that don’t eat their mates. The study also suggests there are certain genetic benefits to males that are eater after mating. However, it is important to note that not all females eat their mates. Moreover, males try to avoid being cannibalised by slowly approaching the females from behind.
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