Blood Squirting Lizards
A lot of animals in the world like to squirt things when they’re feeling afraid. Everyone knows (and fears) getting sprayed by a skittish skunk. But just don’t run into the horned lizard. This North American native takes squirting to a whole new level. Not only does it squirt blood, but it squirts blood from its eyes. We’re not talking about a slow drip here either. The horned lizard can squirt that blood up to 5 feet away. And before you ask: no, the predators do not find this enjoyable at all. Although the horned lizard’s usual predators would be eating the little guy blood and all, this little shot of blood is both disconcerting and foul tasting. Just be glad your cat hasn’t learned this little trick.
Animal Sex Changes
While we humans are busy debating the morality of sex changes, some animals in the world do it to survive — and without any kind of surgery or hormone injections! Changing sex is common among several types of fish, including moray eels and clown fish. How does this work, you ask? Sort of the same way we humans do it. The process is called sequential hermaphroditism, and it’s really all in the hormones. Some animals can change the hormones their bodies produce, which will force the body to undergo the physical changes required to change them into a different sex. This can actually be beneficial for animal populations that require male or females on demand. Of course, that’s not the weirdest sex-related trick found in the animal kingdom.
Some animals are not only capable of changing their sex but also increasing their population all by themselves. This might sound like the most depressing way to have children, but for some animals, it’s just another fact of life. Self-fertilization is common in some fish, all snails and most worms and many other sea creatures, such as sea cucumbers and urchins. Although so many of these animals are strong, independent and don’t need no man (or woman!) they do still desire some TLC. They might be able to reproduce all by themselves, but most still find a partner to help make the magic happen. It helps with genetic diversity, after all.
If you thought the alcoholic waltz was a privilege of humans, you’d be wrong! Although alcohol is a bit difficult to produce, it can be found in nature. And — surprise surprise — some monkeys took a bit of a liking to it. The vervet monkeys in on the island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean have been bar hopping for some 300 years. After getting a taste for adult beverages from fermented fruit in the forests, these primates have enjoyed getting knackered every now and then. However, some of them, like humans, are a bit too taken with drink. When the fermented fruit is hard to find, they’ll raid human bars and houses, stealing alcohol where they can find it — and even drinking it straight from the bottles and cans!
Magneto might be able to feel the earth’s magnetic force, but many animals were doing it long before it was cool. Oddly, many animals seem to have an ability to detect the earth’s magnetic field, using it for all kinds of directional navigation and orientation. Known as magnetoreception, this internal compass lets some animals know which way they’re going. Migratory birds should quickly come to mind. However, there are some other animals with this ability that may surprise you: cows. Yes, the humble bovine tends to always point itself either due north or due south when eating, hinting at a mild ability to determine where in the world it can locate its next meal.