The animal kingdom encompasses a vast collection of weird and wonderful creatures. Still, we know a lot about certain species, such as elephants, giraffes, or tigers, and less about others. Do you know what a pudu is? How about a tenrec or a bilby?
Similarly, type "animal facts" into Google, and you'll find "a polar bear's skin is black" or "hippopotamus milk is pink." While these facts fascinate and intrigue, we wanted to offer something a little different by providing a small selection of handpicked facts that represent some of the lesser-known species of the animal kingdom. Here they are.
A Prawn Is One of The Loudest Animals Around
The pistol shrimp - or snapping shrimp - is a small crustacean that lives in tropical waters. This little creature may look harmless, but it comes with an oversized claw that can be used as a sonic weapon. When a pistol shrimp senses nearby prey, they open the top part of this huge claw allowing a small amount of water to enter.
When they clamp the claw shut, it ejects the water so quickly that it creates bubbles traveling up to 60 miles per hour. Not only are these bubbles fast enough to stun or kill prey, but they are also incredibly loud. The claw movement is so rapid that when the bubbles collapse, they produce a sonic boom reaching 210 decibels (louder than a gunshot).
Humans Aren't the Only Ones to Enjoy Intoxication
Look at a primate and see the similarities to humans; the more you observe, the more you learn. And studies have revealed something else we have in common - we both enjoy getting drunk. Scientists in Guinea observed chimps using leaf cups to drink fermented sap together. Some chimps drank up to 85 ml of alcohol in a single sitting, roughly equivalent to a bottle of wine. The "drunken monkey hypothesis" suggests that chimps and humans share the ability to metabolize ethanol thanks to a shared genetic mutation.
And primates aren't the only ones getting wasted! Dolphins toy with the deadly pufferfish, causing it to release just enough toxin to create a narcotic effect. The effects of this "recreational drug use" were first recorded for a BBC documentary, with footage showing a blissful pod of dolphins passing the puffer around.
We Discover 15,000 - 18,000 New Animal Species Every Year
For the last 250 years, scientists have worked diligently to record thousands of new plant and animal discoveries; a practice that continues today. Surprisingly, the rate of new species discoveries each year still stands at around 15,000-18,000. Roughly half of these new species are insects, while other "discoveries" are family reclassifications or correcting taxonomic mistakes. Still, each year offers the opportunity to see some of nature's wonders that we haven't encountered before.
In 2022, a team of scientists exploring a remote region of the Amazon rainforest discovered the "Chocolate frog," also nicknamed the tapir frog, thanks to its distinctive snout. When the discovery appeared on social media, users soon compared these cute little frogs to the chocolate frogs from Harry Potter.
Another discovery introduced us to the sponge crab of Western Australia. This fluffy little fellow appears to wear a "hat" for protection and possesses specially adapted back legs to hold it in place.
Roosters Have Specially Adapted Ears to Prevent Deafness
If you've ever lived or spent time on a farm, you'll be familiar with the early morning call of the rooster. Their crowing is so loud that the average sound wave hits 100 decibels. If the rooster stood next to you, this sound could reach as high as 140 decibels. This is louder than some thunder strikes or music concerts and certainly loud enough to deafen the rooster.
Thankfully, evolution provided this bird with a nifty way to protect its hearing. Half of their ear drum is covered in a tissue that softens incoming noises. In addition, when the rooster tilts its head back to crow, another covering drops down to block the eardrum entirely.
Some Snails Have Hairy Shells
Anyone conjuring an image of a snail would picture its iconic shell, and most of us would see this shell as a smooth, hairless object. But did you know that some snail species have hairy shells? Hairy snails are not a single species; instead, they represent a diverse range of snails across a multitude of habitats worldwide. The hair can vary from short and stiff to long and soft, depending on the species.
Scientists believe this hair could have several beneficial purposes for the snail. Firstly, it could help to camouflage and protect them from predators. Secondly, it could help the snail to absorb more moisture which is vital for their survival. And it could carry other benefits, such as helping ward off parasites.
Ants Have an Ingenious Way to Survive Floods
Ants are one of the most fascinating animals in our kingdom, and the list of "fun facts" is endless. For example, did you know that the ant holds the record for "fastest movement in the animal kingdom" - the Dracula ant can snap their mandibles at speeds of over 200 mph? Did you know that the largest colony ever discovered encompassed a gathering of 33 ant populations and stretched over 3,700 miles wide?
The impressive talents of these little critters are largely achieved through their social nature and communicative ability. To demonstrate this, the fire ant colony has an ingenious way to survive floods - they roll into a ball or create a raft by locking their bodies together. This creates a semi-solid structure, which moves and allows each ant to take a breath and avoid drowning.