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10 of the Strangest Yet Fascinating Animal Evolutions

Strangest Yet Fascinating Animal Evolutions

Everything that is living is a product of or and has been affected by prolonged evolution. Evolution is truly fascinating because the potential for finding new evolutionary traces and theories is limitless. During their decades-long studies, researchers have had massive success in studying evolution. Some of these findings are surprisingly interesting to know. Here’s a list of 10 such of the strangest yet fascinating animal evolutions.

1. There is a bug in the Issus genus that evolved to have mechanical gears. The little creature has shark-fin teeth on top of its legs that interlock cleanly like a zipper. The two diminutive legs are locked into a leap-ready position. The gears on the legs help the bug in locking its legs together, jump, and disappear in only 1/300,000 of a second.

The bug falls into the category of “planthopper insect,” and it is one of the fastest accelerators in the animal kingdom. It lives primarily on European climbing ivy and has developed its acrobatic strength to escape dangerous situations.

The bug disappears in a mere two milliseconds at the accelerating speed of 400 g’s. Researchers say that these skills are the consequence of enormous pressure to become faster and jump further.

There are faster insects than Issus, but the insect is recognized as the first living creature ever discovered to have a functioning gear.

The Issus molts half a dozen times as it grows, and by the time it reaches adulthood, it loses the gears. (Source)

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2. Bonobos evolved to become empathetic towards strangers instead of being violent and aggressive. They are as closely related to humans as chimpanzees are.  In fact, those are the only primates that do not kill.

Bonobos
Bonobos

Bonobos are willing to help strangers unconditionally. They evolved the kind of behavior based on their social needs. During the research, they showed a pure sense of altruism and shared food with complete strangers without any requests or incentives.

Even if bonobos meet strangers in groups, they tend to interact smoothly and in a friendly fashion. They organize themselves in peaceful, matriarchal communities and use complex vocal sounds for communication.

The female bonobos are sure to leave their family group when they reach adulthood, therefore getting along with strangers becomes important for them.

Bonobos share 98% of their DNA with chimpanzees but still contrast vividly in their behavior. Chimps are violent and hostile, unlike bonobos. They only help members of their own groups when they are requested to do so.

It has also been observed that peaceful primates choose hugs over conflicts in times of stress. (Source)

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3. The average crow of a rooster is about 130 decibels which is equivalent to the volume you would experience when standing 15 meters from a jet taking off. So, to prevent deafness from their own crowing, roosters evolved soft tissues that cover half of their eardrums while crowing.

Roosters
Roosters evolved soft tissues that cover half of their eardrums.

A rooster’s crow has the ability to deafen a human standing very close to it. The volume of their crowing can reach more than 140 decibels. The same loudness can be heard when standing in the middle of an active aircraft carrier.

To know how these birds tolerate their own shrieking, researchers used a micro-computerized scan to create a 3D x-ray picture of their skull. It was observed that while the rooster’s beak was open for crowing, a quarter of its ear canal was completely closed. Also, 50% of its eardrum was covered with soft tissues.

It was thus concluded that the roosters aren’t capable of hearing their yelling at maximum volume. The mechanism also helps the nearby roosters to protect themselves from the other roosters’ crowing.

Additionally, birds can regenerate hair cells in the inner ear if they are damaged. (Source)

4. Red-lipped batfishes as the name suggests have bright red lips and have leg-like fins to walk on the ocean floor. The fish’s pectoral, pelvic and anal fins are so evolved to rest on the seafloor comfortably. Also, because of its bizarre lips, It looks as if the fish has recently had a blood meal or is wearing some bright lipstick. 

Red-lipped batfish
Red-lipped batfish

The red-lipped batfishes can be found at depths up to 75 meters in the sea around the Galapagos Island in Peru. They are the bottom dwellers that live and feed on the seafloor.

The species resemble closes to the rosy-lipped batfishes found on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Both of them are two different types of batfishes and have fairly similar body structures. 

They feed on small fishes, shrimps, crabs, worms, and mollusks.

Red-lipped batfish is one of 60 catfishes of its kind that features modified fins. They can alternate between swimming and walking on the ocean floor.

While swimming, the legs could be tucked underneath their body and use their tail to force forward. However, they are better adapted to use the modified fins that allow them to walk on the ocean surface. 

The extremely bright red color of their lips helps them to distinguish their kinds from other batfishes. Some scientists said that colored lips help attract mates or help recognize others of the same species at reproduction sites.

Besides pseudo-legs and red lipstick, the fish has a special structure on its head called illicium. Illicium is believed to help them in luring prey. (Source)

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5. There are a total of 15 species of ants including Colobopsis explodens that commit suicide by exploding themselves to protect their territory. Stinging was not enough to deal with some of their predators, so they evolved this self-sacrificing ability to kill one or more enemies. They just wrap themselves around the foe and explode simultaneously releasing a sticky corrosive substance.

Exploding ant
Image credits: Alexey Kopchinskiy/Zookeys via NYPost.com

When threatened by other insects, minor workers within this ant group, the sterile females, intentionally rupture their body walls. They carefully angulate their back towards the enemy to squirt them with the bright yellow gland secretion.

The toxic liquid overwhelms the attacker, and they both die. Researchers say that this sticky liquid has an unpleasant smell similar to that of curry.

Even if the strange defense mechanism kills the ant itself, it serves the purpose of protecting the colony from the infiltrator.

One of the 15 suicidal ants is Colobopsis explodens that is found in Borneo, an island in Southeast Asia. These ants altogether belong to the species called Colobopsis cylindrical.

However, these ants are not the only creatures that use this suicidal defense mechanism. The same tactic is observed to be used by some pea aphids and termites.

This self-sacrificing behavior in animals is called “autothysis.” (Source) 

Also read: 10 Weird and Fun Facts About Insects

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