4Tripod Fish Have Built-In Chairs
The tripod fish's fin rays have evolved into long, bony protrusions that it uses like a biological Barcalounger. That's not exaggeration on our part: The tripod fish's whole strategy for survival is to sit on the ocean floor, using its hind fin-legs to angle its body so that it faces against the current. This way it can simply open its mouth to eat small shrimp, fish, and crustaceans that the current sweeps by, and it doesn't even have to move!
The human equivalent would be moving a recliner in front of a conveyor belt so that you can eat Fritos without all that pesky "reaching for the bag" business. The deep ocean is a terrifying and unforgiving place: If you're going to survive down there, you need at least one amazing trait to trip up the animal reaper when it comes swimming for you. Most creatures evolve to be faster, camouflage themselves better, or simply scare the shit out of any and everything on God's green Earth. The tripod fish, on the other hand, evolved nature's version of a disability scooter. Watching them "in action" is truly an inspiring sight, in the same way that watching a Rascal-bound fat man knock cans of spray cheese off the top shelf with his umbrella is an "inspiring sight."
3African Dung Beetles Navigate Using the Milky Way
Dung beetles are the tiny waste management officials of the insect world, but did you know that they have the soul of an astronomer?
It turns out that African dung beetles plot their courses using the light from the Milky Way, effectively making dung beetle navigation more complicated than your crummy knockoff GPS. For dung beetles, moving in a straight line away from a poo pile is crucial. Rolling giant balls of crap can be dangerous, because it's easy to get off track, as anybody who has set out to Katamari an innocent pile of skis and then accidentally absorbed a child's playground can attest.
Diurnal dung beetles are able to detect a symmetrical pattern of polarized light that appears around the sun by using a set of photoreceptors -- meaning that they can roll better in a straight line by looking at the sky than they can by watching where they're going. However, this isn't the case for the African dung beetle, which is nocturnal. Scientists initially thought they navigated using light from the moon, but repeated experiments proved that it was something far more philosophically complex.
Via Current Biology
Looking toward the heavens, the African dung beetle ponders the meaning of life. It is to roll poop, he concludes.
It turns out that African dung beetles can actually see the dim strip of light that is the Milky Way from the Southern Hemisphere. This is incredible for an animal of this size, or anything without a telescope, for that matter. And the absolute best part? The dung beetles' galactic navigation abilities were proven by forcing test beetles to don tiny hats that blocked their view of the sky. The beetles then proceeded to roll around aimlessly, never getting anything done or having any clue as to where they were going, but at least thinking they looked pretty damn fly while doing it. You know: Just like every dude who wears a fedora.
Via Eric Warrant for National Geographic
"Leave me alone -- I've got shit to do!"