The 5 Stupidest Looking Superpowers in the Animal Kingdom
We've told you about animals with real superpowers straight out of a comic book, but it turns out that, just like in the human world, not everyone who is a badass necessarily looks like a badass -- and some just look like butts. It's like nature has intentionally gone out of its way to make these animals look ridiculous so they'll be able to kill us faster while we're busy laughing at them.
Here's to the Toxic Avengers of the Animal Kingdom, like ...
The Naked Mole Rat Can Eat Through Concrete
The naked mole rat looks like a cartoon character specifically designed to convey stupidity, and the more you watch it, the stupider it gets. First you notice those Goofy-like front teeth, and then you realize the thing under them isn't the rat's mouth -- it's more teeth. Like an awkward kid in his yearbook photo, it's trying to smile and failing horribly.
""How long was I asleep in the bathtub, exactly?"
That pasty, wrinkly skin also gives the naked mole rat the appearance of someone who hasn't been outside since, well, ever -- which is actually pretty accurate, since they only live in underground tunnels they make themselves. How do they pull that off? Well ...
The same cartoonishly oversized teeth that give the naked mole rat that idiotic grin are also its secret weapon -- those things can chew through solid concrete. No, we're not speaking figuratively:
"All right, time for your snack."
That's the "before" picture. Here's the "after":
Flossing is complicated.
The mole rats hollowed out the block of concrete. By biting it.
This is possible because those teeth are hard as hell, and also 25 percent of the animal's muscles are concentrated in its jaw (in humans, it's only 1 percent). Also, one-third of their brain cortex is devoted to processing information from the mouth area alone. It's like evolution completely gave up on the rest of their bodies and focused on making their mouths as badass as possible. If all their organs were as deadly, they would be ruling the planet by now.
If they secretly aren't already, from underneath.
They can even move the top teeth independently, like chopsticks, which they use to dig vast underground tunnels and retrieve buried food. Sure, they still look like morons, but we wouldn't say that to their faces.
Destroy an Axolotl's Brain and It'll Grow a New One
Below is not the poster for a Pixar movie, it's a real thing. The albino axolotl looks like it was cobbled together from the spare parts of other animals -- it has the body of a fish, the legs of a frog and the face of a Pokemon.
And the tassels of a decorative throw pillow.
But the axolotl is none of those things: It's a type of salamander that can only be found in a specific lake in Mexico, and its name translates to "water monster" ... for reasons that become more apparent when you look at the ugly as hell non-albino variant.
If you stare into its eyes for too long, it swaps souls with your body.
Extreme regeneration. Lots of animals can regrow parts of their bodies, but the axolotl trumps them all: It can grow back full limbs, eyes, jaws and even hearts. Not impressive enough for you? It's also the only vertebrate that can regrow parts of its brain. Sometimes they'll even lose a leg and grow back two. You know, while they're at it.
It possesses not only the regenerative powers of Wolverine, but his sideburns as well.
As for their cobbled-together look, that's actually pretty appropriate, because they can literally rebuild themselves by accepting spare parts from others axolotls -- including their heads. Basically, if you had a bunch of disembodied axolotl parts lying around, you could squish them all together and it would get up and walk away (probably).
Don't try that at home. Or in Mexico.
What we said before about axolotls only being found in Mexico wasn't accurate: By now a lot of them are scattered in labs all over the world, with scientists continuously slicing them up and putting them back together in order to figure out how they regrow limbs and help mankind conquer the ultimate dream: having two dicks.
The Elephantnose Fish Has X-Ray Vision (or at Least Smell)
The elephantnose fish is actually misnamed: The appendage that gives it its name is actually coming out of its chin, not its nose, and it actually looks like a dick, not an elephant trunk. The dickchin fish (that's better) spends most of its life in complete darkness, only venturing out at night -- would you come out in broad daylight looking like you've been growing a zit for the past six months?
Or like you're a few thousand years too late to the Egyptian chin-piece fad.
However, there's actually a far cooler reason for their nocturnal habits ...
That unsightly thing on its face is actually wired with electricity, and it serves as the fish's own highly advanced metal detector. The elephantnose fish uses its face-phallus to find its prey, even if it's buried in mud or hiding in the dark, by generating an electric field that becomes distorted by nearby objects, giving the fish an accurate reading of its surroundings. It's like if Daredevil was part cyborg, and awesome.
And if he sprouted chinitals.
The electrical charge is generated on a special organ on the fish's tail, then measured by receptors in its chin-wang. These receptors are so advanced that they can differentiate exact shapes, materials, sizes, volumes and distances (within millimeters). As it sweeps the ocean floor, the fish can even "sense" if the buried microscopic insects it detects are dead or alive -- dead things store electrical charges differently than live things, and the appendage can measure that sort of thing. Which is fortunate, because dickchin feeds on the carcasses of dead larvae.
It's like in that movie where the kid sensed dead people, then ate their corpses.
The schnauzenorgan, as some scientists call it, is also used for mating: Each elephantnose subspecies has a slightly different electrical charge, and the females can actually tell them apart and are more attracted to the ones emitted by their own kind. What they do with that thing after that, we'd rather not know.
The Klipspringer Can Jump Across Cliffs
The klipspringer is a type of African antelope that walks on the tips of its toes, as if trying not to wake up other animals that don't look like complete pansies. It's impossible to watch it mincing around without instantly hearing the appropriate cartoon sound effect.
That's not its fur, that's its mascara running from all the bullying.
While all hoofed animals technically walk on their toes, the klipspringer is the only one that touches the ground with the very tips. In human terms, that's like a ballerina dancing on her toenails instead of her feet, and looks about as threatening.
Plantigrade locomotion is for failures.
"Klipspringer" literally means "rock jumper," because that's exactly what those special hooves allow it to do. Look at this thing leaping about from rock to rock like it's got actual springs in those things:
And that's nothing -- they have the ability to jump as high as 25 feet (or 15 times their height). Notice how its legs are always together when it lands on a new place? That's not an accident: The hooves allow it to land on surface areas no larger than a silver dollar with all four legs. This means you'll often see klipspringers in high, small, impossible to reach places and wonder how the hell they even got there (especially because they're also pretty agile, so they could have been standing right next to you two seconds ago).
"All right, Scotty, beam me out of here."
The secret is that their hooves are actually rubbery underneath, allowing them to leap onto rocky surfaces without slipping, or just stay on them as if defying all laws of nature. The only question now is why Marvel hasn't created an X-Men character named Klipspringer yet.
Move over, Wolverine.
Japanese Flying Squid Is Not a Sarcastic Nickname
Finding stupid-looking creatures in the ocean is almost too easy. Everything is squishy and weirdly shaped and has big goofy eyes. Sharks don't know how lucky they are. For instance, look at this thing:
Airborne cephalopod? Or some pothead's fancy glass pipe?
Those aren't tentacles -- they're a big orange handlebar mustache. That up there is the Japanese flying squid, but ... wait, did we say "flying"?
That is a photo of squids off the coast of Japan using their own water farts to leap right out of the water and into open air.
He who takes flight unleashed the blight.
The squids fill their bodies with water and then spit it out to propel themselves all the time, but these guys do it so hard they can launch themselves right out of the water, which to a squid has to be like a bird flying itself into outer space. And according to biologists, these things aren't jumping or even gliding -- they are technically flying.
Really flying. They can leap as high as 65 feet and remain in the air over a distance of more than 150 feet at a time, going at recorded speeds that are five times faster than they can move in the water. They are limited only by the wind ... and the strength of their water farts.
Finally, a use for the phrase "water farts" outside of discussing Katy Perry.
Basically, once they've shot themselves out of the water, the squids are able to remain in the air by facing backward and using their fins like wings. They do this to save precious time and energy on long migrations during mating season -- like their octopus cousins, squids die after mating, so they don't have any time to mess around.
The reason why flying squids are less known than flying fish is mainly that they prefer to rocket out at night when no one's looking, in order to avoid being snatched by birds. Because this behavior is so recently observed, we aren't even sure how many types of squid can do it yet. That's right -- for all we know, they could all fly.
"How did you think I got here?"
Special thanks to Kevin Browne, Warren Tilson, Jonny Bondt and Andrew Burch, all of whom dwell in the CRAPTION FORUMS.
For more from Kier, check out his blog, or if that's not your thing, follow his mad ravings on Twitter.
For more animals that could have superheroes based on them, check out The 6 Most Badass Murder Weapons in the Animal Kingdom and The 9 Most Mind-Blowing Disguises in the Animal Kingdom.
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