Natural selection is much like the automotive industry. For every intimidating shark ('60s Corvette) or sleek jaguar (um, Jaguar) that you see stalking your city's highways, there's a duck-billed platypus (a Volkswagen thing with a pair of truck nuts slapped on its back bumper) loping along behind it. For proof that Mother Nature goes on the occasional Jagermeister-and-Robitussin bender while designing next year's animal models, look no further than ...
Though it resembles something you'd stumble across while nosing through your pet turtle's shameful Internet browsing history, the creature you're looking at is in fact a frog. This Western Australian croaker is about as close to a naked turtle as a frog can get, though, which probably explains why it's called the turtle frog. It looks unfinished, in a "failed prototype from Alien: Resurrection" kind of way. It's almost as if nature was sitting on the couch with some friends and a bong one day, coming up with, like, the greatest ideas ever ... but then utterly failing to see a single one of them through.
B. Maryan/Western Australian Museum
It's like God created the foreskin and then got distracted by His own uncontrollable laughter.
But even though the photos make them look like a big ol' plop of useless, they're quite tiny (they only grow to about two inches long), and they make do with what they've got, using their stubby little arms to dig into the ground and bust into termite mounds. The only time you're likely to see one is right after it rains, since they're usually hiding from your judgmental stare underground. After it rains is also when they mate (good luck getting that image out of your head). And their babies don't undergo a tadpole stage -- they squirt out of their eggs looking like aborted fetuses, and they keep right on looking that way for the rest of their ludicrous little lives. Catch them at certain angles, however, and they're damn nigh photogenic:
Auscape/UIG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
It's a face only a mother (or a Pokemon fan) could love.
Ctenoides ales has several hip nicknames, and not just because "Ctenoides ales" is goddamn impossible to pronounce. It's the only bivalve known to have the ability to create a mesmerizing strobe light effect with its soft tissue, earning it monikers such as the disco clam, the electric flame scallop, and the electric clam, which sounds like something you'd order out of an adult catalog. We're going to go ahead and give it a new one right now: the THOR CLAM.
UC Berkeley Campus Life/YouTube
You can only eat one using Mjolnir.
Scientists originally assumed that the THOR CLAM's rave impression was some type of mating display, but recent studies have revealed that it's more likely used to attract prey, and can even ward off predators. Because who the hell wants to wrap their lips around a freaking undersea lightning bolt? And in case the light show isn't adequate, the THOR CLAM also squirts sulfuric acid from its fringe-like tentacles.
UC Berkeley Campus Life/YouTube
"Keep testing me. That's not the only thing I can shoot."
How scientists tested the THOR CLAM's ability to turn away predators is quite possibly the weirdest thing you'll see on the Internet today: Researchers sicced a mantis shrimp (a crazy critter in its own right) on our friendly neighborhood flashing clam. This caused the clam to send out its freaky acid-tentacles and kick off its light show, which straight-up hypnotized the shrimp. Then, once the shrimp recovered, it tried to fuck the clam. And we don't mean the shrimp said "fuck it" and moved on to easier prey -- we mean it literally tried to fuck the clam.
Apparently the "disco clam" has more in common with a nightclub than anyone realized.
It may look like some plastic tchotchke that Mother Nature plucked out of the impulse bin at Justice when she was 12, but the Galathea pilosa is 100-percent BPA-free. That's because it's a not-plastic creature commonly called a squat lobster, a close cousin of the hermit crab. Galathea pilosa doesn't need a shell that's painted in happy faces and rainbows like some pet store hermit, though, because that would be redundant.
Its natural enemies are seabirds and tweens.
Since it's lacking said shell, when this crab wants to lower its profile, it simply tucks its tail beneath its thorax. The efficacy of this technique is questionable at best, considering that their arms grow to several times their body length and that they're more garish than a Mexican cemetery.
Related fact: They're filled with delicious candy that flies everywhere when you whack 'em with a stick.
Details on the species are scarce, but it's believed that they live boldly, stealing food from venomous sea anemones. Evidently, underwater thieving operates under an entirely different set of rules than it does above the surface, because the Galathea pilosa's brash garb would be the equivalent of a cat burglar foregoing the black ski mask in favor of Lady Gaga's Emmys ensemble.
Borut Furlan/WaterFrame/Getty Images
Admittedly, that would make for an interesting take on Catwoman.
The life of a bug is pretty simple: eat, mate, don't get eaten. To accomplish that last goal, bugs such as grasshoppers normally employ relatively tame color schemes -- green, brown, or some combination of the two. But then there are those grasshoppers who bear the equivalent of a forehead tattoo reading "Eat me, I'm fabulous."
Behold the rainbow grasshopper, also known as the painted grasshopper or the barber pole grasshopper. They can be found in the American Southwest and Mexico, where they blend in with exactly nothing.
Scientists refer to their method of concealment as the "Ed Hardy Technique."
And they're not the only grasshoppers that prefer a life of outrageousness to the anonymity of camouflage. After all, when you're in the Latin American jungle, every moment is quite likely to be your last one on Earth, so why not make every day Mardi Gras? There's not much information to be had on the blue-eyed buggers below, other than that they exist and that they're probably chock-full of organ-melting poison if they look like that.
University of Central Florida
Taste the rainbow of death by internal hemorrhaging.
And next up, we have the Leichhardt's grasshopper from Australia. It's a member of the Pyrgomorphidae family, which is a fancy way of saying that it's gaudier than Rip Taylor's underwear drawer. Like most grasshoppers that look like they wandered through Jackson Pollock's studio, Leichhardt's grasshopper is gaudy because it's toxic -- in fact, they're so sure of their disgustingness that they don't even bother to hop away when a predator's practically squashing them underfoot. Based on their color scheme, it's also entirely possible that they're radioactive.
Auscape/UIG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
If one bites you, you gain the proportional strength of a grasshopper and the ability to spit tobacco juice on command.
Bearing a perpetual smile that tails off into a disgusted smirk, this South American specimen looks like what happens when somebody buys a bird from IKEA and then can't be bothered to read the assembly instructions. Its common name is the recurve-billed bushbird, which is a nice way of saying its beak is fucking upside-down.
J G Keulemans
"Oh, the glue's already dry? Eh, screw it." -- Mother Nature
They're classified as "antbirds," so presumably their stupid beaks help them eat ants or some shit. Or maybe they aren't so much for ant-eating as they are for drowning in the rain, which would explain why there are only a handful of these little guys left. Science actually thought the species was already a goner due to deforestation, but after a 40-year absence, they suddenly reappeared. That first picture up there was the first time this bird was ever captured on film, an event that we assume was closely followed by a photographer wondering if it's possible to screw a camera's lens on wrong.
Fundacion ProAves via news.nationalgeographic.com
Or, alternatively, to screw a bird's head on wrong.
The Asian sheepshead wrasse is the Rocky Dennis of the sea. Adults of the species develop aggressively bulbous protrusions on their foreheads and chins which make them look remarkably similar to a sheep, if you've never seen a sheep before. They look like some kind of bar-brawlin', hard-drinkin', wife-beatin', oceangoing Dick Tracy villain, though the only things they're known to terrorize on a regular basis are shellfish and crustaceans. Still, we're betting even Cthulhu wouldn't dare to look at an Asian sheepshead wrasse's lady friend the wrong way.
Of course, we're not sure there's a "right" way to look at an Asian sheepshead wrasse.
And speaking of their uncouth mating behavior, that's one of the few things we know about these loutish fish. Mating involves the strongest male beating up the smaller ones like a barroom lummox, and then hauling the female to the surface to spawn like it's the bathroom of some crowded New Jersey dance club.
A directional hydrophone survey of this ritual captured no less than 143 repetitions of the phrase "come at me, bro."
As to exactly why they look like someone's gone to town on them with a cartoon mallet, we know precisely bupkis. We do know that, though they're considered a "valued food fish" in some corners of the world, apparently the Japanese don't like to eat them. That's right: Even a people who have no qualms about chomping down swollen fish testicles tap out after one look at these hideous bastards.
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