At any house party, there is a set cast of characters: you’ve got the people you see every day, the ones you occasionally run into, the wild party animals and the strangers you never knew existed. The animal kingdom basically follows the same format, except there are a lot more strangers.
Every day, scientists are discovering new species of beasties and critters never known to exist before. When it comes to the largest harbourer of life on Earth, scientists have recently said that we have discovered and categorized only one-fifth of the ocean’s creatures.
Here are a few famous beasts that have recently made the news, either for their freakish nature or newfound talents:
Cloning lizard found in Vietnam restaurant
For years, leiolepis ngovantrii has been a delicacy in many Vietnamese restaurants. However, it wasn’t until recently that scientists realized this lizard had never before been scientifically identified, and not only that, but that the all-female species reproduces by cloning themselves. Although this cloning technique is not unheard of, the lizards employ a process known as parthenogenesis, spontaneously ovulating and cloning themselves to produce offspring with the same genetic blueprint. Tasty.
Flying, or falling with style?
Scientists have long known that snakes have the ability to fly as far as 330 feet. But until recently, they weren’t sure how snakes managed this feat. The chrysopelea snake, found in South and Southeast Asia, has the ability to flatten its body and position itself in order to glide from branch to branch. Angling their bodies at a 25-degree angle, tail up and heads down, the snakes are able to obtain a certain amount of lift to keep them airborne. Scientists compare the affect to that of sticking your arm out of the window of a moving car and tilting your palm down, forcing the air beneath which raises your arm. Interesting? Maybe, but still, flying snakes. Be terrified.
Solar powered hornet
Scientists are still foggy on how it happens (noticing a pattern in this week’s column?), but a species of hornet found in Asia has been shown to possess an ability to trap light from the sun and convert it to electricity. The discovery was made after a group of scientists realized the insect was most active during times when the sun was at its most intense, which is rare for hornets. Using a particular pigment in its tissues, the bug traps the solar energy then another pigment converts this energy to electricity. Again, scientists have no clue as to why the bug does it, but maybe we just discovered our next form of renewable energy.