1. Not so flopping fish
While most fish uphold the old saying, “like a fish out of water,” scientists discovered that eel catfish in Africa break the mold. These fish can spot insects on land and launch themselves from the swampy puddles of water they normally dwell in to go after their prey. They use their mobile necks to squish and capture the insects and once their meal is secure, they can drag it back into the water. This discovery could help scientists figure out how early land animals hunted for food after they crawled out from the oceans.
2. Octopus elbows
With their undulating tentacles, octopuses are probably the last animal you think of having elbows. But a study this year showed that when these creatures grasp food with a tentacle, waves of muscle contractions create an elbow, wrist and shoulder to help them guide the food to their mouths.
3. Spider sex talk
Humans aren’t the only creatures that cry out during sex. A female Physocylus globosus spider makes squeaking sounds in response to the squeezing motions of the male’s genitalia inside her body. The sounds are made when the female rubs a leg-like appendage against her fangs, and instructs the male if he is squeezing too hard. Because the female can store the sperm of many males, and therefore choose who will sire her children, males who obey her are more likely to become fathers.
Gene Simmons’s unnaturally long tongue may steal the show on stage, but a bat from the cloud forests of Ecuador can launch its tongue one and a half times its body length. Scientists discovered this year that the nectar bat can launch its tongue longer than any other mammal, and the chameleon is the only vertebrate that can launch its tongue farther. Researchers also discovered the bat was the sole pollinator of a particular flower, and so now they will investigate if the two species co-evolved.
5. Fly snail airways
Talk about distant relatives: Two types of snails living 5,500 miles and an ocean apart were once thought to be from different genuses, but a study that examined genetic and anatomical similarities between the two groups found that they are from the same genus. So just how did they get so far apart? Scientists think these tree-dwelling snails used their super sticky slime to stowaway on migratory birds.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik