The Blobfish

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Okay, you’ve probably seen this little guy before, but I just couldn’t consider my “Bizarre” collection complete without adding him. This is the Blobfish. He was voted the ugliest animal in the world. Poor guy.

Blobfish look like they do because they live so deep in the ocean (2,000-4,000 feet deep) where the water pressure is up to 120 times greater than it is at sea level. That pressure would explode the bones of normal creatures.

Found near Australia and Tasmania, the Blobfish (or Psychrolutes Marcidus as it’s more formally called) have practically no muscles. Their bodies are like gelatinous masses. They don’t have swim bladders that help most fish stay afloat either, but luckily, their bodies are less dense than the water, so they’re good. They just float near the bottom of the ocean all day eating whatever is unlucky enough to float or swim by their mouths.

They’re very rare, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to swim down to the bone-crushing depths to try to see one. Just be content looking at pictures online.

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Little Skulls

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Who could imagine that underneath the beautiful Snapdragon flower lurked such a macabre sight. These little skulls are the seedpods of the Snapdragon. They contain the flower seeds and are, apparently, rather difficult to break open, like real skulls would be I’d guess.

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Snapdragons are so named because they are said to look like dragon faces, and, after all, every face needs a skull.

The Sarcastic Fringehead

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The Sarcastic Fringehead doesn’t let its small size deter it from aggressively lying in wait to attack anyone foolish enough to get too close to its home. Living in shells, crevices or the stray tin can or boot that finds its way down to the ocean floor, the Sarcastic Fringehead is very territorial and ferocious. If another fish, or even a human diver, comes within attacking distance, this vicious fish will spring, opening its mouth to its fullest size and baring its razor-sharp teeth. If this ever happens to you, it’s best to retreat quickly trying to outswim the angry little fish who will most likely chase after you.

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These fish are usually around 6 to 8 inches, but they can grow up to a foot long, and they live mostly off the Pacific coast of North America. They’re more scientifically known as Neoclinus Blanchardi, but perhaps the more common name suits them better.

Watch the video below to see two Sarcastic Fringeheads going at it. Notice how they attack each other with their mouths. This way, they can determine who is bigger, and as a result, who wins the fight.

The Corpse Flower

The largest single flower in the world, and also the worst smelling, is the Rafflesia Arnoldii, or as it is more commonly known, the “corpse flower.” You get one guess as to what it smells like. That’s right, decaying flesh. This is probably not the flower you would want to grow in your garden unless you really, really don’t like company. They are pretty rare and are usually only found in the Asian rainforests.

Antoine Hubert
Antoine Hubert

Christmas Tree Worms

Ok, I know it’s not Christmas yet, but I thought these guys were just too cute to wait. The Spirobranchus giganteus, or the Christmas tree worm, lives on coral reefs in tropical oceans throughout the world. They anchor themselves down into crevices they’ve burrowed into the coral.  They are very shy and will retract into their burrows at the slightest perceived threat. Even a passing shadow can spook them, but they will usually pop back up slowly after a few minutes to test the waters.

33_01XmasTreeWormThey have tubular bodies and Christmas-tree-shaped crowns which serve as mouth appendages. They use them to catch plankton and other tiny edibles floating in the water. The food particles are then passed down a “food path” moved along by a water current created by tiny hair-like extensions.

Unlike real Christmas trees, they come in a variety of colors including white, blue, orange, and yellow. They are quite pretty and can live well in home aquariums.

The Elephant Shark

This shark with the funny nose is called an Elephant Shark or an Australian Ghost Shark. Found off the coast of Southern Australia and New Zealand, it uses its snout and trunk-shaped appendage to forage on the muddy ocean floor for food. The end of its snout is covered in pores that can sense movement and weak electrical fields which help it find tasty mollusks and shellfish to eat.

It has a serrated spine that some people think is poisonous, but there haven’t been any reports of serious injury from contact with it even though it’s popular on commercial fishing circuits.

Growing up to a maximum of forty nine inches long, the Elephant Shark has a fifteen year life span.

It might be cool to see if you can catch one the next time you go fishing in Australian.

Foxfire Fungus

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 If you’re ever walking alone in the woods at night, and you see something that looks like fairy lights or will o’ the wisps, don’t get too excited. Unfortunately, you probably haven’t passed over into a fantasy world full of elves and adventure. Most likely, what you’re seeing is just regular ol’ foxfire fungus.

Even though it’s sometimes called fairy fire, it has nothing to do with tiny, beautiful, flying people. Foxfire fungus is the common name for many fungi that glow in the dark. It’s usually found on rotting wood and emits a blue-green glow using the same chemical reaction that occurs in lightning bugs (fireflies). Normally, it’s pretty dim, but if you’re really lucky, you might see some that’s bright enough to use as a natural reading light.

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There are from thirty to forty types of foxfire fungi in the world, and reference to them goes as far back as Aristotle in 382 B.C. They can also be seen in many books, movies, and TV shows from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to TV’s Psych.

Even though, seeing foxfire isn’t an indication that you’ve been transported to a mystical land, it can certainly make you feel like you have. Just don’t go too “Alice in Wonderland” and decide to eat some of it; it will make you very sick.

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The Bleeding Tooth Fungus

OK, let’s be honest. If you saw this in a forest, what would be your first thought? Would you think, “This looks yummy. I’ve got to eat this?” Well, apparently, someone did at one point because this “Bleeding Tooth Fungus” is listed as inedible. Luckily for the person who tried it, it isn’t poisonous; it’s […]

Diamonds, a Neptunian’s Best Friend

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Diamond rivers, diamond icebergs, diamond rain: some scientists believe that all of these can be found on the planet Neptune (and Uranus). Scientists have done experiments recreating the pressure and temperature that can be found on Neptune and discovered that when diamonds are liquefied and then re-solidified, they act much like water. The solid diamonds will float in the liquid diamond like an iceberg in water. Of course it wasn’t easy to melt the diamonds. It took pressure that is 40 million times greater than what is felt at sea-level on Earth. Coincidentally, that’s the level of pressure that diamonds would encounter on Neptune.

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As for the diamond rain, apparently, with enough heat and pressure, tiny diamonds can form in the methane in the atmosphere of Neptune. Based on research done at UC Berkeley, if pressurized liquid methane is heated to over 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, diamond dust can form and rain down on the planet.

Isn’t that cool? So, when’s the next rocket to Neptune? I want to book my ticket.