The world’s wildlife has undergone any number of changes in its never ending quest for survival, and some species have developed skills and strategies that have to be seen to be believed.



These curious critters have pushed the boundaries of animal ability – from a regenerating rodent to a snake that soars through the skies…

1. Horned lizards can shoot blood from their eyes

20% intriguing, 80% disgusting, three species of horned lizard can deliberately rupture a set of blood-filled sinuses around their eye sockets, and squirt blood at attackers. It’s not poisonous or corrosive, but predators find it understandably off-putting.

2. Lyrebirds can recreate almost any sound

So admired in Australia they emblazon the 10 cent coin, lyrebirds have developed extraordinary powers of mimicry, and can ape almost any noise with their elastic vocal chords.

3. Spiny mice can regenerate most of their exterior

The rodent answer to Deadpool, these deceptively cute critters shed their skin when they’re attacked – akin to a human slipping out of a coat – and then regenerate the tissue including hair follicles, sweat glands, cartilage and fur. Regeneration is common among reptiles and amphibians (salamanders can regrow entire limbs), but among mammals the spiny mouse stands alone.

4. Dolphins can probably tell if you’re pregnant

Anecdotal evidence suggests dolphins take a particular interest in pregnant women – swimming up to their tummies and emitting loud buzzing sounds – and some experts believe their echolocation acts similarly to a medical ultrasound. Dolphins may seem cute and cuddly, but their special abilities are a teensy bit scary.

5. Pit vipers can see in infrared

You know those thermal cameras nature programmes use to film at night, or the heat-sensitive scopes on games like Call Of Duty? Pit vipers have recesses in their heads that allow them to detect infrared radiation up to a metre away, meaning they can quite literally see in the dark. Fascinating for scientists; terrifying for mice.

6. Octopus camouflage can be absolutely outrageous

Move over chameleons, because cephalopods are unquestionably nature’s true masters of disguise. The mimic octopus can shift not only colour, but form and texture to blend in with the seafloor, and can effectively imitate other ocean-dwellers like sea snakes or lionfish.

7. Alpine ibex can pretty much ignore gravity

Thanks to specialised hooves, fearless disposition, and absolutely impeccable balance, Alpine ibexes rank among the greatest climbers the world has ever known. In 2011 they became an internet sensation for somehow scaling the 160 foot near-vertical Cingino Dam in Italy, to lick salt deposits from the rocks. It just looks… wrong.

8. Naked mole rats have ridiculous survival skills

Blind, hairless, subterranean and repulsive, it’s hard to believe the naked mole rat might genuinely be the toughest, most over-powered species on the planet. They can go almost 20 minutes without oxygen, are near-immune to all forms of cancer, have a lifespan up to 32 years (most rats live around two years), and quite literally do not feel pain.

9. Dragon millipedes spray their enemies with cyanide

Yep, that cyanide. This spiny, garishly pink species can produce and secrete the poison from specialised glands, leaving them lethal to medium-sized predators. Extraordinarily toxic, cyanide apparently has no effect on the millipedes, merely making them smell strongly of almonds.

10. There is a snake that can fly (no, really)

OK, so ‘glide’ might be more accurate, but the aptly named flying snake can and will soar through the air for 100m or more. The snakes launch themselves from the ends of branches, flatten their bodies into an S-shape, and control the course of their flight by undulating back and forth. Insert a Snakes On A Plane reference at your leisure.

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