Strange But True

By Brett Dufur | October 1, 2014
From Xplor: October/November 2014

Your guide to all the unusual, unique, and unbelievable stuff that goes on in nature.

  • Quit being so sensitive! Sensitive briar, a vinelike plant with pink pompomshaped flowers and prickly thorns, has a neat trick up its stem. If you touch its leaves, they immediately wilt and fold shut.
  • Baby spittlebugs suck sap from plants and turn it into bubbly, spit-like foam. The bugs snuggle inside the slobber, safe from predators and the heat of the sun. Although the foam looks like spit, it’s not. It actually comes from a spittlebug’s other end.
  • An adult spoonbill’s beak looks like someone stepped on the tip and smashed it pancake flat. Baby spoonbills, however, hatch with tube-shaped beaks that look more like a duck’s bill. The beaks don’t begin to flatten until the chicks are 9 days old.
  • Ambush anglers: Softshell turtles bury themselves in sand at the bottoms of rivers, leaving only their heads exposed. When fish swim nearby, the turtles stretch out their long necks, and — CHOMP! — the fish disappear.
  • Who you calling scum sucker? Stonerollers use their chisellike lower jaws to scrape algae — aka pond scum — off of rocks and other underwater objects. Each day, a stoneroller scarfs down enough scum to equal a third of its body weight.
  • Spadefoot toads tunnel underground using hard, shovel-shaped bumps on their hind feet. These tough toads absorb water through their skin from the surrounding soil. During droughts, they can lose half the water in their bodies and still survive.
  • Slugs slide from place to place on a slick layer of slime. The bottom part of a slug’s body, called a foot, oozes mucus onto whatever it touches. The mucus is so slick, slugs can glide over knives without getting sliced!

And More...

This Issue's Staff

Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White