Animal Superpowers

By MDC | May 1, 2024
From Xplor: May/June 2024

Turbo Dog vs. Stink Bomb

They don’t have superpowers, but if they did …

Coyote: Sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff. Hmm. Could that be breakfast I see?

Missouri’s fastest land animal can sprint at speeds up to 45 miles per hour.

Turbo mode initiated. In the blink of an eye, the coyote closes the distance.

Meanwhile ...

Unaware of the approaching danger, a striped skunk digs up a hornet’s nest.

Thick fur protects the skunk as it smashes and eats the angry insects.

Skunk: What?! Who’s there? Gotta get serious!

Coyote: My, don’t you look delicious? I’m coming for you, Stripey.

Skunk: Back off! I’m warning you! Don’t make me do it! Pffffff!

Unfortunately, the coyote doesn’t heed the warning.

Coyote: Cough! Gag!

A skunk can aim its stinky, eye-searing spray with pinpoint precision.

Skunk: Now, back to breakfast.

Later that day, in a habitat nearby...

Mr. Whiskers Vs. AquaMammal

This wiggly critter has a superpower.

In a few weeks she will change from a water-breathing tadpole to an air-breathing bullfrog.

If she lives that long …

As she swims, the mucus on her skin leaves a trail of scent in the murky water.

Catfish: Hmmm. What have we here?

Every inch of a catfish’s skin, from its whiskery barbels to the tip of its tail, is covered with taste buds.

Catfish: Mmmmm. Lunch!

But its skin isn’t made to savor flavors … 

It’s made to find food in dark, murky water.


Catfish: What was that?

In a surprising turn of events, the predator becomes prey.

With a torpedo-shaped body and webbed paws, a river otter can swim faster than many fish.

Catfish: Curses! Looks like my lunch is over!


River Otter: Huh?!

An osprey can bend its outer toes backward to get a better grip on slippery fish. Pretty talon-ted, huh?

Later that night, in a habitat nearby...

Silent Swooper and the Bug Zapper

When the sun goes down, a hungry barn owl wakes up.

In the gathering darkness, the owl’s keen eyes are no longer an asset.

Barn Owl: Hoo’s there?

Hidden beneath feathers on its saucer-shaped face, super-sensitive ears are the owl’s secret weapon.

Even when it’s pitch black, the hungry hunter has no trouble pinpointing prey.

Skitter, skitter, skitter

Silent feathers let the owl swoop like a ghost through the night.

Barn Owl: Gotcha! Supper is served.

A sphinx moth relies on camouflage, like a cloak of invisibility, to hide from keen-eyed predators.

Sphinx Moth: Safe at last. Time to split!

But camouflage only tricks animals who use their eyes to see.

A big brown bat emits high-pitched squeaks. 

By listening to the squeaks echo off nearby objects, the bat forms a mental image of its surroundings.

Big Brown Bat: Success!

Also In This Issue

Fireflies in a Field

Forget what the calendar says. When you see the flicker of a firefly’s fanny, you know summer has arrived.

This Issue's Staff

Artist – Matt Byrde
Photographer – Noppadol Paothong
Photographer – David Stonner
Designer – Marci Porter
Art Director – Cliff White
Editor – Matt Seek
Subscriptions – Marcia Hale
Magazine Manager – Stephanie Thurber