We all know there are things that go bump in the night, and these creatures are guaranteed to keep you awake to hear them
1. A bobbit worm snatches a fish
This predatory worm, Eunice aphroditois, is rumoured to be named after a 1993 incident in which a wife attempted to… dismember her husband. There are myths flying that the female worm remove’s the male’s penis after mating and feeds it to her young, but this species doesn’t even have genitals.
The mouthparts are called the pharynx, and these open outwards to snatch prey, much like a human hand. They burrow in sand as far as 40 metres (130 feet) deep, feeding on passing fish and other worms.
2. Milkweed defence against caterpillars
This milky-white fluid is toxic latex produced by the plant. When a caterpillar takes a bite from the leaf, the liquid erupts from the plant’s veins and renders the caterpillar helpless. The plant has other strategies to repel crafty invaders like hair-covered leaves and steroid poisons in the plant tissue.
Caterpillars have learned to eat around the veins to escape a sticky end, and in retaliation the milkweed has begun to shift away from its elaborate defences to begin to work on healing itself faster.
3. Sarcastic fringeheads battle
Yes, this is a real fish. It’s small enough to fin in the palm of your hand, but we’re not encouraging you to touch one. They have a soft spot for discarded bottles and claim them as their own homes. They are highly territorial, and display their nightmarish mouthparts when challenged by another.
These fish are rarely found deeper than 60 metres (195 feet), and prefer warm, tropical water.
4. An ocean full of snakes
You might be surprised to know that all snakes can swim. Even terrestrial snakes are able to skim along the surface of the water if necessary. These are brown-lined sea snakes, air breathing snakes that need to surface regularly to survive. They can hold their breath for two hours, and males of this species have two penises.
These australian reptiles can be aggressive if encountered, and are currently under threat from prawn trawl fisheries.
5. What happens during a mosquito bite
The mouthparts of the world’s biggest insect killer are prehensile, meaning they can control their movements at will. The needle-like appendage is called the proboscis and it probes around under the skin, taking blood from vessels for several minutes at a time.
Only female mosquitos bite humans, males tend to feed on juices from rotting fruit. Nice.
6. The extra eyelid
Some animals, the golden eagle included, have an eyelid that moves from side to side called the nicitating membrane. As disgusting as it is to witness, the action of this wiper-like lid keeps the eye free from damaging specks of dust.
Animals that rely on their vision to survive, the predatory birds, use it to protect their best weapon.
7. Spider with a net
Getting stuck in a spider’s web must be the nightmare of every arachnophobe, so imagine the terror felt by the fly. Tiny in proportion to the overhead predator, the earwig has no chance of escape. This is a net-casting spider, and it has large eyes to detect the smallest movements below it.
Thankfully, these arachnids don’t grow bigger than 2.5 centimetres (one inch), so could never view humans as potential prey
8. Carnivorous caterpillar
Posing as an extension of the leaf, these Hawaiian grubs specialise in grabbing unsuspecting flies that wander in their path. We’ve all felt the frustration of a fly easily evading our desperate swats, but these caterpillars hit the nail on the head every time.
They eat a mostly herbivorous diet, but supplement their nutrition with occasional tastes of insect protein.