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1) A 'tulip' with a digestive system
Siphusauctum gregarium, a 500-million-year-old filter feeder, was the length of a dinner knife with a bulbous "head" containing a feeding system
and a bizarre gut. Instead of filtering water past its feeders externally, S. gregarium appears to have pumped water through its tuliplike head,
capturing any food particles that passed through, study researcher Lorna O'Brien of the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada told LiveScience. Scientists
aren't sure where this unusual creature fits into the evolutionary tree.
2) Bizarre creature in cocoon
Some 200 million years ago, a leech secreted a slimy cocoon under water or on a wet leaf, and a tiny animal the width of just a few human hairs
attached itself to the new cocoon.This bizarre little creature clung on with its springlike tail, becoming rapidly trapped and engulfed by the cocoon.
The unusual circumstances resulted in something almost unheard of: the complete preservation of a soft-bodied animal with no hard bones to
Scientists say the microscopic creature looks like it might come from the genus Vorticella. Its secret talent is coiling and uncoiling its springy
stalk at a speed of 3.1 inches (8 centimeters) per second, the equivalent of a human getting across three football fields in that amount of time.
3) Cannibal lemurs roam the night
This year, researchers studying the adorable gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) in Madagascar came across a grisly scene: a male of the species
feasting on the flesh of a dead female.
Although other primates (including humans) have been known to practice cannibalism, scientists had never before seen a gray mouse lemur so much as
eat another mammal, according to ScienceNow, which reported the creepy meal. Scientists documented the case in the American Journal of
4) 750-leg millipede
File this under "Things You Don't Want to Step on With Bare Feet:" A white millipede that manages to cram 750 wiggly legs onto its 0.4- to 1.2-inch
(1- to 3-centimeter)-long body
Illacme plenipes is the world-record holder for "leggiest creature." It's found, bizarrely, in only a 1.7 square mile (4.5 square kilometer) area
in northern California — doubly odd, because the creature's closest living relative calls South Africa home. The millipedes may have spread out
across the globe when most of the land on Earth was part of one supercontinent, Pangaea. When the supercontinent broke apart 200 million years ago,
the relatives could have been separated, explaining the long-lost connection.
5) A sea predator that makes T-Rex look weak
"Predator X," a giant marine reptile that was the top predator of the seas 150 million years ago, finally got its scientific name this year.
Pliosaurus funkei, as it is now properly known, was 40 feet (12 meters) long with a 6.5-foot (2 m)-long skull."They had teeth that would have made
a T. rex whimper," study researcher Patrick Druckenmiller, a paleontologist at the University of Alaska Museum, told LiveScience
6) 8 tentacled snakes
In October, eight snakes with tentacles were born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.
Zoo staff had been trying to breed the rare aquatic snake Erpeton tentaculatus for four years before success. These bizarre Southeast Asian
serpents are the only snakes with two little tentacles on their snouts. These tentacles act like whiskers to help the snakes sense vibrations from
7) Fish with a penis head
Researchers in Vietnam's Mekong Delta reported the discovery of a fish with a penis on its head this August.Yep, a penis. And it's not just any penis
— the organ includes a jagged hook for grabbing females during sex.
The species is named Phallostethus cuulong and is one of few fish that fertilizes eggs inside the female's body rather than outside. The
nasty-looking hook appendage seems to have evolved to ensure the male's sperm get to the right place.
8) Meat-eating sponge
It looks like a harp or a delicate candelabra, but beware to any crustacean that gets too close: The so-called "harp sponge" will snare and slowly
digest you before you know it. The sponges feed by clinging to muddy sediment on the ocean floor and letting ocean currents wash hapless tiny
crustaceans into their harplike limbs. The candelabralike branches of the limbs may help maximize how many shrimplike critters these carnivorous
This truly bizarre creature had never been observed by human eyes before 2000, when a team from the Monterey Bay Research Aquarium Institute in
California took a remotely operated submersible into 2-mile (3.5-km)-deep waters off the central California coast. They later captured two specimens
of the animal, which is scientifically called Chondrocladia lyra, and took 10 more video observations, reporting their analysis of the new species in
October in the journal Invertebrate Biology.
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