This edited article about strange creatures originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 702 published on 28 June 1975.
In the world of nature, there are many very strange creatures, both in appearance and behaviour. Some have adapted themselves to living in very extraordinary situations. For instance, some exist in the hot water springs in New Zealand, and in pools of oil and in deep caves where no light ever enters and these, in course of time, have become completely blind.
One of the oddest of all mammals is the Pangolin. Looking more like a reptile, with hard scales, instead of hair, it feeds chiefly on ants and termites and has a tongue nearly a foot (304.8000 mm.) long. When alarmed, it rolls up into a ball rather like a hedgehog.
The Kiwi is a native of New Zealand. About the size of a large hen, its wings are only 2 inches (50.800 mm.) long, so it cannot fly. Most birds have a very poor sense of smell, but the kiwi, with nostrils near the tip of its bill, has such a good sense of smell that it tracks its prey, consisting of worms and insects, mainly by smell. Its egg is enormous in relation to its size.
The reptile and amphibian species contain some of the most extraordinary creatures. The Basilisk, about 2 feet long, looks like a miniature dragon and is also remarkable because it can run at a great speed on the surface of water; but when it tires and the pace slackens, it sinks until only its head is above water and it has to swim.
Darwin’s Frog, named after the great naturalist, Charles Darwin, who discovered it, is only just over 1 inch (25.4000 mm.) long, but is unique among amphibians because of its long, pointed nose and for the fact that the male undertakes the responsibility of rearing the young.
The female lays up to 30 eggs but it is the male which stands guard over them for nearly 3 weeks. When they are about to hatch, he picks them up in his mouth, where they pass through into his swollen vocal sacs and remain until they are about half an inch (12.7000 mm.) long. They then emerge from his mouth into the daylight to start their own lives.
The Horned Toad is not really a toad but a kind of lizard whose home is in the deserts of Mexico. Apart from its very spiky appearance, it is remarkable because it is able to shoot tears of blood from its eyes up to a distance of several feet when it feels itself threatened.
But the most bizarre creatures in the animal kingdom must surely be found among the insects.
The Leaf-Legged Shield Bug is striped scarlet and green with two large leaf-like appendages on its near legs which act as camouflage as it crawls amongst the leaves of trees.
Even odder in appearance, is the Stalk-Eyed Fly which, as its name suggests, has its eyes at the end of long extensions from the sides of its head, giving it extreme binocular vision.
Leptodora can be found in large lakes in the British Isles. It is a crustacean and is one of the most transparent creatures in existence. It is about half an inch long, and if viewed in a jar of clear water, only the eye and the contents of the digestive tract can be seen.
This article and image(s) are available for licensing: click on an image to see further details and licensing options; contact us about licensing textual content.