Exploring Our World

Earth's Amazing Creatures - Part 6

1. Thorny Dragon

Colored in camouflaging shades of desert browns, this lizard has a “false” head, which he presents to his predators by dipping the real one.

2. Alarm Jellyfish

The alarm jellyfish (Atolla Wyvillei) has a rather unique defence mechanism. When the alarm jellyfish is attacked, it flashes brightly using bioluminescence in an attempt to attract other animals. The idea is to encourage confusion and fights between predators, while the jellyfish can swim away.

3. Red-Lipped Batfish

The red-lipped batfish is an unusual fish. Closely related to other batfish but completely unique to Galapagos, the red-lipped batfish is a bottom dweller and is usually found within the sandy bottom of reefs or on the ocean floor. They can be found at depths of 3 – 76 m in the Pacific Ocean around Galapagos or around the edges of reefs up to about 120m deep.ar.

The body color of the red-lipped batfish is light brown and greyish on its back, with a white stomach. On the top side, there is usually a dark brown stripe made of brown dots, starting at the head and going all the way down the back to the tail. The snout and horn of the red-lipped batfish are a brownish color. As its name suggests, the batfish also has bright, almost fluorescent, red lips looking as though it has recently eaten a bloody meal, or is wearing some very bright lipstick.

The red-lipped batfish has another strange trait. Although it is capable of swimming along the seabed in search of food, it usually uses its fins to move about on the bottom. It has a structure on its head known as an illicium which is thought to be employed for luring prey in. The species is a piscivore and insectivore, mainly feeding on other small fish and small crustaceans like shrimps and mollusks.

4. Snub Nosed Monkey

David Attenborough once remarked that these marvelous monkeys look like “elves” and others like “plastic surgery gone too far.” Found in Asia, at heights of up to 13,000 feet, these primates with a short stump of a nose are rarely seen.

5. Scotoplanes - The Sea Pig

Scotoplanes live on deep ocean bottoms, specifically on the abyssal plain in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean, typically at depths of over 1,000 meters. They are deposit feeders and obtain food by extracting organic particles from deep-sea mud.

6. Blue-Footed Booby

There are an estimated 40,000 breeding pairs of blue-footed boobies in the world. They are native to Central and South America and can be found all along the Pacific coast, stretching from Southern California down to Peru. This marine bird mainly resides in the open sea but depends on ocean islands for breeding. Approximately 70% of the total blue-footed booby population are found in the Galapagos Islands.

Their bright blue feet are a sexually selected trait. The brighter a male’s feet, the more attractive he is to a female. To attract a female, they have an elaborate dancing ritual to display their feet, first lifting one foot and then the other.

Blue-footed boobies lay their eggs in small depressions on the bare ground. They defecate on and around the eggs to make their nests, which builds cover out of guano. The birds also use their large, webbed feet to cover their young and keep them warm.

Blue-footed boobies often appear rather comical and are notoriously clumsy-looking on land. In fact, the name “booby” derives from the Spanish term bobo meaning “stupid”, “foolish” or “dummy.” It's thought that their clownish waddling on land, coupled with their apparent fearlessness of humans (which made them easy to capture for food), are what led early Spanish explorers to come up with this name. However, their awkwardness on land is compensated by their agility in the air and water where they spend the majority of their time.

Male and female blue-footed boobies are almost identical. The only differences are that females are slightly larger and have larger pupils, which have a star-like shape.

Their diet consists of fish, mainly sardines, anchovies and mackerel, which they catch through a spectacular dive into the water from the air. They are a social species and can often be found in flocks of up to 200 scouring the water for fish with their excellent binocular-style vision.

When the booby has spotted its prey it will plunge headfirst into the ocean from heights of up to 80 feet, honing in on its target with great force, speed and precision. They tilt downward at a near vertical angle, hold their wings back against their streamlined body and also have air sacks in their skulls to protect against the impact.

Boobies also dive from sitting position on the water’s surface and can also be seen feeding on flying fish which they can catch mid-air.

With their cigar shaped body, narrow wings and long pointed tail, these birds are remarkably agile in the water. The blue-footed species is especially well-adapted to the underwater world. Its swiftness means it can plunge into less than 2 feet of water, pulling out of a dive at remarkable speeds. They also have permanently closed nostrils and breathe through the corners of their mouth when above water.

The blueness of their feet comes from their diet of fresh fish. It's actually a substance called carotenoid; these are antioxidants that improve the immune system. If a blue-footed booby has pale feet, it likely means that they are unhealthy.

Although they may sound quite similar to us, blue-footed boobies can tell each other apart by sound; each bird has its own unique call.

7. Chrysopelea - The Flying Snake

In what is many people’s worst nightmare, this serpent climbs trees and then jumps down. By flattening its body and flaring out its ribs, the snake can glide through the air.

Incredibly unique one-of-a-kind creatures!