I love how nature can be peculiar and perfect all at once. It is unscripted and unpredictable and a privilege to observe. The following species, with their strange specialities, have often left us scratching our heads in astonishment and amazement…
What is an “all about weird” blog without hyenas? In the previous edition we spoke about the pseudo penis of the female Spotted hyena. What’s just as puzzling is the way in which members of a clan greet one another. Clans are led by a matriarch, the dominant female leader of the group which all members seem to have a lot of respect for. When clans rejoin after an outing, they have somewhat of a greeting ceremony. The ritual includes a number of interesting vocalizations which progresses to members exposing each other’s genitalia to one another. They stand head to tail and continue to sniff (and sometimes lick) genitalia in order to identify a clan member. One can often see less dominant individuals feeling reluctant to expose their vulnerable parts to the bone-crushing jaws of another hyena. How’s that for a hello!
You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. The activity most animals spend the majority of their time doing… is finding food. It is vitally important to obtain enough energy and nutrients to survive but sometimes food is not enough. The Leopard tortoise is many people’s favorite reptile. It is the largest tortoise in South Africa and the only one which can swim. It feeds on a variety of vegetation but needs a bit extra when it comes to the maintaining the strength of its most valuable asset – the protective shell. Tortoises go the extra mile and actually eat Spotted hyena scat. The droppings are pure white and extremely rich in calcium as a result of their bone intensive diet. A perfect supplement for a tortoise to strengthen its shell! Bon appetite!
Insects often claim the prize when it comes to the anomalous and bizarre. There is a species of “ant’s guest beetle” which has an extraordinary adaptation. These insects have a sneaky symbiotic relationship with ants. They are equipped with a cup-like mouth appendage which they use to “beg” ants for food. Why would the ants give up their food? The beetles secrete a substance to calm the ants into a state where the beetle can actually obtain food from them! There are other types of these beetles which can harvest the formic acid of ants and use it as a weapon of their own. These are known as Bombardier beetles which create a sort of mini explosion when threatened thanks to the formic acid collected from ants!
Whatever the weirdness, nature knows best and we’re all here for it!