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Strangest Animal Stories From 2019
From alien worms living in arsenic … to clams that eat rocks … here are 14 of the strangest animal stories reported in 2019
#14 Sly New Gecko
There’s a vast array of animals that are endemic to Madagascar. And Leaf-tailed geckos are among them. These reptiles are known for the leaflike appendage that inspired their common name, and help them stay camouflaged. A new species was discovered in the Ankarana Special Reserve. It had actually been there all along, but it was commonly mistaken for a similar species. After several years of detailing the animal’s genetic distinctiveness, researchers found enough evidence to declare it as a separate species. Since these geckos are very elusive and seem to display a crafty smile, they’re sometimes called Sly Geckos.
#13 Dog-Walker Dino Detective
The northern bays of West Somerset in England have become known for their fossil finds. While a dog walker was strolling along the beach with his two pets he found a 5.5 foot long fossil. Storms had recently uncovered it. But the artifact had been sitting there for a long time. Its age was estimated at more than 65 million years, and it probably belonged to a plesiosaur (pleez-ee–oh-sawr). Those were marine reptiles that existed in the Late Cretaceous. It’s unknown if this specimen was a juvenile or adult. But mature plesiosaurs could range in size from about 5 feet (1.5 m) to around 49 feet (15 m). Some of the largest known marine apex predators belonged to this group!
#12 Staring At Seagulls
Have you ever had seagulls try to snatch your snacks at the beach? It turns out there’s an easy way to stop the greedy gulls from doing that. Just stare them down. A study conducted in the UK in 2019 tested how the birds reacted when humans were watching them, and when they were ignored. When humans stared at them, the gulls became a lot more apprehensive about inspecting food. Many of them seemed to lose their appetite and flew away. But when humans were looking the other way, the birds became bold enough to swoop in for the treats. Earlier studies have shown that some animal species will change their behavior when humans are directly watching them. Looks like seagulls are among them.
#11 Down in the Mouth
Some tiny marine crustaceans have a strange place to call home. Researchers found the previously unknown species living inside the mouth of a whale shark. With an average size of 32 feet (9.8 m) and weighing some 20,000 pounds (9 metric tons) they’re the largest living fish species. These shrimp-like crustaceans are only about 5 millimeters long, so they have plenty of room inside the shark’s mouth. Researchers say that the minuscule residents receive plenty of seawater, which is necessary for breathing. Food flows in regularly, which they capture with their hairy legs. And their huge host provides a safe space from predators. The animals were found inside the gills of a whale shark’s mouth in the waters of southern Okinawa. They belong to a group that is known for living in a diversity of environments. But finding a group of them living inside the mouth of another animal was unexpected.
#10 Given the Dog a Bone
You know how dogs can be about burying their bones. Sometimes they find bones that they never buried. That’s what happened in the UK when a four-year-old Beagle named Crystal was out for a walk with her owner. The dog sniffed out the fossilized leg bone of a woolly rhinoceros estimated to be 250,000 years old. Actually, it might not be such a surprising event. While Beagles are known for their keen sense of smell, Crystal’s owner is a paleontologist who trained her to sniff out fossils by their pungent, clay-like smell. Woolly rhinos died out around 10,000 years ago, and their fossils have been found throughout Asia and Europe.