A combination of adaptation and natural selection has produced some beautiful and elegant creatures. It also causes some animal body parts to be completely strange. Have sponges lost their brains? What’s so strange about the mantis shrimp’s seemingly telescopic eyes? Why do sheephead fish teeth look so weird? What made researchers think of origami when confronted with the mystery of salamander wings?
Yes, arachnid legs function “kind of like… tongue, nose and fingertips.” Of all the places where tentacles could grow, why would nature choose snakeheads? Skilled combatants claim that almost anything can be used as a weapon, but unlike aquatic salamanders, they may even draw a line across their ribs. Shoe stork is nothing if not an innovative hunter.
When mating season comes, male venomous platypuses don’t have to worry about being cuckolded for good reason. The proboscis monkey’s nose may strike one as plain, but the females of its species seem to appreciate it, and another of its appendages is — well, for now, let’s assume you’ve been warned. .
Although humans are not on the menu of the shoebill stork, baby alligators are part of the bird’s diet, as are such fare as lungfish, eels, . . . catfish, and . . . crazy stuff like Nile monitor lizards [and] snakes,” writer Nicholas Lund observes.
Its predatory ways are simple but effective. It stands and waits. When prey approaches, it lunges, scooping its next meal into its massive bill, along with whatever else happens to be in the vicinity, whether “water, mud, vegetation, [or] . . . other hapless fish.” Then, the stork shakes its head back and forth to get rid of the debris it may have collected along with its prey, before using its massive bill to decapitate its live, squirming quarry. At this point, it’s all over but the swallowing.