CRAZIEST Animal Phenomena Explained
- Published on Aug 8, 2019
- From swimming spiders and raining fish … to exploding frogs and zombie insects … Here are 12 of the Craziest Animal Phenomena Explained
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#4 Cloudy With A Chance of Meat
This meteorological phenomenon was recorded in Kentucky in 1876 when pieces of raw meat apparently fell from the sky. The largest pieces measured about 4 inches (10 cm squared), and resembled beef. Taste testers later claimed it was more likely deer or lamb meat. Others claimed it was bear meat, or even a type of gelatinous bacteria. But laboratory analysis identified it as lung tissue that belonged to either a human or a horse. While that is usually regarded as the most plausible explanation, it’s still a matter of debate. Likewise, how it managed to fall from the sky. A widely cited theory involves vultures. Some researchers say the birds regurgitated the meat they were in mid-flight. Some species will display that behavior as a defense mechanism or to lighten their flight weight. A specimen of that mystery meat is kept preserved in a jar at Transylvania University. FYI, that’s a private university located in Kentucky (ken-tuk-ee), not in Romania.
#3 Sub-mariner Spiders (sub mair-in-er)
We mentioned how the Giant Baboon Spider can swim. But there’s only one species of spider that is known to live most of its life underwater. In fact, you might say that Diving Bell Spiders can even breathe underwater. That’s due to the bell-shaped structure that inspires the animal’s common name. First, the critters construct their dome-shaped web made of waterproof silk between plants below the surface. Oxygen bubbles are trapped on the fine hairs of its legs and belly. The bubbles are transported to the web and released inside the dome, filling it with air. It takes a few trips until the structure is inflated large enough for the spider to stay inside. The structure serves several purposes, but most impressive is how the bubble functions as a gill. The water’s oxygen diffuses into the bubble while carbon dioxide diffuses out. That keeps the air in the bubble fresh and breathable.
#2 The Crawling Dead
This one sounds like something from a horror movie. A hyper-parasitic microorganism invades the body a host and then controls its mind. The parasite is a fungus that targets certain species of ants, carpenter ants in particular. A research study in Thailand’ rainforests focused on the relationship between host and parasite. The insects were infected when they came into contact with fungal spores. As it spread throughout its body, the fungus released a chemical cocktail
that controlled the minds of the host insects. Then they became zombie-like automatons whose only purpose was to assist the fungus in replicating itself. After wandering aimlessly, they eventually fell to the jungle floor, which is an ideal spot for the fungus to reproduce. When the host dies it releases fungal spores which other ants pick up and cause the cycle to repeat. But the ants got even with their tormentors. The insects found another fungus that attacks their parasite and prevents it from spreading its spores. When the ants groom one another they pass along the protective fungi (fun-jie), which helps protect the colony.