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The tardigrade is a water-dwelling, microscopic animal that can be found just about everywhere on the planet: from the very top of Mount Everest and 10,000 feet below the surface of the ocean to the fields of Antarctica and water droplets in your backyard! This eight-legged (and clawed) creature is one of the world’s toughest animals. It can survive 1,000 times more radiation than any other animal, as well as temperatures of over 300°F and under -400°F.
The Magnapinna squid is a deep-sea squid that was first sighted in 1988. This particular cephalopod looks very different from all previously known squids—the appendages of the Magnapinna squid extend sideways from the body, and then bend down, giving the appearance of dangling elbows. Most remarkable is the length of the elastic tentacles, which have been estimated to stretch up to 15 to 20 times the length of the body, giving the squid a total span of more than 26 feet.
This nocturnal primate is native to Madagascar. Its special features include rodentlike teeth and a long, thin middle finger. It uses the finger to tap on trees in search of hollow sounds. When it finds one, it gnaws a hole in the wood, and then inserts its elongated finger to pull out the insect larvae.
These bony deep-sea fish are named for the fleshy growth on their heads, which acts as a bioluminescent lure to attract their prey. The humpback anglerfish is found worldwide in near-freezing water at depths of up to 6,000 feet below the water surface
Found only in Australia, the bilby is a small, nocturnal marsupial. The young stay in their mother’s backward-tilting pouch for 70 to 80 days. The name bilby comes from the Aboriginal language of northern New South Wales, and means “long-nosed rat.” Bilbies do not need to drink water; they get all the moisture they need from their food, which includes fruit, seeds, insects, and small animals.
The Weddell seal lives farther south than any other mammal, inhabiting parts of Antarctica that are within 800 miles of the South Pole. This pinniped can grow over 9 feet in length and can weigh more than 1,200 pounds. It can also dive over 2,000 feet deep and stay submerged for over an hour. But what really makes the Weddell seal so incredibly unusual are the sounds it makes both above and below the ice. Click here to listen to a sample of the Wedell seal, recorded by Douglas Quin, Ph.D
This large marine mammal can be found grazing on underwater plants and grasses off the coast of northern Australia, Southeast Asia, and the east coast of Africa. The dugong, also referred to as “sea cows,” are surprisingly more closely related to elephants than to other marine mammals like whales and dolphins. Their closest living aquatic relatives are the manatees.
One of the most unusual mammals on the planet is the solenodon. Although the solenodon once lived all over North America, it is now found only on the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola. With its long, flexible snout, the solenodon can sniff around holes and crevices where insects, worms, and other invertebrates might be hiding. And then, with a deadly, venomous bite, the solenodon quickly incapacitates its prey.