Tuesday, January 31, 2017

ZooWeird 62

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Paradoxical Frog.  The species begins its life like most frogs do, as a tadpole—a big tadpole that is up to 25cm long. But then something weird happens. It morphs into an actual frog that is only about a quarter of its former length! Not surprisingly, the species became known as the shrinking frog. The paradoxical frog is an aquatic species that inhabits ponds, lakes, and lagoons from northern Argentina, through the Pantanal, Amazon, and the Guianas, to Venezuela and Trinidad with a disjunct distribution in the Magdalena River watershed in Colombia and adjacent far western Venezuela. (All animal ino from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2014/12/the-paradoxical-shrinking-frog.html#ixzz4X6AEMvbE)

A tadpole bigger than the frog
That from this tadpole did ensue?
A twig that's larger than the log
It came from? Mystery for you!

There have been times throughout my life
When I was carrying too much weight
And would have liked (so would my wife?)
To be a smaller guy—but Fate

Declares we aren’t amphibian.
So we grow larger—sometimes thick
And try all remedies we can
To lose—an often tricky trick.

That frog must look at us, amazed.
And think we’re weird beyond belief.
While we examine him—so dazed—
And seek in diet our relief.

Monday, January 30, 2017

ZooWeird 61

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Pacific Barreleye.  The Pacific barreleye fish is one the weirdest creatures lurking deep in the ocean. Named after its eyes that are literally shaped like barrels, the species' most unique trait is the completely transparent head. M. microstoma is the only representative of the genus Macropinna, belonging to the Opisthoproctidae family. Although known to scientists since 1939,  it was photographed alive only in 2004. Old drawings and photos do not show the transparent head: It is usually destroyed when they are brought up to the surface. The Pacific barreleye fish occurs at depths ranging from 600 to at least 800 metres (~ 2.000 -2,600 ft), in the North Pacific. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2014/12/fish-with-transparent-head.html#ixzz4WzutFEtz)

The barreleye (I read today)
Has one trait I would really dread:
He can’t fool others with a lie
Because of his transparent head.

Just think how awful that would be—
If all could see our private thoughts!
We’d need a social referee
To loosen all the social knots

That I’m afraid would soon ensue.
We’d be involved in constant spats—
Yes, you with me and I with you …
Relationships would die like gnats.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

ZooWeird 60

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Osedax worms. Osedax is a genus of weird, deep-sea polychaetes worms, commonly known as boneworms, zombie worms, or bone-eating worms. The story of these creatures began twelve years ago, when researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) first discovered them, using the submarine ROV Tiburon in Monterey Bay, California, in February 2002. The worms were found living on the bones of a decaying gray whale, thus the name “bone-eating,” which alludes to how the worms bore into the bones of whale carcasses to reach enclosed lipids, on which they rely for sustenance. Since then, researchers have described more than 15 bone-eating species of Osedax. What is so interesting about these animals is the extreme sexual size dimorphism they exhibit. Male Osedax are microscopic dwarfs that live as “harems” inside the lumen of the gelatinous tube that surrounds each female. An individual female can house hundreds or even thousands of these males in her tube. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2014/12/osedax-worms.html#ixzz4Wu9BpnXR)

These worms are connoisseurs of bones—
To them a snack food (ice cream cones!).

I don’t like thinking what they eat—
For I have bones, from head to feet.

The thought I’m eaten by a worm?
I’m so opposed—on that I’m firm.

So here’ a thought to make them squirm:
Spaghetti dinner—made with worm!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

ZooWeird 59

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Oriental hornet. Typically, wasps and hornets are most active during the early morning when they do the majority of their daily activities. However, this is not the case with the oriental hornet that is most active during the middle of the day. This social insect nests underground, and the workers correlate their digging activity with the intensity of sunlight. It turns out there is actually a good reason why these insects love intense sunlight. The species has an outer layer (cuticle) that allows it to harvest solar energy. The yellow parts of the body (in the head and abdomen) contain a pigment called Xanthopterin, which works as a light-harvesting molecule, transforming light into electrical energy. Currently, it is assumed that part of this energy is transformed in a photo-biochemical process which aids the species with energy demanding activities, like flying and digging. The harvested energy appears to also provide enough energy to carry out some metabolic functions, for researchers have found that most of the metabolic activity occurs in the yellow pigment layer. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2014/10/four-photosynthetic-like-animals.html#ixzz4WoKNo0BD)

They gather solar energy,
These wasps, these very clever dudes,
Their gifts denied to you and me.
Thus Mother Nature oft excludes

From one the other’s special gifts—
As if she evens up the score,
Avoiding jealousy and rifts—
Avoiding inter-species’ war!

Friday, January 27, 2017

ZooWeird 58

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Opah. New research by NOAA Fisheries has revealed the opah (Lampris Guttatus) to be the first fully warm-blooded fish. Also known as moonfish, it circulates heated blood throughout its body much like mammals and birds do, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths. With a maximum length of 2m (roughly the size of a large tire), the fish is known from oceans around the world, dwelling hundreds of feet beneath the surface in cold, dimly lit waters. It swims by rapidly flapping its large, red pectoral fins like wings through the water. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2015/05/opah-warm-blooded-fish.html#ixzz4WiqPkyE7)

The opah is a predator—
Warm-blooded—also very cold.
His presence never is a bore—
The opah, dude, is very bold.

So Oprah caught an opah once—
Invited it to join her show.
The opah, though, a wicked dunce,
Declined—gave her a certain “No!”

That night at Oprah’s massive place
A massive crowd—oh, quite a deal!—
Assembled in her dining space
Had massive opah for their meal.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

ZooWeird 57

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Olm. The Olm (also known as Proteus) is an aquatic, blind, and snakeish amphibian that can be found in the subterranean waters of caves of the Dinaric karst of southern Europe. It’s the only known species of the Proteus genus, the sole European species belonging to the family Proteidae and also the only European chordate that is exclusively cave-dwelling. (All animal info from: http://www.strangeanimals.info/2011/10/olm.html#ixzz4Wmf4s5Nc)

The olm is “snakish,” so I see—
An adjective we humans dread.
We think about our history—
That Eden story in our head.

Yes, snakes we love to demonize
Because of apples, Eve, and things.
We fear their fixed and fearsome eyes
And all that disobeying brings.

The olm, remember … not a snake?
We should our motives all inspect.
And ere we make a big mistake,
Should treat the olm with great respect.

He is amphibian, you see,
Like salamanders and like frogs,
And doesn’t threaten you and me—
No more than cute and cuddly dogs!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

ZooWeird 56

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Okapi:  A beautiful, strange looking giraffid artiodactyl mammal. Despite what the zebra-like patterns would have you think, the two animals are not closely related. Actually, giraffes are the closest extant relative of O. johnstoni. Okapis are considered by many scientists to be living fossils because they have changed little over their lifetime as a species. The species is endemic to the Ituri Rainforest, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa. Okapis are primarily found in altitudes ranging from 500 to 1,000m, but sometimes individuals venture in higher altitudes at the eastern montane rainforests. Sightings are most common in the Wamba and Epulu regions. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2010/10/okapi.html#ixzz4WbAPC3PS)

Okapis live in Africa—
Are kin to the giraffe.
If you guessed “zebra,” you are wrong—
Yes, wrong by more than half.

They reproduce a clever way—
Though minus all the fun.
A mate gets killed? Well, they just say,
“I’ll .. well … oh, copy one!”

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

ZooWeird 55

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Ocean Sunfish. The ocean sunfish (also known as Mola mola or just Mola) holds the world record for heaviest bony fish. The species inhabits tropical and temperate waters and occurs in all major oceans. The ocean sunfish is the heaviest bony fish of the world, with adults having an average weight of 1.000 kg (about 2,200 lbs). Adults have an average length of 1.8 m (6 ft) and an average fin-to-fin length of 2.5 m (8.2 ft). However, there have been reports of individuals measuring up to 3.3 meters (10.8 ft) in length and 4.3 meters (14 ft) from fin to fin. The heaviest specimen ever recorded had a weight of 2.300 kg (5,100 lbs). Females tend to be a bit larger than males. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2010/12/ocean-sunfish.html#ixzz4Wb9vXNsU)

FISH 1: “So you’re that heavy bony fish?”
FISH 2: “How should I answer—what’s your wish?”
FISH 1: “I merely want the truth, my friend.”
FISH 2: “And will this truth our friendship end?”
FISH 1: “Why should that happen? We’re so close!”
FISH 2: “But truth can be a heavy dose.”
FISH 1: “Well, tell the truth, and let’s find out.”
FISH 2: “I am so heavy—there’s no doubt.”
FISH 1: “I thought so—you’re disgusting, fat!”
             And as for friendship? That was that.
     MORAL: When someone asks how much you weigh,
                     Delay, delay, delay, delay.

Monday, January 23, 2017

ZooWeird 54

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Naked Mole Rat: Arguably one of the world's strangest mammals, combining a number of crazy and unique traits that no other mammal has. Some of these traits include a lack of pain sensation, very low metabolic and respiratory rates and an apparent immunity to cancer. Interestingly, they are also one of the handful eusocial mammals we know, meaning that they form societies similar to those of ants and termites. The species is native to the drier parts of the tropical grasslands of East Africa, occurring throughout most of Somalia, central Ethiopia, and much of northern and eastern Kenya, extending as far south as the eastern border of Tsavo West National Park and the town of Voi.  The species has also been recorded in Djibouti, indicating that it has a wider range than the one currently known. It has an altitudinal range, starting from 400 to 1,500 m. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2010/12/naked-mole-rat.html#ixzz4WL7IPc00)

So which I worst? I wondered then.
To be a rat? Or naked? Or
A mole? I really don’t know when
I’ve faced such awkward faunal lore.

And so I asked one: “Which is worst?”
He looked at me—a puzzled face--
And then replied—okay, he cursed:
“You humans are just pure disgrace!

“You think that ‘normal’ means just you.
You ridicule what’s not the same.
So here is what I think we’ll do
We’ll give to you a stupid name!”

(Hmmm … what would be some good ones?)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

ZooWeird 53

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Narwhal: Or "the unicorn of the sea," as it is sometimes called, is a medium-sized toothed whale and one of the two surviving representatives of the family Monodontidae. The other member is the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas). These magnificent creatures are easily distringuished by the long straight tusks that males have. Narwhals occur predominantly in the Atlantic and Russian areas of the Arctic Ocean. They are commonly sighted in the northern part of Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Baffin Bay; off the east coast of Greenland and in a strip running east from the northern end of Greenland round to eastern Russia (170° East). Narwhals can reach depths of 1,500 m (~4921 ft). (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2010/12/narwhal.html#ixzz4WQyRSpWn

The Narwhal was the vessel in
That tale Jack London wrote*—
The one about that dog named Buck.
So on that Narwhal boat

He sailed up to Alaska, where
He set off on the trail
To Dawson (Yukon) for the gold
(Or so, at least, the tale

That hordes had heard, propelling them
Up to the Northern lands 
Where gold was lying all around—
In creeks and in the sands.)

I wonder if the narwhals there
Up in the northern seas
Were curious about these ships
Ignoring snow and freeze.

Perhaps one said, “These dudes are nuts—
To dig in frozen land.
I like it better in the sea—
A world I understand,

A world with very little that
Can me annoy or vex—
A world that’s simple: lots of food—
Yeah, lots of surf and sex!”

*The Call of the Wild, 1903.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

ZooWeird 52

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Moroccan Flic-Flac Spider: A nocturnal species of huntsman spider native to Morocco. It inhabits the sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi desert. What’s so intriguing about these critters is their ability to move by means of flic-flac jumps. When provoked or threatened, the spider can escape by doubling its normal walking speed using forward or backward flips similar to the acrobatic flic-flac movements used by gymnasts. No other spider is known to use this unique form of rolling locomotion. It is as a medium-sized huntsman spider. Male bodies are 1.38 to 1.9 cm long; female bodies measure 1.9 to 1.95 mm long. Both sexes are similarly colored white with black scopulae on their ventral legs, and yellow coloring on their dorsal opisthosoma and femora. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2015/04/weird-animals-discovered-in-2014.html#ixzz4W9MiBG3s)

The spider flics—the spider flacs—
Is this just fun? Or sneak attacks?

He says he’s from Morocco, but
I’m not so sure—I’ll tell you what:

He seems he’s not from any place—
So I’ll suggest it’s … Outer Space!

(Link to video of the spider in motion.)

Friday, January 20, 2017

ZooWeird 51

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Mirror Spider: A genus of spiders that is so beautiful, fascinating, and unique that even arachnophobics will love it. The spiders are commonly known as mirror spiders, and all belong to the Thwaitesia genus. Their most distinctive trait is the reflective silvery patches on their abdomen; hence, the common name. Thwaitesia spiders occur throughout the world, and there are more than 20 described species at the moment. They are harmless to humans and relatively small, with adults being about 2–5 mm long, depending on the species and sex. Similarly to most spiders, female mirror spiders get larger than males. Mirror spiders are sometimes also referred to as sequin, bling and jewel spiders. (All animal info from:

A spider with a mirror—he
Is callow? Narcissistic? Vain?
Oh, what a sight it is to see!
An eight-legged dude with glassy pane.

But then—another way to view
It all—explaining everything.
For we should give this dude his due:
This strange Arachnid selfie-king!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

ZooWeird 50

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

 Mike, the Headless Chicken: Everyone has heard that headless cockroaches can survive for days or even weeks. But how about a chicken? Can a decapitated chicken survive for days or even weeks? Sounds  impossible; however, there is a story of a decapitated chicken that actually survived for 18 straight months! Also known as Miracle Mike, he was a Wyandotte rooster born in April 1945. Back in his days, Mike became really famous due to surviving for almost two years after being decapitated. You may think that the story is a hoax, as many did back then. However, the chicken was examined by scientists at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City while it was still alive and the story has been verified to be 100 % real. (all animal info from

It really seems impossible—
A chicken with no head!
Who lived, it seems, some eighteen months
Before he was, well, dead.

The Headless Horseman (so I heard)
Just scoffed with disrespect:
“Just eighteen months—how pitiful!
I’m better, recollect?”

But here’s a thought: A headless life—
No matter what you feel—
Is better for a rooster than
To be an evening’s meal!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

ZooWeird 49

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Mexican Mole Lizard: It looks like a crazy scientist somehow combined a lizard, an earthworm and a snake. The Mexican mole lizard belongs to the Amphisbaenia suborder, a group of usually legless reptiles, composing over 180 extant species. These little critters occur exclusively in the Baja California peninsula of Mexico, with their habitat ranging from extreme southwestern Baja California State through western Baja California Sur, to the Isthmus of La Paz and the western Cape Region. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2011/02/mexican-mole-lizard.html#ixzz4Vw5SB7db)

They live in Baja—only place—
Where they have room—oh, lots of space!—
To bask in sun (if that’s the case).

They have a lengthy, slender bod
(Which really isn’t all that odd—
Give Darwin’s theory, here, a nod).

But still—despite the facts I’ve read—
Despite what scientists have said—
I do not want one in my bed!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

ZooWeird 48

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Mata mata turtlea strange name for what is surely one of the world’s strangest turtles. This large, South American river turtle is the only surviving species of the genus Chelus and is easily one of the most unusual creatures you are likely to encounter in the Amazon Region. Thanks to its leaf-shaped head, bark-like flat shell and ragged skin flaps, the species can perfectly blend in with the surrounding environment. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2014/08/mata-mata-turtle.html#ixzz4Vlzi1ZtQ)

He's got a head shaped like a leaf—
On torrid days—so much relief.

But with a odd and leaf-shaped head
He must greet mirrors with some dread.

And all those bugs that land on him—
He’s always disappointing them!

But so he spends allotted days—
Just like the rest of us—in ways

That bring him comfort. Peace.
Until it’s time for his release.

Monday, January 16, 2017

ZooWeird 47

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Lowland Streaked Tenrec: This cute little creature is a small tenrec (a member of the family Tenrecidae) found in Madagascar. And no, it may look like one but it’s not a porcupine! The Lowland Streaked Tenrec is found in tropical lowland rain forests, in the northern and eastern parts of Madagascar, occurring from sea level to 1,550 m asl. They prefer primary and secondary tropical humid forests but are a common sight in agricultural land and gardens. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2015/04/lowland-streaked-tenrec.html#ixzz4VkR2jbM6)

This little prickly, quiet dude
Is one you oughtn’t to exclude
From parties (that would be so  rude!).

Sure, some will cry, “That thing is sick!”
And others: “Someone grab a brick!”
Or joke: “He’s such a little … prick!”

You can’t believe that he’s the one
That when your party has begun
Will be the creature that’s most fun.

He’ll eat so little (save you cash),
Eschew the bathroom at your bash
And never sing “The Monster Mash.”

Sunday, January 15, 2017

ZooWeird 46

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Leafy Sea Dragon: A marine fish of the family Syngnathidae, which also includes seahorses. It is the sole representative of the genus Phycodurus. The leafy seadragon’s name is derived from its resemblance to a mythical dragon covered with long, leaf-like protrusions. The species occurs exclusively in the southern Australian waters, from Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria at the eastern end of its range, westward to Jurien Bay, 220 km (136 miles) north of Perth in Western Australia. In the past, individuals were believed to have very limited ranges; however, further research has shown that leafy sea dragons can travel several hundred meters from their habitual locations, returning to the same spot using a strong sense of direction. (all animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2011/01/leafy-sea-dragon.html#ixzz4VaFUW3Ay)

A dragon that looks like a leaf?
Such dragons would take lots of grief!

“You do not look like Smaug,” said one.
“Just salad,” said one guy, for fun.

The leafy dragon took his time—
Let taunters closer. Like a mime,

He didn’t say a single word
Until, enraged by what he’d heard,

He roared and called them ugly names
And breathed upon them deadly flames.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

ZooWeird 45

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

The kiwi is a flightless genus of birds endemic to New Zealand. They belong to the Apterygidae family and have about the same size as domestic chickens do. All kiwi species (except A.owenii) are endangered or threatened. As aforementioned, kiwis are flightless birds. They are the smallest living ratites, which is a diverse group of large, flightless birds like ostriches, emus and rheas. There are 5 surviving kiwi species, with several anatomical and behavioral differences among them. (All animal info from  http://www.strangeanimals.info/2010/12/kiwi.html#ixzz4VTVyWc00)

I asked the kiwi, standing there,
If he liked kiwi fruit.
He stared disdainfully at me,
Said, “You are such a hoot

“That you remind me of an owl—
Or maybe of a stork.”
“A stork?” I asked. “That’s kinda weird.”
“It’s cuz you’re such a dork,”

The kiwi cheeped—and stood there with
A sneer upon his beak.
“Oh, why don’t you just fly away!”
I cried with mucho cheek.

“Oh, that’s so funny!” he replied.
“You think I am a fool?
You human beings, generally,
Are often very cruel.”

And so the kiwi wandered off—
For kiwi fruit, I guess?
But sent some spiders after me,
Which caused so much distress!

Friday, January 13, 2017

ZooWeird 44

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Kitti's Hog-nosed Bat is the sole representative of the family Craseonycteridae. The species is best known for being the world’s smallest bat and mammal, with an average weight of only 2 g! This little critter occurs exclusively in western Thailand and southeast Burma, occupying limestone caves along rivers, within dry evergreen or deciduous forests. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2011/01/kittis-hog-nosed-bat.html#ixzz4VOLVEUdP)

“You’ve got a hog-nose, little bat”—
So said the hog. In nothing flat
The bat swooped down and bit the nose
Of Mr. Hog, who learned—now knows
You must be careful what you say,
For hog-nosed bats just do not play.
They’re sensitive about their looks—
Though this is not much-told in books.
So with this critter, use some grace
Or Mr. Bat will chew your face!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

ZooWeird 43

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

The king of herrings is an extremely long fish of the Regalecidae family that holds the world's record for longest extant bony fish. This creepy creature lives in much of the world's oceans, inhabiting depths between 200 and 1,000 meters (~650 to 3,280 ft). It is harmless to humans, despite its huge and frightening appearance. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2011/02/king-of-herrings.html#ixzz4VHpzn8X7)

The king of herrings—very long—
Is noted not for art or song.

Oh, no, he lives below the waves,
Inhabiting the darkest caves.

I’ve read he’s harmless—like a dove—
And seems to swell with herring love.

But pardon me for my deep doubt:
That lengthy fish just freaks me out!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ZooWeird 42

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Jesus Christ lizard is a weird name for an animal, but there is a good reason why B. basiliscus is named this way. It can walk, or better, run on the surface of water! This crazy evolutionary trait allows individuals to easily escape terrestrial predators. … The species is also widely known as the common basilisk. As a sidenote: The Jesus Christ nickname is routinely used for other species of the same genus that also have the ability to run on water. (All animal info from http://www.strangeanimals.info/2010/12/jesus-christ-lizard.html#ixzz4VC8Y9Td5).

It walks on water … well, it runs
Escaping predators it fears.
These creatures are amazing ones
That must impress their startled peers.

“You see that dude? He’s on the lake!
And is not sinking to his death!
Oh, this must be some weird mistake—
So now I’ll pause; I’ll take a breath;

I’ll look again,” this lizard said,
“And see if he has sunk below.”
But, no, the runner wasn’t dead—
Or even wet, if you must know.

But when this witness, on the shore,
Told others what his eyes just saw,
They tied him up—put him away—
Somewhere, I hear, in Arkansas.