Because of the vastness of this planet, there’s always something new that is being discovered every year — from a previously unknown cave to a new animal species. Nature is truly remarkable, and while we see beauty in many new discoveries, we still can’t help but be utterly gobsmacked when bizarre things are uncovered. Imagine a shark with cartoon eyes, a prehistoric pouched mammal, or a wasp with armor. Fascinating, yes, but definitely weird! In this article, let’s take a look at five of the most unusual-looking animals that were discovered in 2018.
Genie’s dogfish is a cartoon-eyed shark which was discovered by a group of scientists in Florida this past July. The dog-ish shark is named after Eugenie Clark, who was a noted shark researcher and was aptly nicknamed “The Shark Lady”. The shark has large cartoon-like bright eyes which are disproportionate to its body — the shark is just 20-28 inches in length — and these features make it almost comical. Genie’s dogfish (scientific name: Squalus clarkae) can be found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Commercial fishing is one of the reasons why the species is threatened. Mariah Pfleger, an ocean scientist, recently remarked that adequate steps must be taken to conserve the species.
Can you imagine a wasp which has a blade? That’s exactly what researchers from Penn State University discovered in January 2018 in collaboration with the researchers from London’s Natural History Museum. The parasitic wasp has a line of serrated spikes on its back. Scientists inferred that the wasp lays eggs inside another host and then makes its way out of the dead body of the host using its blades. A wasp having a blade of its own might sound like a nightmare, but researchers assured that these wasps are not harmful to humans and can even aid pest-control which implies that there is a scope that these wasps can potentially be used in agriculture.
This particular orangutan, which was discovered this year in Indonesia, stands out from the other two types of orangutans that are native to Sumatra for a number of reasons. The Borneo and Sumatran orangutans were identified as two different species in 2011. This year, James Askew, a student of the University of Southern California, found out that the Tapanuli male orangutan’s high-pitched and long calls are quite different from that of the other two types native to the island. He studies the behavioral patterns, physicality, and the habits of this species and concluded that the Tapanuli orangutans are unique. However, this particular species is now an endangered one, and the responsibility is now on animal lovers and government agencies to conserve it.
A New Kind Of Tardigrade
A new type of tardigrade was found thriving on moss in Japan in February this year. Kazuharu Arakawa, a Japanese researcher, was routinely brushing off moss from his apartment’s parking lot, and after sampling the moss, he discovered a completely unique type of tardigrade. A tardigrade, which is akin to a ‘water bear’, is typically 0.03 inches long and has eight tiny legs. It is known to be highly adaptable, and it can survive in extreme temperature conditions. What’s the most interesting thing about the new type discovered by the scientist in Japan? It’s a vegetarian tardigrade!
Prehistoric Marsupial Lion
A marsupial lion which actually lived well over one million years ago was recently discovered by scientists in Australia. Well, this particular creature (or it’s fossil rather) was discovered in December 2017, but while it’s already an extinct animal, it’s such a cool discovery that we couldn’t help but include it in this list! A group of researchers from the University of New South Wales found fossils of a prehistoric lion-like animal which existed during the Oligocene Age. The mammal weighed less than 50 pounds and had a pouch, and researchers think that it’s a distant ancestor to the Siberian Husky of today. It was one of the fiercest predators at that time, but scientists also suggested that the animal was probably an omnivore which means it used to enjoy both plant-based and meat-based diet.
The year is not over yet, and although the most wonderful time of the year is already here, scientists around the world are quite restless in their endeavors. In case we hear about a more recent discovery before the year ends, we will add it up here. Stay tuned!