Photo: Youtube/National Geographic
Scientists recently recorded footage of a never-before-seen defence mechanism deployed by a small species of deep-sea squid: When threatened, the squid attacks its predator and then pulls away, breaking off the tip of its own arm and leaving it behind as a distraction.The arm continues to glow and twitch, creating a diversion and enabling the squid to escape.
But this squid isn’t the only creature with a bizarre way of defending itself. Here are several other ways animals try to save their own lives, or the lives of their comrades.
The Texas Horned Lizard is a scary-looking creature. Brown, plump and perfectly camouflaged in its native sandy environment, its first line of defence is its spiky demeanor. If the sharp spikes and horns don't ward off predators, the lizard steps it up a notch and squirts a well-aimed stream of blood out of its eyes. The stream of blood, which can go as far as 5 feet, is mixed with a foul-tasting chemical that wards off predators. But this odd weapon comes at a cost: The lizard may release a third of its total blood supply this way, amounting to two per cent of its body mass.
What if every time you felt threatened, your first and only method of defence was to break your own bones and use them for weapons? Meet the hairy frog, a Central African species that, despite its name and fuzzy appearance, isn't hairy at all. When breeding, the male frogs develop thin strands of skin along the sides of their bodies that resemble hair. These strands also, in theory, allow the frogs to take in more oxygen while they watch over their eggs. But what's really compelling about this frog is its ability to crack its own toe bones and push them through their skin to form sharp claws, great for warding off would-be attackers.
While it's not completely clear what happens to the bones after the threat of attack subsides, researchers believe the bones slide back under the skin when the frog's muscles relax.
Sea cucumbers can seem pretty boring. There are some 1,250 known species of these sedentary creatures in the world, and many of them do indeed look like cucumbers. But when it comes to survival, things get interesting. Like starfish and sea urchins, sea cucumbers are echinoderms, and they can regenerate lost body parts if necessary. This comes in handy when they're threatened. The sea cucumber will expel their internal organs, which are sticky and sometimes contain a toxic chemical that can kill predators.
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