6 extraordinary creatures with real super powers

Chironex fleckeri – Photo credits David Doubilet

Chironex fleckeri: super venom

The most dangerous venom in the world is not that of a serpent, nor a scorpion, nor even a spider. It is that of an Australian jellyfish known as Chironex fleckeri, which is also called “sea wasp”. With tentacles up to 3 meters long, this deadly creature is the largest cubomed. Each of its tentacles is covered with millions of nematocysts, poisonous cells that release poisoned micro-arrows in case of contact. The neurotoxic venom of the sea wasp is extremely powerful, and is known to produce terrible pain: it simultaneously attacks the skin, heart and nervous system, and if the victim is not treated immediately, it can succumb to Less than 4 minutes. A person who gets stung off the road is at risk of cardiac arrest before he even reaches the shore. The power and quickness of its venom makes Chirnox Fleckeri the most deadly venomous animal in the world, and every jellyfish has enough venom in it to kill 60 adult humans. There is, however, an antidote effective enough against the venom of the sea wasp, but the effect of the latter is so rapid that a severely affected person may die even before the remedy is administered. In Australia, where beaches are protected and equipped in first aid, there are “only” 64 deaths due to jellyfish for about a century, but the number is much higher if it is expanded to the South Asian islands East. Each year, with about 40 fatal attacks in the Philippines alone, cubomed women are more victims than any other marine species.

 

Crysomallon squamiferum – Photo credits Dr Anders Warén

Crysomallon squamiferum: super armor

 

In 2003, during an expedition off the Indian Ocean, MIT scientists discovered a unique mollusc species in the world. Crysomallon squamiferum is the only known animal whose shell is partially composed of iron, living at more than 2000m depth near hydrothermal chimneys. This natural armor enables it to survive in an extremely hostile environment, where the acid sources can reach a temperature higher than 300 °. But it is especially against predators that Crysomallon’s breastplate is crucial: it allows it, for example, to resist the powerful claws of crabs, or even the venomous spines of certain sea snails. By studying the structure of the armor, the Scientists discovered that it was in fact made up of three superimposed layers: the first is made of a mineral common to all gastropods, aragonite, and the second is a soft organic layer that absorbs part of the shocks, Attack, and finally the external layer, which renders the animal single, and composed of sulphuret of iron. During an impact or pressure, this configuration allows the shell to undergo only micro-fractures, without ever breaking. According to Christine Ortiz, who led the research, the shell of the Crysomallon squamiferum could inspire a new generation of military armor that would take over the multi-layered structure. The soldiers of the future may have to live a snail of the deep …

 

Onthophagus taurus – Photo credits Alex Wild

Onthophagus taurus: super strength

 

In early 2010, British and Australian researchers awarded the title of the world’s strongest insect to a species of beetle, the Onthophagus taurus. After study, they determined that this beetle was capable of firing 1141 times its own weight, 30% more than the rhinoceros scarab, the previous record holder. For a human, this would be equivalent to being able to lift about 80 tons, that is to say fifteen elephants, or fifty superimposed cars. This enormous force seems to have developed to serve a simple purpose: sex. During breeding periods, the female scarab digs a tunnel under a dung, or the male comes to join it to mate. But if the tunnel is already occupied by a rival, a fierce fight ensues in which each of the suitors tries to push the other out. Naturally, the strongest are those who are most likely to reproduce, bequeathing their super strength to their offspring. If onthophagus taurus is proportionally the most powerful of all the animals visible to the naked eye, there is a substantially stronger microscopic species, Archegozetes longisetosus. According to a study conducted in 2007, this tropical mite is capable of firing up to 1180 times its own weight. This makes it officially the strongest animal of all species, even if it does not exceed 100 micrograms.

 

 

Hemeroplanes ornatus

Hemeroplanes ornatus: mimicry

Hemeroplanes ornatus is a species of sphinx butterfly that lives in the rainforests of Central America. In its adult form, this lepidoptera is not remarkable, but its larva is endowed with a prodigious ability: when threatened by a predator, the hemeroplanes caterpillar swells its thorax and head to take The appearance of a viper. Other tropical caterpillars are capable of roughly imitating a snake head to repel the attackers, but the hemeroplanes’ mimicry is realistic. Not only does she manage to perfectly imitate the eyes, scales and triangular head of a snake, but it also simulates a movement of attack, as if the viper were about to bite! Nature has not gone so far as to give the caterpillar a real venom, like some of its cousins, but its incredible metamorphosis is sufficient to deter potential enemies from coming to check.

 

Tardigrade – Photo credits Goldstein labs

Tardigrade: invulnerability

Also known as a cub of water because of its pataudial approach, the tardigrade is a small animal so singular that it forms a separate zoological class, close to arthropods. Measuring a little less than one milimeter on average, it is endowed with a capacity of resistance such as it is without common in the animal kingdom, with the exception of a few bacteria. The tardigrade has developed all over the planet, from the highest peaks to the bottom of the oceans, and from the polar regions to the tropical regions. His incredible ability to adapt is worthy of belonging to the closed club of polyextremophiles, organisms capable of living in extreme conditions. It is able to withstand radiation of 5000 Gy, that is 1100 times more than the human body can bear. But the real super-power of the tardigrade is called cryptobiosis: in this state of metabolic arrest or it lowers its vital activity to 0.01% of the normal, the tardigrade replaces the water of its organism by synthetic sugars, And can then temporarily withstand temperatures ranging from -272 ° to 150 °. It can also survive several years without water or food, before returning to life when conditions are more favorable. In 2007, lateigrades were sent into space on board the Foton-M3 capsule to test their resistance to space vacuum and cosmic radiation. More than 68% of the specimens resisted these conditions for 10 days before restoring their DNA back to Earth. The tardigrade is in fact so extraordinary that some of them lend it an extraterrestrial origin: its faculties would have allowed it to arrive on our planet grabbed a meteorite, and to survive the voyage …

 

Turritopsis nutricula – Photo credits Peter Schuchert

Turritopsis nutricula: immortality

Turritopsis nutricula is a small jellyfish that does not exceed 5mm in diameter but fascinates the scientific world: it is the only known creature capable of reversing its aging process. Thanks to a cellular mechanism called transdifferenciation, she is able to recover her juvenile form after reaching adult age, which makes her potentially immortal. Originally from the Caribbean, the jellyfish has spread to all the oceans of the planet, and because of its immortality, scientists fear that its proliferation becomes uncontrollable. According to Dr. Maria Miglietta of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, we are experiencing a “silent global invasion.” However, Turritopsis nutricula remains a victim of its natural predators, and although it is potentially immortal, no specimens have been observed long enough for its age to be estimated. Geneticists and biologists hope to understand the secrets of this unique creature, whose extraordinary power makes all humanity dream …

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