2013's Craziest Creatures On Earth: A Year In Weird Animal Stories, From TV-Eating Ants To Exploding Whales

By Josh Lieberman on December 11, 2013 4:32 PM EST

Cloning extinct animals. Robots killing jellyfish. Ants destroying televisions. There have been a number of crazy animal stories this year, and we have attempted to bring you as many of them as possible. Below are some of the craziest iScienceTimes animal stories from 2013. Enjoy!

Faux Flower

Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be
Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be

The orchid mantis is a rarely seen insect that perfectly mimics a flower's petals in order to prey on pollinating insects. When researchers documented them in the deep forests of Malaysia, they were amazed to find that the orchid mantis was even better than real flowers at attracting pollinators. See video of the orchid mantis here.

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The Wall-Eating Giant African Land Snail

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Florida has had its share of strange invasive species over the years, but nothing may be quite so weird and gross as the Giant African Land Snail. The creature, which lays up to 1,200 eggs a year, likes to dine on stucco to gain calcium for its shell. Fortunately their numbers seem to be dropping, so Florida buildings with stucco walls are no longer in such peril.

Creatures of the Lost World

Conrad Hoskin
Conrad Hoskin

Scientists trekking around the remote mountains of Northern Australia found a "lost world" containing three new species. Among them was the leaf-tailed gecko, which one scientist called "the strangest new species to come across my desk in 26 years working as a professional herpetologist."

How'd This Get Here? 

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

In October, a 10,000-year-old mastodon tooth showed up in the donation center of a Michigan church. Let the oddness of that sink in.

So Many Oarfish

Catalina Island Marine Institute
Catalina Island Marine Institute

2013 may go down as the year of the oarfish, a deep-sea creature which is almost never seen, dead or alive. Not only was extraordinarily rare video footage of a living oarfish released this year, but in October an 18-foot oarfish washed up in the waters off Catalina Island, Calif. Days later, another of the rare creatures popped up (also dead) in San Diego.

The Case of the Exploding Whale

 

When a sperm whale washed up on a beach in the Faroe Islands last month, the marine biologist dispatched to cut open the whale narrowly escaped the most disgusting surprise of his life. The massive explosion was the result of a methane build-up in the decomposing whale.

Crazy Ants Are Coming For Your TV

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

An invasive ant species called (appropriately enough) crazy ants have been ravaging the southeastern United States. The ants swarm by the thousands, crawling all over one another to create what looks like one solid mass, and they have a fondness for invading electronics. It's unclear why they like to do that, but what is clear is that they're capable of short-circuiting televisions, computers and other electronic devices.

Bring Back the Bucardo 

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Scientists in Spain are attempting to clone the bucardo, an ibex that went extinct in 2000. In 2003, scientists were able to clone a bucardo from frozen cells--the first "de-extinction" in history--but the calf died after ten minutes. Now they're hoping to create a cloned bucardo which lasts a little longer, and to then breed the bucardo back into existence.

Robot Jellyfish Shredder

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Jellyfish populations have exploded in recent years, clogging nuclear power plants and wiping out entire food chains. To combat this ocean menace, scientists in South Korea have come up with a novel solution: a floating group of robots that shreds up to 2,000 pounds of jellyfish an hour. Here's a gory video of the robot in action.

Dumpster Diving

This may be the best weird animal story of the year (or at least the best weird animal video). In August, a hungry bear wheeled a dumpster away from a Colorado Springs, Colo., restaurant. Just look at that guy brazenly taking the dumpster like it's no big deal. Such dexterity!

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