In February 2019, a video of a red crab eating her newborn babies went viral, starting on Facebook before spreading among the usual suspect list of dubious entertainment websites. The much-shared clip features a Christmas Island Red Crab eagerly gobbling up what has been reported to be her very own newborn spawn, leaving viewers shocked that a mom could be so cruel. Except ... she wasn't. What the video actually shows is the momma crab chowing down on plankton, which is much more palatable to baby lovers, but also much less successful when click-bait is your goal.
But one has to wonder, with all the amazing animal facts out there that are actually true, why is it the fake ones that get all the attention? Sure, it may win clicks to claim that crabs eat their babies, or polar bears are all left-handed, or emus can't walk backward, but none of these much-repeated "facts" are based on scientific evidence. Of course, that doesn't make the animal world any less captivating. The bizarre skills, features and qualities you'll find among the creatures in this quiz put any false animal tales to shame. Do you think you can match the correct animal to each of these amazing bits of trivia? Prove it with this quiz!
Which animal is born white or gray but develops a pinkish hue over time thanks to an algae-based diet?
If you fed a flamingo a carefully curated diet of nothing but lab-produced foods, it might keep the drab white or gray feathers it was born with and never get that familiar pink glow. In the wild, flamingo feathers transition from plain to pink thanks to the bird's diet of beta carotene-packed algae.
Everyone thinks they know this fish from "Finding Nemo," but the Disney flick leaves out the fact that this creature can change its own gender.
Clownfish stand out from other fish families because of their distinctive orange color and pattern of white stripes. You might think you know clownfish, but did you know that every member of this species is born male? The animal can change to a female at will, but must think carefully before making the leap because the change is irreversible.
Which of these critters could keep a dentist busy if it ever went in for a cleaning ... because its teeth never stop growing?
One of the largest members of the rodent family, beavers weigh between 35 and 65 pounds, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo. These super swimmers have bright orange teeth that never stop growing, which means the beaver has to practice good dental hygiene by chewing on wood to keep teeth trim enough so it can eat.
Do you know which of these animals has fingerprints so similar to those of humans that even experts can't tell them apart?
Humans and other primates, like chimps and gorillas, all developed fingerprints over time, likely to improve their grip. Surprisingly, koalas also have fingerprints, even though this animal evolved separately from primates. Koala prints are so human-like that even experts can't tell the difference, according to the American National Standards Institute.
No matter how big their slam dunk dreams, this animal is simply not able to jump. Can you name it?
Elephants may have size on their side, but their weight, weak legs and inflexible ankles don't allow them to jump, according to Live Science. In fact, even though these massive animals can run up to 15 mph, they always keep at least one foot on the ground while doing so.
Can you guess which of these ocean dwellers not only has blue blood but also sports three hearts?
A cephalopod with eight, neuron-packed tentacles, the octopus has three hearts, including two to keep blood flowing beyond the gills and another to keep it circulating through the rest of the body. Thanks to copper ions in the blood, unlike the iron found in human blood, the octopus is a true blue blood.
Do you know which of these showy insects can taste using the receptors in its feet?
There are more than 165,000 butterfly species fluttering around between 5 and 12 mph. While they can't chew or bite anything, instead using a straw-like siphon to sip liquids, they can use receptors in their feet to taste — and they use this ability to explore different leaves and find the best place to lay their eggs.
No, it can't turn its head all the way around, but it can turn it a staggering 270 degrees. Can you name this critter?
There's a reason that head-spinning scene in "The Exorcist" was so creepy. There's just something unnatural about a head that can turn that way ... unless you're an owl, of course. These birds have fixed eye sockets but can rotate their heads up to 270 degrees to spot predators.
When they're preparing to pull Santa's sleigh each winter, the eyes of this animal turn from gold to blue. Can you name it?
Reindeer tend to make their homes in Arctic areas with long, dark winters. To help them see during periods of endless nights, these animals experience retinal changes that shift their eye color from gold to blue each winter, then back to gold as the winter draws to a close.
Can you guess which of these creatures has a tongue that can generate more Gs than a fighter jet?
Chameleons might be rather modest in size, but they have some truly amazing tongues. Measuring around twice as long as their body length, according to National Geographic, these appendages can flick from 0 to 60 mph in just 100th of a second. Smithsonian magazine points out that this tremendous speed generates 264 times the force of gravity, compared to the 7Gs a fighter plane pilot might experience.
This strong and speedy critter has eyes that are larger than its brain. Do you know its name?
At 9 feet tall and weighing more than 300 pounds, the ostrich is the biggest bird in the world. It can run up to 40 mph, even with just two toes on each foot, but it does have one shortcoming. Its tiny brain is smaller than its eyes, which are relatively generous at around 2 inches in diameter.
It ain't afraid of no guillotine! Name this creature that can live for weeks without its head.
The cockroach doesn't need its brain for breathing or circulation, according to Scientific American, so a beheading isn't the disaster it would be for most other living things. Instead, the roach will simply breathe through its body for a few days or weeks until it eventually starves to death.
Imagine raising four babies at once! Name this animal which almost always gives birth to identical quadruplets.
The nine-banded armadillo is one of 20 species of this animal found in the U.S. Despite their name, these critters can have anywhere from seven to 11 bands on their bodies, but they almost always give birth to identical quadruplets. And no, this species can't roll into a ball for protection like you see in the movies. Only two Armadillo species have that special skill.
Sometimes called a honey bear after its favorite food, name the animal that can rotate its feet to run backward at full speed.
A small, raccoon-like mammal, the kinkajou has one very special talent. It can flip its own feet around so they face the opposite direction, allowing the animal to run backward just as fast as it does forward.
The secret to eternal life might lie with this animal, which scientists refer to as turritopsis dohrnii.
The tiny turritopsis dohrnii holds a lot of potential in its tiny body, which measures only a few millimeters across. This species of jellyfish can effectively regenerate itself, shifting back to an earlier life stage as it ages or experiences harm or damage. The American Natural History Museum calls this amazing process transdifferentiation.
Guess which of these animals is able to survive being frozen over the winter without experiencing any significant harm.
Believe it or not, there are at least five species of frogs within North America that can survive being completely frozen during the winter, well, almost. Live Science reports that for most of these frogs, as much as 70 percent of the liquid in the animal's body can be frozen without killing the creature.
Forget about rings. Which of these creatures exchange pebbles as part of a traditional mating ritual?
Two species of penguins, the Gentoo and Adelie, use pebbles to help them choose a mate. A male will bring a female a pebble and if she accepts it, the pair will use it and other pebbles to build safe nests for their young.
Yeah, those thermal springs are nice and all but the real benefit of an Iceland vacation is that the country is free of this pest.
Iceland is the only country on Earth that is 100 percent mosquito-free. The Icelandic Web of Science suggests that this might have something to do with the country's volatile winter weather, which can feature dramatic temperatures swings from day to day.
Despite its bad rap, this insect doesn't always consume its mate's head — only sometimes. Can you name it?
There are 2,400 praying mantis species on the planet, and some of them can mate perfectly fine without the female chowing down on the male's head afterward. In fact, only between 13 and 28 percent of mantis couplings end up with one partner being beheaded, according to National Geographic.
Do you smell bananas? It could be a warning sign that this creature is about to attack you.
When Africanized, or killer, bees feel threatened, the entire hive tends to join together to launch an attack. The threat of danger and the drive to protect the hive lead the animals to release a pheromone with a banana-like scent. Once you get a whiff, you're at serious risk of injury or even death as thousands of bees head your way.
You've probably seen it chewing on grass but this animal has no upper front teeth. What is its name?
Cows, sheep and goats have no upper front teeth. Instead, they have a bony plate or pad where their two front teeth should be. Despite this, cows still have 32 teeth overall, just like humans.
What is the egg-laying mammal which has no teats (nipples), forcing it to sweat out its milk to feed its young?
It looks like a combination of a duck and an otter but the weirdness of the platypus goes far beyond its appearance. Despite being a mammal, this animal also lays eggs. It can produce milk to feed its young, but has no teats, forcing it to sweat out the milk at feeding time.
Name the tree-dweller that only bothers to come to the ground once a week ... to have a bowel movement.
Sloths spend almost all their time in trees, coming to the ground just once a week to defecate, according to Scientific American. Not only are these slow-moving creatures lazy, but coming to ground level puts them at a huge risk of attack.
Many animals engage in homosexual activity but this long-necked critter does so more than many others. Can you name it?
Giraffes aren't all that discerning who they mate with. In biologist Bruce Bagemihl's 1999 book on same-sex animal relations, referenced studies suggest that as many as 94 percent of giraffe couplings take place between two males.
Don't listen to the rumors; this animal doesn't actually have four noses but does have four tentacles for smelling and sensing.
The often-misstated idea that slugs have four noses is actually based on their two pairs of tentacles. The lower set can sense chemicals and are used for tasting and feeling, while the upper pair are mostly used to sense light but can also be used for a slug's own form of "tasting" and "smelling."
Choose the Aussie marsupial that produces poop shaped like ice cubes.
Native to Australia, wombats weight between 32 and 80 pounds and are part of the same animal family as the kangaroo. They are also the only animal in the world to produce cube-shaped droppings. One theory published in National Geographic attributes this shape to the very dry conditions in the wombat's habitat, as well as to its stretchy, grooved intestines.
No, it's not ivory. The horn on this animal is made of the same material as your hair and nails.
Rhino horns consist of hardened keratin, the same material that human hair and fingernails — and those barbs on a cat's tongue — are made of. For thousands of years, rhinos have been killed for their horns, which have been rumored to do everything from detect poison to purify water, to cure illness. Today, the horns are still stolen from these animals to make art and various folk medicines.
Of these birds, can you pick the only one capable of flying backward?
When the tiny hummingbird flaps its wings, it generates lift both on the downstroke and the upstroke. This allows it to not only hover but also fly backward, which other birds just can't do. While most hummingbirds live in the rain forest, there are around two dozen species native to the U.S.
An oily secretion known as "blood sweat" protects this critter from the sun. Can you identify it?
Hippos spend most of their time lounging in the water, soaking in the sun, which can not only cause sunburn but can also lead to skin infections. Fortunately, the hippo has a unique ability to release an oily orange secretion — no, it's not sweat — that helps block the sun and also contains antibiotic properties to ward off infections.
Under that white fur, polar bears have black skin ... which is pretty much the same color as the tongue on this leaf-eating mammal. Can you name it?
Giraffes spend their days using their 18-inch long tongues to pluck leaves from trees to chew on. Extra melanin in the animal's tongue gives it a black hue, which protects it from sunburn as the giraffe goes about its leaf-eating ways.
Just one of these animals contains enough poison to kill 30 adults. Can you identify it?
Prepared properly, the pufferfish can be eaten in a dish called Fugu, a delicious delicacy in Japan. Just one wrong swipe of the knife, however, and the poison in this animal can be deadly, due to a poison called tetrodotoxin. Even worse, there's no antidote, so choose your Fugu chef carefully.
Identify this animal, which carries its baby in a pouch ... right after it decides which gender it wants the baby to be, that is.
Kangaroos have the ability to influence the gender of their yet-to-be-born young. A 2013 study by Stanford University found that red kangaroos birth 130 males for every 100 females in times of drought, while the ratio for eastern gray kangaroos is even higher at 136 to 100.
Don't make fun of this big cat, which can't roar thanks to the way its larynx is constructed.
Small felines, like house cats, bobcats and lynxes can meow and purr thanks to a series of tiny bones behind their tongues. Larger cats, like lions, leopards and tigers have a flexible larynx that allows them to emit a tremendous roar. The poor cheetah, on the other hand, is unable to roar and must get by on small bird-like chirps.
If you have this pet, don't bother sharing your snacks because they have no way to taste sweetness.
Cats have no receptors to translate sweet flavors, according to a 2005 article in the journal, "Nature." Tigers and cheetahs are also missing the protein required to bind to sweets to make them enjoyable for the animal.
Which of these animals is the closest-living relative to the T-Rex?
Believe it or not, "Smithsonian" magazine cites chickens as the closest living relative to the T-Rex, which died out around 65 million years ago. How do they know? A 2003 study extracted molecules from an ancient dinosaur leg bone — no, not DNA ... this isn't "Jurassic Park" — to find that the T-Rex had more in common with chickens than with alligators or other modern animals.
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