The Animal Superpower Challenge—brought to you by us and our partners at the Endangered Species Chocolate—in honor of Endangered Species Day, has reached its conclusion! We had a lot of fun and learned a lot of mindblowing facts from our brilliant audience. Thank you to everyone who participated and shared with us all the supercool adaptations of animals big and small. The animal kingdom has no shortage of surpises and even for those of who work in the animal world, there is still always something new to learn about the billions of animal species that share our planet.
Without further ado…here are the three Challenge winners and their winning animal adaptations!
Linda Mahoney: “The honeybee has the same number of hairs as a squirrel-3 million. The honeybee’s true surface area is the size of a piece of toast. More hair means more surface area to collect dirt, dust and pollen.” (Information from a research team from the Georgia Institute of Technology.)
Nate Skinner: “Wood frogs have one of the most amazing physiological adaptations. They are capable of literally freezing their bodies during winter. No heart beat, no blood flow! When it warms up, the frogs thaw and come back to life!”
crazy_cub_18: “Lyrebirds can imitate any sound they hear, including a car alarm and chainsaw.”
While we were only able to choose three Challenge champions, there were so many outstanding submissions, we simply had to share them. Enjoy!
Zurui Fox:“Greater Flamingo moms will communicate with their babies before they hatch so that each knows the sound of the others voice. I can’t get over how cool that is!”
Kimmy McIntyre: “The snow leopards 3 ft long tail! it helps them steer and balance while chasing prey, but they can also wrap it around themselves to help keep warm.”
Nikki Gates: “The thorny devil is an Australian desert-dwelling lizard. They’ve adapted to a dry environment by drinking ‘through their skin’ by means of capillary action. They do this by sinking themselves in sand and drawing the moisture from it. Pretty neat little adaptation to an extremely dry landscape.”
Lori Tierney: “The American Kestrel uses head winds to hover in place while hunting in open spaces. Sadly, these amazing falcons are in decline, but you can help by setting up nest boxes and avoiding deadly rodenticides!”
Diksha Sharma: “Chameleons can rapidly change color by adjusting special cells, called iridophore cells, in each layer. The chameleons can change the structural arrangement of the upper cell layer by relaxing or exciting the skin, which leads to a change in color and camouflage in the surrounding.”
Miranda Robertson: “Pangolins have overlapping scales and will roll up into a ball to protect themselves from predators!”
Kelly Richardson: “Caribou can see UV light. This remarkable visual ability allows them to take in life-saving information in conditions where normal mammalian vision would make them vulnerable to starvation, predators and territorial conflict.”
Vivian Len: “Ziphius Cavirostris, the Cuvier’s baked whale or goose-beaked whale, is the world’s best diver with the ability to be submerged at lengths of approximately 85 minutes, diving to depths of around 1900m. How they, and other large whales, are able to do this is by the super powers of having muscles extra-rich in myoglobin, apneustic breathing (where they take rapid breaths before diving to fill up their elastic lung tissues and diaphragm), and their bradycardia (which is their slow and meditative heart beats).”
Richard Kiefner: “The Mantis Shrimp has 16 color receptor sites in their eyes, allowing them to see all colors including ultraviolet. Humans, in comparison, only have three. It can also can snap its claws at about 30-50 mph.”
Natalie Mercer: “Clouded leopards and margays are able to climb down trees head-first, which is due to anklebones with high rotational flexibility. A bonus fact about clouded leopards is that they have the highest canine teeth to skull size ratio of all living members of the cat family.”
piedeb50: “A giraffes neck has the same number of bones as a human… just bigger.”
rylie_butler: “Killer bees inject toxins into their enemies for other bees to swarm them when they threaten them.”
Thanks again to everyone who participated!