Think You’re Tough?

As humans, we have evolved into the top predator in the food chain. We have sparked the first man-made fire, created a common language, dove into miles under the ocean, flew without wings, and even visited our own moon. What if we stripped away all of this? Besides intelligence, how do we compare with everything else? Animals around the world have continued to amaze us, not by intelligence, but by their evolution that allows them to adapt to hostile environments. Here’s a list of some examples of the power of evolution (not in any specific order):

1) Arctic Fish – Fish are cold-blooded animals, so as temperatures in the surrounding water decreases, ice crystals are expected to form in their bloodstream. Unlike seals or whales, which can are warm-blooded animals that can generate heat to maintain preferred metabolic rates and prevent ice crystals from forming, arctic fish have developed an incredibly advanced protein that acts like anti-freeze. To put it simply, the protein slows water molecules and prevents the forming of bonds that create ice. This extraordinary adaptation has allowed fish to swim and live in the coldest parts on Earth, and far surpasses a human’s ability to generate heat to prevent him/herself from freezing.

Arctic Char

 

2) Freezing Frogs – While some animals prevent themselves from freezing, others purposefully freeze themselves to survive the winter seasons. The amazing fact is not that they allow themselves to freeze, but they can thaw out in the beginning of Spring and be perfectly healthy. The urea and glucose prevent the entire frog to freeze and reduces the osmosis of cells. Maybe humans will be able to develop the technology to put our bodies into deep freeze in the future by learning from these frogs. Watch this video to learn more!

3) Encystment Bacteria – Frogs that can freeze and thaw itself are pretty cool, but what about organisms that can practically suspend its life for millions of years? Encystment is the process of completely separating an organism from the outside world but solidifying the cell wall. Scientists have been able to bring back bacteria that are 250 million years old! Honestly, this could lead to great scientific and medical discoveries, but it can also uncover viruses and bacteria that are lethal to humans.

Encrytment

4) Need Endurance? – The Asian Bar-Headed Goose and Sperm Whales are able to change their blood composition and properties to store a lot more oxygen in their blood. This is due to the long journeys both animals have to make; the goose flies hundreds of miles without much rest and the whale does the same, but swims them. Mother Nature just gave these two guys the best tool for endurance races.

Bar-headed Goose

5) Living Next to a Hydrothermal Vent – One of the most hostile environments, hydrothermal vents spew hot, taxis gases miles under the ocean with no sunlight. The water pressure is enormous and the temperature reaches well above boiling. However, even with these conditions, large communities exist right next to these vents. There are countless organisms and animals next to these vents including crabs, worms, types of octopus and types of lobsters. However, if one of these vents stop spewing its gases, the colonies will have nowhere to go and will all die out. 

Let’s just say that this list goes on and on. Some organisms can live in Arsenic ponds, a type of jellyfish can live forever, and even a species of parrots live in volcano craters. Evolution has created some incredible abilities for adaptation and survival. However, we cannot count one evolutionary ability out: human intelligence. This is probably the most incredibly and yet most boring adaptation for humans to study. We are now able to control the environment of our planet and its future (being a good or bad thing is up for another debate). We can prolong our own lifespan and take advantage of technology. Intelligence is cool, but not as cool the tardigrade that can live in temperatures of -270C, a level of radiation thousands of times greater than that in which a human can survive, and even in space.

 

Check out these links for more animals that will surprise you!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/21923937

http://listverse.com/2013/05/28/10-animal-adaptations-to-hostile-environments/

http://www.livescience.com/133-wild-extreme-creatures.html

http://societyofbiologyblog.org/the-weird-and-wonderful-species-adapted-to-their-hostile-habitats/

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