Weird and Wonderful Animals
Just as not every human being looks alike, neither do animals in the same species resemble each other. Usually due to genetic mutations (sometimes even due to pollution), our animal friends come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors that you just wouldn’t think are possible. Here now are some of the more extreme animal varieties that grace the Earth:
Rare Colored Lobsters
Who needs a plain old red lobster when there are all these colorful varieties out there! Lobster shells are typically a blend of primary colors, but the occasional one does crop up with one distinct color (or even two!). Some of these special lobsters can be as rare as 1 in 100 million (albino),
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or as relatively common as 1 in 2.5 million (blue).
It’s unusual enough to find one of these cool looking creatures, that it often makes headlines.
While everyone is familiar with the prim, tuxedoed King Penguins appearance, a recently discovered all-black penguin seems unafraid to defy convention. In what has been described as a “one in a zillion kind of mutation,” biologists say that the animal, discovered on the Sub-Antarctic Island of South Georgia, has lost control of its pigmentation, an occurrence that is extremely rare. Other than the penguin’s monochromatic outfit, the animal appears to be perfectly healthy — and then some…look at the size of those legs!
Double Muscled Whippet
This large whippet is named Wendy and she has something called “double muscling”, causing her to have much higher muscle mass than her lithe counterparts. While her head, heart, lungs and legs are the size of those of a normal whippet, Wendy has a defect of her myostatin gene which controls muscle mass in whippets.
With her bulging neck muscles, burly shoulders and haunches like a baboon, this four-year-old pedigree doesn’t just have a sixpack stomach, she has a twenty-four-pack. Sadly, her mixed-up genes mean she may have a shorter life expectancy than most breeds.
But while she may look oddly menacing, her doting owner Ingrid Hansen claims the giant pooch likes nothing better than clambering up on to your lap to have her back scratched.
Frog mutations are not typically very cute, and they’re often correlated quite directly to pollution. Many of these mutated frogs have no legs, too many legs or legs growing from strange places—like their stomachs!
There are also cases where male frogs exposed to even very low doses of a common weed killer can develop multiple sex organs — sometimes both male and female. Most of these deformed frogs thankfully do not live as long as normal frogs.
Flying cats? Not really. But the verdict isn’t entirely in on whether these cats have actual formations behind their spine as some people claim, or if the wings are actually fur matted in such a way as to provide the appearance of wings. There are however, three different possible causes of these wing-like appendages. The most common is longhaired cats having matted fur.
Felted mats of fur can form along the body and flanks if a longhaired cat is not properly groomed. The second explanation of reports of winged cats is a skin condition called feline cutaneous asthenia, or FCA, which is related to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (elastic skin) in humans.
Winged cats that are due to FCA can often actively move their wings, suggesting the presence of neuromuscular tissue within the wings, which is not present within clumps of matted fur alone. The third explanation is a form of conjoining or extra limbs. These non-functional or poorly functional extra limbs would be fur-covered and might resemble wings.
Two Tongued Cat
Delores Whittington of Dobson, NC, USA owns “Five Toes”, the two tongued cat who also happens to be polydactyly–five toes on each paw (hence the name). Five Toes is an otherwise healthy black female Burmese mix who has lived with Delores since she was a kitten.
According to Delores, Five Toes’ parents and littermates all have the more usual complement of only one tongue. Five Toes had no trouble nursing and did not need to be hand fed. She was weaned normally and learned how to use both tongues straight away. As Five Toes has no trouble eating, cleaning herself or breathing, Delores believes this may be due to the fact that both tongues are of the same size. Five Toes can use both tongues at the same time, but can also use them separately as well. And because Five Toes exhibited no difficulties, Delores didn’t notice the extra tongue until she saw Five Toes using both tongues separately to lick her chin and nose.
Not all animal abnormalities are due to bumps in natural evolution–rather, experimentation by man has played a role. Take the case of the featherless chicken, which was created by an Israeli geneticist in 2002 with the purpose of creating a more environmentally-friendly, faster-growing and healthier bird. A cross-breed of a naturally bare neck chicken and a normal boiler chicken, this naked chicken garnered much controversy, with some critics of the process arguing that featherless birds are at a disadvantage compared to their feathered counterparts.
More specifically, featherless chickens have experienced difficulties mating and flapping their wings, and been more prone to parasites and mosquitoes. While certainly odd-looking, the featherless chicken raises a very legitimate question: when does too much science compromise purported human progress and become bad for the animal?
Born with just three legs in December 2002, (two fully-developed hind legs and a deformed front leg, which was amputated when she was seven months old after it began to atrophy), Faith truly is a wonder dog!
Her owner, Jude Stringfellow, adopted Faith when the mother dog was found trying to smother the deformed puppy—her son rescued the puppy and brought her home. Many people, including veterinarians, advised that Faith be euthanized.
Instead, using a spoon with peanut butter as an incentive, Jude taught Faith to hop but Faith decided on her own to walk; the family’s corgi would bark at Faith from another room, or nip her heels to urge her to walk.
Like her name, Faith’s story is a testament to the fact that a physical deformity does not necessarily suggest a lack of mental toughness!