Jul 12
Ever been sat around at a dinner party scratching your head for interesting dinner table topics? Need a scintillating fact to titillate your fellow diners? Never fear! Here is a selection of ARKive’s strangest facts to impress your friends! Dinner parties will never be the same again…..

Have I ever told you about your father?

Anglerfish photo

Anglerfish swimming

As if the angler fish wasn’t strange enough, in order to reproduce the male attaches itself parasitically to the female by biting into her skin. The male then slowly dissolves losing its mouth, organs and brain until there is nothing left but its gonads! 

Grandmother, what big eyes you have!

Philippine tarsier photo

Philippine tarsier showing large eyes

Tarsiers, like this Philippine tarsier, have such huge eyes that they cannot move them in their eye sockets. Luckily, they can turn their head a whole 360° in order to watch for their insect prey. Try looking around without moving your eyes in their sockets. If anything, it will amuse the person sat next to you! 

Disco scorpions

Emperor scorpion photo

Emperor scorpion under ultra-violet light

Scorpions such as this emperor scorpion glow when exposed to UV light. Whilst glowing under UV lights might work well in a night club, scientists are unsure as to the reason why scorpions do it. One current theory is that it helps them to judge how dark the night sky is and therefore how safe they will be from predators. 

Heat wave? Congratulations, it’s a boy!

American alligator photo

Female American alligator carrying young

The sex of some reptiles is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated. In the American alligator, eggs incubated below 30°C will be female whilst eggs incubated above 34°C will be male. Often, there will be a range of temperatures across the nest meaning a mixed sex ratio is produced. 

Four times the fun

Nine-banded armadillo photo

Nine-banded armadillo walking along beach

The nine-banded armadillo is unusual in that it always gives birth to identical quadruplets. Producing multiple identical young is an unusual trait in mammals and only occurs in armadillos of the genus Dasypus. Another unusual feature of the nine-banded armadillo is that it is one of the few non-human animals that can contract the disease leprosy. 

Look in to my eyes…..

Lemon shark photo

Close up of a lemon shark eye

Sharks such as the lemon shark can be ‘hypnotised’ by holding it upside down. The shark enters a state known as tonic immobility where it remains paralysed for up to 15 minutes before it recovers. Definitely worth remembering if you’re ever stranded in shark infested waters! 

A bat that thinks it’s a mouse

Lesser short-tailed bat photo

Lesser short-tailed bat on forest floor

The lesser short-tailed bat is the most terrestrial bat in the world. Despite being able to fly, it spends a lot of its time scampering around on the forest floor in search of prey. Having evolved in the absence of ground predators in its native New Zealand, the lesser short-tailed bat fills the niche usually occupied by rodents or shrews in other parts of the world. 

A butterfly disguised as an ant

Large blue butterfly photo

Large blue butterfly adult

The large blue butterfly has a special disguise up its sleeve. As a vulnerable and plump caterpillar, it drops to the ground from its food plant and secretes a sweet fluid which attracts a particular species of red ant. It is then carried back to the ant’s nest where it eats the ants grubs before pupating and being escorted out of the nest as a butterfly the following year. Talk about hospitality! 

Here comes the aeroplane! 

Gouldian finch photo

Gouldian finch chick mouth markings

We’ve all played this game with small children in order to get more food into their mouths than ends up on the floor. The gouldian finch takes this game a step further with the chicks having unusual light reflecting mouth markings. These are thought to guide the parent in the darkened nest, you certainly wouldn’t miss this mouth

The ‘Did you know….?’ Champion!

Blue whale photo

Blue whale underwater

As the largest animal to have ever lived, the blue whale unsurprisingly has a whole plethora of astounding facts! Weighing up to an estimated 180 tonnes, they have an aorta of around 23cm in diameter, a heart the size of a small car and a tongue that can weigh the same as a small elephant! And all this from feeding on tiny crustaceans known as krill

Do you know any strange animals facts? Tell us about them! 

Becky Moran, Arkive Media Researcher 


  • Muza Règne (July 12th, 2011 at 3:27 pm):

    Dehnel effect : shrews that loose not only weight, but size – organs, bones diminishing in size – during winter so that they need less food.

  • Dmitri (July 12th, 2011 at 8:01 pm):

    Eh, some geckos actually lick their eyes clean?

  • Laura (July 13th, 2011 at 9:27 am):

    That’s awesome, I love the armadillo facts!