7 Freaky Animal Organs That Would Give You Superpowers


If fuzzy action movie science worked in real life, becoming a brand-new superhero would—with a little help from the animal kingdom—just be a quick organ transplant away.

1. Slime Your Enemies with Special Hagfish Skin Glands.

Getting bitten by a shark would scare the feces out of most people, but it doesn’t even faze these cryptic scavengers. That’s because, within half a second of being attacked, hagfish secrete a cloud of thick, fibrous mucous that clogs the mouth and gills of any predator foolish enough to bother them.

2. Use Avian Air Sacs to Breathe at Superhuman Altitudes.

Breathe out. Congratulations, you’ve just wasted a load of perfectly good oxygen! Our feathered friends, meanwhile, don’t have this problem. When birds respire, air is pushed through a complicated series of air sacs which feed into the lungs, allowing them to collect and absorb oxygen far more effectively than we can. This system also allows them to merrily flutter about at heights that would suffocate even the toughest human mountain-climbers.

Sadly, however, birds have their own version of kryptonite, and its name is air pollution. At times, avians breathe a bit too efficiently for their own good, making them particularly vulnerable to atmospheric toxins.

3. Wood Frog Livers Could Help You Survive Being Frozen.


Each winter, as much as 60 percent of a wood frog’s body becomes completely frozen. Still more mind-boggling is the fact that their hearts actually stop beating during the colder months. How could any creature survive this? Copious quantities of glucose—which acts as a natural antifreeze—are mass-produced by the amphibian’s liver and sent into the veins to help prevent ice from forming there. 

4. Taste Your Opponents from Several Yards Away with a Serpentine Vomeronasal Organ.


Have you ever wondered why snakes have forked tongues? Strange as it might sound, all animals (including us) leave trails of microscopic taste particles lingering in the air. Flicking serpent tongues have evolved to intercept them: Upon being retracted, both prongs are inserted into the mouth’s vomeronasal organ, where this data is analyzed. Tracking rodents over great distances, therefore, becomes child’s play.

5. Detect Electrical Fields with Platypus Snouts.

Wikimedia Commons

It’s hard to imagine how platypuses could get any weirder, what with their egg-laying, beaver tails, and poisonous feet. But even those duck-like mouths are stranger than you might expect. While hunting underwater, a platypus uses sensitive glands on its bill to help locate the minor electrical fields generated by moving invertebrates.

6. Get HD Vision with Mantis Shrimp Eyes.


You, like many creatures, have binocular vision, meaning that you perceive depth when both of your eyes work together to focus on the same object. Yet, helpful as they are, our visual organs can’t compete with this Pacific crustacean’s. For starters, mantis shrimps can use not one, not two, but three separate regions of their eyes to stare at a given subject, giving them amazing “tri-nocular” vision. 

But that’s not all! They’re also able to see circularly-polarized light (the sort with which 3D films are made), an ability the vast majority of animals lack. In fact, scientists believe that the mantis shrimp’s spectacular eyesight could help us develop higher-definition CDs, DVDs, and holographic images.

7. Use a Bombardier Beetle’s Rear End to Fire Off a Blast of Scalding Liquid.

Those bad guys don’t stand a chance. Bombardier beetles greet would-be predators with a face-full of boiling, corrosive liquid that’s sprayed from their abdomens at a frightening speed. Amazingly, though the insects depend on specialized internal glands to produce this frightening reaction, they’re left completely unscathed afterwards.

Sploot 101: 12 Animal Slang Words Every Pet Parent Should Know

For centuries, dogs were dogs and cats were cats. They did things like bark and drink water and lay down—actions that pet parents didn’t need a translator to understand.

Then the internet arrived. Scroll through the countless Facebook groups and Twitter accounts dedicated to sharing cute animal pictures and you’ll quickly see that dogs don’t have snouts, they have snoots, and cats come in a colorful assortment of shapes and sizes ranging from smol to floof.

Pet meme language has been around long enough to start leaking into everyday conversation. If you're a pet owner (or lover) who doesn’t want to be out of the loop, here are the terms you need to know.


You know your pet is fully relaxed when they’re doing a sploot. Like a split but for the whole body, a sploot occurs when a dog or cat stretches so their bellies are flat on the ground and their back legs are pointing behind them. The amusing pose may be a way for them to take advantage of the cool ground on a hot day, or just to feel a satisfying stretch in their hip flexors. Corgis are famous for the sploot, but any quadruped can do it if they’re flexible enough.


Person holding Marnie the dog.
Emma McIntyre, Getty Images for ASPCA

Unlike most items on this list, the word derp isn’t limited to cats and dogs. It can also be a stand-in for such expressions of stupidity as “duh” or “dur.” In recent years the term has become associated with clumsy, clueless, or silly-looking cats and dogs. A pet with a tongue perpetually hanging out of its mouth, like Marnie or Lil Bub, is textbook derpy.


Cat laying on desk chair.
PoppetCloset, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you’ve ever caught a cat or dog poking the tip of its tongue past its front teeth, you’ve seen a blep in action. Unlike a derpy tongue, a blep is subtle and often gone as quickly as it appears. Animal experts aren’t entirely sure why pets blep, but in cats it may have something to do with the Flehmen response, in which they use their tongues to “smell” the air.


Mlems and bleps, though very closely related, aren’t exactly the same. While blep is a passive state of being, mlem is active. It’s what happens when a pet flicks its tongue in and out of its mouth, whether to slurp up water, taste food, or just lick the air in a derpy fashion. Dogs and cats do it, of course, but reptiles have also been known to mlem.


Very fluffy cat.
J. Sibiga Photography, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Some pets barely have any fur, and others have coats so voluminous that hair appears to make up most of their bodyweight. Dogs and cats in the latter group are known as floofs. Floofy animals will famously leave a wake of fur wherever they sit and can squeeze through tight spaces despite their enormous mass. Samoyeds, Pomeranians, and Persian cats are all prime examples of floofs.


Dog outside barking.

According to some corners of the internet, dogs don’t bark, they bork. Listen carefully next time you’re around a vocal doggo and you won’t be able to unhear it.


Shiba inu smiling up at the camera.

Speaking of doggos: This word isn’t hard to decode. Every dog—regardless of size, floofiness, or derpiness—can be a doggo. If you’re willing to get creative, the word can even be applied to non-dog animals like fennec foxes (special doggos) or seals (water doggos). The usage of doggo saw a spike in 2016 thanks to the internet and by the end of 2017 it was listed as one of Merriam-Webster’s “Words We’re Watching.”


Tiny kitten in grass.

Some pets are so adorably, unbearably tiny that using proper English to describe them just doesn’t cut it. Not every small pet is smol: To earn the label, a cat or dog (or kitten or puppy) must excel in both the tiny and cute departments. A pet that’s truly smol is likely to induce excited squees from everyone around it.


Hands holding a puppy.

Like doggo, pupper is self-explanatory: It can be used in place of the word puppy, but if you want to use it to describe a fully-grown doggo who’s particularly smol and cute, you can probably get away with it.

10. BOOF

We’ve already established that doggos go bork, but that’s not the only sound they make. A low, deep bark—perhaps from a dog that can’t decide if it wants to expend its energy on a full bark—is best described as a boof. Consider a boof a warning bark before the real thing.


Dog noses poking out beneath blanket.

Snoot was already a dictionary-official synonym for nose by the time dog meme culture took the internet by storm. But while snoot is rarely used to describe human faces today, it’s quickly becoming the preferred term for pet snouts. There’s even a wholesome viral challenge dedicated to dogs poking their snoots through their owners' hands.

12. BOOP

Have you ever seen a dog snoot so cute you just had to reach out and tap it? And when you did, was your action accompanied by an involuntary “boop” sound? This urge is so universal that boop is now its own verb. Humans aren’t the only ones who can boop: Search the word on YouTube and treat yourself to hours of dogs, cats, and other animals exchanging the love tap.

Carnivorous Hammerhead Flatworms Are Invading France

It’s no hammerhead shark, but the hammerhead flatworm has become a real menace in France. Or at least a menace to earthworms, as Earther reports.

Believed to be an invasive species from Asia, the hammerhead flatworm was only recently recorded in France, as is documented in a new study (titled "Giant worms chez moi!") published in the journal PeerJ. However, based on reports, photographs, and videos sent in by citizens across the country, scientists determined the pests have gone undetected for nearly 20 years. This came as a shock, especially because the worms can measure more than a foot in length.

In recent years, three species of the carnivorous worm have quietly taken over French gardens and have even been spotted in metropolitan areas. Some species immobolize their prey with tetrodotoxin, the same powerful neurotoxin that makes pufferfish so poisonous. The worms secrete digestive enzymes, allowing them to dissolve earthworms and slugs their size.

Jean-Lou Justine, co-author of the study, says their eating habits are a concern. "Earthworms are a major component of the soil biomass and a very important element in the ecology of soils," Justine tells Earther. "Any predator which can diminish the populations of earthworms is thus a threat to soil ecology."

Archie Murchie, an entomologist who was not involved in the study, told The Washington Post that the worms will continue to spread in step with global trade. The worms were also seen in overseas French territories, including one worm with a blue-green hue that is probably a newly detected species, Murchie tells the newspaper.

[h/t Earther]


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