Superheroes and supervillains all have a superpower that they use to wreak havoc on their enemies, whether its super strength, rapid regeneration, super speed or even controlling the elements.
Comic book heroes feature elaborate backstories that explain how they managed to acquire their power, whether it’s as simple as being bitten by a radioactive spider or being born to godlike parents.
The animal kingdom features many exotic beasts who have abilities that are so extreme that they would inspire even the most imaginative comic book writer. Simply put, their extraordinary skills and physical attributes are unmatched in humans.
Instead of crazy origin stories involving radiation and gods, animals develop their superpowers out of necessity. Their amazing abilities evolve in order to thrive and survive in a Darwinistic world in which only the strong and adaptable continue to grace the Earth with their presence.
In addition to being spectacular examples of what nature can accomplish through selective genetics, researchers often study the superpowers of animals in order to learn how their abilities work, applying their discoveries to useful applications that benefit humans. These wonders of animal evolution contain secrets that, if replicated, could make the human race a superhuman race.
10. Mantis Shrimp – Bullet Fist
The Peacock Mantis Shrimp is a stomatopod crustacean that appears to be an adorable little sea creature with a whimsical rainbow color scheme and goofy little eyes. At first glance, its main superpower seems to be the ability to be delicious with melted butter and a wedge of lemon.
However, over generations, the Mantis Shrimp has evolved to become the deadliest hunter in its weight class. Their eyes have 16 photoreceptors, enabling them to see UV light, polarised light and colors that humans cannot imagine, in addition to perceiving depth with one peeper while being able to move both eyes independently.
The Mantis Shrimp punches with the same acceleration of a .22 bullet, using claws that are so hard that researchers study them for combat purposes. This punching speed boils the water surrounding the Mantis Shrimp claw, which helps to easily break through crab shells and aquariums made of glass.
9. Cuttlefish – Hypnosis
The Cuttlefish is a special type of hunter that has evolved a very peculiar superpower that allows it to put on a spectacular light show that its prey, typically small fish and crustaceans, cannot help but be drawn to.
What enables this hypnotic display of lights are chromatophore cells under the Cuttlefish skin, made of iridophores and leucophores that reflect and scatter light. Cuttlefish are also able to change the texture of their skin.
As the prey of the Cuttlefish helplessly stares at the crazy light show, the hunter waits until the victim is close before extending tentacles that capture the Cuttlefish’s next meal.
8. Lyrebird – The Mimic
A complex larynx enables the Lyrebird to create an incredible array of different sounds, ranging from its own songs to songs based on human sounds, such as a chainsaw, laser beams or camera shutters.
The lyrebird’s superpower is the ability to mimic an incredible array of sonic information, which it uses as a self-defense mechanism to intimidate and hide from its predators.
This remarkable bird is able to mimic as many as 20 different species at a time and constantly sings its own songs and other tunes in an effort to keep safe. Lyrebirds are indigenous to Australia, found in the Great Dividing Range and the rainforest close to the border of Queensland and New South Wales.
7. Naked Mole Rat – Cancer Proof
So ugly that they’re almost cute, the Naked Mole Rat is one of the most unassuming animals on this list to boast a superpower.
Hailing from the continent of Africa, the Naked Mole Rat is a hairless rodent species that lives in a way similar to insect hives, with a dominant queen presiding over its empire.
Researchers were surprised to find that Naked Mole Rats are cancer resistant to the point that they’ve never found a single case of the disease in any colony.
Scientists believe that a super sugar substance created and excreted by these rats prevent cancer from taking hold. This substance is referred to as high-molecular-mass Hyaluronan, and was likely evolved by this species in order to maintain their skin against a rough, subterranean lifestyle.
6. Hummingbirds – The Flash Levitates
With a metabolism unmatched in the animal world, the Hummingbird is capable of flapping their wings up to 80 times per second, flying at a moment’s notice in any direction, even while upside down. The Hummingbird heart operates at 1,260 beats per second and they even consume their food at an incredible pace of up to 13 licks a second.
They’re the only animal capable of hovering in place, which they achieve by flapping their superspeed wings in a figure-eight pattern. Hummingbirds can reach velocities of up to 40 mph while in a courtship dive and have a maximum speed of about 25 mph during regular flight. At rest, hummingbirds breathe up to 250 times per minute.
5. Tardigrades – Captain Indestructible
Nicknamed “Water Bears” because of their cuddly, non-threatening appearance, Tardigrades are the hardiest survivors of the animal kingdom, able to deal with deadly extremes that would kill the vast majority of life on Earth.
Tardigrades can be exposed to temperatures close to absolute zero, extreme heat and pressure greater than what’s found at the bottom of the ocean. They survive by utilizing cryptobiosis, in which the animal ceases metabolic life processes and dehydrates to about 3 percent of its usual water content.
Through this process, Tardigrades have survived in the vacuum of space for 10 days before being revived. Researchers believe Tardigrades can endure dehydration for ten years and still survive.
4. Onthophagus taurus – The Hulk
The Onthophagus taurus is better known by its less impressive name, the Dung Beetle. It has earned the status of the strongest animal on earth, capable of moving objects that are 1,141 times bigger than its own body.
In comparison, humans of average weight would need to lift about 80 tonnes in order to match the strength of the Dung Beetle.
Researchers believe the Dung Beetle developed superstrength as part of a mating ritual in which males push and pull each other to win mating rights with females who burrow into tunnels.
Not all dung beetles are created equal – the weaker males of the species grow unusually large testicles instead of developing super strength, increasing the probability of their genes propagating future generations.
3. Green Basilisk Lizard – The Jesus Christ Lizard
Located mostly in Central America, the Green Basilisk Lizard – also known as the plumed or double-crested basilisk – has evolved to be able to run across the surface of water without sinking.
This incredible ability has earned this animal the nickname of “The Jesus Christ Lizard”, – although the Green Basilisk has yet to evolve the ability to transform water into wine.
Scientists point to special feet that have long toes and small folds of skin that increase the surface area of this animal’s footfall while creating an air bubble that prevents them from sinking. This enables them to run on water for about 15 feet, helping them to escape predators.
2. Archerfish – Green Arrow of the Sea
Archerfish are appropriately named due to their ridiculous accuracy when hunting for prey. This type of fish is a sniper capable of nailing targets several feet above the surface with deadly jets of water.
Researchers discovered that Archerfish evolved highly-controlled mouths that are able to create enough power to squirt jets forceful enough to kill its prey. Their aiming system somehow tracks their target through even choppy water that refracts light.
The spitting cannon of the Archerfish is so accurate that it’s able to modify the waterjet to optimize the force delivered according to the distance of its target.
1. Turritopsis Nutricula – The Immortal One
Quickly and quietly, the oceans of this planet are being invaded by the Turritopsis Nutricula. It’s an animal that, to all intents and purposes, appears to be completely immortal – as long as an external force doesn’t kill it.
Better known as the hydrozoan jellyfish, the Turritopsis Nutricula features a unique anti-aging mechanism that allows its body to become young again after mating, reverting back to a juvenile form repeatedly.
Instead of eventually dying like most jellyfish, the Turritopsis Nutricula can theoretically become young on an indefinite basis. This jellyfish is the only animal in the world that appears to contain the fountain of youth within its genetics.
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