Wildlife

Top Ten Weirdest Stories of 2012

From a genitalia-headed fish to a two-faced cat—it’s been a weird and wild year at National Geographic. And for our weird fans, we’ve rounded up our editor’s picks for the ten oddest stories of 2012. 

Coming in as tenth weirdest is the housefly-size frog Paedophryne amauensis (below), the world’s smallest known vertebrate.

10. World’s Smallest Frog Found

Photograph courtesy Christopher Austin, Louisiana State University

 

At an average of 7.7 millimeters long, the frog is a hair smaller than the previous record holder, the Southeast Asian fish species Paedocypris progenetica, whose females measure about 7.9 millimeters, scientists said in January. Full story>>

 

9.  Slime Has Memory But No Brain

Photograph courtesy Audrey Dussutour

 

The living slime that may have been the muse for the 1958 science-fiction film The Blob just got creepier: In October, scientists reported that slime mold, a brainless single-celled organism, has a form of memory. Full story>>

 

8. Two-Faced Cat a Mystery

Photograph courtesy TODAY Show/NBC

 

In August, Venus the two-faced cat became a feline hit: The three-year-old tortoiseshell debuted her own Facebook page, was featured in a YouTube video, and appeared on the Today Show. (Watch National Geographic cat videos.)

One look at this cat and you can understand why: One half is solid black with a green eye, and the other half has typical orange tabby stripes and a blue eye. The coloration may be a genetic mashup that one scientist called “absolute luck.” Full story>>

 

7. White Killer Whale Spotted

Photograph courtesy E. Lazareva, Far East Russia Orca Project

 

An white adult killer whale spotted off Russia in April may be the only one in the world.

Nicknamed Iceberg, the 22-foot-long (7-meter-long) whale is probably not a true albino, since he has color on his saddle—the area behind his dorsal fin, scientists say. (See pictures of albino animals.) The male appeared healthy and accepted by his pod, suggesting his odd coloration doesn’t affect him. Full story>>

 

6. World’s Leggiest Animal Found

Photograph by Paul Marek

 

The leggiest creature on Earth lives in California, but it’s not a movie star or a model—it’s a 3-centimeter-long (1.2-inch) millipede with 750 legs, scientists said in November.

First seen by government scientists in 1928, Illacme plenipes—”the acme of plentiful legs”—keeps such a low profile that for the rest of the 20th century the species was thought to be extinct. Then University of Arizona entomologist Paul Marek spied one near Silicon Valley. Full story>>

 

5. Turtles Urinate Via Their Mouths—a First

Photograph from FLPA/Alamy

 

When a species of soft-shelled turtle in China piddles in puddles, it does so through its mouth—the first evidence of an animal doing so, scientists reported in October.

The findings could also have stomach-churning implications for humans with kidney failure, scientists say. Full story>>

 

4. Rare Maned Lionesses Explained

Photograph courtesy Deon De Villiers

 

If it looks like a male lion and is perceived as a male lion—well, sometimes it isn’t. That’s the case of Africa’s unusual maned lionesses, which sport a male’s luxurious locks and may even fool competitors.

Though uncommon, maned lionesses have been regularly sighted in the Mombo area of Botswana‘s Okavango Delta (including the individual pictured above), where the lion population may carry a genetic disposition toward the phenomenon, experts say. Full story>>

 

3. Genitalia-Headed Fish is Evolutionary Mystery

Photograph courtesy Magnolia Press, reproduced with permission

 

How’s this for a head turner? A tiny new species of fish from Vietnam sports its genitalia on its noggin.

Phallostethus cuulong is only the 22nd known species of its family, Phallostethidae, all of which bear their copulatory organs just behind their mouths. Full story>>

 

2. World’s Weirdest Penis Studied

Photograph by Lucy Cooke

 

When National Geographic Emerging Explorer Lucy Cooke headed to Tasmania, Australia, this year, she on the lookout for the echidna, an ancient termite-eating hedgehog-like animal with a four-headed penis. (Read more about Cooke’s National Geographic Channel show Freaks & Creeps.)

As Cooke wrote on her blog in July, “This extraordinary member has four distinct heads and looks like a stumpy hand with no thumb waving at me. Or some sort of weird sea anemone. It definitely doesn’t look like any penis I have ever seen before. Thankfully.”

 

1. Giant Mysterious Eyeball Found on Florida Beach

Photograph by Carli Segelson/Fla. FWCC

 

Perhaps reminiscent of the infamous Montauk monster, a softball-size eyeball washed up in Florida in October (as if Florida needed anything else weird). The Internet was buzzing with questions: whose eye is it? What is it? A few days later, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that the “mystery eyeball” appears to belong to a swordfish. Full story>>

For being justifiably weird, gross, and mysterious all at the same time, the giant eyeball is our weirdest story of 2012.

Also read about National Geographic’s new book, Tales of the Weird>>

More Best of National Geographic 2012

Christine Dell'Amore, environment writer/editor for National Geographic News, has reported from six continents, including Antarctica. She has also written for Smithsonian magazine and the Washington Post. Christine holds a masters degree in journalism with a specialty in environmental reporting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her book, South Pole, was published in 2012.
  • sel

    my class studied the eyeball, because my lybraian at school was on that boat when it was found!!

  • Stephanie Skillman

    Just amazing … life is/can be so grande in many ways.
    Thank you for your studies/pictures that you share with us.
    We that cannot travel worldwide are so grateful.
    I grew up with you; we’re not all the same here on the prairie!

  • Patricia

    Thanks for such interesting weird articles!!!

  • BNJ

    What a fantastic smile on that hedgehogs face – no wonder

  • GLOGOR

    Is someone studying the memory slime for a possible use for humans?

  • V. Rogers

    Fascinating!

  • Frank Moloney

    Where would we be without our monthly National Geographic?

  • Julio

    Really fascinating. Congratulations

  • Julio

    Magnificas.

  • AJAY RAM

    Weird things are stranger than tales.Thanks NG for discovering them for us.

  • Munna

    i like the photo. thank NG

  • bhat

    makes sense but let me know more about animal senses

  • Sani

    Very educative. Thanks for making us more knowledgeable.

  • Rob

    Life is stranger than fiction for sure.
    Nature rocks!

    Bucky’s Journey part 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AR7l_iWvnx4

    Bucky’s Journey part 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOjDUZD16f8

    Bucky’s Journey Photo-essay
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3Ke2HbGrB4

    Boxing deer and dog

  • MALIK JAVAID AKHTAR

    national geographic is formatting channel for me & my family.

  • aria

    natural news are better than human news !

  • Ed Kaplan

    Best magazine in the World since it began being published.
    The people can be better educated and entertained with one of a kind treasure!

  • turky rowshan

    thank’s allot >>> that’s penefisual isso

  • Katy

    The echidna is not a hedgehog, its a monotreme. national geographic, you are dead to me. this mistake is unforgivable.

  • didik

    Subhanallah, nature just awesoome

    Tekno muslim

  • luidmila

    Em angola tem centopeia. As centopeias aqui não estão extintas.

  • H.V.Venkataramaiah.

    Very educative and knowledgeble.

  • Christine Dell’Amore

    Katy, don’t give up on us yet. I think a “like” was accidentally left off—as in, “hedgehog-like.” I made the change.

  • Siddappa Bilagi

    All information’s are amazing, educative and knowledgeable. i like the photo of World’s Weirdest thing,

  • maxim

    GREAT!! Really enjoyable news, but none of them written in koran. what a mistake??

  • seun lari-williams

    I should come here more often! Thx4sharing!

  • linda

    Loved the article. Boy that four headed penis was a shocker! How do I share this on Facebook? I see a like tab but not share. Thanks.

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Hi Linda,
      Thanks for your comment! There is a share tab under “more,” but it doesn’t include Facebook. Your best bet is copying the link into a Facebook status update. Cheers, Christine

  • George

    Very interesting, there are so many things we still have to discover on our planet !!!Thank you NG for your articles.

  • Dr. Shyamala Shah

    Wow…I have always been intrigued by the enigmas of nature…thanks NG for slaking the thirst for knowledge…bte is there any way people like me can contribute to this blog? Pls do let me know..till then you are doing a tremendous job…hats off guys

  • Kara

    i read somewhere that the “2 faced” cat has chymirism (spelling?) which means its former embryo mate absorbed into its body before it was born , giving it 2 sets of DNA …

  • Deepshikha

    I love National Geograhic for providing factual content involving nature

  • Toni

    About the calico cat, I have seen cats like that, with the markings, it isn’t a chimera, that’s bull. As for the blue eye, the mothers mate may have been siamese, there are several cats that have been born odd eyed. The speculations are preposterous, and someone put the information out there to sensationalize the animal on youtube, so the owners can make some bucks.

  • bakeca Ragusa

    scary story

  • Amaryan Artur

    Well all this wierd creatures comes from the new climat and from neuclear weapons.

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

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