Wonders never cease. Yes, these seven animals are considered threatened—or worse—according to the Red List, which is held by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resource. But that’s far from the most interesting fact about them. One of these animals has killer bacteria, another never shows signs of aging, and this seal will grow up to have nasal balloons. Take a journey through the fascinating world of biodiversity and be reminded of the miracles we need to protect.
Photo: Morales/Getty Images
Glass Frogs Have Transparent Skin
The glass frog is a tiny amphibian that lives in the tropical rainforests of South America. The size of a thumbnail, this frog is known for its transparent abdominal skin, which makes its heart, liver, and intestinal tract visible, according to USA Today. Fewer than 5,000 of these frogs are left, since their habitat has been reduced by farming and logging in the Amazon.
The olm is also listed as vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List—the population is threatened by increasing water pollution and tourism, among other problems. This blind, cave-dwelling salamander resides in Europe, primarily in Slovenia and Croatia. Incredibly, they reach reproductive maturity while still in larval form and never transition into an adult form, according to the Zoological Society of London. Studies have shown that even the oldest olms, about 45 to 58 years old, still do not show signs of age-related physical wear, according to National Geographic. Not to mention, they’ve got a number of other superpowers: They can survive without food for up to ten years, they have heightened smell and hearing, and they can even detect electric fields.
Photo: Gremlin/Getty Images
A Parrot That Can’t Fly
A critically endangered bird, the Kakapo is a unique parrot that inhabits New Zealand. Large and flightless, this bird is rare and slightly resembles an owl, hence the nickname “owl parrot.” The Kakapo is primarily nocturnal, and spends its nights climbing trees. The population is threatened by animal predators and low reproductive rates.
Photo: Frans Lanting/Getty Images
Hooded Seals Have Nasal ‘Balloons’
Native to the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic, hooded seals are unique, unsocial marine mammals. Males have an elastic nasal cavity, which they can inflate and extend, resembling a “pinkish red balloon,” according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. These balloons are used to attract female attention during mating and send a hostile signal to other males. Hunting, fishing bycatch, and global warming are all threatening this diminishing population.
Photo: Fred Bruemmer/Getty Images
Pygmy three-toed sloths can turn their heads 270 degrees
Pygmy three-toed sloths, one of many sloths on the IUCN’s Red List, is critically endangered due, in part, to human hunting and habitat destruction. The sloths are uniquely capable of turning their heads about 270 degrees, which allows them to observe their surroundings without moving the rest of their bodies, according to the Zoological Society of London. They also make use of camouflage. The sloths’ outer fur is often covered in algae, painting them a greenish color that helps them blend into their forest habitats.
Kelly Zhou hails from the Bay Area and is currently a student in Los Angeles. She has written on a variety of topics, predominantly focusing on politics and education. Email Kelly | @kelllyzhou | TakePart.com