Wait, what’s weird about them?

Bethany Brookshire is wondering about how to justify writing about weird little animals.

Sometimes, I write about weird animals, I post weird anatomy facts, because I need to feel a little bit of wonder. Curiosity. Joy. I want other people to feel that way too. I know how much we are witnessing. I know how much we need little things to remind us that yes, there’s pain, but there’s joy in this life too. Sometimes, it’s romance novels or bad TV or funny Tiktoks. Sometimes it’s sea squirts. The world is, indeed, awful. But it’s also wonderful, and bizarre, and fun. We need the wonder as much as we need to witness.

I want to reassure everyone that it’s OK to write about bizarre creatures. You know, like odd specialized species that are seeing all the related species in their clade failing so spectacularly that they’re going extinct. Or strangely specialized organisms that have expanded a single organ in their bodies to such a freakishly large size that everything else is diminished in comparison. Or animals with such inefficient and unusual means of locomotion that they persist in despite every predator they’ve got being capable of outrunning them.

So yeah, I guess it’s OK to write about people.

But what’s weird about all the other animals? I spent part of my morning tracing silk to find the teeny-tiny juveniles that are bouncing back from winter, and then I was in the lab hanging out with my girls in the spider colony, and all it takes is an hour of that and you begin wondering why you have so few limbs and such a paltry collection of eyes, and hey, wouldn’t some venom come in handy when you get drafted into a committee meeting? We’re the weird ones, not them.

I’m waiting until we crack the ice on Europa, then maybe we’ll find truly weird critters…or more likely, I’ll start to identify with them and humans will look even more creepy and strange.


  1. Hemidactylus says

    I don’t think enough is written about beetle larvae. People need to be prepared when they see these alien looking creatures crawling through their yard to not freak the hell out. I dunno if it was a dung or agave beetle larva I’ve seen before in my yard but I thought it was some monster termite come to eat my house. Many stressful moments come from spotting something odd and screaming “Is that a termite?”. Earwigs and webspinners have done that in the past. For some reason the ID features native to Apple’s photos app and to Seek like to call stuff termites even if not.

    I could write an account about my war with the carpet beetles (or something of that ilk). Damn things were everywhere. The source may have been an attraction to dog hairs or maybe an oatmeal container or both.

  2. Hemidactylus says

    And also has anyone seen Secrets of the Octopus? Episode 1 was great with the cinematography. Of course James Cameron was involved. If you have 4K or HDR10 it’s a treat! I had broken in my 1080 with a Sanctum Blu-ray over a decade ago.

    Interesting stuff on how octopus mimic their surroundings and a little softcore octopus porn for the pervs.

  3. says

    We don’t have to worry about extra legs we build them and use them for al sorts of purposes. Extra eyes? No problem we have ones that extend our own to “see” atoms or reach to the outer reaches or the universe. As for venom, well I occasionally dip my pen in it when I need to.

  4. cheerfulcharlie says

    For weird and bizarre animals, try the site, “Parasite Of The Day”. What was God thinking when he designed these little horrors? Our Intelligent Designer has some explaining to do.

  5. unclefrogy says

    I got in “trouble” when in botany lab I would often get distracted to follow some small mite around when I was supposed to be looking at leaf buds or something or other, the little beast just walked by!

  6. Hemidactylus says

    In episode 2 of Secrets of the Octopus called “Masterminds” we see hunting strategies. The cool thing about coconut octopuses is they engage in putative tool use by using coconuts or bivalve shells as protective housing. Another thing I note is crabs are a favorite dish of many octopus species. Can’t knock them for that!

    One thing I learned is they are short lived. Sucks to be so smart and not live very long.

  7. Hemidactylus says

    unclefrogy @6
    I recall a botany instructor (from India BTW) encouraging us to check out the mites and other stuff living in the flowers we looked at under the dissecting microscopes. I had her ethnobotany class too. But the other class was more field and lab oriented. Fun stuff. Ethnobotany was cool too.

    I could see one getting sucked down a vortex into animals living in flowers. It’s kinda similar to some grad students I knew that were either learning about stuff living in gills of spinner sharks or what fence lizards ate. Studying flowers, sharks, or lizards might involve learning more invertebrate zoology than one initially signed up for.

  8. consciousness razor says

    Or strangely specialized organisms that have expanded a single organ in their bodies to such a freakishly large size that everything else is diminished in comparison.

    You mean balls, right? Look, just write what you know, but try to keep it short.

  9. StevoR says

    Weird is a point of view and depedns on what you’re used to.

    @1. Marcus Ranum : Incidentally, Abe Drayton’s Oceanoxia blog has fairly regularly shared, featured and discussed some of ZeFranks videos eg here :


    Plus here as well :


    In addition to here and virtually elsewhere on his blog :


  10. garnetstar says

    I love sea squirts! Some of them are really pretty, you see them a lot when diving.

    And, fun fact, some of them use vanadium in their hemoglobin to bind oxygen! So their blood is green, like Mr. Spock’s.

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