Sudell’s Frog (Neobatrachus sudelli)

Also sometimes known as the “Painted Burrowing Frog”, a name also given to another member the genus Neobatrachus as well. Sudell’s frog is a species of Australian ground frog (Myobatrachidae) which is found on and west of the Great Dividing Range of New South Wales to western Victoria and southern Queensland as well as far eastern South Australia. Sudell’s frogs typically inhabit ponds, dams, ditches, and other areas of still water in woodland shrubland and even disturbed areas. They are also accomplished burrowers, spending large periods of time underground to avoid droughts. 


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Image: LiquidGhoul

Long-tailed Broadbill (Psarisomus dalhousiae)

…a striking species of broadbill (Eurylaimidae) which occurs in the Himalayas, extending east into Northeast India and Southeast Asia. P. dalhousiae is the sole member of the monotypic genus Psarisomus, but still shares some relation with other Eurylaimine broadbills. Like other broadbill species, long-tailed broadbills feed mainly on insects and other invertebrates. However, they are occasionally known to feed on seeds and fruit. 


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Image: JJ Harrison

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii

Mola Mola, more commonly known as the ocean sunfish, is the heaviest known bony fish in the world with an average adult weight of 2,200 pounds. Their diet consists mainly of jellyfish. The females produce more eggs than any other known vertebrate and can produce up to 300,000,000 at one time. 


Phlyctimantis leonardi  by Brian Gratwicke


Siberian Blue Robin (Luscina cyane)

…a small species of Old World flycatcher (Muscicapidae) which breeds throughout eastern Asia to Japan, and winters in southeast Asia and Indonesia. Siberian blue robins will breed in coniferous forests with dense undergrowth, and are often seen beside rivers and woodland edges. Like other Old World flycatchers L. cyane feeds almost exclusively on insects, by “skulking” on the ground. 


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Image(s): JJ Harrison

The Bestiary: Tunicates

Most of the creatures I review tend to be molluscs, cnidarians or crabs. This is because my utter adoration with these phyla. But every once in a while I wipe the nerdy fanboy-froth from my mouth and turn my attention towards other groups.

And boy howdy is it worth it.

Tunicates (subphylum Tunicata) are some of the most bizarre shit the tree of life features, and considering the bizarre shit I’ve seen since I started running the blog, that’s saying something. For starters, Polycarpa aurata looks like a goddamn heart, and it only looks weird, it’s not on the level of batshit insanity some other tunicates are.

Just look at that lovely thing. Did I mention that it’s a closer relative of ours than insects?

Yup, it is. For looking like a prehistoric sponge’s retarded cousin, these guys are pretty innovative in some ways. Namely, they are some of the first Chordata, which means they have a notochord; pretty much the ancestral version to our spinal columns, except made of fluid-inflated cells staying in place because of the pressure they have towards one another. Basically a balloon animal spine.

Too bad they looked on their dazzling new notochord, said “fuck that” and decided to lose it and become primitive sessile or drifting Cnidarian/Poriferan knockoffs. Out of the three tunicate classes, two lose their notochords upon reaching adulthood, which is absolute bullshit. Change apparently scares them.

The first class, the Thaliacea contain the salps (Salpidae), who are reknowned for looking like jellyfish and having the most efficient jet propulsion in the entire animal kingdom with which they can fuck an octopus twice over. Also, they have a tendency to quite literally stick together side to side and traverse the oceans in colonies not unlike meters-long translucent toilet chains.

They look like one of those segmented snakelike bosses from shoot-em-up games where you have to destroy each segment separately.

See? I ain’t kidding.

The other significant members of the class are the order Pyrosoma, colonial organisms somewhat resembling siphonophores. They range from bioluminescent little trinkets,

to friggin enormous ravening worm monsters that are pretty much the final boss of the entire ocean.

Roll for initiative, bitch

Next up are the  Ascidiacea, a class of pretty chill sessile tunicates, except for the predatory tunicate (Megalodicopia hians), an animal that could be best described as Pac-Man if Toru Iwatani designed him on a particularly disturbing LSD-induced bad trip.

This thing waits around all day until something swims into its mouthlike hood, at which point it will close its mouth and digest it alive. It’s not exactly special, but considering it belongs to an entire subphylum of wimpy-ass filter feeders, it still is sort of a big deal. And holy hell does it look ghastly as all fuck.

The final class is Larvacea, the only ones who have the good sense to not throw out one of the greatest evolutionary achievements out the window when they hit adulthood. These folks keep their notochords and even most other larval features, which ironically puts them miles before their more radically changing cousins in terms of complexity. And also they slightly resemble Chestbursters.

Larvaceans are free-floaters who employ some of the most creative usage of slime that would put Portal 2 to shame if these guys ever heard of Portal 2 or had hands to play it.

This is how it goes.

Every day, they secrete shitloads of a special, sticky mucus they use to build a “house” around themselves. While this house would probably worth fuck-all in the face of a wolf trying to acquire three talking pigs, it does a mighty fine job filtering food for its inhabitant. The larvaceans’ “mucus house” is one of the most efficient filtration devices known to man, cycling seawater through several ludicrously complex filters that would cause any fluid physicist of your choice jizz their pants on the spot.

You can’t even see the larvacean in there, but I can assure you, it’s definitely inside. It’s like those evil overlords who never leave their thrones.

Overnight the filters get completely jammed with debris, forcing the larvacean to leave the house (through an emergency exit made explicitly for this purpose, no less) and create a new one from scratch.

Let me remind you that this thing is made entirely out of mucus and yet it still works. I don’t know if you ever tried to make seawater filters out of Jell-O but I can assure you that it’s damn hard. And yet this guy does it daily despite having the brain capacity of a flatworm. Have you done something productive today? No? What’s your excuse?

Big-headed Turtle (Platysternon megacephalum)

The sole member of the family Platysternidae, the big-headed turtle is a unique species of turtle which is occurs in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. P. megacephalum is known for its large head, which it cannot bull back into its shell, it uses this massive head to crush snails and eat fish. 

Platysternon megacephalum is currently listed as endangered by the IUCN, as faces threats due to the fact that is is consumed for food in many Asian countries. 


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Image: luki

Red-crested Turaco (Tauraco erytholophus)

…a species of turaco that is endemic to parts of western Angola in Africa, occurring mainly in forested habitats. Like other species of turacos, red-crested turacos are primarily frugivorous (fruit eaters) in nature but they are known to feed on other types of plant matter as well. The red-crested turaco is the national bird of Angola, and has become a symbol for conservation nationally.


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Image: Daniel Demczuk