Life on Earth is incredibly diverse – and we’re not just talking about the human race. Indeed, our planet is absolutely teeming with plants and animals, many of which are just plain bizarre. From rocks that bleed and sacks of wasps to water ghosts and strange sea creatures, it’s genuinely difficult to believe that these weird and wonderful things exist in nature.
20. Gyromitra esculenta
This may look like a brain that’s lost its skull, but it’s actually a type of fungus. And despite its strange appearance, the fungus is not that uncommon. Indeed, Gyromitra esculenta can be found across North America and Europe during spring and summer, typically beneath coniferous trees. And although considered a delicacy in some areas, it can be lethal if consumed raw, so proper preparation is paramount.
19. Snapdragon seed pods
Yes, rather than the remnants of a witch’s enemies, or something similarly spooky, these skull-like seeds are simply snapdragon pods. In fact, they’re what’s left behind once the flower dies. And instead of resembling a dragon’s skull like the actual flower does, they look like human skulls. Which, really, is altogether creepier and more grotesque.
18. Hooker’s lips
If you stumble upon this tantalizing pair of lips in the rainforests of Central and South America, you probably won’t want to give them a kiss. After all, they’re actually just a flower, known scientifically as Psychotria elata. The plant is more commonly known as “hooker’s lips,” and its odd shape is intended to attract insects to pollinate. Apparently, humans share more with bugs than we’d like to admit.
17. Creatonotos gangis moth
Have we stumbled on to the set of the next season of Stranger Things? No, this isn’t a creature from the Upside Down, but an absolutely real moth that’s native to Southeast Asia and Australia. This particular moth is a male and has extended its scent glands to attract females. Nature can be terrifyingly weird sometimes.
16. Spiny oak slug caterpillar
If this is unlike any caterpillar you’ve ever seen before, there’s good reason for it. Yes, this spiny oak slug caterpillar is carrying cocoons of a Braconid wasp, a parasite that lays its eggs underneath the caterpillar’s skin. Once hatched, the Braconid larvae munch through the poor caterpillar’s skin, where they can then spin up these cocoons. Yeah, sorry if you never sleep again.
15. Old, dried honey
When a Redditor stumbled upon this “edible, sweet honeycomb-like object” in China, they were baffled as to what it could be. Thanks to a bit of internet sleuthing, though, another user discovered that the original description of “honeycomb-like” wasn’t too far off. After all, this is apparently just honey that’s been dried for three years, after being collected from wild bees in forests.
At first glance, it almost looks like a tiny nuclear explosion has gone off inside this old jar of grape juice. Instead, though, it’s actually just a SCOBY – or more plainly, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. In some cultures, SCOBYs are actually intentionally produced in tea as a healthy drink. In this case, however, it’s basically just vinegar – but it still looks phenomenally strange.
This odd creature was apparently discovered, along with thousands of others, on a New Zealand beach. The person holding it may have made a huge error in doing so, however – because it’s actually a siphonophore, a jellyfish-like creature with a painful, and possibly lethal, sting. Appropriately, this particular species resembles the man o’ war, a particularly venomous variant.
Don’t worry if you’re finding this slimy little sea slug’s scientific name difficult to pronounce. After all, you could just affectionately refer to it as a “spooky water ghost,” because that’s basically what it is. Alternatively, it’s also been called a “sea elephant.” Either way, it’s weirdly adorable, but totally bizarre, thanks to its camouflaged organs that make it look completely transparent.
11. Colonial tunicate
No, this isn’t just a shiny orange peel. It’s actually “sea pork,” or a colonial tunicate, so-called because of its tunic-like outer shell. The pork name for the marine creature apparently comes from its resemblance to the meat, although we’re not quite seeing it here. Either way, it’s apparently a delicacy in Japan, though this particular specimen was found on a beach in Maine.
10. California sea lion
Yes, believe it or not, this is a California sea lion. The reason it doesn’t look much like one is because it’s actually an MRI scan. But with its huge, cartoon-like eyes, it looks positively bizarre. Unfortunately, this particular sea lion had to be euthanized due to illness, but it’s fascinating even after death.
9. Marine invertebrate eggs
Sometimes, nature just beats you over the head with its weirdness. Witness these tiny blue oddities, which fell from the sky during a hailstorm in England in 2012. A local resident described them as “almost impossible to pick up” and “very jelly-like.” And according to one scientist, they may well be eggs from a marine invertebrate. But that doesn’t explain how they fell from the sky…
8. Garra clavirostris
Considering how vast the ocean is, it’s no wonder there are still new species of fish being discovered. The Garra clavirostris, for instance, was only discovered in March 2017 in Assam, India. This particular variant of the species may look like it’s infected with some sort of parasite, but its lumpy features are actually normal. Indeed, the nodules are thought to be used for breeding purposes.
7. Ascocoryne sarcoides
As appetizing as this fungus looks – don’t pretend it doesn’t resemble a pile of jellybeans – we wouldn’t advise eating it. Nicknamed “purple jellydisc fungus,” you’ll most commonly find it in North America, Asia and Europe, usually on dead trees during fall. And it may do more than just look picturesque, as scientists have said it could be a source of biofuel.
6. Bleeding tooth fungus
If you needed further proof that fungi are some of the weirdest things ever to grace this planet, just take a look at the bleeding tooth fungus. While it’s predominantly pink, its blood-red fluid seeps out of the pores located all over the mushroom – hence its name. The totally bizarre fungus can be found in forests in Europe and the Pacific Northwest, usually around pine needles and moss.
It’s no wonder a Redditor was surprised to discover this odd creature on his back porch. It almost looks like a snake, and it apparently moves like one too, but its head is definitely not snake-like. In fact, it’s actually part of the Bipalium genus, more commonly known as a hammerhead worm. Really, that just makes it more unsettling – particularly because it’s actually an invasive species in Europe and the U.S.
4. Melibe leonina
This curious-looking sea creature was discovered on the Pacific Northwest shore, having washed up there before nonchalantly attaching itself to the inside of this glass jar. The puzzled person behind the find inquired on Reddit as to its origins, where it was determined that it is in fact a sea slug – specifically, the Melibe leonina. It’s also known as a lion’s mane nudibranch, which is a much cooler name.
3. Wool sower gall
After finding this strange-looking sack hanging from a tree, the curious person who discovered it was disturbed to realize it was moving. That’s because it’s actually a “wool sower gall;” effectively, a ball of eggs laid by the Callirhytis seminator wasp. Yes, that’s right: a sack of wasps. We’re not sure we’ve ever heard of anything more alarming.
2. Lacewing eggs
On their own, lacewing eggs aren’t all that remarkable. Sure, they’re pretty weird: growing out from the plant on stalks, rather than laying flush with a surface. But these particular lacewing eggs were discovered growing out of an apple in Germany, which is altogether bizarre. Almost as bizarre, in fact, as the way fully-grown lacewings communicate: by vibrational songs, the only thing distinguishing each species of the insect. Nature is crazy.
1. Pyura chilensis
Next time someone tells you that you can’t draw blood from a stone, point them in the direction of the Pyura chilensis, which at first glance will prove them completely wrong. Sure, it’s technically an immobile marine invertebrate, rather than an actual rock. But that doesn’t stop locals in Peru and Chile from cutting them open and feasting on them, usually with rice and salad. Turns out people are just as crazy as nature.