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Nature’s Marvelous Absurdity In 37 Wild Photos

Nature’s Marvelous Absurdity In 37 Wild Photos

BIOLOGY

Nature is full of all sorts of weird things. Some of those things confuse us. Some of them feed us. Others provide unlimited sources of entertainment. And here, we aim to take a look at some of the latter. The following will shock, awe, and utterly bewilder you. If you’re not at least puzzled you’re just a nature-hater. But hopefully, this isn’t the case. Read further to discover these marvelous nature photos and the science behind them.

1. Scary tornado

This woman took a photo in front of a tornado. I’m not sure why. These things are quite terrifying. She must not have fear. She can’t have fear. She must be like one of those people who free climbs with no ropes. She does strike me as that type of person.

A tornado in Northeast Denver that formed near the Denver airport caused minor damage as it briefly touched down

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The brave lady is thought to be Audra Thomas of Beaver City, Nebraska. The tornado posed in front of was of the F1 caliber, which means that it is the second lowest on the Fujita scale (which goes from F0 to F5). These are strong enough to pull panels from rooftops and turn over terrible-looking Nebraska trailers. She, however, was far enough away to remain safe.

2. When lighting strikes back

This terrifying image depicts lighting getting a little too close for comfort. Not only does it strike close to the docks, but it strikes in high abundance. If this doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. Maybe bears. Anyways, this lighting is terrible.

Wikimedia Commons

This lighting was immediately off the coast Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes. Like any large body of water, this lake plays a major role in dictating the surrounding regions weather. And in this case, it did so is frightening ways. In essence, it compounded the force of this lightning storm, making it something best avoided.

3 . Ugly spiders

This is one of the worst photos in existence. What is it, you ask? Well, it’s a close-up image of a wolf spider and its babies–many of its babies. There’s nothing worse than thousands of spider babies getting carried on the back of an ugly spider.

baby spiders on the back of a tarantula

Wikimedia Commons

Okay, maybe there is something worse: two spiders carrying their ugly clusters of babies on their backs. Other than that, I’m not sure how things could look much worse. If you want an interesting fact about this appalling affront to your eyeballs, know that this is the only spider species that carries its babies on its back in this way. Others wrap them in cocoons.

4. Baby elephant got stuck

This unfortunate baby elephant had a little spill. And this spill was not exactly fortuitous. Like humans, elephants take a long time to depart from their youthful size. This means they experience ample time into which they can fall into ghastly creations like the manmade pool. And fall this little baby elephant did.

Six month-old baby elephant 'Clear Sky' is kept afloat by a harness during a hydrotherapy session at a local veterinary clinic in Chonburi Province on January 5, 2017. - After losing part of her left foot in a snare in Thailand, baby elephant 'Clear Sky' is now learning to walk again -- in water. The six-month-old is the first elephant to receive hydrotherapy at an animal hospital in Chonburi province, a few hours from Bangkok. The goal is to strengthen the withered muscles in her front leg, which was wounded three months ago in an animal trap laid by villagers to protect their crops. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

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Apparently, it’s not until they’re around 15 or 20 when they’re considered an adult. Again, then, they are like humans in that they need to wait until they’ve passed something like two decades before they can start indulging in their elephant booze. Another interesting fact: they have the longest gestational period of all animals—that is, they stay pregnant for a long ol’ time.

5. Crocodile killed

This crocodile was big. And big is probably an understatement—it was giant. Pulling in at a whopping 28-feet-long, this crocodile was one of the largest swamp creatures ever recorded. And how did it die, you ask? It was killed. This all took place in 1957, an unfortunate year for croc livelihood.

Wikimedia Commons

Krystina Pawlowski was a Polish immigrant who moved into Australia to hunt crocodile. What a weird pastime! And hunt she did. She took down this amazingly large and terrifying crocodile with surprisingly alacrity and grace. The croc was so large it earned her a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

6. Megalodon

This shark is another one of the largest critters to have ever existed. It was many times larger than the formidable great white, coming in at a staggering 60 feet. For comparison, a great white can come in sizes at around 15 to 20 feet. While still big, it is nothing compared to the great ol’ megalodon.

sharks by comparison on a chart

Wikimedia Commons

It is thought to be one of the largest and most powerful predator-species to exist—whether by land or sea. It lived sometime around 23 to 2.6 million years ago. It is thought to have gone extinct because of a drop in water temperature and perhaps a lack of food. It isn’t clear, however.

7. Icy monolith?

What’s depicted here is one of the most shocking things found in all of science. Okay, not really. It’s actually a giant icy monolith created by the particular icy conditions under which this glacier was formed. The conditions create what glaciologists call blue ice. This particular glacier is in Antarctica.

blue glacier with a mountain backdrop

Pixabay

What conditions form this ice, you ask? Well, it’s primarily the thickness. The thickness of the ice prevents light from passing through to the other side. This, in turn, causes the ice to reflect back nothing but blue. Red light is naturally filtered out from these dense globs of ice.

8. Goats in trees

Sometimes life throws us curveballs. In this instance, that curveball is a bunch of goats in a tree. For whatever reason, these majestic Moroccan goats climb trees–and they do so surprisingly well. As you can see here, they balance precariously atop the branches as if they were monkeys in their prime.

Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps as a way to avoid predation, or perhaps as a way to avoid some unwanted milking, they take to the trees. But, in all reality, the reason these goats climb trees is to gather a particularly tasty nut. This nut is enjoyed by the goats and their compatriots—all from the Argania tree.

9. Weird clouds

Clouds are one of those things the provoke curiosity in all those who admire them. And, if they don’t, you’re likely imagination. Anyways, this particular cloud was reportedly visible from around 60 miles away. That’s quite the distance. I would venture to say that’s a long way.

Wikimedia Commons

This cloud is a lenticular cloud, which means that it looks like a saucer or lens. Many people have mistakenly thought these clouds were UFOs hovering above a mountain or whatever. In reality, they were just aerial blobs of moisture perturbed by nearby mountain ranges or other factors affecting the weather. Just don’t make the same mistake as UFO enthusiasts.

10. A rare Jaguar

This Jaguar is one of the rarest in existence. And what makes it so rare, you ask? It takes two other rare animals to make it—the spotted black jaguar. The black coat on many jaguars is the result of a genetic mutation that prevents their coat from showing the beautiful yellow and brown spots you normally expect.

a black jaguar with spots

Wikipedia

This mutation causes melanism, a lack of sufficient pigmentation. This black spotted jaguar is likely either the result of a partial genetic mutation or the result of a mom and dad jaguar that had different coat colorings. Either way, this beautiful specimen is here to grace our eyes.

11. Introducing the star-nosed mole

Not all of nature’s animals have been blessed with the looks of Brad Pitt. And the star-nosed mole is one such ugly and un-blessed fellow. With a nose like that of a decrepit and unwanted falling star, this creature scores the ground floor with its weird nose to find food.

Wikimedia Commons

Scientists call the ugly appendages the Elmer’s organ—presumably after the man who discovered it; not the guy who created the glue. Among the other things this organ does is pick up temperature changes and vibrations in the ground. With a face this—um—interesting, it better be useful for cool underground burrowing abilities.

12. Mammatus clouds

These clouds, these weird clouds, show themselves after a tornado. Unlike all other types of clouds, these are formed within sinking air rather than rising. How tornadoes leave anything in the wake of clouds after they rip through middle-American towns like this one is beyond me. But hey, things happen. And sometimes those things look like udders.

Wikimedia Commons

The origin of these clouds’ names come from their shape. Mammatus is another translation of “mammary”—as in: the mammary glands of cows. They look like udders, in other words. This could, however, just be the Freudian interpretation bestowed on them by the middle-American residents upon which these tornados are often heaved. It’s never easy to tell.

13. Friends that save friends

This photo depicts a seagull trying to pick a fight with a bully—an apex-predator bully. This bully is the bald eagle, renowned foe of all things not it. What makes this photo unique is that the gull it’s trying to snag has a friend. And that friend has a Terminator-like persistence to prevent that snag from happening.

This eagle was telling all of the other birds to stand down & that he wasn't giving up his meal.

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Unfortunately, we don’t know the ending to this story. Either the eagle got away happy, or the bird was taken down like the maniacal fiend he most likely is. While most of us hate seagulls as the annoying beach pest they are, they’re admirably laudable in their defense of their friends. At least they have that going for them.

14. A dangerous roar

While this might not constitute a nature photo per se, it does constitute an animal of nature (i.e., the tiger) getting thrown into a relatively unnatural environment (a film set of the 80s). “Roar” was the name of the film, and its purpose was to draw attention to the folly of poaching. In reality, the film only really brought danger to those on the set.

Tippi Hedren with her animals at her San Fernando Valley compound. 25th January 1982. (Photo by Sanderson, Eddie/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

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The film flaunts the fact that no animals were harmed in the making of the film, yet 70 people were. This is the result of high-risk and perhaps negligent behavior on the part of the directors. But hey, so long as you get some great shots of lions and tigers doing lion- and tiger-like things, right? Some of these things, unfortunately, were attacking and mauling humans—even if not deliberately.

15. A brown panda?

When most of us think of panda bears, we think of the black and white. We think of the “Panda Cam” at the San Diego Zoo. We don’t, necessarily, think of the brown panda bear that lives a solitary and forlorn life in the deep dark forests of China.

Wikimedia Commons

This panda, Qizai, is the last known in existence. With a brown body and white face, this lonesome panda was abandoned by his mother when just a youth—presumably for the love of another panda bear. What gave this panda its brown fur is a mutation in the gene that codes for the typical white and black pigment. Its mother may not have liked this rebellious look.

16. Sunsets aren’t normally this terrifying

When in Moscow, you don’t always expect the pleasant. And this is just one instance of that feeling coming to life. Here, we have pictured one of the most daunting and foreboding sunsets I’ve ever seen. If you didn’t expect danger in one of Russia’s most cosmopolitan cities, you would expect it right about now.

clouds in a weird formation

Wikipedia

This beautifully dismal view comes brought to you via the combination of sunset with the aftermath of a brutal Russian storm. The result, as pictured, is simultaneously scary and magnificent–one might even say it was scarily magnificent. Or maybe magnificently scary. You be the judge!

17. The late Steve Irwin with his wife, Terri

Steve Irwin was clearly one of the coolest people to ever exist—not to mention a national treasure. Unfortunately, he met an untimely demise at the hand of a stingray. I hope the stingray got a good taste of western justice. Now, it’s fair to say, stingrays are the most hated animal in Australia.

SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 26: ***EXCLUSIVE*** "The Crocodile Hunter", Steve Irwin, (R) shows a snake to his wife Terri (L) at the San Francisco Zoo on June 26, 2002 in San Francisco, California. Irwin is on a 3-week tour to promote the release of his first feature film, "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course" is due in theaters July 12th. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Here, however, we have Steve pictured with his wife holding up one of nature’s finest: the snake. This particular snake is gleaned from the San Francisco Zoo. The photo was taken in 2002, four years prior to his tragic incident. Anyways, it’s great to see a man engaged with his passion. And also that sick mullet.

18.  Big sea monster

Creatures of the sea are often those that inspire the most fear. While we often hear stories of terrible leviathans, creepy deep-sea fish, and other translucent aquatic goblins, this beast takes the cake in size. While great white sharks can grow to something between 15 and 20 feet, this manta ray has a wingspan of around 20 feet.

Picture shows a Manta Ray at Islas Revillagigedos, Mexico

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Not only that, but it weighs a whopping 5,000 lbs. That’s a whole lot of manta ray goodness. How did such a beast get crafted in the sea, you might find yourself asking? Well, it was enabled to grow in the depths aided by the buoyancy of water. This water enables creatures to grow exceptionally large, because the hindrance of gravity on the body is lesser in the water.

19. Lightning strikes

Sometimes lightning strikes. And off the Catatumbo River in Venezuela, lighting strikes hard. Apparently, the lightning here is so abnormal that strikes occur something like 140 to 160 days of the year—sometimes at a rate of 250 strikes per hour. That’s a lot. Almost competes with Seattle for the number of terribly rainy days they get per year.

a bunch of lightning coming from the sky

Wikipedia

The lightning is the result of storms that accumulate at the base of the river, and as wind blows from nearby lakes into bogs.  Mountains elevate the air, which causes it to increase in charge. This leads to a massive amount of lightning to strike—more, in fact, than any other place on Earth.

20. Tasmanian tigers

Not all tigers are created equal. Some have lush coats that blend and astonish. Others, like this scraggly-looking fellow, appear derelict and hungry. Unfortunately, despite its lovable sickliness,  this lovely little creature has gone extinct. It lived until the early 1900s until poaching ended its run.

a tiger-looking dog thing

Wikimedia Commons

This creature was, up until its extinction, the largest marsupial carnivore in the world. What brought the Tasmanian wolf to extinction was poaching. Because it would often attack and kill livestock, farmers weren’t at all happy with its existence. As a result, they hunted it into extinction. Next time, I think we will have learned our lesson.

21. Endurance?

This vessel, owned by Sir Ernest Shackleton, got stuck in Antarctic ice. In  1915, it was crushed by the surrounding icebergs. This makes its name—the Endurance—completely ironic. This will perhaps teach people to be a little more cautious in the naming of their arctic vessels.

a ship in the ice

Wikimedia Commons

Why, though, was this ship so far south of most civilization? Well, in the early 1900s, people were racing to be the first to cross the South Pole. Unfortunately, many didn’t have the structural integrity to endure such ventures. The result, as the endurance shows in plain day, is that many would sink. Bummer, dude.

22. Morning glory clouds

No, this isn’t a hoax. The clouds are real—and extremely rare. They’re called morning glory clouds, and they come primarily from places like Northern Australia. This is primarily because of the low atmospheric pressure of the area. Normally, the clouds will be followed by thunderstorms or showers.

some mornning glory clouds

NASA

The clouds often attract glider pilots, because the conditions that form the clouds are choice for gliding. Technically, the clouds are called roll clouds or arcus clouds. Amazingly, they can stretch a length of around 620 miles. Even more amazingly, they’re often only 330 to 660 feet above the ground. Next time you want a nice gliding experience, I recommend you find one of these.

23. Arctic rabbit

Are these boulders, or cute, little rabbits? The answer should be clear—rabbits. This species, called the arctic hare, is able to adapt to the harsh arctic conditions. This bundling is only one of the ways that they keep warm in the frigid arctic. Other ways include digging holes or hiding in the mountainside.

arctic hare looking cute

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Whichever way the bunny protects itself from the heat, it is unbelievably cute. But the same thing can be said of most rabbits. What can’t be said of other rabbits, however, is that these bad boys can withstand something like -29 degree Fahrenheit weather. Such cold would clearly freeze other little bunnies, despite the cuteness of their coats.

24. The evolution of a tornado

This photo captures the evolution of a tornado—from start to finish. First, it starts out thick without touching the ground. Then it touches the ground, wisps into a pencil-y spiral and gains momentum,  become a full fledged tornado. The upwards spinning vertical air of this natural disaster will wreak almost anything it encounters.

Wikipedia

With winds of around 250 miles per hour and a width sometimes surpassing 50 miles in length, tornadoes normally appear during a thunderstorm. They’re also normally accompanied by hail. The most destructive tornadoes come from persistent thunderstorms called supercells. You’ll read about these in a few slides.

25. Lightning strikes

Some places are notoriously dangerous during a thunderstorm. A boat is one of these places. The reason they can be so deadly is that they conduct electricity well. They’re especially terrible because they float atop that ultimate conductor—water. You don’t, in other words, want to be on a boat in the midst of a brewing storm.

POOLE, ENGLAND - JULY 21: Lightning strikes over Poole Harbour during a thunderstorm on July 21, 2013 in Poole, England. The spell of hot weather was brought to an end last night on the South coast after a second week of heatwave conditions across the UK. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

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Lighting can stretch to a length of about 5 miles. The electricity from any one strike can spread to nearby areas through the conduit of water or some other medium like metal. In aggregate, the strikes come from electrostatic activity in the sky. After enough builds up, some will release in the form of lightning.

26. The Milky Way and some pyramids

The Milky Way is our galaxy. Technically, it is what cosmologists call a barred spiral galaxy. All this really means is that it has several distinct arms (in our case four) and is shaped in a spiral. What we see when we look this Milky Way is a neighboring arm in the galaxy.

milky way over pyramid and sphinx

Pxhere

In aggregate, our galaxy is around 100,000 light-years across. Just for clarification, that means that it would take light around 100,000 years to reach us. And, for further clarification, light travels at a speed of around 182,000 miles per second. So, that arm, despite being a part of our own galaxy, is still very, very far away.

27. Ball lightning

Ball lightning isn’t your typical lighting. Unlike that of the more regular persuasion, ball lightning lingers for longer in the air, and apparently explodes after it discharges its energy. The resultant air apparently smells like sulfur. The balls range in size from around that of a golf ball to that of a beach ball.

lightning strikes from the sky above town

Wikipedia

Similarly, these orbs can range in color from yellow to orange to purple and green. The electric spheres are reported to have been seen hovering off the ground and over ships. For scientists to better understand the phenomenon, it needs to be more predictable. As it stands, it is so infrequent as to have completely evaded study. This is a shame.

28. Cotton ball bats

Are these little cotton balls or bats? Well, if the title didn’t give it away, they are bats. And oh jeez aren’t they cute? These cotton ball bats, also called Honduran white bats, are one of the six species of bat that has completely white fur. Considering that there are a total of over 1,300 species of bat, that makes them quite rare.

bats in a leave

Wikipedia

These species live in tropical places like Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. They hide from the elements in these understory plants by cutting into their stem with their teeth. These tents help to hide them from the rain. Unfortunately, this species is considered near-endangered because of extensive habitat destruction.

29. Supercells

Of the four major storm types, supercells are by far the most dangerous. What makes them so dangerous? This is the wind that churns within them. While the supercell is the rarest type of storm, it is also the most deadly. Some of them produce hail the size of golf balls, for instance. No fun.

a storm with a lightning striking

Wikipedia

Another dangerous thing to emerge from these storms is tornados. These can range from weak to violent. What separates these supercells from other types of thunderstorms is the way that wind works within them. In these, the wind swells upwards and feeds the cyclone. This actually causes it to grow. Yikes.

30. Sad elephant

What do you do if your parent doesn’t buy you that lollipop? Well, you pout of course. And that appears to be exactly what this little elephant is doing. He just happens to be far more willing to get dirty than either you or I would. Or maybe you would. It is uncertain. All we know is that this elephant is upset about something—maybe several things.

Baby elephant enjoying a roll in the red earth mud of Africa while the hot sun shines down.

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This cute, little trait reminds us that elephants are very close to humans in our capacity for human-like things. Whether it be monogamy, empathy, or tantruming when you don’t get what you want, elephants are far more similar to us than you may have believe. Next time you had better think about that.

31. A tornado in Austin

The year was 1922. It was a warm day in May and everything seem to be normal. Then, the weather took a turn for the worse. It wasn’t long before things got bad: the winds started to pick up, and tornado warnings began to ring throughout the town. But things only escalated.

a tornado emerges over a building in black and white

Wikimedia Commons

Not long after, a tornado broke out. Then, not long after that, another follow suit. The tornados ripped through the local towns, tearing up buildings, cars, and roads. The disaster is considered one of the worst to have ever struck Austin, Texas. Somehow, someone had managed to capture a photo in the midst of all the chaos.

32. The Milky Way

We live in one of the most beautiful places in the universe: the Milky Way Galaxy. Here, we see one of its neighboring arms. Taken at the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, this photo shows what you can see when the light pollution from neighboring towns doesn’t exist. The result, as you can see, is stunning.

Long exposure for the night sky combined with a shorter exposure for the pyramids.

Getty

Ultimately, when light enters the atmosphere, it spreads out. This diffusion of energy blurs and obfuscates the light traveling from those distant objects to us. Because of this, our vision of the distant stars is blunted in cities and the surrounding towns. But when we move into the vast expanses of unpopulated desert (as seen here), you get quite a different picture.

33. Deep sea jellyfish

Jellyfish are some of the weirdest creatures on Earth. They have no central nervous system, no skeleton, and a bunch of tentacles that makes them creepy beyond reason. Moreover, many of them are deadly beyond reason, inducing paralysis in the seas. The result could be death.

jellyfish in the sea looking green

Pxhere

Regardless, jellyfish are something to induce wonder. Their gelatinous nature makes them not only something to look at, but something peculiar to have wash up on beaches. You will want to avoid these thing. If you try to tussle with one, the result with be an unfortunate number of stings. Seeing as how this isn’t something you want, you’d best stay away. 

34. A Chilean eruption

Here, we have a volcano that got a little too temperamental. This particular volcano, the Calbuco Volcano, exists within the borders of a National Preserve. Once this thing erupted, it shot globs of volcanic expectorant into the surrounding preserve. Fortunately, most of the people who live in the surrounding region were evacuated prior to the eruption.

After 42 years sleeping, Calbuco Volcano woke up. I was so happy and shocked to be there when it started.

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Because of this, there were no deaths related to the eruption. This particular eruption goes down as one of the most substantial to have ever happened off the coast of the Pacific Ocean. And for that, it goes down in history. Thank good no one was hurt.

35. A spider’s foot

Here, we have something that you might not have suspected—a spider’s foot. The disgusting appendage, however, is viewed from an extremely close angle. And because of this, it looks particularly disguising. The implement that enabled this loathsome view is the electron microscope. While the thing is responsible for numerous medical discoveries, it is also responsible for these.

a leg under an electron microscope

FreeStockPhotos

An electron microscope use electrons to recreate an image. In total, theses tools can magnify objects up to around two-million times their actual size. The primary thing that scientists use these microscopes to view are things like cells and small animals (like insects). The result is sometimes contemptuous stuff like this.

36. The baobab tree

Sometimes nature will throw us a curve ball. In this case, that curve ball was a tree. But not just any tree: this tree is endemic to only a few locations. One of the more fun of these locations is the island of Madagascar off the coast of southern Africa. This place has an abundance of beautiful things.

a giant tree that looks funny

Wikipedia

Madagascar has an abundance of such peculiarities. It also home to several unique species of lemur, and old world monkey that exists solely on the small island. But other than Madagascar, the trees can also be found in other parts of Africa and even in Australia. While the trees take on a slightly different appearance in these different locations, they are still something to be looked at.

37. Ice clouds and thunder storms

Here, we have a unique phenomena. Caused by ice clouds (that is, a cloud containing microscopic pieces of ice), the phenomena painted the skies with beautiful shares of pink, yellow, and blue. The high moisture content of the clouds allows them to encourage thunder and lightning.

Supercell Thunderstorm on the Great Plains, Tornado Alley, USA

Getty

Here, the phenomena happened primarily off the coasts of Queensland, Australia. The place had an abnormally hot summer. The result was a weird build-up of ice and warmth. The clouds are also found on Mars. The clouds over there are, however, are composed of cold carbon dioxide. These might be the clouds we get if we continue to let our Earth succumb to global warming.