By Russell Miller
The Barreleye, a bizarre deep-sea fish (below 2,000 feet), is solid black except for its translucent tail fin and crystal clear skull. The two circular objects near the mouth of its transparent head are not eyes but chemical sensors. Its green-glowing night-vision eyes are perched on movable stalks and stare upwards most of the time as the fish hovers motionless. These stalks can rotate, allowing this animal to search for prey above, then angle forward to lock onto its target when in pursuit. It steals prey from jellyfish and siphonophores’ tentacles (like plucking berries from a bush) occasionally eating the jellyfish themselves.
ODDLY ENOUGH … The clear, fluid-filled shield and “cockpit” of a head protects these amazing eyes from the stinging cells of the jellies and siphonophorae that it lives on.
The Olm is an aquatic, exclusively cave-dwelling animal found in limestone caves in Southeastern Europe and Slovenia, among other places. As if its strange bottle-shaped head isn’t unique enough, this animal sports three toes on its forelegs and two on its rear and has no fixed number of vertebrae. It has acute senses of hearing and smell although it is blind. Its skin (which is so translucent that the internal organs can be seen through it) detects light, which it shuns. It is sensitive to magnetic fields, including the Earth’s. Olms eat crabs, insects, and snails, and have been known to grow up to 16 inches in length. They retain larval characteristics throughout their adult lives … which can last 70 years or more.
ODDLY ENOUGH … Controlled experiments have proven that the olm can survive up to 10 years with no food intake at all.
Russell Miller is an illustrator, cartoonist, writer, bagpiper, motorcycle enthusiast, and reference librarian. Currently, he illustrates books for Cody Lundin and Bart King.