Rain pours down after a long, hot, dry season on the Australian grasslands. It soaks the ground. Soon, the mud starts to move. Insects come out and start looking for food. A ping-pong-ball-shaped frog called a crucifix frog wakes from a long sleep. She digs her way to the surface. The cross-shaped pattern on her body stands out. The insects spot her and attack.
Luckily, the crucifix frog has a special adaptation. She releases a sticky goo from her skin. The insects stick to the goo. She will soon shed, or slough off, her skin. Then she’ll gobble up the old skin—glue, insects, and all.
These tiny crucifix frogs
have skin so sticky, flies
get stuck to it.
A yellow ribbon flicks in the air. It is a forked tongue attached to the drooling mouth of a 3-meter- (10-foot-) long lizard. It’s a Komodo dragon on the hunt in a lush Indonesian forest.
A Komodo dragon’s drool is full of bacteria that can easily kill.
Komodos have developed extreme adaptations for hunting. A Komodo dragon’s tongue helps it taste the air to find prey. Its strong, jagged teeth can tear through large animals, like deer and water buffalo. But it’s the drool, oozing over its tongue and teeth, that is its secret weapon.
Komodo dragon mouths are teeming with deadly bacteria. Rotten meat trapped between the teeth of the lizard feed more than 50 different kinds of bacteria. At least seven are deadly to most animals!
Komodos also have venom in their saliva. It prevents blood from clotting, which means bite wounds won’t heal. So, a single Komodo bite delivers a poisonous mix of bacteria and venom. After biting its prey, the dragon follows it and waits for it to die. Then dinner is served.
A “worm” wiggles over a coral reef. A passing fish swims up to swallow it. Faster than the blink of an eye, the fish is sucked into the mouth of a frogfish.
Frogfish have three approaches to hunting. First, they are masters of disguise. Some look like rocks or sponges. Others look like seaweed. They blend in, unseen by passing fish.
Second, frogfish have built-in fishing poles. A long spine on their backs reaches up and over their heads with a lure. It looks like a worm or fly. Frogfish wiggle their lures to draw unsuspecting fish.
Third, frogfish can inflate their bodies 12 times their normal size. This creates a pressure that they use to suck in prey like a vacuum cleaner. It happens so fast that a single fish can be sucked out of a school unnoticed.
A frogfish’s vacuum-like mouth can suck in prey faster than you can blink.