Thanks to the work of zoologists and wildlife biologists, we learn new things about animals everyday. Some of these discoveries are amazing, while others go on to haunt your dreams.
Here are six bizarre animal facts you may not have known:
1. If kicks could kill
The ostrich is the largest bird species in the world. While evolution has rendered the ostrich unable to fly away from predators, this flightless bird is equipped with powerful legs for sprinting and kicking. If provoked, an ostrich could kick with enough force to kill a human or an attacking lion.
2. Voltron of the sea
To the untrained eye, the Portuguese-man-of-war looks just like a bluish jellyfish. But this venomous menace is actually a colony of organisms. The man-of-war consists of four components: a gas-filled bladder that sits above the water; long venom-covered tentacles that can measure up to 30 feet; a polyp that draws in and digests prey and; a last polyp that contains its reproductive system. Take care to avoid even dead, washed up man-of-wars on the beach as they can still pack a powerful sting.
3. Hungry like the wolf
These carnivorous members of the dog family famously hunt in packs and can cover large swaths of territory in a day. After a successful hunt, an adult wolf can devour up to 20 pounds -- the equivalent of two bowling balls -- of elk, deer or moose meat in one sitting. When large game is scarce, wolves have been known to settle for smaller mammals, snakes or even fruit.
4. What big eyes you have!
They don't call the giant squid "giant" for nothing. Giant squids can weigh an average of 440 pounds and measure up to 33 feet long. The largest ever found weighed nearly a ton, with eyes the size of beach balls. What little we know about these deep-sea dwellers has been gleaned from studying the huge carcasses that have washed up ashore. What we do know is that they ensnare prey with their eight long tentacles, covered with suction cups, lined with teeth -- all the better to eat you with.
5. Don't mess with the king
Averaging about 13 feet from head to tail, the king cobra is the longest venomous snake in the world. These regal reptiles are actually shy, preferring to hide when humans are around unless cornered. However, they are extremely aggressive when provoked and pack a bite with enough neurotoxin to dispatch 20 humans or a grown elephant.
6. Drink your calories
Tarantulas are surely the subject of many a nightmare, but they are generally harmless to humans. These mostly innocuous arachnids usually dine on other insects, but have been known to feast on toads or mice. Tarantulas inject their prey with a debilitating venom, but finish them off with their fangs. They then release digestive enzymes to turn their victims into smoothies and suck them up with their straw-like mouths.