Humans like to think that they are the most impressive species in the world, but we are a species that enjoys its comforts. As a species, we look for life (and the possibility to live) beyond our planet, only to find that it is not a viable option, but there are many places on Earth where we can also not survive. Humans do not thrive in extreme temperatures, we cannot breathe underwater for much more than three minutes, and have to acclimatize when reaching high elevations. However, there are many other creatures which thrive in places that humans clearly could not, and they don’t need moderate temperatures, and in some instances, they don’t even need oxygen.
At an elevation of 6,700 meters on the Himalayan Mountains, a jumping spider exists, even though its prey cannot live so high up, and on the opposite end of the scale, there are deep sea sharks and fish that live in the dark depths of the ocean, surrounded by complete darkness.
It is remarkable the way so many species have adapted to survive in conditions that are extremely acidic, harsh and cold, or arid and deserted, and below are 25 of these unusual, and very resilient animals, that exist where few other things can.
25 Tardigrades Are Perhaps The Most Resilient Creatures Alive
The Tardigrade is a remarkable, resilient creature, which is able to survive in some of the most extreme conditions. In fact, according to LiveScience, they can even live in outer space.
This microscopic animal (they range from 0.05 millimeters to 1.2 mm) was discovered in 1773 by a German zoologist who nicknamed them "little water bears,” and cute nicknames aside, the tardigrades really is an animal that exists where nothing else can. According to LiveScience, experiments have shown tardigrades living in minus 200°C, and extreme highs of 148.9°C.
24 The Blobfish May Not Be Attractive, But It Is Fascinating
The blobfish is a fish that will definitely not be making any lists about the most beautiful animals in the world (actually, Smithsonian notes that it topped the poll for being earth’s most unattractive species), but it deserves recognition for an entirely different reason; it is able to live in the deep waters of the sea. The blobfish is rarely seen but can be found in seas off southern Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand, and according to IFLScience, they live in depths of 600 to 1,200 meters beneath the waves.
23 Only The Female Angler Fish Lures Her Prey With A FleshLight
The deep sea angler fish looks as though it belongs in a horror film because of its unusual appearance, but this appearance is designed to attract prey. At the bottom of the sea, where there is no light, the anglerfish can be found, using its lure tipped with luminous flesh to attract its prey, National Geographic reports.
This lure is actually only found on the female anglerfish, and the publication notes that males act as a parasitic mate, latching onto the female from a young age and eventually fusing with her body and connecting into her bloodstream.
22 The Frilled Shark Is Scary Looking And Can Exist At Depths Of More Than 4,000 Feet
Another unusual deep sea fish is the frilled shark (although its appearance resembles a snake more than a shark). It is not often that humans will catch a glimpse of this creature, as it lives on depths between 390 and 4200 feet, and according to Mental Floss, it was first discovered in the 19th Century.
It differs from other sharks because of its gills, and unlike other shark species, it has separate gills. But, one similarity that it does have to other sharks is it can give one heck of a bite, which is not surprising since it has a mouth of 300 teeth.
21 Golden Jellyfish Have A Symbiotic Relationship With Algae In One Special Lake
There is a lake in Palau, on the island of Eil Malk, referred to as Jellyfish Lake because it is home to golden jellyfish -- although in recent years scientists have warned that these jellyfish are disappearing.
According to National Geographic, these jellyfish need sunshine to exist, as it is vital for nourishing the algae-like organisms known as zooxanthellae. Interestingly, Discover Magazine notes the golden jellyfish have evolved to have a “symbiotic relationship with algae that live in their tissues," and the jellyfish rely on photosynthesis created by the algae.
20 The Greenland Shark Is Rarely Seen As It Lives In Great Depths In The Cold Water
The Greenland sharks have been found to live for several centuries, and according to IFL Science, they are native to the waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic. These sharks are some of the largest sharks in the world, and can grow as long as 6.4 meters and weigh more than 1,000 kgs (although it's more common for them to be less than half that weight), Oceanwide Expeditions reports.
They are uncommon to see, and the publication notes this is because they are able to dive to depths of 2,200 meters.
19 The Mickey Mouse Squid Is Interesting For A Lot More Than Its Appearance
The Nectoteuthis pourtalesi squid is commonly referred to as the Mickey Mouse squid (it almost looks as though it has the same shaped head as the cartoon character) and can be found at the depths of the sea.
Sea Life Base notes that the species is distributed in the Western Atlantic, and according to National Geographic, the Mickey Mouse squid lives close to the seafloor. It was first discovered on a canyon wall, around 3,000 feet below the surface.
18 Wood Frogs Are Able To Almost Completely Freeze In The Harsh Alaskan Winter
The wood frogs in Alaska do not live near water, instead, they can be found in grassland, open forest, and tundra, The Alaska Herpetological Society reports. When looking at this frog, you may not think it’s nothing special or all that different from regular frogs, but you'd be wrong, because it has the ability to withstand extreme cold. They do this by almost freezing solid in the winter, although they produce a natural antifreeze within their cells, which stops them from freezing completely.
17 One Species Of Snailfish Lives In Water Pressure Akin To 1,600 Elephants Standing On Its Head
The deep sea is home to many mysterious creatures, and among the ones that live the deepest, darkest part of the sea is the snailfish, or more specifically, the type of marina snailfish known as Pseudoliparis swirei. According to National Geographic, this species was caught at 7,966 meters in the Mariana Trench.
The snailfish is translucent and relatively small, but it is a fish that’s of great interest because the publication reveals it’s able to live in depths that have a water pressure akin to 1,600 elephants standing on its head.
16 The Hairy Crab Can Be Found On A 3,000 Feet Deep Seamount
When we think of crustaceans, we don’t typically imagine them being covered in “hair,” but then again, the hairy crab (scientifically referred to as Trichopeltarion janetae) is not your typical crab. The deepwater crab most commonly exists in habitats off Eastern New Zealand and is covered in long brown setae (a hair-like structure).
According to National Geographic, this small crustacean was found on a 3,000-foot-deep seamount and has only ever been located on seamounts in New Zealand and southern Australia.
15 The Iridescent Appearance Of The Polychaete Worm Is Spectacular
The Polychaete worm, or bristle worm as it’s often referred to, are well-adapted to their marine habitat and according to Smithsonian, there are more than 10,000 species of these worms,
They can be found in many different places of the ocean, including deep hydrothermal vents and coral reefs, but let’s focus specifically on those that reside at the depths of the ocean. According to National Geographic, this worm has a rainbow glow and was found 3,900 feet below the ocean’s surface on a muddy seafloor near northern New Zealand.
14 The Pompeii Worm Is The Most Heat Tolerant Creature Among Higher Order Life Forms
The oceans are home to some of the most fascinating and unusual creatures, and this includes the deep-sea worm known as the Pompeii worm. The fuzzy pink and gray creature is covered in red tentacles-like gills which it breathes through (they are red because of the presence of hemoglobin, Extreme Marine reports). And according to Montgomery College, this worm “ranks as the most heat-tolerant among higher-order life forms.”
The animal thrives at extreme temperatures and can be found on hydrothermal vents systems, reaching up to 80°C.
13 The Thorny Devil Is Highly Adapted To It's Arid Environment
The thorny devil lizard (which gets its name thanks to the densely packed spikes it’s covered in) lives in arid conditions in the Australian Outback, and to deal with the extreme weather it has become highly adapted; its scales are able to absorb water -- Mental Floss compares the process of using blotting paper.
Their scales, or more specifically the grooves between their thorns, allow them to collect dew that condenses on their bodies at night, or from brushing against grass and then runs down into their mouth, Wired reports.
12 There Are Sharks That Are Able To Withstand The Heat And Acidity Of An Active Underwater Volcano
When you think of a volcano, you probably think of an opening in the Earth’s crust spewing lava, but volcanoes don’t just exist above ground, but also at the depths of the ocean. And, interestingly, this is the place that some sharks call their home. According to National Geographic, during an expedition, researchers found sharks (hammerheads and silky sharks) living inside an active underwater volcano called Kavachi, located in the Pacific Ocean.
The interesting thing about this discovery is that this volcano seems to be an unlikely place for sharks to thrive due to the extreme temperatures and acidity. Researchers are now dedicated to finding out how these sharks are able to live here, and why.
11 The Texas Blind Salamander Lives In Caves Filled With Water
The Texas blind salamander is listed as endangered but can be found in caves filled with water in the Edwards Aquifer in Hays County, Texas. According to Discover Magazine, this salamander is rare because it has neither eyes nor skin pigment (note it's unusual coloring).
Texas Parks and Wildlife notes that this salamander has adapted to living underground, where it searches for food. In fact, it’s an impressive predator which uses its senses to catch its prey, which includes small snails and shrimps.
10 The Alfred Blind Skink Is Believed To Live Underground
The blind skink is, as the name suggests, a blind species of lizard. And in addition to its lack of eyesight, the blind slink also has no legs. The Alfred blind skink species are legless and eyeless and are native to Thailand, Malaysia, and Nias. According to Thai National Parks, it can be found in altitudes up to 1000 meters. But what makes this creature particularly interesting is also that it lives underground, Mental Floss reports.
According to the publication, the species has come to have no eyes and legs due to evolution, and prefers to stay underground -- and you don’t hear of an underground lizard every day!
9 The Himalayan Jumping Spider Exists At An Elevation Where Not Even Its Prey Can Live
You hardly expect to see anything living high altitudes, like the top of the Himalayan Mountains, but this is where the Himalayan Jumping Spider exists. According to Wildlife Articles, this spider is found regularly at elevations of up to 6,700 meters, and even more interesting is that it survives where it’s prey does not.
So, how does it eat? According to the publication, the spider is an opportunistic feeder and relies on insects being brought up the mountain with wind currents.
8 Lake Natron Is So Salty It's Devoid Of Much Animal Life But One Species Of Fish Thrives Here
Lake Natron has got a bit of a reputation for turning animals into stone, which is not entirely true because they are not turned to stone but rather calcified due to the sodium bicarbonate of the waters. This lake is uninhabitable for most species, although a species of tilapia thrives here.
According to Boing Boing, the fish feed off the algae along the shorelines of the lake and have adapted to the salt content and heat within this body of water.
7 The Pink Land Iguana Are Found In A Small Radius On An Active Volcano
The Galápagos islands are home to the pink land iguana, a lizard species that are rare and endangered, with as little as 200 remaining. The Galapagos Conversation website notes that the pink island iguana (it is pink due to a lack of pigment in its skin) is also one of the oldest species of iguana and a different species to other land iguanas.
According to Discover Magazine, their habitat is limited to a 25 square kilometer region on the Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island. This volcano is still active.
6 The Red Flat Bark Beetle Is Able To Produce An AntiFreeze Protein To Withstand Extreme Cold
When we think of beetles, we typically think of them being black or brown in coloring, but the red flat bark beetle is, as its name suggests, a bright red color. These beetles can be found in forested habitats of northern North America, and they are able to survive at extreme temperatures during the winter months, as low as -100°C, Conserve Prince William reports.
The beetles live under the bark of trees but are able to withstand the cold thanks to an antifreeze protein, and according to Roaring Earth, this allows them to get rid of around 30 to 40 percent of their body water, and retain the rest.