5 Recently Solved Animal Mysteries That Prove We Know Nothing

As humans, we think we’re pretty smart. Just look at all the buildings, technology and weapons we’ve created. Mother Nature has a way of quietly putting us in our place, however. She constantly reminds us that although we know millions of facts about thousands of species, we really don’t know squat.

Even some of the most recognizable and most-loved animals on the planet are embroiled in mysteries that science has only just begun to unravel. Don’t believe me? Here are five amazing things we only just figured out about animals that most of us could name in an instant.

5 Recently Solved Animal Mysteries That Prove We Know Nothing

zebra stripes

1. Zebra Stripes – Scientists have always assumed that zebra stripes were a sort of camouflage (it was thought that when the zebra was running, the stripes helped to confused predators), but a new study has proven that theory less than credible. The research, published in late 2013, found that the stripes actually protect zebras against biting flies.

upside down spider

2. Ceiling-Walking Spiders – We’ve observed spiders climbing up vertical walls and even upside down across ceilings hundreds of times, but it was only recently that we figured out how arachnids perform this gravity-defying feat. In early 2014, scientists discovered that spiders have thousands of small hairs at the end of their legs. These “tiny hairs create multiple contact points between the spider and the surface that increase the spider’s ability to hang on,” writes Carrie Arnold for NatGeo.

orange coral

3. Pulsating Coral – We’ve been studying these incredibly important ocean creatures since the 19th century, but it was only recently that we figured out why many species pulsate–continually opening and closing their flower-like heads. With the help of an imaging device that allowed them to see down to the particle level, scientists learned that “the movement stops waste water from building up around the corals. They also found that the oxygen levels in the water around corals were kept low by the movement, increasing the efficiency of photosynthesis in algae that the corals use for food,” reports Listverse.

Cerataspis monstrosa

4. Baby Crustacean With No Parents – Babies look like miniature adult humans. Infant chickens, rabbits, horses and even elephants are the same. But for years, an oceanic creature first identified by a marine scientist in 1828 has baffled scientists by (apparently) only existing as larvae. Try as they might, scientists just couldn’t figure out what this monster larva matured into as an adult. It was late 2012 that collaborative research revealed that this larval creature with armor-like horns grows up (somewhat ironically) to be a shrimp.


5. Bumblebee Flight – Ahhh the bumble bee. We’ve all heard this insect held up as a metaphor for miracles. Although it was claimed that the bumble bee defies all laws of physics and shouldn’t be able to fly, “no one told the bee” or so the saying goes. Apparently, this was just a myth started by a researcher who judged the insect as if it were an airplane. Which it of course isn’t. The actual story of how bumble bees achieve liftoff is an incredible one involving lasers and tiny invisible hurricanes. And LOTS of physical laws, all of which remain unbroken.

All images via Thinkstock except for Cerataspis monstrosa, via D.L. Felder and FIU


Carrie-Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne Brownabout a year ago

thanks for sharing :)

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson2 years ago

Interesting about Zebra flies...

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

Thanks for the information! I learned several new things today!

Kate Yianakis
Kate Yianakis2 years ago

Lynda H, humans are very smart, that much is obvious. However, smart humans do the most horrific, unethical, destructive and selfish things. Since people do this while simultaneously being the most evolved and intelligent of all the species on the planet, then one can only wonder just how intelligent we really are as a species. Many scientists are actively engaged in trying to preserve the well being of the planet and all the species that live on it despite the actions of other humans that are resulting in destroying the planet and damaging many of the species that live on it. I respect the achievements of individuals, I enjoy the benefits of medicine science and engineering. However, there is no place for arrogance. Nature through evolution has already achieved what humans aspire towards. I think we need greater humility as a species. I also think the greatest achievement of human beings will be to find a way to overcome our own fundamental destructiveness as a species.

Teresa W.
Teresa W.2 years ago

Emmett, sometimes artists foresee things that haven't yet been discovered by science. This happens to science fiction writers, for example.

Teresa W.
Teresa W.2 years ago


Emmett M.
Emmett M.2 years ago

Um. I remember watching one of the old Spider Man films and they knew spiders walked with micro-hairs. Just a footnote.

John W.
.2 years ago

However, the title is just not true at all! It proves that science is self correcting.

John W.
.2 years ago

Fascinating :-)

Sylvie A.
Sylvie A.2 years ago

Nous savons vraiment très peu de choses...