Like many of you and, well, pretty much everyone, when I was younger I was introduced to the platypus, Australia’s strange aquatic mammal that looks like it’s made up of spare parts. I spent most of my childhood thinking, “well, that’s gotta be the strangest animal in the world.”
Can you blame me? Look at that thing. It’s got a duck’s bill, a beaver’s tail, and webbed feet. Plus it can release venom through spurs on its hind limbs during mating season. Even though these are all practical evolutionary aspects for the platypus’ habitat, it’s still a pretty crazy-looking animal. What child-me didn’t know yet was that the platypus isn’t even the weirdest thing living in Australia (They have five out of the top ten most venomous snakes!), not to mention the whole planet.
As we’re all aware, there’s a whole lot of strange and scary stuff in the ocean, including the Mantis Shrimp, and that’s just from what we actually know about. We have only discovered about 5% of the ocean, and it’s already scaring the pants off people. Our planet is 71% water, and who knows what’s out there?
On that note, I present this thing:
Mother Nature, you crazy.
This is a Pyura chilensis, which is also called a “living rock.” No, that’s not photoshop. Aside from looking like a rock filled with someone’s intestine, Pyrua chilensis is an animal that eats microorganisms by filtering them out of water it sucks in through its ground-beef-esque skin, and produces a rare mineral called vanadium. The local people of Chile and Peru put it in stews or even eat it raw. What?
If you’re asking yourself “What did I just read?” Congratulations, you are sane. I’m all for trying local cuisine in new and foreign places, but this is even a little out of my comfort zone. Plus tourists describe it as “bitter” and “soapy” and “having a weird Iodine flavor.” So yeah, not on my list of snacks at the moment.