Everything in nature has a purpose. No matter how strange an animal may look to us, there is a reason why it is made the way it is and behaves the way it does. In fact, many of the oddest-looking animals are among the most successful animals on earth. Some of them have strange structures on their bodies to help them get food. Others use peculiar colors and shapes to help them find a mate. And many animals use shapes and colors to keep other animals from fighting with them or eating them.

Hunt

There are nearly as many ways to hunt as there are animals who prey. Some chase their prey; some lie in wait for it; some trap it. There are frogs that can actually leap out of the water and catch flying birds. Snapping turtles lie on the muddy water-bottom, coming to life only long enough to snatch whatever happens to swim by. An insect called the ant lion builds a funnel of sand to trap ants: the more the ant struggles to escape, the more than sand crumbles under its feet. The ant slides down and down—and the ant lion catches it.

Eat

The favorite food of robber crabs is coconuts. The crabs will climb more than 50 feet up the trunks of palm trees to get coconuts to eat. They cut off the coconuts with their gigantic pincers. The pincers are so strong they can bend metal! The aye-aye of Madagascar uses its extra-long finger to pry bugs out of small holes in trees or get the yolk out of eggs. Honeypot ants love—you guessed it!—honey. They store it in the bodies of some of their colony members, who are hung on their nest walls like storage jars.

Multiply

We will never run out of animal wonders because animals know how to stay alive and preserve themselves for the next generation. They do this in all the ways you might guess—running or flying away or hiding—but they even have specialized ways of combating problems other than predators. In tropical parts of the world, for example, some ants survive natural disasters like floods by balling themselves into a squirming mass and floating to safety. The ball rolls over and over in the water so all the ants get a chance to breathe.

Habitat

Turn around outdoors, and you will see some kind of animal wonder. From the hermit crabs who carry sea anemones on their backs for protection under the water, to the turtles laying their eggs on sandy beaches, to the strange-faced monkeys swinging in the trees and the birds and insects flying through the air, animal wonders are everywhere.

Survival Status

Green Light. Some animals are in danger, of course, like the red-faced uakari (a South American monkey). Because of this we can never give up our concern for the uniqueness of individual species. But uniqueness itself is not in danger. As long as there are creatures like the tree-climbing mudskipper fish and hundred-foot whales that survive on fingernail-size plankton, we are assured of living in a world of animal wonders and delights