Teacher’s Pets: The Stuff Animals Can Do That We Never Could

Humans can build hovercrafts, explore space and solve complex quadratic equations. Animals can’t even put on a hat! But they do have some other enviable abilities...

21 things animals can teach us

Birds Can See Colours We Can’t
No matter how clever the photography app or which type of filter we use, we’ll never be able to see more of the world than birds, since they have access to a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that isn’t visible to the human eye. This is because they have extra colour cones in their retinas, which are sensitive to the ultraviolet range. They can therefore see colours we never will, and subtle differences in each other that we can’t even comprehend.

Jellyfish Can Live Forever
Once the “immortal jellyfish” (who most of us obviously know as the Turritopsis nutricula) reaches its adult size (4.5 millimetres long) and has reproduced, rather than getting into gardening and moaning about “the youth,” it does a Benjamin Button and reverses its ageing process. Retracting its tentacles, it sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor and starts the cycle of life again, without actually perishing. Like afternoons reruns of Columbo, it then repeats, well, forever.

Amphibians Can Regenerate Limbs
Prosthetic science is a progressive wonder, producing life-enhancing miracles for humans every day. Axolotls—AKA, Mexican salamanders—take this idea to the next level, though: Their immune system is programmed to re-construct their limbs from scratch, replacing the lost appendage as if it was never gone. Handy! Or foot-y, it depends.

Octopuses Can Shape-Shift
Fashionista octopuses can change the exterior colour of their skin whenever they like. But the “mimic octopus” takes things up a notch, physically reforming itself in an instant to mimic different predators, including sole, lionfish, jellyfish and sea snakes. Meanwhile, we only have two legs, and we still manage to trip over one of them.

Chameleons Can See 360 Degrees
Human sight is a pretty incredible thing, covering approximately 50 to 60 degrees horizontally and 50 to 70 degrees vertically. Sure, eyes in the backs of our heads might be nice, but overall, we’re doing alright. Chameleons, however, never miss a thing: They have a unique eye anatomy, which means they see all around in full 360 degrees. They’ve also got the ability to swap between monocular and binocular vision, should they want to view objects with one or two eyes at a time. Surely the whole colour-changing thing was enough, you show-offs?