In the animal kingdom, birds and bats are the only animals blessed with the innate ability to soar the skies. But mother nature had a couple of tricks up her sleeves, because now there are creatures who have developed the ability to become airborne, even if only for a few seconds. Evolution has proved that animals will do whatever it takes when it comes to survival, and this list is clear proof of that. From amphibians and reptiles to cephalopods and arachnids, here are a couple of animals that you didn’t know could fly.
1. Flying snakes
Here in the West, we’d lose our minds at the sight of snakes flying in our direction. Luckily for us, these snakes are only found in Southeast Asia. No, they don’t actually fly but can sustain a steady flight by flattening their body into a “pseudo concave wing” that’s C-shaped and allows them to glide across short distances. These skilled aerialists use this unique ability to quickly ambush their prey such as lizards, rodents, birds and frogs. And if you’re still scared, then take solace in knowing that humans are not part of their menu.
2. Flying squid
So you’re sailing off the coast of Japan when a squid suddenly leaps out of the water, seemingly flying. That would be the Japanese flying squid and they are able to glide across the ocean, covering as much as 11.2 meters in just a second. They do this by propelling their bodies out of the water at high speeds, then spreading and extending their fins and arms into a vertical position to keep their body airborne. Scientists theorize that this behavior is a defense mechanism as the poor squids are simply trying to not become someone else’s meal!
3. Ballooning spiders
Spiders are scary enough on their own, but what about those that can “fly?” Sounds like a reason to burn down the house and never look back. But despite their names, this light species of spiders does not actually balloon up, rather they release their silk threads at high altitudes that, once caught in the wind, acts like a sort of parachute, so they can soar from one point to another. What makes this ability unique is that it’s externally powered and in rare cases, they’re capable of traveling hundreds of kilometers.
4. Chinese flying frog
Chinese flying frogs or Blanford’s whipping frogs spend the majority of their time in trees. In fact, the only time they come down is for breeding purposes. That’s why these large frogs have evolved to save energy by gliding instead of hopping to their destination, allowing them to cover a lot more distance in a single trip. It’s thanks to their uniquely shaped webbed hands and feet that this is possible. When they leap, the frog extends its limbs outward, enabling them to gently glide downward to the forest floor.
5. Draco lizards
Draco lizards are appropriately named because they really do look like mini dragons when they take flight. Evolution has gifted these tiny lizards with distinct features including elongated ribs and the patagia which are basically flaps along the sides of their body and under their neck. Without these, they wouldn’t be able to achieve flight, with some having attained an impressive record of 50 meters! They do this for a number of reasons but mainly to find mates and meals, to protect their territory and of course, to avoid predators.
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