If you paid attention in school, you most likely know some of the animals that live in the Arctic. There are birds, seals, and of course, polar bears. But what about hairy crabs, horned whales, and creepy crawly bugs that also call the Arctic Circle home?
And then there are the critters that inhabit Antarctica. It may be on the other side of the world, but it also features extreme climate conditions and some crazy animals.
Just like wild creatures found in Florida or any other region, Antarctic and Arctic species are pretty varied. While some animals may also have relatives in other parts of the world, polar animals have adapted many physical abilities that allow them to thrive in their extreme environments. From being able to control their own heartbeats and metabolism to creating a body fluid that acts like antifreeze, scary animals in the Arctic and Antarctic are also pretty amazing.
So what weird and creepy animals of the Arctic and Antarctic have you possibly missed learning about? You'll have to read on to find out.
This crazy looking marine creature could only survive in two places: your worst nightmare and the Antarctic Ocean. Luckily it's confined to the ocean for now. It also goes by the descriptive title of "bristle worm."
The worm's fringe might seem bizarre, but its bristles help the creature crawl along the ocean floor, swim, and sometimes even defend itself against predators. Because it has sharp teeth, researchers believe the worm is a carnivore, and that it can possibly extend its jaws to catch its prey. To make things even weirder, the part that looks like its head is actually its throat.
Ice worms are related to leeches and earthworms, and these creepy crawlers are well adapted to life in the cold. They are able to regulate their body temperature so their insides don't freeze. They burrow deep into the surfaces of glaciers and tend to hide there during the day, since they run the risk of dying in warmer temperatures.
If you've ever tried walking on ice, you know it's quite easy to slip. Ice worms, however, transport themselves across and through glaciers by using small bristles on the outside of their bodies to grip the ice and give themselves some traction. And they're pretty good at it too, traveling up to 10 feet per hour across icy surfaces.
The creature thought to have inspired the mythical Kraken has rightfully earned a spot on any creepy animal list. It was long thought to be legendary, since the colossal squid is extremely elusive and tends to live at relatively deep depths around Antarctica. In fact, it wasn't discovered to be real until 1925, when giant tentacles were found in the belly of a whale. In 2003, an almost-intact squid was found, and humanity had to wait until 2007 for someone to capture one on video.
One thing that differentiates a colossal squid from a giant squid (aside from the size) is the presence of swiveling hooks inside the suckers on a colossal squid's tentacles. These hooks are apparently pretty nasty too, as many sperm whales have been found with horrible scars, presumably dealt to them by a colossal squid. If the terrifying hooks aren't enough to creep you out, a colossal squid also has the biggest eyes of any creature on Earth.
For a long time, bowhead whales were considered Earth's longest-lived vertebrate animal, with some living to be over 200 years old. But a Greenland shark suddenly became the new record holder as scientists estimated one shark's age at around 400 years. They're also some of the world's largest carnivores and among the most successful predators in Arctic waters.
Unfortunately, those long lives aren't always healthy ones. Worm-like parasites called copepods attach themselves to the shark's eyes and devour them. A Greenland shark may live for many years, but it will likely end up blind.