The stonefish is a rare fish. It also haunts Indo-Pacific coastlines as one of the most venomous creatures in the world. In 2003, a pet stonefish died. As the owner was a researcher, the fish hit the dissection table instead of the local pet cemetery. It started 15 years of curiosity about the species.
In 2018, when a “switchblade” was found in its face, the same scientist unraveled the mechanism behind the feature. The whole thing was bizarre. In other fish, the lachrymal bone is solidly fixed underneath the eye as part of the skull. When a stonefish gets huffy, this spike shoots out in a 90-degree angle—on each cheek.
This is no mustache. The lachrymal bones are dangerously serrated. To activate the spines, the fish pulls on chewing muscles in the upper jaw. This rotates and locks the spine through a mechanism shaped like a roly-poly. One stonefish species upped the freaky factor. Centropogon australisfluoresces in two tones. While the head emits red light, the spikes have a green glow.
One of mankind’s most famous ancestors is Lucy. Found in 1974, she was an adult Australopithecus afarensis from Ethiopia. In 2000, a second one was found nearby. The female toddler was quickly dubbed “Lucy’s baby.” However, the child was the older fossil, having died around three million years ago, about 100,000 years before Lucy.
The youngster, renamed Selam, had the most complete set of A. afarensisfoot bones ever found. Scientists already knew the species walked upright like modern humans. Indeed, Selam’s foot and ankle anatomy was identical to those of people alive today. The unusual part was that the two species developed their feet differently.
While young (Selam died at age three), A. afarensis‘s big toe was more fingerlike. It probably helped them to cling to their parents and trees for safety. Selam’s heel was also more fragile than those of human children.
Even though young A. afarensis were less suited for walking upright, their feet were already designed for life on the ground. Only later would they grow the same strong heel bones present in humans from birth.
Culled From Listverse.com