So theatrical, so blazing with color, so much larger than life—are we talking about Lady Gaga or a sea slug?
Despite being one of the most creatively outfitted performers of all time, Lady Gaga has some competition in the animal world. Nature’s show-stoppers include everything from insects with balls on their head to psychedelic frogfish. And unlike people, these animals don’t need outfits to look outrageous.
Yes, the globe-bearing treehopper is real.
A globe-bearing treehopper seen in French Guyana in 2005. Photograph by Patrick Landmann, Getty Images
But don’t take our links for it. Look it up: Bocydium globulare. We don’t blame you for being suspicious: It’s not every day you see an insect that looks exactly like an instrument to measure wind speed.
The globe-bearing treehopper is native to northern South America, feeds on the underside ofglory bushes, and what those mesmerizing balls are for is anybody’s guess. One theory is that its hairy balls may capture air vibrations when any predators approach and thus warn the insect of danger.
“I sometimes imagine,” treehopper expert Geoff Balme wrote on his blog, “that much in our world is possible simply because there are no natural objections to it.”
Thankfully, nature has seen fit to grow these incredible insects to be only about a third of an inch long (7.5 millimeters). Imagine if they were the size of, well, a pop star?
We have, actually: Lada Gaga’s flying dress looks a lot like a globe-bearing treehopper painted white.
Fried Egg Jellyfish
Everybody loves a sequel. Since Gaga arrived at the 2011 Grammy Awards in an egg, she could take the next step and return in a costume based on the fried egg or egg yolk jellyfish. (Lady Gaga has taken inspiration from animals before—lobster, deer, and Kermit the Frog among them.)
A fried egg jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea off Spain. Photograph by Scfotos, Stuart Crump Visuals/Alamy
True, from one angle these jellyfish look like your breakfast hopped into the water and is making a swim for it, but from the side Cotylorhiza tuberculata is colorful, elegant, and would make a terrific hoop skirt.
On its underside it has eight folds of flesh called lappets, and attached to these are tentacles of varying lengths. Dashes of vivid blue and purple decorate the tips of tentacles between its oral arms—long, delicate appendages that help jellies catch prey.
If they were fried eggs, they’d have to be ostrich eggs—these jellies measure nearly a foot (0.3 meter) wide and are found mainly in the Mediterranean and sometimes the Adriatic and Aegean seas.
Bonus: Unlike most jellyfish, the fried egg is able to guide itself and doesn’t need to go with currents—very much like creative artists.
This dazzling psychedelic frogfish has something to teach pop stars hounded by paparazzi: Despite being visually stunning and having dodgy steering, it managed to elude not only cameras but all of humanity for centuries.
Psychedelic frogfish in Indonesia’s Banda Sea. Photograph by Waterframe, Alamy
The fish did this by squeezing into coral crevices and avoiding detection until 2008, when divers spotted one in the harbor of Ambon Island, Indonesia.
Scientists confirmed it as a new species in 2009, and Ted Pietsch, curator of fishes at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, named the creatureHistiophryne psychedelica in honor of its far-out coloration.
The animal also navigates like it’s a little high: Its curved tail gives it a swerving trajectory that Pietsch called “intoxicated,” quipping that the fish “should be cited for DUI.” (Related: “Psychedelic Fish Bounces Like a Ball.”)
H. psychedelia is also an anglerfish, but it sets itself apart by not having the characteristic lure coming out of its head and not changing its wavy peach, beige, and white colors.
These funky fish also have forward-looking eyes, like humans (fish usually have eyes on either side of their heads and see different things with each one).
Extravagant and forward-looking: Are there any better qualifications for a pop star wardrobe?
The Gunnison sage-grouse is a turkey-like bird that’s probably more wonderfully outfitted and a better dancer than many human entertainers. The bird uses the U.S. West—including parts of Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico—as a stage. The weirdness of this bird’s mating display is so exceptional that if you click the link once, be warned: You’ll want to hit repeat.
A male Gunnison sage-grouse performing a courtship display. Photograph by Charles Melton/Alamy
Moreover, its appearance—long, wide, fluffy white collar; elaborate burst of tail feathers; a posh headdress; and two yellow air sacs on the chest that not only inflate during the dance but also make a popping sound—is perfectly Gaga.
That anything this outlandish exists and doesn’t have job in the music industry is too bad, but it’s sadder still that it might not be performing forever. The Gunnison sage-grouse, Centrocercus minimus, is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
The term “sea slug” might not conjure images of candy-colored animals with graceful mobility and seemingly impossible variations, but nudibranchs have all those things: Check out this incredible photo gallery by National Geographic photographer David Doubilet.
A Bornella anguilla sea slug in Cebu, Philippines. Photograph by Waterframe, Alamy
These marine invertebrates can be tiny (less than an inch [2.5 centimeters] long) or big (up to a foot [0.6 meter] long) and are found in oceans the world over.
Their endless supply of patterns can be either camouflage or warnings to predators that they carry chemical defenses derived from the toxins of their prey.
There are so many over-the-top nudibranchs that picking one to base a costume on is almost impossible, but Bornella anguilla has such a fierce, dramatic, Chinese-dragon style that its stage presence would certainly be irresistible.
Oh, what the heck, why not all of them? There are more than 3,000 species. That should cover Lady Gaga for at least a year.
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5 Animals That Look Like Lady Gaga
Posted by Liz Langley in Weird & Wild on December 19, 2013