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Expert Voices

What the Heck?! Images of Evolution's Extreme Oddities

Weird creatures

Little piggy, evolution

(Image credit: From WTF, Evolution?! - Workman Publishing. Piglet Squid. Photo © Gary Florin/Rex USA. )

Mara Grunbaum, author, contributed these images to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Evolution has led to a diverse array of wildlife — and many creatures are rarely seen by humans. In the new book "WTF, Evolution?! A Theory of Unintelligible Design" (Workman, October 2014), author Mara Grunbaum has selected more than 100 of the oddest, most unusual of those creatures and asks of the character Evolution: "What were you thinking?"

See 10 of the book's images, with their captions, in this gallery exclusive for Live Science.

Editor's Note: Images are under strict copyright and cannot be shared or reproduced.

Some interesting reading material

WTF, Evolution?! book cover

(Image credit: Workman Publishing)

A cutie pie

Little piggy, evolution

(Image credit: From WTF, Evolution?! - Workman Publishing. Piglet Squid. Photo © Gary Florin/Rex USA. )

Helicocranchia pfefferi

The piglet squid would seem to suggest that Evolution's medications are working. Possibly a little too well.

An odd frog

pignose frog, evolution

(Image credit: From WTF, Evolution?! - Workman Publishing. Pignose Frog. Photo © K Jayaram/Science Source)

Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis

Really, Evolution? You've had 130 million years to work on the pignose frog, and this is the best you could do? Did you maybe boil it too long?


A zombie fish

Stargazer, evolution

(Image credit: From WTF, Evolution?! - Workman Publishing. Whitemargin Stargazer, Uranoscopus sulphureus. Photo © Jonathan Bird/Getty Images)

Uranoscopus sulphureus

Dark thoughts keep Evolution awake some nights. It tosses and turns for hours, tormented by visions of creatures too twisted for anyone else to see — creatures that it knows no decent natural force would ever even imagine. In a desperate attempt to feel normal, Evolution tries to bury these demons deep within the murky sand. Damn things keep poking their heads back out to eat, though. 

A worm? a robot?

Tardigrade, evolution

(Image credit: From WTF, Evolution?! - Workman Publishing. Water bear or Tardigrade (Paramacrobiotus craterlaki) in moss. Photo © Eye of Science/Science Source)

Paramacrobiotus craterlaki

"Okay, this is it. I just came up with the greatest animal yet."

"This should be good."

"It's called a tardigrade. It's only half a millimeter long, so it's basically invisible." 

"I see."

"It has sharp claws for grabbing onto anything and a suction mouth for feeding."

"Sounds reasonable."

"But here's the cool part: It can survive pretty much anything! Drying out? Freezing? Extreme radiation? It doesn’t care. It just hunkers down and waits it out, then pops back to life later on."

"Huh. I guess that's kinda cool."

"And it can even survive in the vacuum of outer space."

"What? Why would it possibly need to survive in outer space?"

"You never know."


An unfortunate accident

Striped leaf nosed bat, evolution

(Image credit: From WTF, Evolution?! - Workman Publishing. Striped leaf nosed bat. Photo © Ivan Kuzmin/age footstock)

Hipposideros vittatus


Evolution accidentally dropped his bat on the floor but was too embarrassed to say anything so just pretended it was actually supposed to look like that.

Need a shave?

Bearded pig, evolution

(Image credit: From WTF, Evolution?! - Workman Publishing. Bearded Pig.Photo © Juniors Bildarchiv/age fotostock)

Sus barbatus

Hey, Evolution, I know that beards are in and all, but I think you may have put this pig's beard on backward. Or upside down. Or inside out? Possibly all three. 


Unfinished business

Sunfish, evolution

(Image credit: From WTF, Evolution?! - Workman Publishing. Sunfish.Photo © Johner Images/Getty Images)

Mola mola


Hey, Evolution, do you think you forgot something here? Like, I don't know, the entire back half of the fish? 


What'd you say?

Tapir, evolution

(Image credit: From WTF, Evolution?! - Workman Publishing. South American Tapir Tapirus terrestris. Photo © Thomas Vinke/age footstock)

Tapirus terrestris

"Good lord, Evolution, what is that?"

"It’s a 'tapir.' Get it?"

"No."

"A tapir."

"I don’t get it."

"Come on! A TAPIR!"

"This isn't helping."

"It's a tapir! It has a tapered nose! Tapir!"

"You're unbearable."

Is this a unicorn?

Barbirusa, evolution

(Image credit: From WTF, Evolution?! - Workman Publishing. Babirusa, (Babyrousa babyrussa).Photo © Danita Delimont/Alamy)

Babyrousa babyrussa

Why so gloomy, babirusa? Is it because Evolution gave you some weird extra tusks that are ugly, useless, too brittle to fight with, and may eventually grow so long that they curve around and fatally puncture your skull? Could that be it?