You may have assumed that since all an egg has to do is provide protection and food to an animal embryo before it can survive on its own, they would all look very similar. But you’d be mistaken. For various, interesting reasons, the eggs in this article are far more bizarre than an average chicken egg. From Octopus to Birds we’re going to look at some of the world’s weird animal eggs.
10. Octopus and Squid
A breed of octopus that is truly bizarre is that of the Argonaut. Not only do the males have a detachable penis that swims itself to mate with females… females also build a “crib” onto themselves where they keep their eggs.
While most octopuses lay their eggs in caves and crevices, the open swimming Argonaut has no such luxury. To protect her babies she continually builds her shell with a mineral found in her arms. One species of Argonaut can build an egg case of up to 300 millimetres, whereas the smallest species only build one to about 67 millimetres.
This floating egg case resembles a basket, holding the eggs when laid, making it easier for her to clean and oxygenate them.
Generic octopus eggs themselves look like tiny grapes attached to vines stuck onto rocks and up close they appear as clear deflated balloons.
With squids they have a hidden ink sac which is tucked away under their gills. This sac acts as a protective shell for the eggs. Thousands of eggs can be produced by one squid; some species can have over seventy thousand! Like the Red Flying Squid that produced a massive car sized ball of eggs just off the coast of Turkey. That’s a load of eggs!
Also it’s never been documented how or when squid eggs hatch naturally. The only witness to squid eggs hatching was when researchers disturbed a mother with their submersible – A small vehicle designed to operate underwater. It is believed that when eggs have reached a certain maturity, the mother is able to trigger their hatching in response to any potential threat.
9. American Robin
The American Robin lays bright blue eggs! The colouring of the eggs is due to Biliverden – a pigment that is put on the eggshell when it is laid by the female.
Tests have proven that males use the colour of the egg to determine whether their mate will produce healthier babies. Eggs laid by a healthier female encourage the male to spend more Daddy time with their babies, feeding them twice as much than unhealthier offspring.
Not only does it make the males more interested, but it also protects the embryo from potentially damaging UV radiation!
8. Green Lacewing
To protect their eggs the Green Lacewing hangs them off plants individually by a slender line of silk. This is to reduce the likelihood of cannibalism by sibling larvae. Eggs start off green when first lain and will become darker before it is time to hatch.
What hatches from the egg, might be to some people, the stuff of nightmares. Once out of the egg, it immediately takes itself on a feeding frenzy! Their mums will have specifically sought out a prime eating spot for them laying them as close to a source of prey as possible.
All the larvae’s senses, apart from touch, have not fully developed and will attack anything living it comes across. Once they have their prey they will inject a digestive fluid, this can liquefy an aphid within ninety seconds!
New Zealand’s native bird, the Kiwi has an unusual world record to its name… They lay the biggest eggs in relation to their body size of any bird on the planet! It takes about a month for a mother to produce one egg with it taking up approximately 20 per cent of her own body weight and can measure up to 120 centimetres in length.
Compare that to the Vervain Hummingbird, which lays the smallest egg by any bird, and you’ll be amazed. One of their eggs weighs less than 10 millimetres.
In the final days before a Kiwi egg is laid, it takes so much space inside the mother’s body that she is unable to eat! Kiwi chicks require limited parental care, as once they have hatched they use up all the nutrients that are stored in their yolk sac.
The average bird’s egg is thirty-five to forty per cent yolk, but kiwi eggs are 65 per cent yolk meaning that they hatch fully feathered and independent.
6. Yellow Headed Jawfish
Many parents complain about having their hands full, but the Yellow Headed Jawfish may be able to top that! This Dad crams his mouth full with his offspring!
The Yellow-Headed Jawfish is a “mouth brooder” with the males taking responsibility of tending to the eggs. Females lay the eggs, and after fertilizing them, the males collect them in their mouths and incubate them.
Incubation time takes about 7 to 9 days with the dad having from 300 to 500 eggs to look after!
During this time, males do not eat meaning they are underweight and very hungry by the time the eggs have hatched!
5. Knobbed Whelks
Commonly found in the North Atlantic, these large predatory sea snails lay about one hundred eggs in a gel-like material. These eggs are connected together by spiral capsules that create an almost paper chain-like effect and are known as “mermaid necklaces”.
Each capsule on the spiral can contain 25 or more teeny tiny baby whelks in their tiny shells. Baby whelks start off being about 4 millimetres long and can grow up to be about 305 millimeters!
They can hatch anytime between 3 months and 13 months!
If you don’t like slimy things than the Caecilian is not for you! Caecilians are a group of serpentine amphibians that have no limbs.
When it comes to laying eggs, only a quarter of the 200 species lay eggs, whereas the others give birth to live offspring. The eggs themselves are transparent, like tiny marbles.
Not only do the mums guard the eggs, but she feeds her young by allowing them to harvest off the outer layer of her own skin which has ample fats and nutrients for a baby Caecilian, fully equipping them.
The skin they eat is replaced every three days. Eating like this can make the babies grow ten times their original body size in less than a week!
Hoopoes are a colourful bird found across Afro-Eurasia. When it comes to their eggs, these birds paint them with a smelly brown fluid from a gland called the Uropygial gland near their rear ends.
Typically the oil secreted from a bird’s Uropygial gland is used to preen and protect feathers, but during the breeding season, a Hoopoes gland becomes exceptionally large, creating an oil that is full of bacteria and smells like rotting meat!
They use this stinky fluid to reduce the number of harmful germs inside the eggs, acting as a shield. The oil also changes the colour of the egg, from a blue-greyish colour to a brown colour.
These small little insects do not have it easy! After mating the princess ant becomes a Queen ant and is ready to start her own colony. Before she starts she must first go on the hunt for a suitable nesting site, once she has found the most ideal spot, she can lay up to 300 thousand eggs!
While laying, she lives off the fat already in her body and the moisture around her. She may even resort to even eating her own wings as a source of protein to keep her alive! Ants are protective mothers and will not leave their nests until the firstborn worker ants are able to search for food.
Initially, eggs have two sets of chromosomes, and because the Queen ant is particularly badass she can choose what hatches out of the egg depending on which ones she fertilizes.
Unfertilized eggs grow into male drone ants whose only job is to mate with the Queen, whereas fertilized eggs become female working ants.
She can also decide which females eggs will become future Queens to starts their own colonies. Queens that live in mature ant colonies can lay thousands of eggs a day!
1. Horn and Ghost Sharks
These sharks have some seriously strange looking eggs. The Horn Shark’s strange spiral shaped eggs consist of something very similar to your hair or fingernail and forms as a means of protection.
After laying their eggs female sharks pick them up in their mouths and wedge them into gaps in rocks which are made easier by its corkscrew shape, hidden away from predators and protected from the oceans current.
Once that’s done she takes off, leaving the babies to fend for themselves.
Other strange eggs are released by Chimaeras, which are a cartilaginous fish better known as ghost sharks. They look like something found more so in an alien movie than in the sea!
Originally starting as the colour yellow when first lain, Ghost sharks egg become black prior to hatching. These eggs have also adapted to survive in cold dark environments with minimal care from their parents remaining in place in the deep deep waters surrounded by monstrous predators!
Which egg did you think was the weirdest animal eggs? Let me know in the comments below.