Ten Cool Things From Nature for Your Literary Inspiration

Welcome to the week before finals, UConn. I’m betting that plenty of us fall into the category of “having no free time to recreationally read and write” these days.

I could give you a list of books you should read and movies you should watch, but at this point, I’m half wondering if that would be cruel of me. So I’m not going to (although if you are looking for recommendations, we have plenty of fantastic posts on that subject, and I do urge you to take a look). I’m going to break from the subject of directly discussing literature and give you some cool stuff for inspiration. Fun, right?

Nature has been inspiring writers for ages, and in many different flavors. That’s more than understandable; it’s all around us, and it can be pretty fascinating. I’ll admit that it inspires my own writing tremendously—so I’m sharing with you ten plants and animals that I find to be remarkable.

Take these as you may.


1. Orchid Mantis

Why, yes, there is a predatory mantis on this flower. Elegantly deceptive.


2. Wood Frog

This adorable frog might as well have hopped out of a science-fiction storyline. Seriously. During the winter, it hibernates by freezing itself solid.


3. Cape Sundew

Those sparkling droplets on the end of its leaves are not dew—they’re actually a glue-like substance that traps unsuspecting insects. Once it’s made a catch, it curls its leaves around its prey and has a feast.


4. Blue Ringed Octopus

Look at this flashy little octopus with its iridescent blue spots. It’s pocket-sized—only about half a foot long—and also highly venomous. Its bite, which is small and often painless, can kill a person in minutes. Yes, minutes.


5. Platypus

I can’t not mention this one—it’s just too bizarre. It’s a mammal that lays eggs and uses its bill to pick up electrical signals. Males are also venomous by means of sharp spines on their ankles.


6. Victoria Amazonica

Water lilies. Giant water lilies. They can grow up to three meters in diameter. Wow.


7. Cookie Cutter Shark

No, not this Great White—those have had enough time in the spotlight. I’m talking about the mysterious sneak that left this circular bite mark on it. Cookie cutter sharks (which I was unable to find a good picture of, in case you were wondering) are named for their circular jaws that function like, well, cookie cutters. They’re less than 2 feet long and use stealth to prey on much larger animals. Take a bite, then dash (swim?) away.


8. Cassowary

Massive and colorful flightless birds. They’re fast runners and can also jump and swim (and kick!) quite well. Their claws are essentially five-inch long daggers.


9. Corkscrew Plant

Yet another carnivorous plant. This one happens to be my favorite. Half of its leaves grow aboveground and are basically innocuous. The other half, pictured below, grow underground.

These leaves (yes, they’re leaves, not roots) are traps! They’re hollow so that insects can crawl into them. But a layer of stiff, inward-pointing hairs lining the inside make it impossible to turn around after entering. The only way to go is forward… to your doom, little bug.


10. Lowland Streaked Tenrec

…Just look at the thing.

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