16 Times Nature Did Whatever It Felt Like Doing

axolotl National Geographic

Nature is majestic, terrifying, cruel, ingenious, and (sometimes) adorable. But more than anything, nature is weird. If you don’t agree, spend five minutes looking up deep-sea fish, then we can talk about it.

When we get locked into routines and start taking the world for granted, it’s easy to get bored by it; even the most beautiful sunrise can be banal if you’re struggling through your early-morning commute. But when we take the time to look at our planet with new eyes, it’s clear that nature has a whimsical sense of humor. Why else would we have walking rocks, Pepto-Bismol lakes, volcano lightning, or people who genuinely enjoy Minions?

So if you’ve forgotten about how weird and wonderful life is on our little rock circling the sun, read on. You may be inspired, you may be terrified. But one thing you definitely won’t be is bored.

1. Fairy Rings: Our ancestors thought these circles of mushrooms were the homes of supernatural beings who would curse those who stepped inside them. The truth is far more benign: they’re the result of mushrooms growing out of an old tree stump or another big piece of organic matter buried under the soil. When they’re surrounded by a circle of dead grass, it’s because the mushrooms invade and kill the grass’ root cells. Wait, that’s still pretty creepy…

2. Basalt Columns: When basaltic lava pours and cools slowly from the bottom up, fractures shoot through it, dividing it up into hexagons. These cool rock formations are found all around the world, from Ireland to Israel.

3. Bioluminescent Waves: If you’ve ever wanted to swim among the stars, this is the next best thing. These glowing waves happen when vast groups of bioluminescent phytoplankton (microscopic ocean creatures) are washed up on shore together. It’s easiest to see on tropical beaches, right after dark.

luminescentwavesDoug Perrine

4. Red Tide: On the other hand, you probably don’t want to swim in a red tide. This phenomenon, where the water appears to be filled with blood, is the result of an algal bloom (a vast group of tiny ocean plants). As if this phenomenon wasn’t ominous enough already, some of these occurrences are toxic, killing hundreds of marine animals.

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