This is what a turtle looks like without its shell.
In 2004, this mutant turtle was found with a genetic deviation that freed it from its cruel natural prison. Like other crustaceans, the common turtle must molt its shell annually to grow, but its size is restrained by successive developing shells. That was not the case with this curiosity of nature, which scientists named Ruggero after famed Italian film director and turtle conservationist Ruggero Deodato. Little Ruggero grew quickly to over 500 pounds, and supplanted his normal turtle diet of grasshoppers and locusts in favor of pigeons and owls.
Though Ruggero was the first of his kind ever discovered, a more common mutation can result in a “half shell”. This mutation also results in heightened turtle power. For more information on the turtle and its larval form, the tortoise, be sure to check out the works of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.
The Art Deco Octopus is rare even in the seas to which it’s endemic. Hunted to the brink of extinction for its use as a door knocker, the Art Deco Octopus has a distinctive anatomy and is known for its constant symmetry, where unlike most octopeese, it maintains the same position with both its right and left tentacle sets.
The specimen seen here is in fact deceased, as the Art Deco Octopus is unable to live for more than a few seconds out of water. Seen washed ashore with various debris, the plight of this fragile creature is clearly visible. Now that hunting is illegal, pollution threatens its only homeland, the shore of Honah Lee near Madagascar.
This is not the only threatened species in the region, the Leean Dragon is also nearly extinct, a drop in population that scientists blame either on the lack of their dietary sealing wax caused by the move to e-mail, or on children simply no longer believing in them.
Fans of the A Song Of Ice And Fire novels and the TV adaptation A Game Of Thrones know that horses appear frequently in the series. Some people assume that when I wrote these books, I must have had at least a passing knowledge of horses, but the truth is that when I began, I’d never seen a horse in my life. In fact, I had absolutely no idea what horses even looked like.
I knew horses were animals of some kind, but beyond that, my entire conception of the way these animals actually looked was based on hearsay and my own speculation.
Of course, I always wrote around my own ignorance as much as possible. If you look back at A Clash Of Kings, you can see that I note in one section that “there were some large, normal-looking horses outside the main gate” and that I actually make repeated mentions later in the book to people riding around on “horse-sized horses.” I assumed that by just consciously refraining from going into specifics about a horse’s color, shape, or disposition, I could get by without anyone noticing.
Inevitably, though, there were some details I got plain wrong. Tywin Lannister’s horse’s “great gleaming wheels,” the stallions outside Storm’s End “growling and barking in agitation” and the many passages describing Dothraki horses “flapping across the fields” seemed like natural descriptions at the time, but in retrospect I see how they could have betrayed my unfamiliarity with the creatures.