Sense-ational Superpowers: Five strange hidden talents of Australian animals
We all know that Australian native animals are amazing and unique, with iconic Aussies such as the koala and the quokka being beloved the world over. But many Australian animals are amazing for more than just how unusual or cute and cuddly they look – some are even hiding some very strange superpowers!
No-one knows this better than Stephanie Owen Reeder, author of Sensational Australian Animals, which explores native Australian animals through the five basic senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. As part of her research for the book, Stephanie did a deep dive into all the weird and wonderful abilities and behaviours of Australian animals.
“There were so many things to choose from,” shares Stephanie. “The book is full of amazing things that blew my mind when I was researching it. I drove my family crazy constantly saying, ‘Did you know that…’!”
We asked Stephanie to give us her favourite ‘sense-ational superpowers’ of Australian animals.
Sense-ational Superpower: 200/200 vision
Scallops have up to 200 eyes around the edges of their shells. Each eye focuses through a telescope-like mirror. Their super-sensitive eyes allow them to see clearly at night and in turbulent water. And if one of their eyes gets damaged, they simply grow a new one!
Sense-ational Superpower: An auditory advantage
Whilst birds don’t have ears that stick out like human ears, they still have great hearing. They pick up sound waves through funnel-shaped earholes just behind and slightly below their eyes. In fact, Australian Magpies have such acute hearing that they can hear bugs wriggling around underneath the dirt!
Sense-ational Superpower: A stinky disguise
Bird-dropping Spiders not only look like bird droppings, they also smell like them, which can help fool predators into leaving them alone. When it’s dinner time, they release a chemical scent that smells like a female moth to lure in their favourite food – unsuspecting male moths. A magnifi-scent talent!
Sense-ational Superpower: Electroreception
The rubbery bill of a platypus has touch and temperature receptors, as well as something really special – electric sensors. When it is hunting for its next meal, these electric sensors enable the platypus to sense the electricity given off when its prey moves its muscles!
Sense-ational Superpower: Tasty skin
The Green Tree Frog secretes mucus that helps to keep its skin moisturised and healthy. When it is ready to shed its skin, it wriggles around until it’s loosened the old skin, and then pulls it over its head like a jumper… and then eats it. Waste not, want not!
Written by Stephanie Owen Reeder and with gorgeous illustrations by Cher Hart, Sensational Australian Animals showcases more than 145 astounding animals and the strange things they can do with their eyes, ears, noses, mouths and skin. Perfect for ages 8 to 12, this book is available to purchase on our website and from all good bookstores.
We have also produced free downloadable Teacher Notes to support the use of this book in the classroom.
Dr Stephanie Owen Reeder is the author of historical novels and picture books for children, including Swifty: The Super-fast Parrot. She has won the NSW Premier’s History Award and the CBCA Book of the Year Award for information books.
Cher Hart is a nature illustrator, graphic designer and spatial analyst with a background in biology and a sense of fun. She has created scientific communication material for journals, exhibitions and government. This is her first published children’s book.
Watch the Sensational Australian Animals video trailer: