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Top Ten Weirdest Stories of 2012

From a genitalia-headed fish to a two-faced cat—it’s been a weird and wild year at National Geographic. And for our weird fans, we’ve rounded up our editor’s picks for the ten oddest stories of 2012. 

Coming in as tenth weirdest is the housefly-size frog Paedophryne amauensis (below), the world’s smallest known vertebrate.

10. World’s Smallest Frog Found

Photograph courtesy Christopher Austin, Louisiana State University


At an average of 7.7 millimeters long, the frog is a hair smaller than the previous record holder, the Southeast Asian fish species Paedocypris progenetica, whose females measure about 7.9 millimeters, scientists said in January. Full story>>


9.  Slime Has Memory But No Brain

Photograph courtesy Audrey Dussutour


The living slime that may have been the muse for the 1958 science-fiction film The Blob just got creepier: In October, scientists reported that slime mold, a brainless single-celled organism, has a form of memory. Full story>>


8. Two-Faced Cat a Mystery

Photograph courtesy TODAY Show/NBC


In August, Venus the two-faced cat became a feline hit: The three-year-old tortoiseshell debuted her own Facebook page, was featured in a YouTube video, and appeared on the Today Show. (Watch National Geographic cat videos.)

One look at this cat and you can understand why: One half is solid black with a green eye, and the other half has typical orange tabby stripes and a blue eye. The coloration may be a genetic mashup that one scientist called “absolute luck.” Full story>>


7. White Killer Whale Spotted

Photograph courtesy E. Lazareva, Far East Russia Orca Project


An white adult killer whale spotted off Russia in April may be the only one in the world.

Nicknamed Iceberg, the 22-foot-long (7-meter-long) whale is probably not a true albino, since he has color on his saddle—the area behind his dorsal fin, scientists say. (See pictures of albino animals.) The male appeared healthy and accepted by his pod, suggesting his odd coloration doesn’t affect him. Full story>>


6. World’s Leggiest Animal Found

Photograph by Paul Marek


The leggiest creature on Earth lives in California, but it’s not a movie star or a model—it’s a 3-centimeter-long (1.2-inch) millipede with 750 legs, scientists said in November.

First seen by government scientists in 1928, Illacme plenipes—”the acme of plentiful legs”—keeps such a low profile that for the rest of the 20th century the species was thought to be extinct. Then University of Arizona entomologist Paul Marek spied one near Silicon Valley. Full story>>


5. Turtles Urinate Via Their Mouths—a First

Photograph from FLPA/Alamy


When a species of soft-shelled turtle in China piddles in puddles, it does so through its mouth—the first evidence of an animal doing so, scientists reported in October.

The findings could also have stomach-churning implications for humans with kidney failure, scientists say. Full story>>


4. Rare Maned Lionesses Explained

Photograph courtesy Deon De Villiers


If it looks like a male lion and is perceived as a male lion—well, sometimes it isn’t. That’s the case of Africa’s unusual maned lionesses, which sport a male’s luxurious locks and may even fool competitors.

Though uncommon, maned lionesses have been regularly sighted in the Mombo area of Botswana‘s Okavango Delta (including the individual pictured above), where the lion population may carry a genetic disposition toward the phenomenon, experts say. Full story>>


3. Genitalia-Headed Fish is Evolutionary Mystery

Photograph courtesy Magnolia Press, reproduced with permission


How’s this for a head turner? A tiny new species of fish from Vietnam sports its genitalia on its noggin.

Phallostethus cuulong is only the 22nd known species of its family, Phallostethidae, all of which bear their copulatory organs just behind their mouths. Full story>>


2. World’s Weirdest Penis Studied

Photograph by Lucy Cooke


When National Geographic Emerging Explorer Lucy Cooke headed to Tasmania, Australia, this year, she on the lookout for the echidna, an ancient termite-eating hedgehog-like animal with a four-headed penis. (Read more about Cooke’s National Geographic Channel show Freaks & Creeps.)

As Cooke wrote on her blog in July, “This extraordinary member has four distinct heads and looks like a stumpy hand with no thumb waving at me. Or some sort of weird sea anemone. It definitely doesn’t look like any penis I have ever seen before. Thankfully.”


1. Giant Mysterious Eyeball Found on Florida Beach

Photograph by Carli Segelson/Fla. FWCC


Perhaps reminiscent of the infamous Montauk monster, a softball-size eyeball washed up in Florida in October (as if Florida needed anything else weird). The Internet was buzzing with questions: whose eye is it? What is it? A few days later, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that the “mystery eyeball” appears to belong to a swordfish. Full story>>

For being justifiably weird, gross, and mysterious all at the same time, the giant eyeball is our weirdest story of 2012.

Also read about National Geographic’s new book, Tales of the Weird>>

More Best of National Geographic 2012


  1. Amaryan Artur
    August 27, 2013, 5:04 pm

    Well all this wierd creatures comes from the new climat and from neuclear weapons.

  2. bakeca Ragusa
    July 16, 2013, 4:13 am

    scary story

  3. Toni
    June 1, 2013, 11:11 am

    About the calico cat, I have seen cats like that, with the markings, it isn’t a chimera, that’s bull. As for the blue eye, the mothers mate may have been siamese, there are several cats that have been born odd eyed. The speculations are preposterous, and someone put the information out there to sensationalize the animal on youtube, so the owners can make some bucks.

  4. Deepshikha
    May 10, 2013, 11:55 pm

    I love National Geograhic for providing factual content involving nature

  5. Kara
    January 27, 2013, 7:10 pm

    i read somewhere that the “2 faced” cat has chymirism (spelling?) which means its former embryo mate absorbed into its body before it was born , giving it 2 sets of DNA …

  6. Bobby Bay
    January 18, 2013, 11:21 am

    You cant fathom how much I want that four headed penis!

  7. Dr. Shyamala Shah
    Mumbai, India
    January 7, 2013, 10:26 pm

    Wow…I have always been intrigued by the enigmas of nature…thanks NG for slaking the thirst for knowledge…bte is there any way people like me can contribute to this blog? Pls do let me know..till then you are doing a tremendous job…hats off guys

  8. George
    January 1, 2013, 9:23 am

    Very interesting, there are so many things we still have to discover on our planet !!!Thank you NG for your articles.

  9. linda
    new york
    December 31, 2012, 12:47 am

    Loved the article. Boy that four headed penis was a shocker! How do I share this on Facebook? I see a like tab but not share. Thanks.

    • Christine Dell'Amore
      January 2, 2013, 10:18 am

      Hi Linda,
      Thanks for your comment! There is a share tab under “more,” but it doesn’t include Facebook. Your best bet is copying the link into a Facebook status update. Cheers, Christine

  10. seun lari-williams
    December 30, 2012, 6:45 am

    I should come here more often! Thx4sharing!

  11. maxim
    December 28, 2012, 10:05 am

    GREAT!! Really enjoyable news, but none of them written in koran. what a mistake??

  12. Siddappa Bilagi
    December 28, 2012, 2:26 am

    All information’s are amazing, educative and knowledgeable. i like the photo of World’s Weirdest thing,

  13. Christine Dell'Amore
    December 26, 2012, 10:44 pm

    Katy, don’t give up on us yet. I think a “like” was accidentally left off—as in, “hedgehog-like.” I made the change.

  14. H.V.Venkataramaiah.
    India. Bangaluru.
    December 26, 2012, 6:09 am

    Very educative and knowledgeble.

  15. luidmila
    December 26, 2012, 5:06 am

    Em angola tem centopeia. As centopeias aqui não estão extintas.

  16. didik
    December 25, 2012, 7:32 pm

    Subhanallah, nature just awesoome

    Tekno muslim

  17. Katy
    December 25, 2012, 1:41 am

    The echidna is not a hedgehog, its a monotreme. national geographic, you are dead to me. this mistake is unforgivable.

  18. turky rowshan
    December 24, 2012, 3:03 pm

    thank’s allot >>> that’s penefisual isso

  19. Ed Kaplan
    United States
    December 23, 2012, 9:04 pm

    Best magazine in the World since it began being published.
    The people can be better educated and entertained with one of a kind treasure!

  20. aria
    December 23, 2012, 5:53 pm

    natural news are better than human news !

    December 23, 2012, 4:35 pm

    national geographic is formatting channel for me & my family.

  22. Rob
    December 23, 2012, 9:43 am

    Life is stranger than fiction for sure.
    Nature rocks!

    Bucky’s Journey part 1

    Bucky’s Journey part 2

    Bucky’s Journey Photo-essay

    Boxing deer and dog

  23. Sani
    December 23, 2012, 5:32 am

    Very educative. Thanks for making us more knowledgeable.

  24. bhat
    noida, india
    December 23, 2012, 1:30 am

    makes sense but let me know more about animal senses

  25. Munna
    December 23, 2012, 12:42 am

    i like the photo. thank NG

  26. AJAY RAM
    December 22, 2012, 9:13 pm

    Weird things are stranger than tales.Thanks NG for discovering them for us.

  27. Julio
    December 22, 2012, 8:53 pm


  28. Julio
    Bogota Colombia
    December 22, 2012, 8:53 pm

    Really fascinating. Congratulations

  29. Frank Moloney
    Brisbane Australia
    December 22, 2012, 5:55 pm

    Where would we be without our monthly National Geographic?

  30. V. Rogers
    December 22, 2012, 5:41 pm


  31. GLOGOR
    December 22, 2012, 5:33 pm

    Is someone studying the memory slime for a possible use for humans?

  32. BNJ
    North Wales
    December 22, 2012, 5:28 pm

    What a fantastic smile on that hedgehogs face – no wonder

  33. Patricia
    Costa Rica
    December 22, 2012, 3:08 pm

    Thanks for such interesting weird articles!!!

  34. Stephanie Skillman
    Kansas USA (land of Oz)
    December 22, 2012, 12:22 pm

    Just amazing … life is/can be so grande in many ways.
    Thank you for your studies/pictures that you share with us.
    We that cannot travel worldwide are so grateful.
    I grew up with you; we’re not all the same here on the prairie!

  35. sel
    Jenks, OK
    December 18, 2012, 10:35 pm

    my class studied the eyeball, because my lybraian at school was on that boat when it was found!!