Peculiarities in Our World
By Clair Kang
The word anomaly brings up ideas of peculiarity and inconsistency. Especially, the nature that surrounds us is unexplored and unexpected in many ways. If we were to explore deeper beyond our lives, there are elements of nature bound to shock us. Animals, mountains, plants, and even outer space have aspects considered “outside the box.” They not only are abnormal but also hold important purposes in their environments.
Many animals hold peculiar characteristics and phenotypes. Frill-necked lizards belong to the largest dragon family in Australia. Its name “frill” comes from the rudd that surrounds its throat. The lizard's frill is thin and long, normally folded up over its shoulders. The frill stretches and rises abruptly when the animal is frightened or alarmed. What makes them unique is their skin, which color fluctuates according to their surroundings. It often resembles tree bark, making the lizards incredibly difficult to spot. This natural anomaly provides a method of camouflage for the lizard’s safety.
Another animal demonstrating an anomaly is the goblin shark. Goblin sharks have a long, prominent snout that detects electric fields in the deep waters. The animal’s color ranges from pinkish-gray to purplish-gray, with a hint of vivid blue around the edges of the fins. What makes these animals distinct is their jaws. It extends to the length of the nose in order to catch prey, such as fish, squids, and crustaceans. While humans can open their mouths to around 50 degrees, these sharks can extend their mouths to 111 degrees. This anomaly facilitates hunting and food acquisition.
When we think of nature, mountains, bodies of water, trees, and flowers come to mind. Lake Hillier in Australia, a lake isolated from the Southern Ocean by a small strip of sand, is a body of bubblegum-pink water. The pink color of the lake is believed to be caused by high levels of salt. The distinctive color makes it peculiar and a popular tourist spot.
On the other side of the world is Dead Vlei, in Namibia. It is a clay pan with the world’s highest sand dunes that are up to 400 meters tall and sometimes called the "Crazy Dune." Its anomaly is the sharp, vibrant color of its sand, which directly contrasts with the color of the sky. Also, there are trees that were formed through the flooding of the Tsauchab River, creating temporary shallow pools where camel thorn bushes grew due to the amount of water.
Outer space also has its own anomalies. Astrophysical plasma is a hot gas located outside of the Solar System. When the matter is a negative or positive electrical charge, it becomes plasma through heat and energy. This anomaly produces star-generated fields seen in star-forming regions, interstellar space, and intergalactic space. This is important when studying the birth, evolution, and death of universal structures.
NASA's breakthrough in photographic technology successfully captured the first-ever photographs of the interplay of shockwaves from two supersonic aircraft in flight. The photos were taken during the fourth phase of NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, where an updated imaging system photographed shockwaves—rapid pressure changes created when an aircraft travels faster than the speed of sound. This anomaly provides significant reasoning for the equation of state (pressure, temperature, and volume) of any material.
These anomalies show the most unexpected and fascinating existences in the world. Their great value lies within their uniqueness; they not only have special phenotypes or properties but also play a significant role in their respective environments. Anomalies are noteworthy in many ways.