Today’s uncommon creature is the thorny devil (suggested by Guest Doodlewasher Lidia Barragán). A strange and prickly thing that’s so weird it’s apparently hard to name. It has also been called thorny dragon, thorny toad, thorny lizard, and mountain devil. It’s the sole species in the genus Moloch and it’s scientific name is Moloch horridus, a combination of the name of a human sacrifice god and a word meaning bristly or dreadful. Most likely to avoid all this incessant name-calling, this little creature can usually be found hiding in the arid scrubland and desert that covers most of central Australia.
Perhaps another name the thorny devil could be called is two-faced as they have a “false head” on the back of their neck. When threatened, they tuck their real head between their front legs and present the fake head to the predator. Filled with only fatty tissue, attempts to swallow the fake head would leave the real head and other vital parts unharmed. The most noticeable feature of this creature, though, is their thorny body which, is usually enough to make smart predators gag at just the thought of actually swallowing one. As if these traits weren’t enough, the thorny devil coloring makes for some excellent camouflage and they can also rapidly change color when alarmed.
The thorny devil’s diet consists entirely of ants, and they use their sticky tongues to chow down on thousands of small, blank ants daily. Since living in the desert can get a bit dry, they’ve adapted to make the most of dew. Simply by rubbing up against dew-coated grass, their hygroscopic (moisture-attracting) thorns absorb it and through a little capillary action draw the dew up to its mouth. This handy feature basically lets the little devil suck water from all over its thorny little body. Weird, certainly, but kind of amazing!
EXCITING DOODLEWASH.COM UPDATES
As some of you may have noticed today, Guest Doodlewasher Jessica Seacrest is now the Doodlewash Supply Blogger and will be treating us to weekly reviews of various doodlewash art supplies. Regular reviews will be on Saturdays, but today we have a sneak peak, so if you missed it, be sure to check it out here!
Also, the Doodlewasher Map was quietly launched a couple weeks ago as a way to better navigate the more than 150 doodlewashers we’ve featured here. The map will let you search by name to find a specific doodlewasher or search by location to see all nearby doodlewashers. Clicking on a Doodlewash “DO” icon brings up a preview gallery of that artist’s work as well as a link to their Doodlewash feature story! Check it out here!
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrol Red, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon sepia ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal
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