What makes a rattlesnake’s tail rattle? How does a stingray sting? What about the bizarre mouths on sea lampreys?

A University of Michigan alumnus recently spent some quality time exploring the collections at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, where he videotaped and described cool facts about a wide variety of specimens.  

The EEB/Museum Studies alumnus, who has a large social media following, prefers anonymity during this pilot project to gauge interest. He posted videos, mostly on TikTok, where they’ve received millions of views (and some longer videos on YouTube). He’s planning a return visit to UMMZ in the new year to continue the project in an increasingly public manner.

UMMZ Collection Manager of Fishes Randy Singer coordinated the visits and looks forward to continuing these public outreach efforts. He calls the artistic mind behind the project: “film maker/producer/Michigan alumni/awesome guy,” and adds, “some specimens have been generating quite the interest.”

Screenshot from Odd Animal Specimens on TikTok. Guaranteed you'll learn something new!

“I create these videos to encourage people to develop a deeper appreciation of animal diversity,” said the filmmaker. “I hope they can inspire people to be curious about the natural world, and driven to protect it.

“The natural history collection at RMC (the Research Museums Center) is, without question, the greatest hidden gem at the University of Michigan,” he continued. “These collections are an unbelievably enormous resource for students, researchers and educators. Their value to the university, and the world as a whole, is absolutely immeasurable, in large part due to the kind staff of collection managers that make the material so accessible.” 

How do chameleons spit out their tongues? Did you know armadillos give birth to four identical quadruplets every time? Which fanged creature gives birth to cannibalistic worm babies – new horror movie plot anyone? If you’re curious enough and not too afraid, you can see more at the links below.

Odd Animal Specimens on TikTok and YouTube