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Unexpected Plants and Animals of Indiana: Freshwater Jellyfish

September 15, 2021

Simple and complex are antonyms, but not with jellyfish.

Jellyfish lack brains, bones, hearts and lungs. More than 95% of their bodies are water. Early scientists debated whether jellyfish were even animals, commonly labeling them “zoophytes,” intermediaries between animals and plants.

Jellyfish meet biology’s modern criteria for classification as animals, yet are not fish despite their name. Their lack of backbones makes them members of the phylum Cnidaria, which includes coral and sea anemones.

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Eel

Unexpected Plants and Animals of Indiana: American Eel

June 25, 2021

The lives of Indiana’s American eels start and usually end more than 1,000 miles away in the saltwater of the Atlantic Ocean. The eels may journey as far north as Iceland or as far south as Venezuela. With such a wide variety of habitats, an American eel rarely feels like a fish out of water. Even when they are traveling out of the water.

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Falcon Diving

Unexpected Plants and Animals of Indiana: Peregrine Falcon

May 28, 2021

Indiana has a reputation for speed. The Indianapolis 500, known as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” is recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events. In 1996, the fastest lap in Indianapolis 500 history was recorded at 236.103 mph. While incredibly fast, it still does not surpass the top speed of peregrine falcons: the world’s fastest animal and a native of Indiana.

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Unexpected Plants and Animals of Indiana: The Rainbow Scarab

March 31, 2021

Locating the rainbow scarab (Phanaeus vindex) beetle in Indiana can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack, or, well, like an insect on a dung heap.

While dung beetles abound in the state, the rainbow scarab, a type of dung beetle named for its iridescent and colorful body, is quite rare.

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Unexpected Prickly Pear Indiana

Unexpected Plants and Animals of Indiana: Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus

March 1, 2021

Online searches to buy succulents have steadily risen over the past five years, reaching an all-time high in 2020. Succulents like the eastern prickly pear cactus, Opuntia humifusa, are hardy enough to grow almost anywhere with dry soil, including Indiana. Their resiliency has helped their popularity bloom, but it is also why they can be a nuisance for weed management specialists like Bill Johnson, professor of botany and plant pathology.

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Unexpected Plants and Animals of Indiana: Copperhead Snake

January 8, 2021
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Unexpected Plants and Animals of Indiana: Wild persimmon

October 30, 2020
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Unexpected Plants and Animals of Indiana: Black bear

September 29, 2020
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Unexpected Plants and animals of Indiana: The pawpaw tree

September 16, 2020
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Unexpected Plants and Animals of Indiana: Southern flying squirrel

August 11, 2020
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