They are mostly small, mainly close to the ground, and maybe make us feel a little shivery when we see them. They are the bugs, slugs, spiders, frogs, salamanders, lizards and tiny mammals that creep, crawl, scuttle, slide and slither. But despite the yuck factor, we are also fascinated by the huge variety of shapes and life strategies taken on by these small creeping creatures.
From slugs and snails that glide along slowly on a self-made path of slime, to lizards so swift they can run faster than you, to flying bugs and grasshoppers, these little critters have come up with every conceivable way to cover ground. Most of the night music we can hear in wild nature comes from crawly things like frogs and crickets calling out to their fellow creatures. Insects are by far the most numerous of all creatures, and we may have yet to discover and describe 90% of them.
Even for human beings over the ages, as well as snakes, birds and mammals, these mini morsels have been a vitally important food source. But to keep from becoming a meal for some other creature, these little animals have come up with many successful defenses like the poison skin of colorful forest tree frogs or the spiky armor of the horned lizard. But they are not just prey. Venomous spiders, snakes and lizards are skillful and ferocious predators. To appreciate the small, slimy and creepy things of the world is to understand that every little creature has as long and interesting an evolutionary story as any charismatic giant. They may make us cringe a bit, but the crawly creepers are always fascinating.
Cover: Horned Lizard
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