- Will Smith hosts “Welcome to Earth” and introduces several intriguing animals.
- The headless chicken monster is actually the nickname for a sea cucumber.
- The show has ben authorized for a second season, which is being filmed now.
Welcome to Earth premiered on Disney+ on December 8th, 2021. The show features Will Smith going to the extreme end of the Earth. From active volcanos, to to traveling deep underwater, the show is a sort of “bucket list” of experiencing the extremes the world has to offer.
But what animals are in Welcome to Earth? Whether you just watched the show and want to know what animals you’re seeing or you’re curious what’s in the show, we have all the animals listed below!
Episode 1: The Loudest Animal in the World
In episode 1 Will Smith explores sound, which leads to a diver coming across a pod of sperm whales near the ocean’s surface!
As the show details, each sperm whale click is believed to to contain a paragraph’s worth of information and is loud enough to travel across hundreds of miles of ocean water. Their clicks are also used in echolocation, which is useful since sperm whales dive up to two miles deep to hunt giant squid.
Sperm whales are the loudest animals in the world and their clicking sounds can reach up to 233 decibles.
Episode 2: Bioluminescent Sharks and Headless Chicken Monsters!
Mosquito Bay might not sound like a lovely destination, but this Puerto Rican bay is famous for its bioluminescence. In the second episode of Welcome to Earth the show visits the bay where nurse sharks and other fish glow inbioluminescence. So, what causes the aquatic creatures of Mosquito Bay to glow?
The answer is that there’s an extreme concentration of Pyrodinium bahamense, a small organism in the waters of Mosquito Bay, that light up when disturbed. These tiny creatures are microscopic, but with more than half a million of them per gallon of water in Mosquito Bay, they’re in enough abundance to light up the water.
The headless chicken monster
Later in the episode Will Smith visits the ocean floor and discovers a “headless chicken monster.” While the name is undeniably cool, headless chicken monsters are the nickname for a sea cucumber from the genus Enypniastes. Now, if you think headless chicken monster is a cool name, consider that these deep sea cucumbers also have the nicknames:
- Pink see-through fantasia
- Spanish Dancer
- Swimming sea cucumber
The headless chicken monsters have bioluminescence and their red coloring helps make them invisible in deep sea environments with no light from the surface.
Another cool find in the second episode? A jellyfish with coloration thats lights up like a dance club. As the show explains, deep sea creatures that have rainbow coloration only appear that way because humans are bringing down white light. In their natural habitats the light show you see on Welcome to Earth would be invisible.
And is if episode 2 wasn’t packed with enough oddities of the animal world, the show also shines a (UV) light on flying squirrels. Using UV lights, scientists recently discovered that flying squirrels project a brilliant pink glow as they’re fluorescent.
The Olm: A salamander with no eyes
After spending most the episode in the deep sea, the second episode concludes in Eastern Europe in a cave where a salamander species with no eyes lives. They’re named olms, and they truly look out of this world. Olms barely every move. In fact, a study found that olms didn’t move for 7 years. Thanks to an incredible metabolism, olms also need to eat only once per decade. With food being in short supply in the entirely dark caves they live in, this adaptation is essential for survival.
And survive olms have, they split off from other amphibians about 110 million years ago and today’s species have existed for more than 20 million years! Another fascinating fact is that while olms look an eary pinkish-white in their cave environments, if removed they turn dark. Once returned to caves they once again revert to their white coloration!
Episode 3: Swarms of Bees, Wildebeests, and More!
While episode two of Welcome to Earth featured some animals you’ve likely never seen before, the third episode introduces animals that should be more well-known!
Wildebeests: the most dramatic migration on Earth
In the opening minutes of the episode Will Smith and a guide track a group of lions who are hunting wildebeests in the dark. Wildebeests (along with warthogs, gazelles, and zebras) are the lion’s favorite prey to eat.
Wildebeests form massive herds that move across sub-Saharan Africa.
Swarm 1: A Bee Wall in Nepal
After beginning the episode in Africa, Welcome to Earth moves to Nepal where the largest honeybees – Himalayan honeybees – exist in the world exist. The hives of bees exist high up on cliffs and work as a swarm to ward off would-be predators.
Swarm 2: Starlings in Netherlands
Another swarm example is found in Netherlands where Starlings form massive swarms of birds. With starlings flying at 40 miles per hours, they need extremely rapid reactions to fly in massive swarms of 100,000 or more birds. Thanks to rules they follow and adaptations around their reaction times, starlings can move in these massive swarms without airborne crashes that would prove deadly.
Season one of Welcome to Earth has six episodes, which can be found here. The second season is being filmed now and will likely be released in Dec. 2022.
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