From elephants gate-crashing funerals, to mysterious species washing up on shore and sheep walking in circles, 2022 has been quite the year for animals.
As 2022 draws to a close, Newsweek looks back at the best animal stories of the year.
Mystery Deep Sea Shark With Bulging Eyes and Teeth Caught by Fisherman
A mysterious deep-sea shark with protruding teeth and large eyes was caught by a fisherman in Australia in September. At the time, nobody knew what species it was.
Sydney-based fisherman, Trapman Bermagui, posted a photo of the creature to his Facebook page on September 12. At the time he said it had “the face of a deep sea shark” that had been caught at a depth of 2,133 feet underwater.
The shark has a distinctive appearance with rough-looking skin, a pointed nose, large eyes, and a protruding set of sharp teeth. Facebook users said the creature looked very prehistoric.
Bermagui told Newsweek he thought it was a rough skin shark, also known as a species of endeavor Pet shark.
Mystery of Sheep Walking in Circle in China for 12 Days Potentially Solved
In November, the internet was set ablaze with news of a flock of sheep in China that had been walking in a circle continuously for 12 days. Footage of the sheep on a farm in Inner Mongolia was shared by the state run outlet People’s Daily.
While sheep are known the mimic others in the flock due to instinct, it is very unusual to for them to move in such a synchronized way for such a long time. It was unclear whether individuals had even stopped to drink and eat.
Some experts suggested the weird circle walking was the result of a bacterial disease known as listeriosis, which can cause them to walk in circles.
However, Matt Bell, a professor and director at the Department of Agriculture at Hartpury University, in Gloucester, England, told Newsweek the behaviour may be the result of being kept in a pen for too long.
“This might lead to stereotypic behavior, with the repeated circling due to frustration about being in the pen and limited [as to where they can go],” he said. “This is not good. Then the other sheep join as they are flock animals and bond or join their friends.”
Hundreds of Whales Wash Up On Ill-fated Island Surrounded by Sharks
In October, hundreds of whales washed up on the shore of a remote, New Zealand Island surrounded by sharks.
The stranding came shortly after another mass stranding occurred to the northwest of Chatham Island, where 215 pilot whales passed away. The second stranding took the number of stranded whales in the area to 500, all within a few days.
Wildlife officials were sent to the area to initiate rescue efforts, but many whales were euthanized. The remoteness of the location, and the fact many sharks surrounded the island, made rescue efforts dangerous and difficult.
The Chatham Islands are a “stranding hot spot” for whales, with nearly half of the whale strandings in New Zealand occur here.
Swarms of Crab-Like Creatures Found in River 1,600ft Beneath Antarctic Ice
Swarms of crab-like creatures were found in a river 1,600 feet beneath the ice in Antarctica in July.
The discovery was a surprise to a team of New Zealand researchers. They were in Antarctica to study a river, hundreds of kilometers from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, to see how it is impacted by the changing climate.
But as the scientists drilled down into the river with a camera, they unexpectedly discovered swarms of the small amphipods—a creature in the same family as crabs, mites and lobsters.
Professor Craig Stevens, a NIWA Physical Oceanographer taking part in the expedition, said in a press release that it was a “big surprise.”
“For a while, we thought something was wrong with the camera but when the focus improved, we noticed a swarm of arthropods around 5mm in size,” he said.
Elephant Kills Woman—Then Returns to Funeral and Tramples Corpse
An elephant killed a woman in India and then returned to her funeral and trampled on her lifeless corpse in June.
The 70-year-old woman, Maya Murmu, was attacked by the wild elephant as she walked to collect water in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, Indian news outlet The Print reported at the time.
After the elephant attacked Murmu, she was rushed to hospital, but she succumbed to her injuries, Lopamudra Nayak, an inspector at the Rasgovindpur police station, told The Print.
But later, as family members gathered for her funeral, the wild tusker appeared once again.
It approached the pyre and grabbed the body, The Print reported. The elephant then trampled on her body again, and threw it away before fleeing.
Whole Alligator Found Inside Burmese Python in Gruesome Footage
A whole alligator was found inside the stomach of Burmese python in Florida in November. The gruesome find was captured in footage posted to Instagram.
The 18-foot Burmese python was caught by field workers in the Everglades national park in Florida. As soon as the field workers spotted the invasive reptile, they euthanized it on site.
But when the reptile was taken for a necropsy, scientists found a whole, 5-foot alligator in its stomach.
A video of the discovery, taken by geoscientist Rosie Moore, showed scientists evaluating the bulge in the python’s stomach before opening it up. Scientists can then be seen removing the whole alligator from its stomach.
Jet Black River Beast Caught by Texas Fishermen
In May, an incredibly rare jet-black river beast was caught by Texas fishermen. Anglers Justin Jordan and Terrell Maguire were fishing on a marsh in southeast Texas when they came across the beast.
Jordan, who is a fishing guide in the area for Lotus Guide Service, told Newsweek that the creature was a “very rare” melanistic alligator gar.
Maguire was the one “behind the rod” when they caught it. Jordan estimated it was about five feet long—however the species can reach huge sizes.
Enormous 22-Foot Python Believed to Have Swallowed Grandmother Whole
An enormous 22-foot python was found to have swallowed a grandmother whole in Indonesia.
The 54-year-old woman called Jahrah had disappeared from her home in the Jambi province of Sumatra’s western Island on October 21, the Mail Online reported at the time.
After a search party, local people allegedly found the huge python with a bulging stomach inside a forest. They cut it open and found the woman’s whole body inside, the media outlet reported.
“It does appear that there are some genuine cases of reticulated pythons eating humans,” Graham Alexander, professor of herpetology at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, told Newsweek at the time.
Dolphin Attack on Trainer at Miami Seaquarium Captured in Chilling Footage
The moment a dolphin attacked a trainer at Miami Seaquarium in Florida was captured on film in April.
The incident occurred during the aquarium’s Flipper Dolphin Show on April 9.
It was captured on film by photographer Shannon Carpenter—who was at the show with his family at the time. Carpenter later posted it to TikTok.
In the footage, which can be seen here, a trainer in the water suddenly appears to be struggling to stay afloat. It then seems as if she is violently pushed forward. She then attempts to make her way out of the pool, however, she disappears below the water.
When the trainer resurfaces, she makes her way to the dock. After emerging from the pool, she hunches down, visibly frightened. Another trainer can be seen kneeling down and checking on her.
The dolphin then appears from the same spot in the water and swims away. A third trainer continues with the show.