Welcome to Texas: Home of big things, barbecue food and, now, dragons.
That’s right, dragons, but not as you know them.
The curious creatures that have been appearing in the state recently are small, blue and live in the ocean.
But don’t discount them just yet: They can still take down creatures bigger and scarier than them.
Blue dragons (scientific name glaucus atlanticus) have the ability to take down the infamous Portuguese man o’war jellyfish.
And if a human falls afoul of them, expect a sting worse than the man o’war.
The dragons are actually sea slugs, and they inhabit the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
On May 2, they were spotted ashore at the Padre Island National Seashore in Texas, where they were discovered by a seven-year-old holidaymaker.
Here there be dragons!A blue dragon, a type of nudibranch or sea slug, was found in the park this weekend. Blue…
The sea there is part of the Gulf of Mexico, which juts onto the North Atlantic, making their discovery a rare find.
They’ve been reported along the east coast of Australia, where they’ll also happily snack on any man o’war they come across.
This is partly where their bright blue colouring comes from – their diet.
“When they are floating and come into their prey … they just start munching away,” jellyfish expert Lisa-ann Gershwin told the ABC last year.
“I think they look like a lizard. They have the little head, arms, feet, fingers and toes, and tail, but then they have these fantastic blue, black and silver racing stripes that just make them unmistakable,” Dr Gershwin said.
Danger on wings
The blue dragons discovery comes at the same time the US reports an influx of ‘murder hornets’, which are just as confronting as the name suggests.
They’re about five centimetres long, with razor-sharp mandibles that aid them in their murdering.
Oh, and their stingers are long and powerful enough to pierce through a beekeeper’s suit.
They’re usually found in Japan but have been spotted in Washington as the US spring season continues.
They’re not typically aggressive, but they will attack humans if provoked.
In 2013, they killed 42 people and injured more than 1500 in the Shaanxi province of China.
About 50 people die from their stings each year in Japan.
But normally, their prey is honey bees: In just a few hours, hornets can demolish a bee hive entirely.
They like to decapitate the bees and take their headless corpses back to feed their hornet larvae.
Despite the name and behavioural tendencies, the Smithsonian’s entomology department was quick to quell fears.
“You shouldn’t worry about it,” collections manager Floyd Shockley said.
“More people die of honey bee stings in the US than die annually, globally, from these hornets.”