Caterpillars stuff themselves with leaves, hang themselves upside down, weave a silky cocoon around their body, and eventually transform themselves - through a process called metamorphosis - into colorful butterflies.
But this caterpillar from Peru is a different story.
'Like A Knight Inside A Suit Of Armor'
A caterpillar from the Peruvian Amazon has piqued the interest of the internet and the online science community with its baffling behavior.
First featured in the video of Joe Hanson, the creator, host, and writer of hit the YouTube science show It's OK to Be Smart, the caterpillar can be seen piecing together fragments of dried foliage from the forest floor and forming a tube-shaped shelter. Instead of crawling with its true legs and prolegs as an ordinary caterpillar does, the caterpillar mobilizes itself using its mouth, pulling itself and its "leaf armor" forward.
"Like a knight inside a suit of armor," as Hanson described in his video, the critter hid inside its protective leaf shelter when it was picked up from the ground to be shown closer to the camera, noting that it gave the caterpillar an awesome camouflage against harmful predators.
'Hermit Crab Caterpillar'
Hanson, a biologist and a science writer, captured the intriguing caterpillar behavior while filming a documentary for his show, which is presented by PBS Digital Studios and has a wide viewership of more than a million subscribers, in the area of the Amazon rain forest within Peru. He was accompanied by entomologist Aaron Pomerantz, biologist Daniel Couceiro, and guide Pedro Lima.
Hanson and his crew named their amazing discovery the "hermit crab caterpillar" because of its likeness to the crustacean animal lugging around and retreating into a shell on its back.
In an interview with Live Science, Hanson emphasized that their encounter in the Peruvian Amazon is the first known example of a caterpillar making itself a mobile home out of leaves. He also mentioned the leaves appear to be cut and pasted together, likely held in place by the caterpillar's silk or saliva-like secretions.
Threats Against The Peruvian Amazon
According to Hanson, finding the unusual creature is an important reminder that the Amazon is still full of species that are yet to be discovered - and protected.
Last year, the Amazonian jungle of Peru made the news because of yet another incident of an oil spill, this time by Petróleos del Perú (PETROPERú).
The disastrous leak, which spilled more 3,000 barrels of crude oil (or about 477,000 liters) in a number of rivers in the Peruvian Amazon, left the inhabitants of the world-famous forest - plants, wildlife, indigenous communities - in a difficult position.
"Situations like this tend to completely destroy natural landscapes and alter basic processes in the plants, which affects the wildlife that depends on them as a food source," Tony Mori, a botanical specialist in Peruvian Amazonian flora and vegetation, explained.
Check out the entire episode here: