In the world of online video, this will probably go down in history as Rebecca Black week. Whether she wanted to or not, she took over the whole darn Internet with her “Friday” video, the Good Morning America interview, and then Jay Leno on top of all that. But since I’ve already shared my thoughts about that whole thing, this week’s viral video round-up will be Rebecca-Black-free. Instead, we’ve got nature, odd talents, and of course… more weird animals.

Let’s begin…

Odd Animal Antics

Cats and dogs typically rule the roost when it comes to popular animal videos, but this week they made room for some of the other members of the animal kingdom.

Like this owl, who is locked in a staring contest with the camera and will not be deterred:

You don’t see a lot of owl videos, so this one has the uniqueness factor going for it right out of the gate. But to see the thing that determined to keep his eyes on the camera is unexpected… and cute. And those two things usually spell “shareable content.”

Another animal we don’t see often enough in online video is the penguin. And when we do see a penguin video, it doesn’t usually involve the long jump:

This video is succeeding for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he actually makes the jump–which doesn’t really seem likely for most of the build up. Speaking of the build-up… it’s that anticipation that grows in the viewer that makes the completed jump pay off emotionally enough for them to want to share the clip with friends. It’s a 30-second version of a feel-good sports story… a true underdog, taking on a challenge against huge odds.

In all seriousness… I had no idea penguins were jumpers.

For the purists among us, who simply can’t tolerate a list of “strange animal” videos that doesn’t contain at least one dog or cat, I give you the snoring feline:

Fun With Nature

Nature videos are another breed with reliable viral potential–just ask the Double Rainbow guy. But to rise to popularity with a nature video, you’ve got to capture something unique, something extreme, or something compelling… a twist, if you will, on the standard nature-based home movie.

Like this one, that shows off the remarkable reflective qualities of a serene mountain lake:

That video sat on YouTube, pretty much ignored completely, since October 2009… and then sometime in the middle of this week… exploded. That sort of thing is only going to happen more and more as we see the continued increase in total video being uploaded.

It’s remarkable to me that the reflection is so pristine that they’re able to fool me like that. I’ve seen some pretty mirror-like bodies of water, but nothing quite that perfect. And since most viewers aren’t expecting the twist ending, they get a nice chuckle and surprise out of it–both reactions that tend to lead to sharing the clip with friends.

A lot of things in nature are becoming new to us with advent of high definition video. Nature shows like Planet Earth or Life have used the technology to give us thrilling new glimpses at animal and plant life we thought we were tired of.

The next clip features a natural phenomenon that we’ve all heard of and seen pictures of, but few of us have seen in person… aurora borealis. This filmmaker spent a week in northern Russia filming the light show, and stitched it together in a mesmerizing 2-minute clip:

Awesome. And nearly a million views in four days. Not too shabby.

Sometimes man interferes with nature, and spectacular things happen. Like when some Russian soldiers need to clear out some potential avalanche snow and ice by… well… causing a more controlled avalanche on purpose:

I’m only guessing, but I bet they’ve done that before, because they don’t seem nearly as freaked out about the wall of snow as I would be. I have to wonder, though… if this is their day job… what do these soldiers do for fun with their downtime?

Unique Talent

If you have great talent, you can go viral more easily than an untalented person. If you can sing, you’ve got a shot. If you can play an instrument… go for it. But if you have a talent that’s odd… unique… or strange… then you’re in even better shape.

Like the woman in the subway who can play the original Star Trek theme on a saw:

We’ve seen a run lately on “trick-shot” videos, particular with college football quaterbacks trying to out-do one another. Well… maybe they’ll all shut up after they see a 12-year-old do the same jaw-dropping stunts:

Someone explain to me how those college QB’s have more than a million views, but this poor kid is still at 150,000? If there’s any justice in this world, he’ll end up with a higher view count than all of them.

Extreme Sports

Wait a second… did I just subtly squeeze an extra section into this week’s round up? Why, yes… I did… how nice of you to notice. Let’s just say there were entirely too many great videos this week and I couldn’t help myself.

Extreme sports rose to popularity over the last 20 years, aided by the marketing dollars of Mountain Dew and the skateboarding prowess of Tony Hawk. Now they’re a strong, if smallish, staple in the overall sports landscape. But some sports are more extreme than others. For instance, the sport informally referred to as “breaking and entering in order to body surf a dam,” seen here:

That’s about the fifth time that guy’s gone viral for one-upping his own stunts, and it never gets any easier to watch him do that. It’s got to be one of the most pin-point accurate, yet totally useless physical abilities a person could ever be gifted with.

Of course, sometimes even a traditional sporting event–such as a bike race–can suddenly turn extreme when you force competitors to barrel down a mud-covered mountain:

Honorable Mention

I always have more great videos than I do time to share them, so here are a few more I thought you might enjoy: