When we think of animals we usually think about our pets—cats, dogs, fish and maybe so a bird or lizard. If you live in a rural area you’re familiar with farm animals like cows, pigs and chickens. The internet and social media has made many of us aware that there is a huge menagerie of strange animals lurking in far away places around the world.
Some of them just look like variations of familiar animals, but others truly seem to be inspired by the latest science fiction blockbuster. Although they flaunt other worldly colors and shapes these animals are as much creatures of Earth as our dog Spot.
15. When I See an Elephant Fly
Perhaps it doesn’t quite look like the title character from Disney’s 1941 Dumbo, but it is an interesting looking sea creature. They are also known as deep-sea Umbrella octopus. They live deep down at 13,000 feet or more in dark, cold water with extreme pressure.
Doing a fair impression of Dumbo, these octopi use their broad flap-like fins to propel themselves through the water. Because they live in such a forbidding environment they have not been extensively studied and there is still much researchers want to learn about the Dumbo Octopus.
14. Kiss the Frog
The Cape Rain Frog is so named because it is found mostly in South Africa’s Cape Province. Both males and females of this tiny frog species measure only 1.7 inches in length. Unlike most frogs who can be found frequenting ponds and lily pads, the Cape Rain Frog prefers to burrow underground.
They bury themselves then tuck themselves into a thin membrane that keeps them snug. Even when preparing to mate the male frogs stay put. They make a distinctive mating call that attracts the fairer sex to their subterranean pad.
13. Beware of the Blob
This is not a new Star Wars villain inspired by Ziggy this is a Blob Fish. The Blob Fish is found off the coasts of Australia and Tasmania. The strange fish are relatively unknown because they usually stay at depths of around 800 meters down. The fish’s odd appearance is dictated by the extreme pressures it faces at the great depths.
This unfortunate marine animal has been described as “ugly” and “miserable” which really isn’t fair. On a serious note the Blob Fish may be facing extinction because they are often dragged to the surface by fishermens’ nets hunting for crabs and other ocean floor dwelling fish.
12. Sea Monkey?
It would be cool if this little critter really was a sea monkey, but its not. This is called an Axolotl and it’s a kind of salamander also known as a Mexican salamander. Although they are amphibians, axolotls do not go through metamorphosis and the mature salamander average about 9 inches in length.
In 201o, these strange creatures were nearing extinction in the lakes in Mexico they inhabit because of pollution and predatory fish. They are small and harmless, but they do have little teeth which they use to eat small fish and insects.
11. Beware the Ice Age!
Many of us became familiar with sloth’s with the 2002 release of Ice Age John Leguizamo steals the movie as the voice of the manic sloth named Sid. However, sloths aren’t just zany cartoon characters they are strange products of evolution and cousins of anteaters. They live most of their lives in trees even sleeping while they hang from branches by their specialized claws.
Their long arms and impressive claws make them at home in trees and the only descend to the ground when they have to. To humans sloths may seem lazy, but their metabolism forces them to conserve as much edgy as possible – energy they may use to flee from predators.
10. A Hare Full of Hair
When most people think of the word “Angora” they probably think of Angora sweaters. As the above photograph shows these rabbits are sheared for Their coveted fur. Sweater and other garments are made from the fine wool of the Angora rabbit. These animals are the oldest domesticated rabbits.
They were domesticated in ancient times in what is today Turkey. This rabbit wool is only 11 microns in diameter, finer than Cashmere. Angora rabbits must eat generous amounts of hay daily to prevent them from suffering from intestinal blockage from ingesting their own wool.
9. Unidentified Flying Jelly
The above photograph is not in fact an example of a UFJ it is a colorful example of a deep sea jellyfish. Gelatinous, bioluminescent, tentacles and stingers are some of the words commonly associated with jellyfish so no wonder they are often compared to aliens.
Many jellyfish are small and stay fairly close to coastal areas, but other species of jellyfish haunt the abysmal reaches of our vast oceans. Stigiomedusa gigantea is thought to be the largest kind of jellyfish and its arms can reach lengths of up to 20 feet. Like giant squids, giant jellyfish are likely candidates for the centuries of stories about sea monsters from the depths.
8. Aye-Aye Captain
The aye aye is the world’s largest nocturnal primate species. This fits since they look like a rat crossed with a bat. These strange little guys live only on the island of Madagascar and they live most of their lives foraging high up in the forest canopy. Aye Ayes mostly eat the inside of Ramy nuts and palm tree nectar.
Their teeth never stop growing which they use to get to the inside of the Ramy nuts. Even though they have giant ears, their primary sensory organ is their middle fingers. They use these highly mobile digits to search for insects into the cracks and crevices of trees.
7. That’ll Do Pig
Even though this little animal is reminiscent of an armored pig it is definitely not a pig. This is a Pink Fairy Armadillo—an incongruous name for an incongruous animal. This pink example of “a little armored one” Not only is it pink it also has the distinction of being the smallest type of armadillo.
They are very localized being found only in parts of central Argentina where they eat worms and grubs. In captivity these armadillos have been known to eat diverse foods including avocado and watermelon. Even though they have armor for defense from predators they are also nocturnal, relying on the darkness for further protection.
6. There be Dragons!
This creature looks a little like one of those reptiles hollywood special effects artists used to glue rubber pieces onto to make dinosaurs. But it isn’t a dinosaur or a movie prop it’s a Thorny Dragon, also known as a Thorny Devil. Although they only grow to about 8 inches and are usually harmless, they have long been hunted down and killed. Traditional cultures believed the intimidating looking reptiles were agents of evil and needed to be killed to prevent calamities. The spikes that cover their bodies are not used for attack, but only for defense against larger predators. Their tails have evolved to look like their heads to make it harder for attackers to approach from behind.
5. He’s a Meat Eater!
The Tarsier is a unique species of primate found in Southeast Asia and particularly the Philippines. Their bodies only measure about 5-6 inches, but their tales can be almost 10 inches long. Obviously they are known for their very large eyes, each one can be bigger than their brain.
They get their name from their very long tarsus bones of their feet that help them cling to tree branches. perhaps the most distinctive fact about Tarsiers is that they are the only living example of a carnivorous primate. They mostly eat insects, but they will also hunt small birds, snakes and lizards.
4. Smile for the Camera
This impressive looking fish is called a Sloan’s Viper Fish or a Dragon fish. It holds the record for largest teeth relative to the size of its head. This toothy fish is found in all tropical waters around the world. Even when its moth is closed the huge teeth stick out and overlap one another.
The teeth and jaws allows it to attack and eat prey much larger than the fish its size. This fish lives at considerable depths so researchers would like to be able to learn more about them. Most researchers believe the Viper Fish could live as long as 30 years and grow to about a foot in length.
3. Rainbow Shrimp
Despite their bright colors this is a Mantis Shrimp, not a rainbow shrimp. These shrimp are not only colorful, but big – coming in at about 4 inches in length. The are usually found in shallow, tropical waters but they are not well researched because they spend much of their lives hidden away in crevices and holes.
These shrimp have powerful claws that they use to attack and dismember prey. The claws are powerful enough to break aquarium glass. While human eyes have 3 kinds of color-receptive cones, Mantis Shrimp have 16 kinds of color-receptive cones helping to make their visual system among the most complex ever studied.
This and other adaptations allow them to tune their vision and see in a variety of spectrums of light.
2. Shaggy the Dog
Bergamasco Shepherds are not the most bizarre animals around, but they are pretty weird looking for dogs. Originally bred in Italy as herding dogs and the males can weigh as much as 80 pounds. Their hair is not a fashion statement, the long, thick strands protect the breed from the elements as well as predators.
The tufts of hair seen in the above photograph are called are called flocks and they can be up to three inches wide. This breed is known as a good companion for humans but can sometimes be too aggressive or alternatively – too shy.
This animal look like Lamb Chop has morphed into a hairy alien aardvark. Lamb Chop was a popular Lamb puppet on a children’s television show, but she was cuddly and cute and would not scare children as this moth surely would. The Venezuelan Poodle Moth was not discovered until 2009 when a zoologist in Venezuela snapped photographs of the mysterious creature.
When its picture first started to spread on the Internet many people thought it was a hoax, but it is in fact a real species of moth. Scientists were not exactly sure how it should be classified and admit a lot of research needs to be done with the Venezuelan Poodle Moth.