I love animals! Who doesn’t? Unless you’ve sworn off the animal kingdom for the rest of your life, chances are you have a soft spot for the cute and cuddly or fierce and powerful— or even the scaly and outrageous—creatures in the world. But what about those ones we just don’t hear enough about, or at all?
As much as I LOVE animals, I also love finding out about fascinating big and little beings I never even realized existed on this earth. Have you come across photos or articles too where you thought, “Wow! How is this thing even real?!” Then take a look at these finds below and share your favorite ones with us!
Aye-aye. No, they’re not pirate minions (though they might have fun with that). The classification of these Madagascar lemurs seems to have been debated since they were first discovered but they grow to about three feet long and spend most of their life in tree canopies, tapping on the trunks of trees to find hollow chambers to chew through and dig out bugs with their extended middle fingers. It’s suggested that these lemurs are the only primates to use echolocation to find their prey. Ancient legends believed the aye-aye to be a symbol of death and modern legends say that if an aye-aye points one of its narrowest fingers at someone they’ve been marked to die. Yikes!
Tufted Deer. Bambi move over, there’s a new deer in town! This species of deer that resides across a wide area of central China and northeastern Myanmar has a characteristic black tuft of hair (up to 6 inches) like a Mohawk on its forehead and possess incredible hearing, vision and sense of smell. While their inch long fangs look menacing, they bark at predators and flee in a zigzag motion that makes them difficult to chase down. They can, however, use those fangs to fight one another. Why has no one made a movie about vampire deer?!
Okapi. They live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa and are most closely related to giraffes but the Okapi sort of resemble deer with hyena ears and it seems like someone got distracted when putting on their stripes. Those stripes actually help camouflage them in the dense rainforest and can help young Okapi find their mothers. Their long tongues enable them to clear their eyes and ears (inside and out) and they have scent glands on their feet that produce a tar-like substance to mark their territory. Neat!
Blob Fish. Did anyone ever play with Goop as a kid? This fish looks like it got caught in a Goop puddle and is still trying to break free like something out of Alien. Poor Blob Fish! These scientifically gelatinous Psychrolutes live around Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand and have a density that’s just slightly less than water so that they can float around the sea floor without having to do much if any swimming. They gobble up crustaceans and were voted as the “World’s Ugliest Animal” in September 2013, but ugly as people may think they are, they’re also closer to becoming endangered as they get caught up in deep sea fishing trawls. I happen to think they’re pretty darn amazing looking and this photo makes me want to give them all hugs.
Goblin sharks. This name says it all and dredges up childhood fears of goblins under the bed. But goblin sharks come from a lineage dating some 125 million years old and have ampullae of Lorenzini (which is a fancy way of saying special sensing organs) that can detect tiny electric fields given off by their prey. Wild! They grow to about 10-13 feet and usually live at depths greater than 330 feet around the world, so if you want to get close to one you’ll have to hold your breath a long time. They enjoy teleost fishes and crustaceans and, like the blob fish, are buoyant enough to be able to hover instead of swimming quickly – though you probably wouldn’t want to be in the way as their specialized jaws can snap forward to gobble up prey at insane speeds. Maybe they should change the spelling to ‘gobblin’ fish’?
Patagonian Mara. It’s like a rabbit and kangaroo had a cute lovechild, isn’t it? Somewhere the Easter Bunny is groaning over that reference but what makes this rodent unique is that it’s only found in Argentina. Like humans, their activities depend on light, temperature and precipitation, and when choosing to be monogamous will stay together for life and not move on to another partner unless one of them dies. They have a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with one another and are currently a near endangered species.
Purple Frog/Pignose. Have you ever heard a frog cry like a chicken? Me either but apparently the Purple Frog, otherwise known as the Pignose Frog or Doughnut Frog, can. They’re usually found in the Western Ghats in India and prefer to spend most of their time about 13 feet underground, only appearing on land for two weeks of the year during monsoons to mate.
What other cool and fascinating animals have you come across that you can share with us? Let us know in a comment and share these amazing finds with your friends!