Every year, it seems as if more and more bizarre animals are being discovered. You’d think that after all this time on the Earth, we would have figured out who all of our Earthly companions are, but we haven’t. The world is too big for us to see everything that exists on our wonderful planet.
Luckily, you know people like us, that are willing to compile such bizarre looking animals, that you’ll think that they are a work of fiction. You’ll have to believe us when we say that all the animals that you are about to see, are in fact, real – even though some of them are going extinct.
10) Bearded Vulture
Historically, the Bearded Vulture has been feared by the masses. It was believed that they could attack lambs and small children. As a result, the birds were hunted when they were around for thousands of years, until they began to dwell high up on mountains, often at a higher elevation than the tree line.
Like most vultures, the Bearded Vulture’s diet consists mainly of dead animals. However, it is the only living bird species that actually specializes in eating bone marrow. Approximately 85-90% of this colorful birds diet is bone marrow.
Fun Fact: Since bone marrow is difficult to get to, being at the center of a bone, the Bearded Vulture takes bones high in the air, and drops them to the ground. It will eat the shattered pieces! Strangely enough, the Bearded Vulture is also known to do this to turtles if it is having difficulty destroying the turtle’s shell.
The animal so nice, you had to name it twice. Dik-dik’s are quirky little creatures originating from Easten and Southern Africa, only ever reaching around 16 inches tall, and weighing about 16 pounds. Although they’re small, they can reach a top speed of 26 miles per hour. This is a necessity, as they need to escape leopards, lizards, lions, hyenas, wild dogs, hawks, pythons, cheetahs, baboons, jackals, and humans.
Dik-diks look like such calm creatures, and they are in fact, very calm. When there is a territorial conflict between two male Dik-diks, they run at each other, stop before they collide, look at each other, and nod a few times. Then, they back up a little bit farther than they had previously, and run at each other again. This process is repeated until one of them stops. They play a game of Chicken to settle their differences!
Fun Fact: To mark their territory, they urinate like most animals. However, unlike most animals, male Dik-diks will cover their females’ dung with their own, showing that the female is his mate! How romantic.
8) Chrysopelea aka The Flying Snake
That’s right. Snakes now have the ability to fly through the air. Cry now, and just give up because humanity as we know it is going to come to an end and the scales of these flying snakes. Well, they can sort-of fly. It’s really more like gliding.
There are five different classifications of Chrysopelea: Golden tree snake, Paradise tree snake, Twin-Barred tree snake, Moluccan flying snake, Sri Lankan flying snake. Although not a whole lot is known about the snake, it is known to be mildly venomous and popular in the exotic pet trade. However, due to the snake’s nervous temperament, life in captivity is often short and brutal for this animal.
Fun Fact: The Flying Snake can glide up to 100m through the air by contracting itself inwards to form a u-shaped concave shape along its body. Essentially, the snake can turn itself into a hang glider to soar through the air to avoid predators, or to feast on its next meal.
7) Pygmy Falcon
This little guy can be found in in the Eastern and Southern regions of Africa. It is the smallest bird of prey in all of Africa, but what it lacks for in size, it makes up for in agility. If it can’t find a meal on the ground, the Pygmy Falcon will snatch an insect that is buzzing around in the air.
So, how small is a Pygymy Falcon? They’re around 19 to 20 cm long, which is roughly 8 inches long. You would think that an animal so small and fragile would be in danger of extinction because it is easy to prey on. You’d be wrong, there is an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 Pygmy Falcons living in Africa!
Fun Fact: Pygmy Falcons are known to engage in relationships where two adults tend to the same nest, and nestlings. A few explanations for this behaviour include a defense mechanism, and to huddle together for warmth during colder days and nights.
6) Saiga Antelope
Although it looks like something out of James Cameron’s Avatar, the Saiga Antelope isn’t a fictional creation – but it has had a rough history regardless. Back in 1920, the Saiga Antelope was almost wiped off the face of the Earth. However, they made a rapid recovery and in 1950, there were an estimated 2,000,000 of them living in what was then, the Soviet Union.
Unfortunately, the Saiga Antelope’s population dropped rapidly after uncontrolled hunting spiked in Soviet Russia. Furthermore, there was a demand for horns to be used in Chinese medicine. Poachers were originally seeking rhinoceros horns, until the World Wildlife Fund encouraged the hunting of Saiga Antelopes instead. This was a terrible decision in hindsight, as the Saiga Antelope is once again on the verge of extinction.
Fun Fact: In the summertime, the Saiga Antelope’s unique nose helps filter out dust that is kicked up while running with its herd. In winter months, its nose is used to heat up the cold air that it breathes before it enters its lungs!
5) Chinese Water Deer
It looks like a vampire that could tear your head off, right? Despite having their tusks since they are around 6 months old, the Chinese Water Deer doesn’t actually use them to hunt anything. In fact, the only time the Chinese Water Deer would use its tusks is when two males are trying to fight each other. These fights are often territorial and results in one of them running away, or begging for mercy.
As you probably guessed from its name, the Chinese Water Deer inhabits regions in China and Korea that are close to rivers and swamps. This unique animal likes to hide itself from predators in the grassy regions surrounding rivers.
Fun Fact: Since they spend most of their lives around water, Chinese Water Deer have evolved to become excellent swimmers. They can swim several miles at a time to remote islands.
4) Ring Tailed Cat
Timid by nature, Ring Tailed Cats are rarely seen, but they love to hunt mice, insects, lizards, frogs, rats, and of course, rabbits. When it isn’t feasting on flesh, it will enjoy the occasional berry or two.
The Ring Tailed Cat can be found in Mexico, and the Southern region of the United States. Much like raccoons, the Ring Tailed Cat is nocturnal, and timid towards humans. Another thing that these animals have in common with raccoons is thatthey make very similar clicking sounds to communicate. That’s probably because they are related to raccoons. The Ring Tailed Cat isn’t actually a cat at all.
Fun Fact: Ring Tailed Cats are easily house trained. So much so that miners and settlers used to keep them in their cabins. The Ring Tailed Cat would be brought into the cabin, given a small bed near somewhere warm, and it would come out at night and rid the cabin of mice. It is believed that its catlike hunting instincts and easy domestication is why it was named a Ring Tailed Cat!
3) Silky Anteater
Look at how cuddly it looks! This slothlike animal hails from Central and South America, and is often found dwelling in silk cotton trees. Why? It’s fur matches the seed fibers of silk cotton trees, which can be used as a natural camouflage for this slow moving animal.
Besides the occasional fruit, the Silky Anteater enjoys a diet of 700 to 5,000 ants a day. Realistically, they can’t take on any other animals. They’re usually 14 to 18 inches long, and they can weigh anywhere from 175 to 400 grams.
Fun Fact: When threatened, the Silky Anteater will defend itself by standing on its hind legs, holding its fore feet so close to its face that it can kick an animal that tries to get close to it. It’s unusual, but it works!
2) Snub-nosed Monkey
There isn’t a whole lot known about this bizarre looking animal, because there aren’t many of them left, and they were only recently discovered. What zoologists do know is that it lives in China and the Northern part of Vietnam. The reason zoologists don’t know much about these monkeys is because they are so hard to find! They spend most of their lives dwelling at the tops of trees, and they are very territorial. When a potential threat approaches, the Snub-nosed Monkey will shout as loud as it can. Since they live in packs sometimes as big as 600, you can imagine how frightening this could be.
These weird looking monkeys have an even weirder mating ritual. The female initiates interest in the male by making eye contact with him, and then walking away for a short period of time. When she returns, she flashes the male her genitals. If he likes what he sees, it’s game on.
Fun Fact: They’re upturned noses are a huge problem for them when it is raining. Why? They can’t keep the water out, and that causes them to sneeze constantly during rainfall!
1) Glaucus Atlanticus
This adorable sea slug is the closest thing that we have to a real life Pokemon, so let’s appreciate them while they are still around. These tiny fellas are about an inch long, and can be found floating upside down on the surface of water after eating off the East and South coast of Africa, European waters, and the east coast of Australia.
Although you wish you could cuddle with this little guy forever, be warned: they are ferocious. These little guys gang up and feed on the Portuguese Man o’ war, a creature with a name that is just about as tough as it is.
Fun Fact: If you pick up a Glaucus Atlanticus, you may feel a strong stinging in your hand. This is because after the Glaucus Atlanticus eats it’s prey, the Portuguese Man o’ war, and other cnidaria, it actually absorbs the venom that is in those creatures which causes them to sting predators! These little guys will eat you and then take your powers.