27 Strange Animals You Never Knew Existed

Zoo San GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Every year, scientists discover new animal species that surprise even the most knowledgable researchers. So it should be no surprise that there are thousands of bizarre and elusive animals that most people have never even heard of. After all, humans have only explored less than 5% of the world’s oceans.

Ever seen a vampire deer? What about a Raccoon Dog? Even if you answered yes, chances are there is at least one animal in this list you haven’t heard of yet.

#1
Japanese Raccoon Dog – Also Known As the Tanuki

Via Imgur

Also known as the Japanese Raccoon Dog, the Tanuki is an adorable creature that looks like a raccoon but is actually more closely related to dogs.

The raccoon dog is named for its resemblance to the raccoon, to which it is not closely related. They are very good climbers and regularly climb trees.

Indigenous to East Asia, Tanukis play important roles in various Japanese folk tales, often described with having magic powers like shapeshifting.

#2
Dhole

Via Imgur
Via Imgur

The Dhole is a species of canid native to South and Southeast Asia. The dhole is a highly social animal, living in large clans which occasionally split up into small packs to hunt.

It primarily preys on medium-sized ungulates, which it hunts by tiring them out in long chases, and kills by disemboweling them. Though fearful of humans, dhole packs are bold enough to attack large and dangerous animals such as wild boar, water buffalo, and even tigers.

#3
Irrawaddy dolphin

Irrawaddy_dolphin-Orcaella_brevirostris_by_2eight

The Irrawaddy dolphin is a species of oceanic dolphin found near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia.

DKoehl_Irrawaddi_Dolphin_jumping

Genetically, the Irrawaddy dolphin is closely related to the killer whale.

#4
Tufted Deer

Tufted Deer via Imgur

The Tufted Deer is a deer named for its signature black tuft of coarse hair on its head. You may also notice another interesting characteristic: this deer has two large fang-like canine teeth jutting out of its mouth.

This vampire deer is a close relative of the muntjac, living somewhat further north over a wide area of central China northeastern Myanmar. They have recently been seen in Afghanistan after their last appearance some 60 years ago.

#5
Star-nosed Mole

wyLcpFd

The star-nosed mole is a small mole found in wet low areas of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.

It is easily identified by the 11 pairs of pink fleshy appendages ringing its snout, which is used as a touch organ with more than 25,000 minute sensory receptors, known as Eimer’s organs, with which this hamster-sized mole feels its way around. It is definitely has one of the most unique noses in the animal kingdom.

#6
Babirusa


Image: Eric Kilby via Flickr

Babirusa, meaning “Hog-deer”, are members of the pig family found in Wallacea, or specifically the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi, Togian, Sula and Buru.

If a babirusa does not grind its tusks (achievable through regular activity), they will eventually keep growing so much so as to penetrate the animal’s own skull.

#7
Lamprey


Image: Wikimedia Commons

Lampreys are a type of jawless fish that live mostly in coastal and fresh waters whose adults are characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth.

They attach themselves to fish and suck their blood. Lampreys have been around for nearly 300 millions years and their body structure has remained relatively unchanged.


#8
Gerenuk

The gerenuk, also known as the Waller’s gazelle, is a long-necked species of antelope found in dry thorn bush scrub and desert in Eastern Africa.

Gerenuks have a relatively small head for their body, but their eyes and ears are proportionately large. They seldom graze but instead browse on prickly bushes and trees, such as acacias. They can reach higher branches and twigs than other gazelles and antelope by standing erect on their rear legs and stretching their elongated necks.

#9
Naked Mole Rat

CdJjt36XIAQwBNx

This creature has a lot of characteristics that make it very important to human beings.

For one it is resistant to cancer. They also live up to 28 years, which is unheard of in mammals of its size. It seemingly does not age much in those 28 years either. It remains “young, healthy and fully fertile for almost all its days, which for an elderly animal is equivalent to an 80-year-old woman having the biological make-up of someone 50 years younger.”

The naked mole rat is used in both cancer research and the study of aging. The naked mole rat could unlock the secrets to immortality…

#10
Sunda Coluga

7wr7YMY

Also known as The Sunda flying lemur, it is not actually a lemur and does not fly. Instead, it glides as it leaps among trees.

It is strictly arboreal, is active at night, and feeds on soft plant parts such as young leaves, shoots, flowers, and fruits. The Sunda Coluga can be found throughout Southeast Asia in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore

#11
Amazonian Royal Flycatcher

Image: Michael Imgur

The Amazonian Royal Flycatcher is found in forests and woodlands throughout most of the Amazon basin.

They are about 6 1/2 inches in length and like to dart out from branches to catch flying insects or pluck them from leaves. They build very large nests (sometimes up to 6 feet long) on a branches near water. The nest hangs over the water which makes it hard for predators to reach.

This bird also clearly has one of the coolest hair-do’s of any animal ever.

#12
Cantor’s Giant Soft Shell Turtle

Image: Wikimedia Commons

This odd-looking turtle lives in rivers and streams in Southeast Asia, where it spends 95% of its life motionless beneath sand or mud and only coming up for air twice a day. Why? Well, unlike other turtles who have hard shells for protection, these turtles have a rubbery layer of skin covering their ribs.

Still, the Cantor’s giant soft shell turtle has long claws and a bite that can cut through bone. Capable of growing up more than 4 feet in length, it is one of the largest living species of freshwater turtle.

#13
Pink Fairy Armadillo


Image: Wikimedia Commons

No, this slightly adorable, slightly scary thing isn’t a stuffed animal. At an average length of about 4 inches and weighing a quarter of a pound, it’s the world’s smallest armadillo!

These elusive creatures are rarely seen in the wild, as they spend most of their time burrowing through sand with their large claws and looking for ants, snails and plants to eat. When they do come above ground, it’s probably to maneuver around rocks and other obstacles. Their soft shells help them to regulate body temperature. Fun fact: the pretty pink hue of the shell actually comes from blood vessels right underneath!

Interesting fact: the pretty pink hue of the shell actually comes from blood vessels right underneath!

#14
Thorny Devil

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thorny devils or thorny dragons look like something straight out of Game of Thrones, but instead of breathing fire and snacking on wildlife for lunch, these benign creatures eat only ants.

A thorny dragon’s entire body is covered in tiny “spikes” which provide protection from predators. But get this: when water (like dew, rain drops, etc) collects in the grooves between those spikes, it gets pulled toward the dragon’s mouth via capillary action.

 

#15
Draco volans

Speaking of dragons, this lizard from Southeast Asia is probably the closest we’ll come to flying dragons (although honestly, you never know!) It has small wing-like appendages that allow it to soar gracefully through the air over 30-ft distances. It turns out flight has quite a few advantages for this lizard — including quickly evade predators and showing off to potential mates.

#16
Okapi

Image: Wikimedia Commons

It looks like a cross between a horse and a zebra, but the okapi is actually closer to giraffes. Like it’s cousin, the okapi feeds on the leaves of tall trees using it’s long tongue and spreads it’s legs as it lowers its neck to drink water. It also has large sensitive ears that pick up the slightest sounds from far away.

At 5 feet, okapis aren’t as tall as giraffes, but they don’t need to be. In the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (where they live), trees hang much lower and a smaller gait makes it easier to maneuver.

#17
Atretochoana eiselti

Image: Facebook

Often referred to as a “penis snake” for obvious reasons, Atretochoana eiselti is a species of caecilian, a group of limbless amphibians that look like snakes.  The fascinating thing about these creatures (apart from their less than desirable appearance) is that they have no lungs and most likely breathe through their skin!

Oh, and it also completely blind.. They just can’t catch a break, can they?

#18
Proboscis monkey

mage: Wikimedia Commons

You might be tempted to laugh at the size of this monkey’s nose, but it turns out that when it comes to wooing females: the bigger, the better. According to the National Geographic, the males’ ridiculously large noses “create an echo chamber that amplifies the monkey’s call, impressing females and intimidating rival males.”

Proboscis monkeys are some of Asia’s largest monkeys with adult males weighing up to 50 pounds. They love snacking and fruits and leaves, although they’ll eat insects occasionally.

#19
Pacu fish

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Pacu fish are closely related to the piranha, but unlike they’re man-eating, razor-toothed cousins however, pacus have human-like teeth, which they use to crack through nuts and seeds.  A few years ago, stories of pacu biting of a man’s testicle were widely reported on the internet, but experts say such a thing is unlikely as the fish are vegetarian.

Although they are native to South America, they have been turning up all over the globe due to aquarium owners carelessly dumping them after they get to their max size of 10-12 inches.

#20
Saiga antelope

Image: Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve never heard of the Saiga antelope, there’s good reason. These animals are critically endangered, after loss of habitat, hunting and the demand for horns completely wiped out populations in places like China, Romania and Moldova. Population estimates have fallen from a million in the 1990s to about 50,000 currently.

The saiga antelope is easily identified by  its large, distinctive nose which hangs over its mouth.

#21
Snakehead fish

Image: Wikimedia Commons

A couple things to know about these fish: they can survive on land for up to four days and they’re top level predators who eat frogs and other aquatic wildlife, in addition to other fish.

If that’s not enough to scare you, consider the sharp teeth lining their mouths and throats — which they are not afraid to use to protect their young.  While they are native to Asia and Africa, they were illegally introduced to the United States, where they are an invasive species.

#22
Glass-wing butterfly

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Meet one of the coolest butterflies on the planet! Its transparent wings allow light to pass directly through, reducing glare and making it almost invisible as it soars through the air. The wings help the butterflies camouflage themselves from birds and other predators, who might miss them completely in a complicated environment.

#23
The Fossa

Researchers have had a hard time classifying the fossa. It looks like a cat, but apparently, it’s closely related to mongooses.

Native to Madagascar, the fossa is a solitary animal that hangs out both on the ground and in trees, where it’s long tail allows it to stay balanced. Fossas typically prey on lemurs and other small mammals.

#24
Aye aye

Image: Wikimedia Commons

This freaky-looking is not very photogenic at all — and although it looks like a wet drugged-up rat, it’s actually a primate that spends its entire life in trees.

While the aye aye typically eats fruits and seeds, it also goes for insect larvae and grubs. To find this prey, it uses a technique called percussive foraging, which involves tapping on trees with its long middle finger and listening for larvae inside, then gnawing a hole through which it can stick its long finger in and pull out the prey. By the way, have you seen those fingers? They’re the stuff of nightmares!

In Madagascar, aye ayes are often considered to be a bad omen, with some legends saying if one points at you, it means you’ve been marked for death. Unfortunately, this has led people to kill them on sight and this species is now considered endangered.

#25
Coconut crab

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Weighing up to 9 pounds with a wing span of up to 3 feet, coconut crabs are the largest living arthropods in the world. Their huge, powerful claws are able to pick up and crack lots of things, including coconuts (which is where they name comes from). But these always-hungry scavengers also eat dead animals, including other coconut crabs and their own body parts which they’ve discarded while molting!

#26
Giant oarfish

Image: Wikimedia Commons

This super-long eel-like fish may be behind the legend of sea serpents. Dwelling more than 3,000 feet deep in the ocean, the giant oarfish is the longest bony fish in the world — growing up to 36 feet long! They swim through the water by holding their body almost vertical and motionless, while their fins undulate rapidly. They’re really seen by humans, except when sick or dying specimens wash up on shore, so not much is known about the fascinating creatures.

#27
Desert rain frog

Image: Dean Boshoff via YouTube

At first glance, this chubby sand-covered frog probably doesn’t look it, but it might just be the cutest thing ever. Why? Well, when threatened, the desert rain frog makes a high-pitched sound that sounds a lot like a squeaky toy (listen below!)

The frogs are nocturnal so they spend the day hiding in moist sand up to 8 inches deep, only emerging at night.

 

 

WATCH NOW: Watch footage of the newly discovered pythons in Florida.