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.
Japanese Raccoon Dog – Also Known As the Tanuki
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.
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.
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.
Genetically, the Irrawaddy dolphin is closely related to the killer whale.
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.
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.
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.