While they are not the cute, majestic or emblematic creatures that frequently grace headlines, these bizarre species certainly deserve some attention. There are thousands of animal species on our planet that are facing endangerment and need our support. From bats the size of bees to leaping-lesbian lizards and slimey blobfish, here are 15 of the strangest, most wonderfully bizarre species that you’ve never heard of.
15 Wonderfully Bizarre Species Not Making Headlines- Written by Natalie Kyriacou, My Green World.
15. SEA PIG
Commonly known as the sea pig, this bizarre species is, in fact, a type of sea cucumber. Sea cucumbers are echinoderms, a group of marine animals that include sea urchins and starfish. Sea pigs are found in all the world’s oceans and are about 4-6 inches long. These cute creatures play an essential role in the ecosystem, though scientists know very little about their ecology and behavior, mainly because they live in the coldest, deepest parts of the ocean. Bottom-trawling nets are a major threat to these creatures and, being a substantial part of the nutrition of deep sea predators, it represents a broader, more serious threat to deep sea life.
Labelled as the “World’s ugliest species” the blob fish looks more like a blob of slime rather than an actual creature. Blobfish live deep in the ocean, where pressures are exceedingly high. The blobfish’s gelatinous appearance is actually a brilliant adaptation – its gooey flesh allows it to stay buoyant at depths where gaseous bladders can’t function. It can be found off the coasts of mainland Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.
Unfortunately, blobfish are currently endangered, and are teetering towards extinction. While they aren’t hunted, blobfish are often caught in bottom-trawling nets. These nets go across the ocean floor, shoveling up lobsters and other deep-sea creatures. Sadly, the blobfish gets scooped up as well, and though it may get flung back into the ocean, by then it is already too late.
13. MANTIS SHRIMP
Mantis shrimp or, stomatopods are marine crustaceans that are neither shrimp nor mantids – they receive their name purely from the physical resemblance to both the praying mantis and the shrimp. Mantis shrimp appear in a multiplicity of colours, ranging from shades of brown, to bright neon colours. In Australia, they are referred to as “prawn-killers’, and frequently labelled as “thumb-splitters” by divers, because of the relative ease the creature has in mutilating small appendages — mantis shrimp have formidable claws that they use to attack and kill prey by spearing, stunning or dismembering. Mantis shrimp also have incredible binocular vision and many see in colour. They play an important role in regulating marine ecosystems, promoting higher overall species richness.
12. GLASS FROG
Glass frog is the common name for amphibians belonging to the family Centrolenidae, named for their incredible translucent abdominal skin. Glass frogs are generally small, ranging from 1.2 to 3 inches in length. Glass frogs are mostly arboreal, and are generally found throughout Central and South America.
Conservationists are particularly interested in these astonishing frogs because they may be good bioindicators – meaning that they provide clues about the health of the environment where they live. By watching the glass frogs, scientists and conservationists can determine the impact that climate change has on the flora and fauna that also inhabit their region. Like many creatures that live in the rainforest, glass frogs are threatened by significant habitat loss.
11. VENEZUELAN POODLE MOTH
The Venezuelan Poodle Moth is, in fact, a real animal. Discovered in 2009, very little is known of this moth species, though it is said to belong to the family Lasiocampidae.
10. FLAPJACK OCTOPUS
Made famous by ‘Pearl’, the pink octopus character in Finding Nemo, the flapjack octopus, or, Opisthoteuthis californiana is a rarely observed, deep-sea species. This species is a close relative of the recently discovered Opisthoteuthis adorabilis, so named for its “adorableness”!
These rare animals may not look like primates at first glance, but they are related to chimpanzees, apes, and humans. The nocturnal aye-aye is indigenous to Madagascar and was recently reclassified as endangered. Thought to be extinct in 1933, the aye-aye was rediscovered in 1957. Sadly, they are aggressively hunted, because in their native land they’re considered to be omens of bad luck and harbingers of evil and death, so villagers often kill them on sight. Such hunting, coupled with habitat destruction, have made the aye-aye endangered, and today they are protected by law.
This funny looking creature is the axolotl. It is colloquially known as a “walking fish”, however it is not a fish, but an amphibian. The species originates from numerous lakes underlying Mexico City. As of 2010, wild axolotls were near extinction due to urbanization in Mexico City and consequent water pollution. They are currently listed by IUCN as critically endangered in the wild. Axolotls are used extensively in scientific research due to their ability to regenerate limbs.
A Phallic shaped nose isn’t all that is incredible about this endangered primate. It may seem hard to believe, but male proboscis monkeys use their fleshy, dangling noses to attract mates! Proboscis monkeys are the primate world’s most prolific swimmers, frequently leaping from tree limbs and hitting the water with a comical belly flop. They’ve also evolved webbed feet and hands which help them outpace predators in the water. Proboscis monkeys are endemic to the jungles of Borneo, and unfortunately, are threatened by the rampant clearing of the region’s rain forests for timber, settlement, and oil palm plantations. Over the last 40 years, proboscis monkey populations have plummeted.
No, the Markhor isn’t a character out of Lord of the Rings, but this impressive creature certainly looks like something straight out of a fantasy film. This native of the Middle East was traditionally hunted through the region, though it’s now illegal in Afghanistan and Pakistan unless special licenses have been issued. With fewer than 2,500 of these large goats left in the wild, the markhor is considered threatened.
5. LEAPING LESBIAN LIZARDS
The leaping lesbian lizard is the popular name for the New Mexico whiptail lizard. Officially named Cnemidophorus uniparens, these American desert lizards reproduce despite the fact that they’re all female. This lizard was designated the official state reptile of New Mexico in 2003 and is found primarily in the Rio Grande valley from northern New Mexico to northern Chihuahua, Mexico.
4. BUMBLEBEE BAT
If there was an award for the cutest bat ever, the bumblebee bat would certainly have it. Measuring in at a towering 1 inch, and weighing less than 2 grams, this tiny creature is the smallest mammal in the world, dwelling in Thailand. Also known as Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, it is considered one of the 12 most endangered species in the world, with fewer than 200 remaining. Today the main threats are from burning of the forest areas near the limestone caves in which it lives.
Commonly known as “sea cows”, the marvelous dugong is a cousin of the manatee and a close relative of the elephant. The dugong is unique in that it has a split (whale-like) tail and will “perch” underwater on its tail in order to keep its head above water. The dugong is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and is threatened by poachers who hunt the animal for its meat, oil, skin and bones.
2. BARKING DEER
Barking deer are a shy and elusive member of the deer family that are located in the dense jungles of India. This species is one of eleven different species of muntjacs spread across Asia, and are one of the least known Asian animals. This small and exotic looking species can be surprisingly difficult to spot, although a loud barking call could indicate one is nearby.
1. STAR-NOSED MOLE
The star-nosed mole, also known as Condylura cristata, is a small mammal found in moist low areas of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. Their weird snout has 22 fleshy appendages that act more like ultra-sensitive fingers than a nose.
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