Some animals are so unique that it’s hard to believe they’re even real. These majestic creatures come from all over the world, but many of them are native to areas most of us will never visit, such as Madagascar, or deep in the rainforests of Central and South America.
Unfortunately, many of them are also endangered, but knowing about them and bringing awareness to their plight can go a long way in helping to preserve them. Our planet is better the more diverse it is; that’s what makes ecosystems so complex and interesting. So making sure animals don’t go extinct should be a priority for anyone who cares about the future of Earth.
From bold colors to strange shapes and features, these 30 creatures will make you do a double-take. How many have you heard of before today?
1. Royal flycatcher
These amazing birds are native to Central and South America. Their colorful crests are their most distinctive feature and often fan out when held. While there are up to 4 species of flycatchers, 2 of them are nearing extinction.
2. Thorn bug
The Umbonia spinosa, or thorn bug, is most commonly found in South America. This insect belongs to the same family as cicadas and treehoppers, but can be distinguished from more common bugs by it’s unique dorsal horn.
3. Mantis shrimp
The mantis shrimp is beautiful but dangerous. These crustaceans can deliver quite a wallop to their prey with their sharp forelimbs and aren’t much more gentle on human fingers. There are over 450 species of mantis shrimp, but this little guy is by far the most colorful.
4. Fish hook ant
The Polyrhachis bihamata, or fish hook ant, was discovered back in 2007 in East and South Asia. They have curved spines and sharp hooks that can penetrate human skin. When they’re in attack mode, they can hook onto each other to defend against predators.
5. Blue parrotfish
Imagine finding this on the end of your fishing rod! The blue parrotfish can be found in shallow waters around coral reefs in the western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. They average about 12-30 inches in length, but can grow to be nearly 4 feet long!
6. Bald uakari monkey
For the Cacajao calvus, or bald uakari monkey, a red face is an indicator of good health. They live in the Amazon River basin and can live to be 20 years old. Sadly, their populations are declining and the species is at risk of extinction.
7. Giraffe weevil
The giraffe weevil got its name thanks to its long neck, which comes in handy both for nest building and fighting. It is native to Madagascar. Most of its body is black, with the exception of its distinctive red wing casings.
8. Blanket octopus
The blanket octopus lives in subtropical and tropical oceans. They get their names from the long, transparent webs that connect the arms of adult females, making them look like a big, cozy (albiet a bit slimy) blanket.
9. Flying lemur
Despite its name, the flying lemur cannot fly, nor is it a lemur. It is native to the Philippines and glides among the trees. They live in heavily forested areas and can grow up to 15 inches, with a 10-inch tail.
10. Pink fairy armadillo
The pink fairy is the smallest of the armadillos and despite sounding like it was named by a 5-year-old girl, it was first described by naturalist Richard Harlan in 1825. They are burrowing animals native to Argentina and since they’re pretty secretive, we don’t know enough about them to know whether or not they’re endangered.
The majestic Appaloosa is no typical horse. Native to the western US, these animals have a hyper-glossy and unique coat with a variety of spotted patterns. Some even have striped hooves.
12. Black night leopard gecko
We’re not going to lie – we find this little guy pretty cute. You can even get your own for a cool $1.3k. The black night is bred for its color and lives on a diet of mealworms.
13. Red-lipped batfish
The red-lipped batfish is native to the Galapagos and looks like it got into someone’s lipstick. The little white spot under its nose is helpful in capturing small fish and crustaceans, which they find while walking on the ocean floor.
14. Elephant shrew
The Giant Sengi (also known as the elephant shrew) lives in the Boni-Dodori Forest in Kenya. Sadly, these little guys are endangered not only due to deforestation but because they often get caught up in traps, despite their speed. The fastest elephant shrew was recorded at a pace of 17.9mph!
15. Shoebill bird
This bird is also known as a “whalehead” for its unique shaped bill and face. Before genetic testing, it was classified in the stork family, but is now known to be more closely related to the pelican. It lives in swamplands of east Africa.
16. Barreleye fish
The barreleye or “spook fish’s” eyes face in the exact same direction for unique binocular vision in the dark depths of the ocean. And yes, its head is a transparent dome! It might look big from the photo, but these little guys are only about 6 inches long.
17. Gooty tarantula
The Gooty, or Metallic, tarantula lives in southeast India and Sri Lanka. Even if you’re not a fan of spiders, you have to admit that it’s pretty cool. Unfortunately for this unique creature, deforestation and civil unrest have driven its populations down significantly.
18. Tarzan chameleon
The Calumma tarzan is a species of chameleon found in the the Alaotra-Mangoro region of Madagascar. And yes, it’s named after that Tarzan. Sadly, the expansion of agriculture and illegal mining have largely destroyed its habitat and conservationists are despreately trying to save it from extinction.
19. Orchid mantis
The Orchid mantis looks so much like the flower that it doesn’t even have to hunt for food. By sitting on an orchid, it simply waits for its prey to come directly to it! Its native habitat is the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia. This is one of the rare species in which females are significantly larger than males.
This chicken’s feathers are said to be smooth as silk, hence its name. It differs from other chickens not only in its voluminous plumage but also because of its black skin and bones, blue earlobes, and five toes on each foot (since most chickens only have four).
21. Fennec fox
The Fennec fox lives in the Sahara desert and is the smallest fox in the world. Its huge ears and light fur help dissipate heat, allowing it to stay cool in the desert.
22. Blue glaucus
The Glaucus atlanticus, or blue glaucus, is actually a sea slug. These fascinating creatures float upside and are carried along by winds and ocean currents. But if you ever see one, don’t touch it – it can deliver a painful and potentially dangerous sting.
23. Northern bald ibis
People thought the northern bald ibis was extinct until 2002 when it was rediscovered in the Syrian desert near Palmyra. Nonetheless, they remain on the critically endangered species list because of habitat destruction.
The Markhor is a species of wild goat native to the Middle East and serves as the national animal of Pakistan. It has a long, silky coat and spiraling antlers that can grow up to three feet long. These impressive creatures can grow to be 200lbs (for males)!
25. Glasswinged butterfly
The Glasswinged butterfly has wings that resemble a stained-glass window. It’s native to Central America and their see-through wings allow them to blend into their environment and go unnoticed while feeding.
26. Tree kangaroo
Tree kangaroos are native to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. They are slow and clumsy on the ground and prefer life in the canopy. Unfortunately, these little creatures are threatened by the destruction of their habitat and hunting by both domestic dogs and humans.
27. Singapore freshwater crab
This critically endangered species lives in forest streams. It is mostly nocturnal and feeds on worms which live in muddy stream beds. The only live in Singapore and have only ever been found in two specific locations there.
28. Mexican axolotls
This goofy little amphibian lives in lakes in and around Mexico. People often keep them as pets because of their unique look and they seem to live happily in aquariums. Under the right conditions, they can actually grow to be 9-12 inches in length!
29. Clown frog
The Costa Rican variable harlequin toad (Atelopus varius) is also known as the clown frog. These tiny creatures are only about 5cm long but can live in captivity for up to 10 years. They are yet another critically endangered species.
30. Sunset moth
This moth is native to Madagascar and its unique wings are covered in scales that reflect and refract light in a way that makes them look rainbow-colored. In reality, there is no pigment in the scales and it’s all a trick of lighting. They have long been sought by collectors and raised commercially. Their wings were even used in the Victorian era to make jewelry!
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