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The Ten Most Interesting Animal Species You Probably Haven't Heard Of

Updated on June 21, 2016

Introduction

Turns out the animal world isn't just about lions, giraffes, dogs, cows, and cats. Mother Earth contains many creatures that are just now being discovered by scientists, and not only at the bottom of the ocean. A six-foot long tree lizard and a new African antelope were discovered in the last couple of years. If you're not a scientist, you may find you have some news to catch up on.

10. Angora Rabbit

I'm speechless
I'm speechless | Source

Strigops habroptilus (a domesticated variety)

The Angora Rabbit is the product of hundreds of years of domestic breeding for its wool. The result looks something like a cat that has touched a power line, a cotton ball with a face, or a sheep that's been through a straightener. There are actually multiple breeds of this rabbit, and they were very popular among French royalty. I'm curious if Elmer Fudd would want to hunt one of these guys. Check out this site, which takes them very, very seriously.

9. Dumbo Octopus

If you lived that deep, you'd look like that too.
If you lived that deep, you'd look like that too. | Source

Grimpoteuthis species

This little guy can be found really, really deep in the ocean. By deep I mean 7000 meters deep. He's not called the Dumbo Octopus because of his intelligence, either. He uses his ears to swim. Why does this guy make the list? Because he's kind of cute, despite being used to swallowing his victims whole. No need to worry, he's only about 20 centimeters long, full grown. Scientists don't know all that much else about him.

8. Blobfish

And you think you've had a bad day...
And you think you've had a bad day... | Source

Psychrolutes marcidus

Golly-gee, that's one ugly creature. What was evolution thinking?

You might guess that the blobfish isn't a fast swimmer. It doesn't even have to swim most of the time, as its body tissue is slightly less dense than water, allowing it to float effortlessly just off the bottom of the ocean, waiting for its dinner of microorganisms to float by. How does it survive not being eaten? By not being tasty. In fact, it's inedible to humans. It's still endangered though; overfishing of the ocean bottom leads to these guys being hauled out of the ocean at a fast rate.

To be fair, in its natural habitat the blobfish might look somewhat less hideous than these shapeless, decompressed victims that have been hauled to the surface; see the artist's drawing below.

Artist's Impression of Blobfish at Home

Artist's impression of two blobfish in their deep-sea habitat
Artist's impression of two blobfish in their deep-sea habitat | Source

7. Kakapo

Kakapo
Kakapo | Source

Strigops habroptilus

The kakapo is the world's largest parrot. It evolved into such a large and peaceful bird because of the former lack of mammalian predators in its island home in New Zealand. Among its qualities: it smells weird, barks like a dog, and is portly and nocturnal.

It is critically endangered (there are less than 200 left, and most of these individual kakapos have names). When Europeans brought dogs and cats over to New Zealand, these animals learned the kakapo's smell, and were able to find them with ease. Once again an example of humans messing with nature. Poor kakapos. At least it is fun to say their name.

6. Olm

Without arms it would be a snake or giant worm, both of which would cause me fear.
Without arms it would be a snake or giant worm, both of which would cause me fear. | Source

Proteus anguinus

Q: What has three toes on its front limbs, two toes on its back limbs, pale human-like skin, is blind, lives to 100 (some say only 60), lives in caves, and can go ten years without food?

A: You should have guessed from all those hints (and the subtitle) ... the olm.

This blind salamander of the limestone caves of southern Europe is not much like any other amphibian. The olm has a great sense of hearing and of smell. Its olfactory system is so well-made that it can sense how many little living things surround it. Many a fisherman became a believer in sea monsters after catching one of these creatures ... just check out the picture above.

5: Matamata Turtle

The inspiration for TMNT
The inspiration for TMNT | Source

Chelus fimbriata

This South American freshwater turtle makes the list because he looks like a tank. The matamata looks bulletproof, fireproof, radiation-proof, and toughest of all, child-proof. I'm not sure about any of those claims though, as I didn't run into any support during my research. Though the shell and head look extremely tough, and probably are, they are meant for camouflage; the matamata is said to resemble a chunk of bark with dead leaves. From above, he would be very hard to see sitting on the bottom of a creek, and also a nasty surprise if you stepped on him. I say this as a person afraid of snakes and spiders. I can't imagine how the person who discovered this river monster felt.

4. Barreleye Fish

Macropinna microstoma (and other fish in the family Opisthoproctidae)

The barreleye in the video above is one of the few ever seen alive with its distinctive transparent head. Although it has been documented since 1939, in early specimens nets or lines had pierced and deflated the fluid bubble that makes this fish so unique.

The transparent head works like a cockpit in a fighter plan. The fish can rotate its eyes backwards and upwards to see prey and predators. Useful, eh? It also is one of the few animals on earth that can put its anatomy on display without dying.

Too bad it dwells in such deep water, or else I'd buy an aquarium for one of those things with my HubPages earnings.

3. Tarsier

"I'm right behind you"
"I'm right behind you" | Source

Family Tarsiidae

Tarsiers are interesting creatures.These little guys grow to be a whopping five inches. They eat insects and have been known to jump from tree to tree and eat birds.

Wait, what?

That's right. They're nocturnal, and move very, very fast using their bony fingers and long tail. Females usually have about one little baby tarsier per year. What else is unnatural about these creatures? They can twist their heads 180 degrees like an owl. If they were any bigger, I'd be terrified of them.

This once again proves that Mother Nature has more creativity than science fiction writers.

2. Flying Squid

It was tough even finding a good picture.
It was tough even finding a good picture. | Source

Several species, including Todarodes pacificus, Ommastrephes bartramii

Flying ... Squid?

I couldn't find much information on flying squid, because people have been mistaking them for flying fish. Only within the last 20 years was the flying squid seriously talked about in academic circles. If you readers have been on the water much, you know that flying fish just zoom by and it is hard to distinguish their finer features from a boat. Flying squid are even rarer, and zoom by just as fast.

Scientists recently confirmed that there is a flying squid known as the "red" or "neon" flying squid. But it's blue. We don't know how they jump out of the water, or why, or apparently even what color they are. More research needs to be done on these things.

Number 1 (and My Favorite): Darwin Bark Spider

Webs can reach 25 m across a river (perhaps more)
Webs can reach 25 m across a river (perhaps more) | Source

Caerostris darwini

Darwin's Bark Spiders were a recent discovery (2009) for the world at large; here are some pictures and discussion (in National Geographic) from the scientists who first documented them. Of all these creatures, they mystify me the most. A couple of facts: First, their silk is much stronger than any other spider's silk that has been studied. It is 10 times stronger than Kevlar (that stuff in bulletproof vests). Second, and probably related, they somehow string their webs across, not along, rivers...don't you have to have two people to string something across a river? Maybe they swim across, who knows. Their webs are the biggest and strongest spiderwebs known.

The best way to study them is by boat because that's the only way scientists can analyze their behavior from up close. Much about them is still unknown, because for a long time only local Madagascar rangers and tour guides knew about them.

They eat bees, dragonflies, and mayflies (up to 32 mayflies have been found in one web at a time). People wonder if their webs can catch birds, too.

Bonus: The Mimic Octopus! How Could I Forget...

Thaumoctopus mimicus

The Mimic Octopus was discovered in 1998, in shallow, murky Indonesian seas. What makes it special? Watch the video and see for yourself. It can mimic many underwater species, and mimic them very well indeed. In one example, it mimics a crab so that real crabs thinks that the octopus is a mate. Only then it devours the (probably shocked) crab that is trying to mate with it. Nature is a cruel, cruel beast. Imagine laying down with a hot date you picked up at the bar, only for it to turn into a ravening grizzly bear waiting to devour you. Ugh.

In another instance, the mimic octopus tricks one of its predators into thinking it's a snake by burying six to seven legs in the ocean floor. The snake that it's mimicking, by the way, preys on the fish that preys on the octopus. Extending the metaphor from before, one could say that is basically the same thing as your Mcdonald's chicken strips turning into something that looks like a ravening grizzly bear waiting to devour you. Smart, eh?

Intelligence: One Last Thought

I'd like to bring up another point. At times I've discussed the idea (pardon my lack of sources and extended use of parentheses) that one measure of a species's intelligence might be how well it survives over very long periods of time.

Of course many people assume that humans are the most intelligent species. A very strong case can be made for that. However, as a purely hypothetical thought experiment, let us imagine that humans make weapons that, hmm, well, might be able to destroy entire cities. Let us further posit that humans might use this superweapon on each other in the course of human disputes over political ideas. In this hypothetical case, the world could be turned to ruin, and humans essentially wiped from the face of the planet, along with many other poor animals who got in the way. This scenario is not entirely inconceivable; let's face it, we've ruined many many natural habitats doing our thing and karma is not really on our side.

Consider also that humans as we know them have been on the face of the earth for MAYBE two to three million years. Our newly discovered friend the mimic octopus, however, has most likely been happily doing his thing for millions and millions of more years, safely and discreetly at the bottom of the ocean.

So—humans are smart enough to create a weapon of incredible power, and some other cool stuff like the drive-thru, but dumb enough to blow ourselves up because we don't know if we like communism or democracy better. The octopus is smart enough to mimic at least five or six different animals, and also likely smart enough to live to see its great-great-great-great-(x50)-great-grandchildren. Which is smarter?

Philosophical question just for funsies

Is this a valid arguement: that octupuses (octopi, if you prefer) might be more intelligent than humans in certain aspects?

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    • profile image

      The kat 2 months ago

      I can deny it Nathaniel, don't treat our religion so rudely. I respect those who don't believe so respect us!

    • profile image

      Noe 4 months ago

      The mimic octopus is so cool how does it move lie that

    • profile image

      Cassi 5 months ago

      I only knew about a blobfish wow

    • profile image

      Angel samsung 6 months ago

      I ❤️ animals and I think the animals in here are adorable they are I love ❤️ all animals

    • profile image

      Ragon_E1_2 Youtube (Ragon TV) 7 months ago

      I specially loved the mimic octopus!!! They are so amazing. Please, Blake Atkinson (the author) please make more stuff like these. This mimic octopus helped me very well for my homework about making a speech with the topic of explaining the most interesting animal. Thank you so much!!

    • profile image

      tony 7 months ago

      I like the olm. what really suprises me is that it was in a Kirby game made deckades ago. proof that God is the ultamite creater.

    • profile image

      Cool one 10 months ago

      The tarsier is so cute and wiear.

    • profile image

      Alfred Smith 11 months ago

      Here is the updated list of top 10 amazing species of 2016

      10)Hominin

      9)Giant Sundew

      8)Isopod

      7)Yeti Crab

      6)Seadragon

      5)Vampire Crab

      4)Sparklewing Damselfly

      3)Giant Tortoise

      2)Maratus sceletus

      1)Anglerfish

      https://youtu.be/NqR6iXPPD44

    • profile image

      hajara 13 months ago

      its really amazing seeing all these beauties of nature . such beauties are revealed only when we bind with nature and study them ....... speeking so coz of zooooology

    • Taranwanderer profile image

      Taranwanderer 18 months ago

      Ain't no octopus smrter than me. Lol.

      https://hubpages.com/education/Simba-the-Lion-The-...

    • profile image

      22 months ago

      Cant be real

    • nathalia27 profile image

      Nancy 2 years ago

      Nice hubs.

    • profile image

      Rakibul 2 years ago

      Really, those are Interesting Animal

    • profile image

      rakibul 2 years ago

      Really, those are Interesting animal !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Kept private 3 years ago from Northeast United States

      Cute creatures and always interesting to see new life :). Thank you for sharing

    • ratnaveera profile image

      ratnaveera 3 years ago from Cumbum

      Very interesting to learn about these animal species. Dolphins are also have importance since they behave as friends to human. Many interesting species of birds and animals can also be found in Amazon rainforest. Thanks for this great Hub with valuable information! Thumbs Up! Awesome!

    • cydro profile image
      Author

      Blake Atkinson 3 years ago from Kentucky

      Glad I could help!

    • profile image

      Avnoor Sidhu 3 years ago

      i think the blobfish looks cool but squishy, ugly and on...........................!

      i was doing an animal report on one of the animals but, i couldn't decide on what to do it on so i came to this website to find an animal that know one has ever heard of so i picked one of the animals from this website! THANK-YOU! for helping me find an animal to do a report on once again THANK-YOU!

    • cydro profile image
      Author

      Blake Atkinson 3 years ago from Kentucky

      I agree stuff, the Mantis shrimp is awesome. I'm thinking about doing another article about interesting ways animals catch their prey (my first one of that variety is on Squidoo), and the Mantis shrimp would probably be on that list.

    • profile image

      stuff 4 years ago

      I think the Mantis shrimp should be added

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

      Yes, they are indeed interesting and some are really cute, like the dumbo octopus. I am eager to watch a vid of that swimming with its ears flapping. The matamata turtle looks like a Pokémon creature. Voted up and awesome, funny and interesting.

    • profile image

      taqito jr. 4 years ago

      i think this is very interesting because when you dont know about an animal it makes it worth wild

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 4 years ago from United States

      The blobfish is like an old guy with a really big big nose. So funny! :)

    • profile image

      hiruni 4 years ago

      thanks a lot

    • Swinter12 profile image

      Swinter12 4 years ago from Earth

      This was a fun article to read!

      The Dumbo Octopus looks like a toy for some reason, like the avatar of the pacman game. The dumbo octupus was one of my favorites along with the Tarsiers; they're just both so adorable.

      Nonetheless, it is impressive what that spider and the mimic octopus are capable of.

      Voted Up and Awesome.

    • profile image

      lyka gimena 5 years ago

      i like the different animals.these animals are very beautiful and wonderful.tnx for sharing.

    • profile image

      Robert 5 years ago

      Wow!

      Love the tarsier. Doing a report for school. Thanks!

    • profile image

      s.e.t.g. 5 years ago

      only a mother could love those animals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they are ugly.

    • Ilana Moore profile image

      Ilana Moore 5 years ago

      I came across this q/a, and I thought of you. It sounded like something you'd enjoy. Check it out! (great pics!)

      http://www.quora.com/Animals/What-are-some-newly-d...

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Loved the article. Just up my alley of interest.

    • deenahere profile image

      Deena 5 years ago from India

      I totally agreed with your title.Thanks for sharing

    • AllSuretyBonds profile image

      AllSuretyBonds 5 years ago

      I agree with you I would love to buy an aquarium for the Barreleye. These animals are amazing and so interesting.

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 6 years ago from Southern Spain

      Wow ! Never seen a Tarsier before , great hub !

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Another great hub thank you. I actually kept angora rabbits as I am a spinner and I have a soft shawl i made from their wonderful fleece combings. Love your style. Howabout doing a series on weird stuff and publishing a book, maybe an ebook? Keep em coming!

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 6 years ago from Essex, UK

      Thanks for the link - even slugs can be beautiful!

    • cydro profile image
      Author

      Blake Atkinson 6 years ago from Kentucky

      Thanks Greensleeves! Speaking of which, this came out today about new species discovered in the Philippines in 2011: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43527925

      Thought you might like it, I sure did.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 6 years ago from Essex, UK

      Interesting stuff about interesting creatures; especially the ocean dwellers - we're discovering more and more oddball creatures in the ocean's depths, and they seem to be getting odder with each voyage of discovery. Thanks for sharing.

    • cydro profile image
      Author

      Blake Atkinson 6 years ago from Kentucky

      Thanks Ilana! Yeah most of them weren't cute, but the Tarsiers were haha. I look forward to reading more of your hubs :)

    • Ilana Moore profile image

      Ilana Moore 6 years ago

      Hey,

      these are so cool! I really like the Tarsiers. Super cute, I'd like to keep one :)

      Ilana

    • cydro profile image
      Author

      Blake Atkinson 6 years ago from Kentucky

      @xcentric stylo. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it

      @Jill of all trades... First of all I like your username. But I'll definitely check out your article because Im very interested in these types of things. That's awesome about the tarsier. I figured there were a few people out there that this hub wouldn't surprise too much haha

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

      I like the way you wrote about these animals. I know about them or I am familiar with most of them since I am a zoologist. The tarsier is actually endemic to an island here in the Philippines and I have held it just like that in your picture. Check out my hub on Bohol.

      Voted up and useful!

    • xcentric stylo profile image

      xcentric stylo 6 years ago

      amazing one.....

      i havnet seen dex creatures before.....

      thnx for sharin it .......

    • cydro profile image
      Author

      Blake Atkinson 6 years ago from Kentucky

      Thanks Nathaniel! Yeah I'm always afraid to piss people off though because it seems many people are touchy on the whole creationist/evolutionist split. It's good to see that you read my article so soon after I published it haha.

    • NathanielZhu profile image

      Nathaniel Zhu 6 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Great article.

      I liked the paragraph about the Olm because it represents a link between snakes and lizards. Take that creationists who deny evolution due to ignorance and fossil/genetic evidence mistrust! Now this is something they can't deny.