12 of the Strangest-Looking Animals in the World
The aye-aye is one of the most bizarre-looking primates, and it is so unlike other living lemurs that it is placed in its own family. Insects are an important part of the aye-aye's diet, and it has a very interesting way of getting them. Its rodent-like incisors grow continuously (unlike all other primates) and are very powerful. The aye-aye's middle finger is long, thin, and skeletal. The aye-aye taps on branches with its middle finger, chews through them partially with its teeth, then pulls out whatever insects are underneath the bark.
There are some superstitions about aye-ayes in Madagascar, with many claiming they are bad luck or omens of death. Unfortunately, they are often killed on sight for this reason.
There used to be giant aye-ayes five times bigger than regular ones.
2. Naked Mole Rat
Naked mole rats are rodents, but unlike some of their evolutionary relatives, they live in communities. Several dozen rats live together in colonies led by one dominant rat—the queen. Similar to some insect species, the queen is the only naked mole rat female to breed and bear young.
Worker animals dig the burrows that the whole clan inhabits using their prominent teeth and snouts. They also gather the roots and bulbs for the colony to eat. Other rats tend to the queen.
Most other types of mole rats live on their own or in small families. Though mole rats spend most of their time excavating and foraging in their burrows, they occasionally emerge to search for seeds or other plants.
Mole rats' incisors can be moved independently of each other and even work together like a pair of chopsticks. They are the longest-lived rodents with a lifespan of up to 30 years.
The thylacine, now extinct, is one of the largest known carnivorous marsupials, evolving about 4 million years ago. The last known live animal was captured in 1933 in Tasmania. It is commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger because of its striped lower back, or the Tasmanian wolf because of its canid-like characteristics. It was native to Tasmania, New Guinea, and the Australian mainland.
The thylacine was relatively shy and nocturnal, with the general appearance of a medium-to-large-sized dog, except for its stiff tail and abdominal pouch similar to a kangaroo's and the dark transverse stripes that radiated from the top of its back, reminiscent of a tiger. The thylacine was a formidable apex predator, though exactly how large its prey animals were is disputed.
New footage and photos found have raised doubts about the Tasmanian tiger's extinction
The okapi is the most common mammal in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This rare animal breed is often known as the forest giraffe, Congolese giraffe, or zebra giraffe.
Okapi were unknown to the world until the 20th century. For years, it was called the African unicorn. These forest-dwelling creatures are elusive. The okapi’s long prehensile tongue is used to strip leaves from branches and vines. Its tongue is 12–14 inches (30–36 cm) long and black or dark blue in color.
Okapi can also use their tongue to wash their eyelids, clean out their ears, and swat insects from their withers (the ridge between an animal’s shoulder bones).
5. Mantis Shrimp
Mantis shrimp are highly aggressive crustaceans that capture prey using large, raptorial claws much like those of a praying mantis.
Many are beautifully-colored in shades of red, green, and blue. The ancient Assyrians called the mantis shrimp "sea locusts." Today, mantis shrimp are called "shako," "prawn killers," and "thumb splitters."
Their vision is unparalleled, as they possess 12 photoreceptors compared to only 3 in humans. Their punch is so fast that it results in "cavitation" bubbles. These are superheated bubbles that emit a small flash of light, which for split seconds also generates temperatures nearly as hot as the sun's surface in the surrounding water.
6. Blue Glaucus
The blue dragon (Glaucus atlanticus) is a type of mollusk known as a nudibranch. Despite its impressive appearance, it rarely grows larger than three centimeters long. It can be found drifting on the surface of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans in temperate and tropical waters. This delicate creature floats on its back, exposing its brightly colored underbelly to airborne predators. Its dull-colored backside blends with the bright sea surface, hiding it from predators below.
An air bubble stored in its stomach keeps the blue dragon afloat. The vibrant blue color acts as camouflage against the backdrop of ocean waves.
7. Australian Southern Cassowary
Southern cassowaries are prehistoric-looking birds with deep blue heads and necks, two bright red wattles (flaps of skin), a casque, and dense, long, black feathers. Reaching up to six feet tall, southern cassowaries are the third-tallest birds on Earth, after ostriches and emus, to which they are related, and the second heaviest after ostriches. Females can weigh up to 76kg and are larger than the males, who can weigh up to 55kg.
They lay green eggs due to the presence of biliverdin. When threatened, cassowaries will jump and strike with their claw, potentially resulting in lethal lacerations.
8. Zebra Duiker
The zebra duiker is a type of small antelope. It can be found only in certain parts of West Africa, including the eastern parts of Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone. The zebra duiker prefers to spend its life in the dense vegetation of rainforests. The number of zebra duikers declined by 30% compared to their original population due to extensive habitat loss and hunting in recent years. Locals may hunt zebra duikers for their meat. These animals are listed as vulnerable.
Zebra duikers can mate throughout the whole year. Pregnancy lasts between 221 and 229 days and ends with a single baby. Females are able to become pregnant again immediately after their babies are born.
The gerenuk, also called the giraffe gazelle or Waller’s gazelle, is an unforgettable antelope with the ability to rear up and stand on its hind legs to reach tender leaves and buds from the trees and shrubs on which it feeds. Its long neck and legs are uniquely adapted to forage in this manner, allowing the gerenuk to feed on plant food sources unavailable to other herbivores. They live in small family groups and are not uncommon throughout East Africa.
They have preorbital glands in front of their eyes. These glands emit a tar-like substance to mark territory. More uniquely, they also have scent glands on their knees and in the splits of their hooves.
10. Proboscis Monkey
Named for the long and pendulous noses of the males of the species, proboscis monkeys are typically red-brown with pale underparts. The nose is smaller in the female and is upturned in the young. Males are 56–72 cm (22–28 inches) long and average 20 kg (44 pounds), but females weigh only about 10 kg (22 pounds).
The tail is about the same length as the body. Proboscis monkeys live in groups of about 20 consisting of a single male and up to a dozen females; other males live in bachelor groups. The young have blue faces and are born singly, apparently at any time of year. Gestation is estimated at five to six months. Proboscis monkeys wade upright through water, which makes them exceptional among monkeys in being habitually bipedal.
Male proboscis monkeys use their fleshy, pendulous noses for attracting female mates.
11. Maned Wolf
Maned wolves have a thick red coat, long black legs, and tall, erect ears. The maned wolf is the largest canid in South America. It looks more like a long-legged fox than a wolf. Genetic studies show that it is neither fox nor true wolf, but a distinct species. It is the only member of its genus, Chrysocyon.
Maned wolves mark their territory with powerful-smelling urine and feces on hillocks and termite mounds along their borders. They do not howl but instead emit loud barks or roar barks to let their mate know where they are and to warn other wolves to stay away.
Maned wolf pee smells like Marijuana. The species has three main vocalizations.
12. Patagonian Mara
The Patagonian mara (otherwise known as the Patagonian cavy or hare) is a large rodent with a rather strange appearance. At first glance, the animal looks like a small deer with long ears, similar to those of a hare. Each of the animal's front limbs has four sharp claws, which are used for digging. Its hind legs are strong and longer, allowing the rodent to quickly flee and escape from predators.
When threatened, Patagonian maras are able to take long leaps of up to six feet in the air.
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