10 of the strangest animals

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Let’s face it, on a planet that has over 8.7 million species of animals, there are bound to be some strange ones. However, these animals, take the top positions as far as we’re concerned. Here’s our list of the 10 strangest animals.

1. Aye-aye

Agatha, the baby aye-aye. Photo courtesy of David Haring.

The aye-aye may look like a cute little alien, however, this animal is not too distantly related from us! The aye-aye is actually a lemur, and belongs to the primate family. This adorable little creature is native to Madagascar, and has a few distinguishing characteristics. Firstly, it has rodent-like teeth, and uses its largest incisors to gnaw holes in trees, so that it can take out grubs, its meal-of-choice. It has an extremely narrow middle finger, which it uses to pull grubs from the hole it made. The aye-ayes are nocturnal, and the largest of all the nocturnal lemurs, growing up to 2 feet in height.

2. Okapi

Photo courtesy of Daniel Jolivet

For obvious reasons, the okapi is also known as a zebra-giraffe. Though it is not a weird hybrid of either of these animals, it is closely related to a giraffe. Like its cousin, the okapi has a long neck, and a tongue that is long enough to clean its ears and eyes. Like a zebra, they have distinctive stripes, which help them to camouflage in the dense rainforests that they live in. These beautiful animals are listed as endangered, and can be found only in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

3. Dumbo Octopus

Photo courtesy of MBARI

This octopus is named after the adorable Disney elephant, Dumbo. With its ear-like gills and big eyes, it’s easy to see why it got the moniker. The Dumbo Octopus isn’t the kind you see every day, unless you’re thousands of meters underwater! These octopuses don’t have an ink sac- they have no need for one, as they are rarely in the same area as any would-be predators! If they do come across predators, these little guys can use their fins to propel them away from danger. As far as their diet goes, Dumbo octopuses don’t have teeth, so swallow their prey- including snails and worms- whole! Eeek!

4. Platypus

Courtesy of M Bannerman/DPE

The platypus is one of the strangest animals out there. Not only does this mammal have a beak (hence the full name of duck-billed platypus), but it is also one of two species of egg-laying mammals. This species of mammal is called monotreme, and they are unique from other mammals in many ways. Differences include monotremes producing venom, having 5 pairs of sex chromosones, and different bone structure from other mammals. 1799, the first scientists to discover the platypus believed it was a fake animal, sewn together from other animals! Despite being an egg-laying mammal, platypuses still produce milk, however, their milk pools onto their belly, which the young licks from.

5. Hairy frog

Image from Natural History Museum, London. Courtesy of By Gustavocarra

The hairy frog is also known as the horror frog or Wolverine frog. This frog is from Central Africa, and the male of the species grows this unusual hair-like structure on its body. Despite looking like hair, it is actually skin that contains arteries, called dermal-papillae. The reason the hairy frog grows this hairy skin substance, is because the arteries are thought to increase the surface area for the purpose of absorbing more oxygen. The hairy frog is also known as the Wolverine frog because it has retractable claws. Yikes!

6. Frill-necked lizard

Frill-necked lizard

The Frill-necked lizard gives us serious Jurassic Park vibes (Dilophosaurus). These guys might not be dinosaurs, yet they’re still a large lizard, at 85 cm. The frilled-lizard is named for its frilly neck, which is a flap of skin it raises to intimidate predators or attract a mate. These reptiles live in New Guinea and northern Australia. They are also known as bicycle lizards, due to the way they can move on two feet.

7. Panda ant

Despite its name, this cute insect isn’t a panda or an ant. This insect is actually a species of wingless wasp that is native to Chile. Although it looks cute and cuddly, the panda ant’s coloring serves as a warning to predators of its painful and powerful sting. They also protect themselves from predators by producing sound by rubbing parts of their body together.

8. Lowland Streaked Tenrec

Lowland streaked tenrec – Image courtesy of Arto Hakola 

Like the aye-aye, the lowland streaked tenrec is native to Madagascar. This small mammal has the black and yellow coloring of a bee, and quills similar to a porcupine. These little critters are sociable, and live in family units of up to 20. They have a short lifespan, of less than 3 years, which explains why female lowland streaked tenrecs can breed at just 5 weeks old! They feed on an almost exclusive diet of worms, and are active both day and night.

9. Axolotl

The axolotl is a type of salamander, and were named after Xolotl, the Aztec god of fire and lightning, who could take on the form of a salamander. These amphibians have many interesting quirks, including being able to regrow their limbs and organs. They live for up to 15 years, and unlike other amphibians, they stay in the water all their life.

Axolotls love to sleep, however, they do so with their eyes wide open, as they do not have eyelids. They can only be found in water around Mexico city, however, they are extremely popular as pets.

10. Shoebill

Shoebill stork. Photo from news.com.au

The Shoebill is a large stork-like bird. These beautiful birds are tall, ranging from 110 to 140 cm in height. They can stay still from long periods of time, and can stand for hours in a statue-like manner- this is how they catch their prey. There are only between 3500 and 5300 adult shoebills left, and as such they are vulnerable to extinction.

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