Just when you think you’ve seen it all, an animal comes along that quashes that belief. While many animal species have been cataloged and are known, some more rare animals are so reclusive that they have avoided description. Take a look at these bizarre and unique animals that are testaments to the variety of life on our planet.
When you think about it, it is pretty remarkable how diverse life is on Earth. It’s hard to believe that such a variety of animals exist, and it is sad to think that many of these animals could be threatened or even endangered in the near future.
We’ve collected 40 unique animals that you’ll have a hard time believing are real – which of them is your favorite?
Related to manatees, the dugong is a herbivore that inhabits warm coastal waters in the Western Pacific and along the Eastern Coast of Africa.
2) Saiga Antelope
Native to Russia, Kazakhstan, and Western Mongolia, the saiga antelope is best known for its distinctly shaped head and snout. At one time a numerous species that ranged across Alaska, Canada, the British Isles, and Central Asia, the species is currently recovering from near extinction.
A cat-like carnivore, the fossa calls the island of Madagascar home. The largest remaining mammalian predator on the island, the fossa is known for its ability to climb up and down trees head-first.
4) Chinese Giant Salamander
The Chinese Giant Salamander is the world’s largest amphibian. These huge salamanders live in mountainous streams in China, and they’re completely nocturnal.
5) Maned Wolf
The maned wolf of South America is neither a wolf nor a fox, though it resembles both. This thick-maned animal actually belongs to the genus Crysocyon, or golden dog.
Often called the Mexican walking fish, the Axolotl is actually a form of salamander and is amphibious, being able to exist both in the water and on land. Native to Central Mexico, the Axolotl is on the brink of extinction as a result of a growing human population and pollution.
7) Coconut Crab
The coconut crab is the largest land crab in the world. Its claws are super strong — they can easily rip apart whole coconuts! This giant crab is one of the most unique arthropods out there.
8) Thorny Devil
Found only in Australia, the thorny devil’s upper body is covered entirely in conical spines that help defend it from predators. The spikes also play a part in the lizard’s camouflage abilities, making it easier for the thorny devil to hide among the rocks and soil of its native habitat.
9) Highland Cow
In the Scottish countryside, you’ll find a truly unique cow breed: the Highland Cow. These fluffy, brown cows are famous for their long, pointed horns and their floppy hair. These animals have an interesting look that sets them apart from all other cow breeds.
10) Irrawaddy Dolphin
Found primarily in Southeast Asia, the Irrawaddy dolphin is best known for its round blunt head. Similar in appearance to the beluga whale, Irrawaddy dolphins grow to about seven and a half feet in length.
11) Mangalitsa Pig
Most pigs have short and coarse hair that’s the same color as their body, but Mangalitsa pigs are the exception to this rule. These Hungarian pigs have an impressive coat of thick fur that looks similar to sheep’s wool. These pig-sheep hybrids are truly one-of-a-kind.
12) Pink Fairy Armadillo
The smallest species of armadillo, the pink fairy armadillo is best known for its top bony armor shell. Hailing from Central Argentina, this strange-looking animal inhabits sandy areas and only comes out at night.
13) Sun Fish
Known as the world’s heaviest bonefish, sunfish can surpass 2,000 pounds in weight. Native to temperate and tropical waters, sunfish have a flattened body and are in the same family of fish as pufferfish.
14) Hispaniola Solenodon
The Hispaniola Solenodon is famous for its long, pointed snout. This snout is more flexible than it looks. It’s attached to a ball-and-socket joint, which allows the Solenodon to move its snout around and explore small crevices with it.
15) Blue-Footed Booby
Blue-footed boobies are named after their bright blue feet. The birds’ feet are so blue because the carotenoid pigments that they get through their food are concentrated in their feet.
16) Bare-Hearted Glass Frog
The transparent underside of the bare-hearted glass frog gives an almost full view of the frog’s inner organs. A tree frog, the bare-hearted glass frog inhabits the rain forests of Central and South America.
A type of thin-snouted crocodile, the Gharial is native to India, populating rivers and tributaries in the region. Eating primarily fish, the Gharial grow anywhere from 11 to 15 feet long.
18) Markhor Goat
The Markhor Goat has an impressive set of horns that sets it apart from other goats. These mountainous goats’ huge spiral horns can reach over four feet in height.
19) Sunda Colugo
The Sunda colugo is akin to a flying lemur and is native to Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Active at night, the Sunda colugo actually belongs to the species colugo, a group of flying mammals.
20) Red-Lipped Batfish
Found primarily off the Galapagos Islands and the coast of Peru, the red-lipped batfish sports red lips, from which it gets its name. The red-lipped batfish, a type of anglerfish, is not a good swimmer, getting around by walking on the ocean floor using its pectoral fins.
Pangolins are known for their unique scales that look like armor. The scales are made from keratin — the same material that makes up our hair!
22) Star-Nosed Mole
Found in Northern North America, the star-nosed mole is best known for its weirdly shaped snout. It uses its snout, containing 22 appendages, called Eimer’s organs, to get around and to sense vibrations around it when hunting prey.
23) Dumbo Octopus
The Dumbo Octopus gets its nickname from the prominent ear-like fins on its head. Living at a depth of about 10,000 to 13,000 feet, Dumbo Octopuses only grow to a maximum of about one foot in length.
24) Patagonian Mara
The Patagonian Mara may look like a tiny kangaroo with hare-like ears, but it’s actually a rodent. This animal has interesting behavioral traits to match its unique look — unlike other rodents, it’s awake during the day, and it’s completely monogamous.
Found in Indonesia, the Babirusa has a set of curved tusks on its lower jaw, as well as piercing its upper snout. Prehistoric paintings of the babarusa date back as far as 35,000 years, though they are currently in danger of extinction.
The velella is a type of jellyfish that floats on the surface of the ocean and is known for its distinct fin and blue coloration. The velella feed on small fish larvae and zooplankton, and they are harmless to humans.
27) Malayan Colugo
These amazing flying lemurs have big eyes that help them easily spot prey. The lemurs use their wings to glide from tree to tree in search of young leaves, their favorite food.
A form of gazelle, gerenuks have long necks and slender limbs. While the males have horns, the females do not, with both genders using their long necks to feed on the low-hanging branches of trees in their native Africa.
29) Uakari Monkey
Inhabiting the rainforest in the northwest Amazon basin, uakari monkeys have a distinct red head that resembles a skull. Another defining feature of this tree dweller is their shorter-than-usual tail, as the monkeys rely more on leaping when moving about.
30) Venezuelan Poodle Moth
The fluffy Venezuelan poodle moth was just discovered in 2009. This strange moth somehow manages to look cute and slightly terrifying at the same time.
31) Naked Mole Rat
A burrowing rodent native to East Africa, the naked mole-rat is hairless and lacks sensitivity in its skin. This allows them to better resist the rigors of their native environment.
The Magnificent Frigatebird is famous for its bright red, balloon-like throat pouch. This pouch is found on male frigatebirds, and they typically inflate it to get female attention.
33) Tufted Deer
A small species of deer, distinguished by its black tuft of hair and large fangs, resides in Central China and Northeast Myanmar. Furthermore, the tufted deer lives primarily in forested mountainous terrain up to 14,700 feet, making studying them difficult.
34) Hooded Seal
Found only in the Central and Northern Atlantic Ocean, the hooded seal sports an inflatable hood on the top of its head. The seal inflates this hood via its nasal cavities and inflates and deflates it under water to communicate to fellow hooded seals and to warn off predators.
35) Goldeb Snub-Nosed Monkey
These colorful monkeys are known for their golden fur and bright blue faces. If you want to see one of these monkeys in the wild, you’d have to go to Central China — all 8,000 to 10,000 wild golden snub-nosed monkeys live there.
36) Goblin Shark
Inhabiting the deep sea, the goblin shark is known for its flat, elongated snout and protruding jaw, which it sticks out when feeding. Not a fast swimmer, the goblin shark captures its prey, consisting mostly of teleost fish, using ambush tactics.
A part of the lemur family, the aye-aye of Madagascar is known as the world’s largest nocturnal primate. Feeding primarily on grubs, the aye-aye is, wrongfully, considered evil by some cultures and killed on sight.
38) Raccoon Dog
This animal may look like a raccoon with long legs, but it’s actually not closely related to raccoons. Raccoon dogs belong to the canid family, which also includes dogs, wolves, and foxes. These interesting-looking animals have been around for millions of years.
39) Emperor Tamarin
Emperor Tamarins are famous for their impressive facial hair. These cute little monkeys were given their name because their mustache looks like the one worn by the last German Emperor, Wilhelm II.
40) Cloud Antelope
This “cloud antelope” is actually too bizarre and unique to be real — this was created by a craftsman on the Internet and is an art doll!
These bizarre and unique animals give you an up-close-and-personal glimpse of the diverse life on our planet.