Looking more like turtle road kill rather than a bona fide thriving species, the freshwater soft-shell turtle which inhabits the rivers and streams of several Asian countries (primarily the Philippines) is weird for more than just its flat disposition. It spends 95% of its life buried and motionless, emerges to breathe only twice daily and feeds off crustaceans but, we assume, only if they happen to stroll past its gaping mouth. One of the world’s most endangered turtle species, the Cantor is only one of several species of soft-shell turtles, another of which can be found in abundance along the Florida riverbanks.
Florida Softshell Turtle Flickr: andrea_paulineEastern Spiny Softshell Turtle Flickr: lindenbaum
The curious Okapi looks like a hybrid between a zebra and a giraffe, with its striped hind legs and unusually long neck. It is, in fact, much more closely related to the latter. This bizarre looking creature was relatively unknown until European explorers discovered it at the turn of the 20th century. Its exceptionally long tongue is used to wash its eyelids and ears which, we’re sure you’ll agree, is a rather handy asset. The Okapi is endemic to the Ituri Rainforest of the Congo and, due to logging and incessant political conflict in the country, is now one of the most endangered animals in all of Africa.
OkapiThe Rare Okapi Flickr: pokerbrit
The world’s only truly carnivorous primate boasts some seriously googly eyes, each one as big as its brain, which is actually not all that much considering this tiny animal only weighs about 150 grams in total. The Tarsier’s permanently startled look hides its super-fast reflexes and wicked vision, both of which allow it to be a cunning predator. Tarsiers are able to catch birds in mid-flight, all the while jumping between trees. This gorgeous little fella is nowadays found primarily in the remote island forests of Southeast Asia. Coupled with deforestation, the primary reason they are so rare is because their gestation lasts a full 6 months and, if that’s not enough, Tarsiers give birth to only one offspring at a time.
Tarsier in Bohol, Philippines Flickr: verzoTarsier Flickr: ianz
This happy little walking amphibian is one of the strangest creatures on earth and is critically endangered in the wild, although it’s commonly kept as pets in the USA, Europe and Australia. More commonly known as the Mexican Salamander, this unique amphibian fails to undergo metamorphosis in adulthood and never develops lungs making it unsuitable for life on land. What it can do, however, is regenerate body parts and even vital organs if need be, instead of healing via scarring. This particularly unique ability has made them highly coveted for scientific reason, which has ironically been rather beneficial to their survival.
Axolotl Flickr: lpestrelaAn Axolotl, one of the strangest animals in the world!
Golden Orb Weaving Spider
Although no spider should effectively be considered strange, when you find one that’s big enough to be able to feed on snakes, you’ve got our attention. That’s one heck of a double nightmare…arachnophobic much? It’s no wonder that you’ll find this hungry beast in Australia, a county renowned for boasting more deadly animals than almost any other on our planet. The Golden Orb is also found in most tropical regions the world over, so if you think you’re safe simply by staying away from Down Under, you may be in for a nasty surprise. Incredibly ingenious, the Golden Orb is able to dismantle part of its web in case of high winds, to allow for drafts to carry through without ruining the entire web. Deadly and clever. Oops.
Golden Orb Weaving Spider Flickr: barrisonGolden Orb Weaving Spider Flickr: dejeuxx
This bizarre looking animal is one of the rarest on earth and although it’s incredibly cute it is also incredibly venomous. Solenodons are in fact one of very few poisonous mammals still in existence and are equipped with a neurotoxin in their saliva which is not dissimilar to some snakes’. Aside this fact, and its unusually long and slender nose, the females also display a rather unique trait: they have nipples on their butts! The two best-known species are endemic to Cuba and Hispaniola islands in the Caribbean, although very few numbers remain in the wild. They were hunted to near extinction by introduced predators like mongoose, cat and dogs, which were brought to both islands to help with the infestation of rats and snakes.
Solenodon Wikicommons: Solenodon joeSolenodon Cuban Stamp
The Vampire Squid looks about as cuddly as it sounds and, unsurprisingly, lives in the deepest pitch-black waters of the world’s most tropical seas. Naturally. Everything about this cephalopod is insanely odd. Firstly, it excretes bioluminescent blue mucus from its armpits when challenged and, to add insult to injury, it can swim at phenomenal speeds. On the upside, it hates daylight and its lack of muscles means it can’t keep up crazy speeds for very long. Unless you plan to dive to a depth of 900m without extensive body armour than you should still be perfectly safe to head back into the water.
Vampire Squid Wikicommons: Citron
Vampire Squid Flickr: snigl3t
It’s no wonder that the red-lipped Batfish looks like it’s constantly displeased, when you consider that it is often rated as one of the ugliest animals on earth. If someone called us ugly we wouldn’t exactly be smiling either. It may also be none too pleased with the fact that it’s a pathetic swimmer, and must use its pectoral fins to shuffle its way through the ocean floors. All in all, we’d say this fish lucked out on all counts. Head to the Cocos Islands off the coast of Costa Rica, go on a scuba diving expedition to at least 30m in depth and, should you come across a red-lipped batfish, do try your best to cheer him up.
Red lipped Bat fish Flickr: barrypeters
Red lipped Bat fish Wikicommons: Rein Ketelaars
Along the same line as the snake-eating spider, you’ll find a fish with such fierce human-like teeth it has been known to bring grown men to tears at the mere sight…of a photo. This unattractive beast had been affectionately renamed ‘the ball cutter’ by the native fishermen of South America and Papua New Guinea, due to its insistent taste for testicles. No joke. Normally, the small-mouthed fish feeds on tree nuts, but since one managed to get a perfectly-sized human testicle into its mouth, the happy news seems to have spread far and wide. Alarmingly, wild Pacus have now been found both in European and North American waters, leading to an unprecedented revival of the once-loathed Speedo.
Black Pacu Flickr: Carnat JoelCachama or Pacu fish, one of the strangest animals in the world
To anyone who loved playing Pac Man as a child, this cute little octopus ought to look awfully familiar. It has Dumbo-like ears (which it uses like fins), a body that looks like a bell and arms, that once erected, make it look like it’s wearing a skirt. Dumbo’s conservation status is utterly unknown as this is one of the hardest animals to keep track of, as it lives at mind-boggling depths of up to 4,800m. Considering that at these depths humans seem to have thankfully avoided pollution, this octopus is not believed to be in any danger of extinction.