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These Are Some of the Strangest Creatures on Earth
In the WildKnowledge

These Are Some of the Strangest Creatures on Earth

Theo, Critter Culture Staff
Updated Oct 6, 2020

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For those of us who live in towns and cities, and spend our days around the strangeness of people, it can be easy to forget that Mother Nature is wild. Across the world, in every continent, are creatures that you look at and think "How?" quickly followed by "Why?"

Whether it's a case of evolution, adaptation, or just because they were born this way, there are some extraordinary animals, insects, and fish out there. Let's hear it for the oddballs, the weirdos, and the downright strange!

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1

Axolotl

Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) from front

Is it a fish? Is it a lizard? The short answer to this is "yes." Also known as the Mexican Walking Fish, the Axolotl is a water-based salamander that was once a primary ingredient in the Aztec diet. Aside from their fish faces and their lizard legs, the Axolotl has been used frequently in science as they can regenerate limbs. Today they are on the critically endangered list, after nearly going extinct in 2010.

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2

Eastern Long-Necked Turtle

Eastern long-necked turtle. snake-necked turtle. bong hyunjung / Getty Images

At first glance, this turtle doesn't seem to be particularly unorthodox - until it extends its neck to eat.

Commonly found in Eastern Australia, the Eastern Long-Necked Turtle is the giraffe of its kind. In fact, its neck is so long that rather than retract it into its shell, it has to turn itself sideways.

Nicknamed "The Stinker," this turtle also emits a particularly foul-smelling odor if it gets startled in any way.

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3

California Condor

California condor and blue sky

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Well, the California Condor definitely is a bird, although with a wingspan of 8-10 feet, is often mistaken for a small airplane and has caused quite the consternation for air traffic control.

These majestic birds aren't the most beautiful of creatures, but they are efficient - they can soar for around 3 miles without flapping their wings.

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4

Gharial

Young Gharial

Most at home in the rivers of India, the Gharial or Gavial can grow up to 20 feet long. They are the longest breed of crocodile in the wild and are currently on the endangered species list. Thanks to evolution, it has developed long thin jaws which are perfect for catching its dinner - which is exclusively fish.

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5

Narwhal

Pod of narwhals feeding on small bait fish on the surface, Admiralty Inlet, Baffin Island, Canada

The unicorn of the sea, the narwhal has a unique tusk which is actually one of its teeth. They use this spear for fighting during mating season, and it has nerve endings which help the narwhal locate where they are. Historically, the narwhal tusk was harvested and sold as being an "authentic" unicorn horn.

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6

Stonefish

Stonefish in the Sand

The stonefish has created a specific set of ways to protect itself from predators. As the name suggests, it is really good at hiding as a stone, and it can lurk on the seafloor, which helps it stay safe as well as hunt its prey. It can also emit poison from its dorsal spines.

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7

Thorny Dragon

Thorny Devil (Moloch horridis)

The excellently named thorny dragon - or thorny devil - is another one of the strange creatures that live in Australia. Its entire top is covered in hard spikes which mean that the lizard is unappealing to predators. Not only that, but it has a large lump on its throat which it shows to predators, convincing them it has the head of a much bigger creature. For all of that, it's mostly harmless and eats ants and plants.

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8

Jerboa

The jerboa are a steppe animal and lead a nocturnal life Yerbolat Shadrakhov / Getty Images

With long hind legs, this little mouselike creature gets around by jumping like a kangaroo. The Jerboa is indigenous to hot, dry climates like Egypt and South Africa. Their long legs are a particular advantage to this little rodent, as they enable it to run up to 15 mph to escape predators.

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9

Pufferfish

Blowfish or diodon holocanthus underwater in ocean in tropical destination

Famous as a delicacy in Japan, the Pufferfish, balloonfish, or blowfish, can inflate itself to several times its normal size - which it does as a defense. They are known as fugu on Japanese menus and have to be carefully prepared as they contain a poison which is particularly dangerous to humans.

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10

Proboscis Monkey

Proboscis monkeys endemic of Borneo island in Malaysia

The proboscis - or long-nosed monkey - can only be found on the island of Borneo, and is famous for having a large, hanging nose. In Indonesian, the monkey is known as monyet belanda or Dutch monkey, as the Indonesians believed that the monkeys and the colonizing Dutchmen looked a little alike.

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11

Glaucus Atlanticus

Blue Dragon, Glaucus Atlanticus, Blue Sea Slug

Perhaps the most exotic slug in the world, the Glaucus Atlanticus is also known as the blue dragon, sea angel, or sea swallow. It lives peaceably in many of the world's oceans and is usually only a couple centimeters long. It floats upside down close to the surface of the water and contains poison in the tips of its fingers which it uses to kill its prey.

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12

Basilisk

Costa Rica wildlife: male plumed basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons), also called the green basilisk, the double crested basilisk, or the Jesus Christ lizard at Tortuguero National park, Costa Rica.

Unlike the Harry Potter snakes, the Basilisk is actually a type of lizard that is usually found in Central and South America. With large, webbed feet, the basilisk is actually able to run across the water to escape predators, for up to 5 yards. This specific skill means it has the nickname the "Jesus Reptile."

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13

Leafy Sea Dragon

The leafy seadragon, Phycodurus eques against black bacground

Related to the seahorse, the leafy seadragon lives in the oceans by South and East Australia. As the name suggests, the leafy seadragon is covered in long leaf-looking skin which works like camouflage - giving it the impression of being floating seaweed. It is the emblem of South Australia and is nicknamed a "Leafie."

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14

Duck-billed Platypus

Tasmania , platypus eating worm JohnCarnemolla / Getty Images

Australia's duck-billed platypus has the body of an otter, a snout that looks like a duck's bill, and a tail a little bit like a beaver's. Although it is a mammal, it is one of only two mammals on earth which lay eggs rather than birthing live young.

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15

Chevrotain

The mouse deer or Chevrotain is smallest deer dangdumrong / Getty Images

The Chevrotain is also known as the Mouse-Deer, in spite of the fact it is neither a mouse nor a deer. To add to its bizarreness, the Mouse-Deer is the world's smallest hoofed animal and has more in common with a pig or a donkey. Only 12-16 inches tall, this little creature weighs around 4 pounds, making it about the size of a toy poodle puppy.

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16

Giant Isopod

Terrifying Sea Beast: Bathynomus giganteus or Giant isopod

While they look like giant woodlice, the giant isopod is an ocean-dwelling crustacean similar to a crab or a shrimp. They live in the coldest parts of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans, and can grow up between 8 - 15 inches. The largest known giant isopod ever found was 30 inches long and weighed 3.7 pounds.

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17

Phasmatidae

Hermagoras megabeast is a bug from the order Phasmatodea and the family Phasmatidae.

From the stick insect family, the Phasmatidae are insects which live in warm countries. Their particular shape is for camouflage. They live on the trees and can conceal themselves by resembling part of the tree's branch. Impressively, these insects can regenerate limbs, and can even spawn young without the need to fertilize first.

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18

Leaf Insects

A close-up shot of a Spiny leaf insect

On a par with stick insects, the leaf insect is great at concealing itself by pretending to be a leaf. These insects are also known as walking leaves, thanks to their flat, wide bodies with leaf-like patterns. They can even mimic a leaf in the wind with the way that they walk.

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19

Flying Fox

A wild Spectacled Flying Fox among some passionfruit vines at a wildlife hospital in Kuranda, Queensland.

Not to be mistaken for a flying squirrel, the Flying Fox is part of the bat family. They have a wingspan up to 6 feet, and mostly eat insects and fruit. Typically they live in the southern hemisphere and have appeared often in the art and mythology of indigenous people.

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20

Mimic Octopus

Mimic Octopus

The mimic octopus was discovered in 1998 on the bottom of a muddy riverbank. While the octopus family is particularly famous for being intelligent and able to solve complicated puzzles, the mimic octopus has taken this a step further. It can change its skin color and texture in order to help them blend into their environment. Currently, it is the only species we know of that can change their colors and textures to such a wide extent.

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