Some animals are so unique that it’s hard to believe they’re even real. These majestic creatures come from all over the world, but many of them are native to areas most of us will never visit, such as Madagascar, or deep in the rainforests of Central and South America.
Unfortunately, many of them are also endangered, but knowing about them and bringing awareness to their plight can go a long way in helping to preserve them. Our planet is better the more diverse it is; that’s what makes ecosystems so complex and interesting. So making sure animals don’t go extinct should be a priority for anyone who cares about the future of Earth.
From bold colors to strange shapes and features, these creatures will make you do a double-take. How many have you heard of before today?
1. Royal flycatcher
These amazing birds are native to Central and South America. Their colorful crests are their most distinctive feature and often fan out when held. While there are up to 4 species of flycatchers, 2 of them are nearing extinction.
2. Thorn bug
The Umbonia spinosa, or thorn bug, is most commonly found in South America. This insect belongs to the same family as cicadas and treehoppers, but can be distinguished from more common bugs by it’s unique dorsal horn.
3. Mantis shrimp
The mantis shrimp is beautiful but dangerous. These crustaceans can deliver quite a wallop to their prey with their sharp forelimbs and aren’t much more gentle on human fingers. There are over 450 species of mantis shrimp, but this little guy is by far the most colorful.
4. Fish hook ant
The Polyrhachis bihamata, or fish hook ant, was discovered back in 2007 in East and South Asia. They have curved spines and sharp hooks that can penetrate human skin. When they’re in attack mode, they can hook onto each other to defend against predators.
5. Blue parrotfish
Imagine finding this on the end of your fishing rod! The blue parrotfish can be found in shallow waters around coral reefs in the western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. They average about 12-30 inches in length, but can grow to be nearly 4 feet long!
6. Bald uakari monkey
For the Cacajao calvus, or bald uakari monkey, a red face is an indicator of good health. They live in the Amazon River basin and can live to be 20 years old. Sadly, their populations are declining and the species is at risk of extinction.
7. Giraffe weevil
The giraffe weevil got its name thanks to its long neck, which comes in handy both for nest building and fighting. It is native to Madagascar. Most of its body is black, with the exception of its distinctive red wing casings.
8. Blanket octopus
The blanket octopus lives in subtropical and tropical oceans. They get their names from the long, transparent webs that connect the arms of adult females, making them look like a big, cozy (albiet a bit slimy) blanket.
9. Flying lemur
Despite its name, the flying lemur cannot fly, nor is it a lemur. It is native to the Philippines and glides among the trees. They live in heavily forested areas and can grow up to 15 inches, with a 10-inch tail.
10. Pink fairy armadillo
The pink fairy is the smallest of the armadillos and despite sounding like it was named by a 5-year-old girl, it was first described by naturalist Richard Harlan in 1825. They are burrowing animals native to Argentina and since they’re pretty secretive, we don’t know enough about them to know whether or not they’re endangered.
The majestic Appaloosa is no typical horse. Native to the western US, these animals have a hyper-glossy and unique coat with a variety of spotted patterns. Some even have striped hooves.
12. Black night leopard gecko
We’re not going to lie – we find this little guy pretty cute. You can even get your own for a cool $1.3k. The black night is bred for its color and lives on a diet of mealworms.
13. Red-lipped batfish
The red-lipped batfish is native to the Galapagos and looks like it got into someone’s lipstick. The little white spot under its nose is helpful in capturing small fish and crustaceans, which they find while walking on the ocean floor.
14. Elephant shrew
The Giant Sengi (also known as the elephant shrew) lives in the Boni-Dodori Forest in Kenya. Sadly, these little guys are endangered not only due to deforestation but because they often get caught up in traps, despite their speed. The fastest elephant shrew was recorded at a pace of 17.9mph!