A friend recently sent me an article called “21 Strange Animals You Didn’t Know Exist,” and I was shocked that I hadn’t heard of one animal on the list! The article calls it a round-up of strange animals, but I think these are some of mother nature’s greatest masterpieces. These animals come from all corners of the earth, and while some are furry and some are creepy-crawly, they’re all beautiful in their own way. Check out some of my personal favorites:
These vibrantly-colored crustaceans are quite prevalent in tropical seas, but scientists know little about them because they spend so much time burrowing in sandy hideouts. Look for them while snorkeling on our Papua New Guinea cruise, as they’re commonly seen in the Raja Ampat archipelago.
It may look like half zebra, half antelope, but the okapi is part of the giraffe family, believe it or not. They can only be found in the wild in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and its population has declined over 60% in the last decade due to poaching and illegal mining. In November 2013, it was reclassified as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Lucky travelers may see them on our Congo gorilla safari.
Don’t let its name fool you, the panda ant is actually a type of wasp. Hailing from Chile, it can deliver a painful sting, despite how furry and harmless it looks. It gets its name because the white and black coloring bears a striking resemblance to the giant panda, but locals also call it the “cow killer” or “cow ant.”
The red-lipped batfish – named for its red pout – is one of the hundreds of animal species found only in the Galapagos Islands. Although it is a fish, it has trouble swimming and prefers to use its leg-like pectoral fins to walk along the ocean floor like a crab. You probably won’t see a red-lipped batfish on our Galapagos tours, because they only live at depths of 30 meters or more.
Venezuelan Poodle Moth
The Venezuelan poodle moth was only discovered in 2009, by zoologist Arthur Anker during a trip to Venezuela. Its scientific name and genus still remain a mystery to scientists, but cryptozoologist Karl Shuker has some some interesting hypotheses in his blog post about the poodle moth.
The thorny devil, also called the thorny dragon, is found exclusively in the desert of central Australia. The largest ones are only 20 cm long, and if you look closely you can see the “false head” on the back of its neck, which it uses to protect its real head from predators.
Which one of these intriguing creatures is your favorite? Do you have an interesting animal we should add to our next list? Comment below!