Our planet is vast! It is home to 8.7 million species. Researchers say that categorizing these species might take more than 1,000 years. They also believe that while doing so, many of these animals could also go extinct. In fact, when we go by the stats, researchers say that we have identified only 14% of the total species present in the world. Out of this, only 9% live in the oceans, and 91% of them are terrestrial. We are sure you did not know many of these amazing animals that share the planet with us.
Because as per researchers, a regular person is knowledgeable about only about 1% of the species living on the planet. Most of us are unaware of several cool creatures with unique characteristics that dwell on this planet. All from the deep oceans, unscaled forests, and high skies, here we have listed twelve such unheard-of creatures that will leave you stunned:
1. Maned Wolf
Scientifically named Chrysocyon brachyurus, the maned wolf is one of the largest species found in canids all around the globe. While the maned wolf looks both like a fox and a wolf, genetic studies show that the species are neither complete fox nor wolf. They have long black legs with tall, erect ears and a thick red coat of maned hair. They weigh between 20 and 30 kilograms.
The species is evolved to live in the tall grasses of the savanna and is a native of South America. With a height of up to 35 inches, the maned wolf is the tallest canid in the world. The maned wolf is an omnivore and has a unique taste for tomato-like fruit called “wolf’s apple.” Unlike the original wolfs, the maned wolf prefers to live alone; they never form packs. The thick coat of mane hair on their body, work as a defense mechanism. The hair stands erect, making the animals appear to be larger in case of a threat.
One of the most interesting facts about the maned wolf is that their pee smells like the recreational drug marijuana. It consists of pyrazines, hexagon-shaped clusters of nitrogen, hydrogen, and carbon that make it smell like marijuana. With only 17,000 mature adults claimed to be present in the world, the maned wolf is categorized as “nearly threatened” species. (1, 2)
2. Big Butt Ants
Big butt ants, as the name suggests, have a big butt! They are scientifically named Atta laevigata and are found from Venezuela to Paraguay. It is the largest ant in the leaf-cutter species. A single colony of such ants consists of 3.5 million individuals.
Also called the “big-bottomed ant,” this species is an expensive delicacy in Colombia. People collect these ants, roast them, and use them as a pizza topping. Some chefs also use these ants to create sauces. While the entire ant is edible, people claim that their butt tastes the best! The size of these ants is roughly equal to the size of a large cockroach. (1, 2)
Parrotfish are mainly found in coral reefs, rocky coasts, and seagrass beds. It is named “parrotfish” owing to the peculiar arrangement of their numerous teeth that are packed on the external part of their jawbones, which makes its mouth appear like the beak of a parrot.
While on an average, their length varies between 30–50 cm, some of them grow up to a length of one meter. It is vibrant blue, green, purple, and pink, thereby making scuba diving much more colorful for the divers.
These fish feed on algae and dead corals in the reef; thus, they help in keeping the reef clean. They also help in bioerosion. Their feces consists of white sand particles. In fact, a single parrotfish produces up to 320 kilograms (700 pounds) of sand every year, maintaining the sea bed. Overfishing of the parrotfish in the coral reef has, however, threatened the survival of the fish. The number of these fish is rapidly depleting in the oceans. (1, 2)
4. Elephant Shrew
An elephant shrew has a body like a rodent with a nose that resembles the trunk of an elephant. That is why it was given the name “elephant shrew.” Native to Africa, these tiny, insect-eating mammals are shy and tough to spot as they are always camouflaged and super speedy.
They are only found in Africa and prefer to live in rocky areas so they can hide from predatory birds easily by moving along behind one rock to another quickly. Although they are called shrews, they are not at all related to them and are a species of their own. Female elephant shrews have a menstrual cycle similar to that of human beings. They carry food in their cheek pouches to feed their young ones. Apart from insects, elephant shrews also eat fruits, leaves, and seeds. (1, 2)