Humans have been discovering and describing new animal species for a very long time now. There are over a million known animal species on Earth. From tiny dust mites to enormous whales, the biodiversity is mind-boggling. While some creatures are cute and cuddly, others are strange enough to make you go “Really?” Here are 10 creatures you won’t believe actually exist!
1. Bearded Bellbird
Ever seen a bird with a mighty beard? If you haven’t, meet the bearded bellbird, also known as “anvil-bird” or “campanero.”
Found in northern South America, this iconic species is famous for its distinctive appearance. The males have a white body, brown head, black wings, and a throat full of unfeathered, black, stringy wattles that look like dangling beards.
The females of the species are much more plain looking with greenish and yellow streaks on the underparts. The male also has a loud, metallic hammering call along with various other vocalizations. (1,2)
2. Black Rain Frog
Aww! Look at this grumpy little face!
The black rain frog has a round body and short limbs and toes. It has a tiny stature with a snout-to-vent length of around two inches. Most importantly, it has a perpetual frown that makes it look like an angry avocado!
Endemic to South Africa, the black rain frog lives at elevations of over 3,300 feet, and it can burrow and create tunnels that are up to six inches deep. Being a burrowing species, the black rain frog does not need to live near open water. It digs to find the necessary moisture. (1,2)
3. Bobbit Worm
Eunice aphroditois, or bobbit worm, is the stuff of nightmares!
Found in the warm marine waters of the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific Oceans, this bristle worm can grow up to ten feet long and one-inch wide. The bobbit worm has a hard exoskeleton, which sports a range of vibrant colors from black to purple. Instead of eyes, the worm has five antennae on the head that are used for sensing prey.
It is an ambush predator that burrows its entire body in soft sediment, and it strikes and stuns its prey with its sharp mouthparts. Their attack is so strong that they can snap some prey in half, which is why they are also known as the “sand striker.” (1,2)
At first glance, the image of a capuchinbird looks Photoshopped, and you may think that one bird’s head has been added to another bird’s body! Found in the humid forests of north-eastern South America, the capuchinbird grows up to 16 inches long and weighs up to 420 grams.
It has an overall rich brown plumage of a burnt orange hue and a disproportionately small, bare, and almost vulture-like head that is covered in light blue skin. The males are known to make the strangest avian sounds, which have been likened to a cow mooing or a distant chainsaw. (1,2)
Contrary to what their name suggests, bearcats are neither bears nor cats. Native to South and Southeast Asia, bearcats, or binturongs, are related to small forest predators such as genets, civets, and fossas.
The strangest thing about the bearcats is that they smell like hot buttered popcorn! When the creature urinates, the liquid covers its fuzzy tail and feet and leaves a scent trail that lets the other bearcats know their presence and possibly their sex. Due to a chemical compound present in the bearcat’s urine, their scent is a lot like popcorn, though some say it is more like Fritos corn chips. (1,2)
6. Naked Mole-Rat
The naked mole-rat is not easy on the eyes, but it is fascinating!
Being one of the longest-living rodents in the world, the naked mole-rat can live up to 32 years, which is far longer than most other rodents.
Their mortality rate does not increase with age, they are highly resistant to cancer, and they maintain a healthy vascular function for far longer in their lifespan than the shorter-living rats. Although there is debate over how it lives so long, some experts say that it may be due to their ability to slow their metabolism during hard times. (1,2)
7. Golden Poison Frog
The brightly colored golden poison frog is beautiful, but you shouldn’t touch it! Deemed as one of the most toxic animals on Earth, a single tiny specimen packs enough venom to kill ten adult men!
For centuries, the indigenous people of Colombia have used the powerful venom to tip their darts when hunting. While exploring the possible medicinal uses for the frog’s toxins, researchers came up with a synthetic version which has the potential to be a powerful painkiller. (1,2)
8. Orchid Mantis
Here’s an insect that looks like flowers!
As the name suggests, the orchid mantis looks like an orchid flower. It has petal-like legs and whitish-pink or yellow coloration. However, only the females look like this. The males are quite dull-looking in comparison.
According to research, the females evolved to look like orchids because of their strategy of hunting pollinating insects. Being an ambush predator, the orchid mantis preys on much larger insects such as foraging butterflies. (1,2)
9. Amazonian Giant Earthworm
If you have vermiphobia or a fear of worms, you are not going to like this one! Found in the Amazon rainforest, these giant earthworms come out during rainstorms.
A member of the Martiodrilus genus, they can be around five-foot long and weigh up to a pound. Some relatives can even grow to be seven feet long! These slimy creatures have tiny bristles on their underside that help them to dig. (1,2)
10. African Wild Dog
The African wild dog goes by many other names such as “painted dog” or “Cape hunting dog,” but they are neither wolves or dogs.
This canine has a very distinctive look with its irregular, mottled coat adorned with patches of red, brown, black, yellow, and white fur. Each animal sports its own unique pattern, and they all have big, rounded ears.
Unlike regular dogs that have five toes on the forefeet, the long-legged African wild dogs have only four toes on each foot. They were once found throughout the African continent, but due to habitat loss, the African wild dog is now listed as an endangered species. (1,2,3)
Which one of these did you find the strangest? Let us know in the comments!