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The World’s Weirdest Endangered Species / 20 Strange and Exotic Species
Like much of the futuristic green building designs and great green architecture of today, the ugly redheaded stepchildren of the animal kingdom don’t get much attention compared to the perennial endangered animal favorites like pandas, polar bears, and owls. These are the cute, majestic, and otherwise emblematic creatures of the endangered species list. But there are hundreds more animal species on our wondrous planet that are critically threatened and need both publicity and support. From bats the size of bees to poison-slinging mammals, lizards that don’t eat for a decade to seals with giant inflatable faces, here are the 25 strangest, most bizarre, unusual and important endangered species living on the “EDGE” (Evolutionarily Distinct & Globally Endangered).
No, it’s not an ROUS. The strange solenodon is a mammal found primarily in Cuba and Hispanola. Sure, it looks cute and manageable enough - sort of like an over-sized hedgehog. Too bad the solenodon injects rattlesnake-like venom through its teeth, the only mammal to do so. Easily annoyed, the solenodon bites at the drop of a banana leaf. Still, being both a carrion feeder and insectivore, it is a vital species in its ecosystem. It was thought to be extinct until scientists found a few still alive in 2003. It is in grave danger of extinction.
This is not only the rarest, but the strangest parrot in the world. Imagine a rather portly nocturnal bird that never flies, preferring to hike through hilly forest for miles every night. It weighs in as the heaviest parrot in the world at 8 pounds. Imagine this and you have the very real (but virtually extinct) kakapo. A resident of New Zealand, which is home to a number of rare birds, there are only 62 kakapos remaining on earth. (Bonus fact: New Zealand is full of unusual creatures. It originally had no native land mammals, so its many unique birds evolved in unusual ways - which unfortunately has made them very vulnerable to mammals that were brought in during European colonization.)
Some guys just can’t catch a break. The male angler fish is 1/20th the size of the female angler fish. The huge, traumatizingly ugly spiny fish with the glowing “fishing rod” lure you saw in Finding Nemo? That’s the female. The male is that tiny little blob attached to his horrific goddess that you never noticed. He burrows in with his teeth and she “feeds” him ex-utero style until he eventually loses his eyeballs, then internal organs and finally his life. By then, she’s got his sperm so it doesn’t matter. Anglers are deep-sea fish, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe from threat. Go on, have another look at these lovely ladies of the deep:
Leaping Lesbian Lizards!
Officially named Cnemidophorus uniparens, these American desert lizards reproduce despite the fact that they’re all female. Interestingly, some of them simulate sexual acts (above, left) with each other just like male and female lizards, and it’s been discovered that when they do they reproduce more successfully than their abstemious sisters.
Everyone knows the beloved endangered kiwi is a flightless bird. As if to make up for its winged impotence, the kiwi is actually a violent, temperamental little bird. But its quirks don’t stop there. The only bird with whiskers is also distinctly dog-like in its ability to sniff out food and threats. In fact, it has the most highly developed sense of smell of any bird, lifting its “nose” (beak) into the breeze to determine its surroundings, just like a dog would. That’s probably because kiwis are also the only bird to have prominent nostrils. Contrary to popular belief, the kiwi does have wings, but they are tiny and difficult to detect under the loose, fluffy, hair-like feathers. The kiwi has many other unusual characteristics: the eggs are relatively huge, being one-fifth the bird’s weight; kiwi pairs mate for life - as long as 30 years - but tend to have feisty relationships; the females are larger and more dominant than the males. In fact, daddy kiwis incubate the young while mom hunts - for an unheard-of 80 days, no less. Did you know that kiwis are the smallest ratites on earth? Other ratites include ostrich and emu.
This unusual amphibian is blind, lives to 100, and goes ten years at a stretch without food. It lives in the subterranean waters of Italy, Croatia and Herzegovenia, where it skeeves out the locals with its strange, human-like skin. Its nickname, in fact, is the “human fish”. Unlike most amphibians, the olm lives in the water for its whole life. Another oddity of the olm: its neotenic (larval) gills.
Winning the cutest. bat. ever. award is the Bumblebee bat, which at its largest measures 1 inch. These tiny mammals hover like hummingbirds and like all bats prefer caves and love feasting on insects. They can easily perch on the tip of your thumb. This tiny bat dwells in Thailand and is considered one of the 12 most endangered species. There are fewer than 200 remaining.
Sharing something in common with bats, aye ayes are the only primates of the mammal world to rely on echolocation for hunting. The aye aye is a rather unusual cousin of us humans. It lives in spherical nests with a small hole for entry and exit. It uses its long, slender middle finger to tap on trees in order to find tasty insects - and it uses this same finger to scoop them out. Perhaps it is due to its unusually-large eyes and ears that this unique, sensitive primate is believed to be a demon or a bad luck omen. A native of Madagascar, it is often killed at first notice by the island’s superstitious residents.
Males of this arctic seal species have both an inflatable skull hood and nasal balloon. When aroused, angered or simply showing off, male hooded seals can inflate their sacs that are a foot or more in diameter. The nasal balloon can be inflated through one or both nostrils and is bright red. Unfortunately, due to global warming affecting the arctic environment, hooded seals are now considered by many scientists to be endangered
20 نوع من الحيوانات العجيبة مهددة بالانقراض في العالم !
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The echidna is one of two egg-laying mammals in the world (the other is the famous duck-billed platypus). Though it looks a big hedgehog-like, this spiky creature is shy and non-confrontational. The echidna has a long, moist snout and an even longer tongue which it uses to feast on termites. It has no teeth, so it has to “chew” termites by crushing them between its tongue and mouth cavity. There are actually 4 species of echidna, and along with the platypus, they are the only monotremes. More on that in a moment.
The “little mountain monkey” of South America is not a monkey, but rather a marsupial, thought to have arrived from Australia long ago. It’s tiny - only about 5″ full grown. They are nocturnal and carnivorous, and famous (well, among scientists) for their unusual tail, which can store enough fat to make this little pipsqueak double in size. This allows them to go for long periods without food. Sadly, the always-prepared monito del monte is in danger of extinction.Duck-Billed Platypus
The penguin with glowing yellow eyes
The yellow-eyed penguin, also native to New Zealand, is the rarest and strangest penguin in the world. It can dive to an astounding depth of 400 feet, likes to feed 20 miles from shore, and prefers to nest in the forest rather than on the beach. Penguin families tend to keep to themselves rather than congregate as most penguins do. Because of shoreline deforestation, these unusual-looking penguins are at great risk.
It’s venomous. It’s got a duck’s bill, and otter’s feet and a mammal’s body. Oh, and it lays eggs. No wonder Western naturalists were confused by the platypus when it was first introduced. The platypus, along with the echidna, is a monotreme (egg-laying mammal). It’s native to Australia and Tasmania where it was hunted to near-extinction during the 1800s for its fur, but has been protected since the turn of the 20th century. Thought officially a protected species, the platypus is at risk because of poaching. (In future posts we will explore the varying classifications of “endangered” and some of the associated controversy and disputes.)Ghost Frog
The flat-bodied ghost frog has special adaptations to allow it to inhabit rapid streams in South Africa (as well as Skeleton Gorge, likely the reason for its spooky moniker). The young have disc-like mouths to for a suction-like grip and adults have specialized disc-like toe pads to cling to rocks in the rushing water.Purple Frog
The purple frog is really purple. But its brilliant hue is not the strange thing about it. The purple frog spends much of the year living 13 feet below ground. Also called the pignose for its snubbed nose, this western Indian-dwelling frog was only discovered in 2003, in Kerala. Locals had known about the purple frog for years, but scientists were skeptical. Part of the reason purple frogs were difficult to find was simply due to the fact that they only come up for air for two weeks during monsoon season in order to mate.Dugong
The dugong is a cousin of the manatee and is closely related to the elephant. The dugong is unique in that it has a split (whale-like) tail and will “perch” underwater on its tail in order to keep its head above water. The dugong is thought to have inspired ancient myths about mermaids. The dugong is threatened by poachers who hunt the animal for its meat, oil, skin and bones. It is extremely endangered.Spring Hare
The bizarre spring hare had taxonomists scratching their heads for years. It’s been classified with jerboas (jumping rodents), squirrels and even porcupines. It’s now classified on its own, and it resembles both a kangaroo and hare. It has specialized short limbs with claws for digging as well as flexible ear flaps that can be used to seal off the ear canal to protect against the elements and debris. It’s also got a funny resting position that looks a lot like the yoga Dolphin post: it stretches its long hind legs forward and then rests its head and arms directly on the groundSloth
That’s not really its name; it doesn’t have one. Meet the rarest rabbit in the world, which has only been seen twice in the last century at least. Locals didn’t even know it existed. The “Sumatran rabbit” is thought to be nearly extinct. (Note: there are very few available images of this incredibly rare animal, and most are grainy at best - click here to view.)
The sloth belongs to the edentate family, which also includes anteaters, armadillos, and echidnas. Most edentates are either threatened or endangered species. There are a number of unusual facts about the sloth. All sloths have three toes, but “two-toed” sloths only have 2 claws. Sloths often hunt in packs. They can actually move quickly and will slash with their large claws - the slow-moving behavior is to avoid predators like hawks. They actually hang most of their lives. Sloths typically have over 600 species of bacteria, plants and animals living on them at any given time, and will often feed on themselves when they are hungry. (Algae is the main snack.) Famously, these unusual creatures can rotate their heads 270 degrees. Lore has it that sloths adore beer and are able to “hold their liquor” amazingly well.
20 Strange and Exotic Species
The bladder-chewing guppy not enough for you? Can’t stop thinking about exploding ants, boyfriend-devouring she-monsters of the sea and blood-spurting lizards? Don’t worry - terrifying oneself is a common ailment of the intertubes. Unfortunately, there is no cure…but there is more to learn! Reader, prepare thyself. Your eyeballs are about to be flooded with some of the strangest, creepiest, crawliest endangered creatures on the planet. Warning: content best consumed as far away from bedtime as possible.
Mexican Walking Fish
The Mexican walking fish is on the verge of extinction. It’s a caecilian (more about that in a bit), and it lives in - where else? - the waters off Mexico. It’s also important because it will be the only cute animal in this entire post. Awww. It really is cute, isn’t it? It’s always nice to start things off gently. Digital foreplay, if you will.
Goliath Bird Eating Spider
Only the biggest spider on earth, this plate-sized bird-gnawing beast actually prefers to feast on smaller fare, like bats, bugs, and annoying children. In other words, the bird-eating spider rarely eats birds. Sure. Anyway, like its tarantula cousin below (the whistling spider) the Goliath or bird-eating spider is at risk due to its Amazonian habitat destruction. Though tarantulas are scary, they’re fairly harmless to humans.
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Whistling Spider (Mariah Spider joke)(Images via cane toad warrior, aqob and the Age)
Here, human human human human. Good human! The whistling spider is able to emit a distinctive whistle by rubbing its legs together. What, you thought spiders had lips? How else would they whistle! It’s a vital part of its native ecosystem and while it is not critically endangered, habitat destruction puts this important species at risk.
Chinese Giant Salamander
Something tells us these giant salamanders were never called for in any witch’s recipe. Seriously, look at that thing! That lives under some people’s porches! The United States is also home to a giant salamander called the Hellbender, and it’s…well, the name fits. However, it is not as endangered as the shockingly strange-looking Chinese cousin. The Chinese giant salamander can grow to be nearly six feet long.
Lord Howe Island Stick Insect
Delightfully crisp! Kidding, kidding. There are hundreds of stick insects, but the Lord Howe Island stick insect is by far the most critically endangered of all of them. It can grow to five inches in length; but don’t worry, it’s not poisonous. Just crunchy.(Images via bug guide and time_one)
Think of this cheery critter as you would a common mouse: not terribly enjoyable to have underfoot, but vital to the ecosystem all the same. The weta is native to New Zealand and while it’s something of an icon thanks to Peter Jackson, non-native species, pest eradication and general ugliness (which really can’t be helped now, can it?) have all contributed to the sad plight of the weta. There are actually over 70 species of weta, with 16 being endangered or at risk. The giant weta was thought to be extinct, but a new population was recently found. They aren’t the cutest bugs around, but they are harmless and besides, they put up with your mug, don’t they?
Giant Water Bug
The inspiration for Alien? The palm-sized giant water bug possesses a syringe-like tooth that bores into its prey, injects a toxic venom that liquefies the animal’s insides, and then…meat’s back on the menu! One of the favorite treats of Giant Water Bugs that live in the Amazon is the piranha. If that tells you anything. Why would we want something so bad ass to go extinct? It’s not like other animals are waiting around to eat piranhas.(Image via Endangered Ugly)
Frigate Island Beetle
Put anything in a place where it’s hot and wet 99% of the time, and it will grow. Whether it’s a fern, a vine or a dear-Jeebus-that’s-horrifying beetle, things just come bigger in the tropics. The seriously endangered and geographically unique Frigate Island Beetle is no exception. It’s the largest of the tenebrionid beetles and the most at risk. If you ever leave the internet long enough to visit Frigate Island and you pick up a beetle and it stains your hands and clothes with a “musky” scented purple ink, put that little guy somewhere safe! You’ve just happened upon a Frigate Island beetle.(Image via ecoscraps)
Giant Palouse Earthworm
At lengths of up to one foot, the Giant Palouse is the largest earthworm on earth. It’s quite harmless, but unfortunately it’s endangered all the same. It lives in Eastern Washington State and Idaho and was thought to be extinct until 2005, when a student discovered a living specimen. Previous sightings hadn’t happened since the 1980s. Part of the reason it’s so hard to find the Giant Palouse? They burrow 15 feet into the ground.(Image via kottke)
Giant Coconut Crab
This is not shopped. This is not a hoax. That is a giant crab on a garbage can. They’re native to Guam and other Pacific islands. Coconut crabs aren’t endangered, per se, but due to tropical habitat destruction they are at risk. In WWII, American soldiers stationed in the Pacific theater wrote home with tales about entire atolls being covered in the armor-plated giants. These crabs can crack a coconut in one swipe; but they’re generally too slow to be very dangerous to humans. Children pass lazy afternoons by picking the crabs off tree trunks and watching them crash to the ground; it’s reportedly great fun. And kind of messed up.(Image via divegallery)
Crinoid Snapping Shrimp
The tiny Crinoid snapping shrimp is the tiniest of all the snapping shrimp, and the only one that is endangered. The snapping shrimp is often called the pistol shrimp because it comes with its very own “gun” by which it makes a loud cracking, shooting noise. It really only shoots air, but the stun gun is enough to knock out prey foolish enough to swim past.(Image via wonderful world of animals)
Honduran Ghost Bat
The Honduran ghost bat is not officially endangered, but many American ecologists consider it to be threatened due to rainforest habitat destruction and climate change. It is unique, both for its tiny size (just a few centimeters) and its pale coloring.(Image via arkive)
Mallorcan Midwife Toad
The Mallorcan Midwife toad…is a dude. In a gender-bender twist that seems to occur a lot in the frog world, this toad swaps child-bearing and child-rearing duties. The father serves as a surrogate for the tots until they hatch, and even cares for them after. Mom, meanwhile, hunts and generally stays out partying every night. Females will even compete with each other for mating rights, much like males of other animal species.
The quacking frog makes a sound that is just like a small duck. Go on, listen! Unfortunately, like many frogs, the quacking frog is endangered. Scientist are particularly concerned when frogs disappear or show signs of stress, because frogs are considered indicator species.
The glass frog is endangered, as well. And absolutely stunning, so it would be a shame if we let it die out. Note the visible organs in this beautiful specimen. Unfortunately, with tropical rainforests in Central and South America threatened (in some places, the problem is actually worse than it was in previous decades), the glass frog may go extinct.
More Legless Amphibians: the Icthyophis Kohtaoensis
There are actually a number of legless amphibians, but some of the strangest ones have tentacles sprouting from their heads. They’re known as caecilians, and some of them have some really unusual physical adaptations for a number of functions (the Mexican Walking Fish at the top of this post is just one). One caecilian has a protruding tail-like limb that enables external fertilization, for example. Though they look like soft worms, they have rows of very sharp teeth. There are over 120 species of caecilians around the world that have been discovered so far, but many of them are endangered and we don’t know much about them.
Threatened by both volcanoes and humans, this fascinating prehistoric relic is endangered. At 10 feet and 330 pounds, it is the largest lizard in existence. They have poor hearing and cannot run very fast for very long, instead relying on their sharp eyesight and powers of stealth to hunt. It possesses serrated teeth and has nasty attack habits, preferring to jab at the feet or drag its prey along for a bit before finishing off the deed. If an animal is lucky enough to get away, it will soon die from massive infection thanks to the komodo’s specialized bacteria. Komodos will eat nearly anything, living or dead, including their own young. Unlike the great cats, they will also eat nearly all of their kill, even the intestines, although they do swing those around to expel the feces first as they really don’t like excrement. For this reason, baby komodos roll themselves in feces to avoid being eaten.
A rare New Zealand bird, not much is known about the enigmatic Kagu. It is flightless, though its wings are large; it is a forest-dweller, though its markings are oddly light in color. Very few remain and scientists know little about its preferences and habits. We do know that it possesses “nasal corns” unlike any other bird. For reasons unknown, the kagu also has one-third the red blood count of other birds. Scientists have had a difficult time classifying this rare and unusual bird.
Hairy Nosed Wombat
Though it looks similar to the standard wombat, the hairy nosed wombat possesses some unique features. Among the rarest mammals in the world, it has a backwards-opening pouch and is the largest burrowing herbivorous mammal known to humans. The other oddity of the hairy nosed wombat is that its teeth continue to grow throughout its life - now that’s long in the tooth!
Only discovered within the last decade, the striped rabbit is considered a bit of a scientific novelty owing to its unusual markings. It comes from a region of Burma that has revealed many unusual species previously unknown to scientists, including a miniature deer. Pictures are scarce