Nobody knows the exact number of species of animals and other life forms living on Earth but according to scientific estimations, there are about 15,000 species of mammals, 20,000 species of fish, 10,000 species of birds, 6,000 species of reptiles and 1,000 species of amphibians living on our planet. How many of them do you know? I bet it's less than 0,01% of these numbers. And it's quite understandable because people who live in cities interact only with well-known animals who adapted to life with humans.
However, that makes us quite ignorant in regards to the diversity and incredibility of the world that we're living in. Fortunately, with the advent of Internet people started to share information much faster and at least we know who Red Pandas, Lemurs and Blobfish are. To the surprise of many, there are so many other creatures on our planet which look and behave otherworldly. It's the kind of creatures that you have to see to believe they exist.
After reading this article you will not only find out about the existence of new strange looking creatures but also learn where to go to see them. Get ready for an incredible journey across our great planet to encounter the creatures you wouldn't believe exist.
25 Superb Bird of Paradise (Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Eastern Australia)
Superb bird-of-paradise is the first otherworldly creature on the list and by looking at it, you can surely get an idea why. The metallic greenish-blue part of this bird is also known as 'breast shield' and the mysterious rounded black oval is formed when the superb bird-of-paradise raises its wings in a peculiar manner. This bird usually looks like this during the courtship and in its 'normal' condition, the only thing that makes it look special is its colorful 'breast shield'. While males are colorful, the plumage of females is much duller, being a mixture of greys and browns.
Superb birds of paradise live in rainforests and forest edges and if you like to see their hilarious mating dance you should go to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea or Eastern Australia.
24 Mantis Shrimp (Indian and Pacific Oceans between Africa and Hawaii)
How do you like the look of this 'lovely' creature? Although it's called the mantis shrimp, actually it's neither shrimp nor mantis. The reason why it was called like this is that it dwells in the oceans (therefore a shrimp) and that it has the most stunning strike in the animal kingdom (therefore a mantis).
This funky guy has two hammers which it uses to launch at its prey with such speed that it tears crabs' limbs and shatters snail shells. If you ever plan to have fun with a shrimp mantis, better just watch because interaction with it may make it show you its kung fu, which will be quite painful even for humans.
23 Sunda Flying Lemur (Southeast Asia)
If you ever want to see these cute creatures, you need to travel to Southeast Asia, namely the Malay Peninsula, Java or Sumatra. The Sunda Colugo is like flying foxes but much cuter. They have a large gliding membrane attached to their bodies, which is much larger than in other gliding mammals. Sunda Colugo are helpless on the ground and they spend most of their lives hanging on the trees.
However, when it comes to gliding they can travel over 100 meters in one take. Although this weird creature is known to science for centuries they still weren't studied in a proper way.
22 Nicobar Pigeon (coastal regions from the Nicobar Islands located in Southeast Asia)
Not your usual pigeon right? What looks as a rainbow bathed bird is called a Nicobar pigeon and it's a very rare bird species which unfortunately faces extinction. Its plumage shines in iridescent greens, coppers, and blues, it has reddish legs and a white tail.
Nicobar pigeons were able to develop such a colorful character because they have lived on isolated islands where no predators dwelled, so they had no need to conceal themselves. These birds can be found in coastal regions from the Nicobar Islands located in Southeast Asia.
21 Emperor Tamarin (forests of South and Central America)
The emperor tamarin has obtained its name from having an elegant white mustache, which resembles the mustache of Wilhelm II. It also reminds of the mustaches of old Chinese wise men, though the monkey on the photo above doesn't look super smart.
These otherworldly monkeys dwell in rainforests in Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia. They are very sociable and they form clans which have from 2 to 8 members. The clan mostly consists of males and is led by the eldest female. In addition, male tamarins groom infants more than females.
Unfortunately, the population of emperor tamarins is declining due to deforestation.
20 Venezuelan Poodle Moth (Venezuela)
This fluffy insect which is more prone to cause cute response than disgust was first discovered by Dr. Arthur Anker of Kyrgyzstan in Venezuela in 2009. Most of the time, it's being confused with a Bombyx mori silkworm. They really look alike, but they are different species.
In addition to being fluffy (its hair was developed for smelling and defense purposes), this poodle moth has two spiky, silver antennas and black eyes. Not something you expect to fly in your sleeping room at night, is it?
19 Cock-of-the-rock (Andean cloud forests in South America)
I bet that by looking at this bird, you found it difficult to identify where is what because it looks more like a surreal painting than an actual creature. Dwelling in Andean forests of South America, cock-of-the-rock was proclaimed to be the national bird of Peru.
In addition to their extraordinary look, they also have another weird feature. When males want to attract females they utter a sound which is reminiscent of a pig squealing. They also hop around, bob up and down to show their bright plumage. If you don't plan to go to the Andean forest, at least watch this YouTube video to take a closer look at these special birds.
18 Jerboa (Deserts like Sahara and Gobi)
Do you remember a video with dramatic little jerboa? It took the Internet by storm and gathered 8 million views 9 years ago. Most people agree that this little rodent is cute. Although it resembles an ordinary mouse, this creature is quite different. Jerboa dwell in deserts, they have big ears, tiny hands and they use their strong tails as an anchorage when they stand.
They dig small tunnels and temporary burrows in the sand, where they hide from predators and cold weather. They spend most of the day in their underground shelters and move at night. For this reason, their behavior wasn't properly studied yet. What is known for certain is that these little rodents can develop a speed of about 15 miles per hour.
17 Glaucus Atlanticus (Humboldt Current ecosystem in Peru, Andhra Pradesh in India)
An oil painting? No! A marvelous little blue sea slug also is known as the blue angel or sea swallow. It's a beautiful shell-less mollusk which mostly dwells in Peru and Andhra Pradesh in India. The blue side of a sea slug's body is facing upwards which camouflages it against the blue sea and the silver side is facing downward which disguises it from the bright surface of the water. Such camouflage makes it very hard for predators to see it.
However beautiful, it is not advised to touch it because one can get a potentially dangerous and certainly painful sting.
16 Hoatzin (South America, Guyana and Venezuela, and Amazonian Brazil)
This fairy-tale creature, which is a symbol of Guyana (small country covered with forests in Southern America) has to be seen to believe that it really exists. Fortunately for the modern day traveler seeing a hoatzin is not that difficult because they are widespread in South America.
They move strangely, crashing through vegetation and accompanying their moves with loud weird vocalizations. Hoatzins are sometimes called flying cows because of their size and the fact that they mostly eat buds and young leaves. What a strange and pleasing gift of nature these birds are.
15 Panda Ant (China and Chile)
All of us love pandas and what about panda ants? They aren't actually ants, because they belong to wasps, so they don't live in colonies, don't have workers, drones and queens. The only cute thing that panda ants have in common with actual pandas is their color. Otherwise, they're not that nice as they are also known as cow killers because they have an incredibly painful sting which they often use to terrorize cows.
The difference between male and female panda ants is huge. Females have stingers and no wings, while males are larger than females, have wings, but have no stingers. The males are so much bigger than the females that they pick their partners up and carry them in flight during mating.
14 Dik Dik (Eastern Africa)
Dik-dik is a dwarf antelope that can easily steal your heart. Their habitat is eastern Africa and their average weight is about 5-6 kilograms. With their large ears and eyes, pointed snout, elegant eyelashes and vestigial tail they have a very delicate and cute look.
Dik-diks are greatly adapted to survive in a waterless country and like other dwarf antelopes, they are monogamous. Due to their delicateness, they are vulnerable to numerous predators who live in Africa. Try to spot them if you ever go to safari in Eastern Africa.
13 Spiny Bush Viper (Central Africa)
What a beautiful snake it is! Just like dik-diks, spiny bush vipers are native to Africa. To be more precise they live in Kenya, Uganda, and Congo. Spiny bush vipers were called that way because they love to hide in flowering bushes of African rainforests. These snakes inhabit regions which are located far from human settlements and for this reason, they aren't well studied by the scientists and we still don't know the exact number of spiny bush vipers which live in the wild.
The beauty of these otherworldly snakes is related to their bright color and scales which cover their bodies.
12 The Ruff Bird (marshes and wet meadows across northern Eurasia)
If there were catwalks in the world of birds they would most certainly be called 'birdwalks' and one of the main models there would be ruff birds. They're most known for their bizarre 'haircuts' (head tufts), plumage and rituals.
Ruff birds form feeding parties which often include birds from other species in order to protect themselves and their nestling from danger. As soon as one bird see potential danger it informs the flock and the whole group flies to a safe place.
11 Halitrephes Jelly (Mexico)
An underwater firework! No photoshop here. This incredible representative of sea life was spotted by scientists not so long ago. This neon burst beauty was photographed at 1225 meters below sea level by the Exploration Vessel Nautilus at the end of 2017 in the Revillagigedo Archipelago off Baja California, Mexico.
You can follow the mission of Nautilus on YouTube to see other impressive creatures which it has encountered in the deep blue. But it hasn't made a more bizarre discovery than this moving underwater firework.
10 Axolotl (lake complex of Xochimilco near Mexico City)
Just look who's smiling at us! This rare representative of amphibians managed to attract the attention of people not just because of its cute smiling face, but also because of many of its other unique features:
- They stay 'babies' for life
- They live in one place on our planet which is Lake Xochimilco in southern Mexico City
- Their genome is 10 times the size of the human genome
- They can regenerate any body part. Literally any part including spinal cord, skin, jaws, limbs, and portions of their brain. Their regenerative abilities are of great interest for the scientists.
Unfortunately, the axolotl is considered critically endangered.
9 Shoebill (East Africa)
Forget about cuteness if we're talking about shoebill because by looking at it you can easily get a feeling that these giant birds want nothing but your blood.
This unique bird with a prehistoric look has some similarity to herons, storks, hamerkops, and pelicans, but they are quite unique on their own.
The spooky thing about shoebill is that it can remain motionless for long periods of time. And you can get a really unpleasant feeling if it looks at you during these motionless periods. During the courtship these birds get noisy. They bow to each other while clattering their bills, whine or squeal.
8 Thorny Dragon (deserts of Central Australia)
These are some of the most odd-looking lizards on the planet. They have large thorny spines and there's also a large conical spike sitting above each eye. And there are also two little spikes above each nostril. Thorny dragons live in Australian deserts where the temperatures climb up to 50 degrees Celsius during the day and fall to -1 below zero at night. In order to keep themselves cool thorny devils find shade and they cover themselves in the dirt to keep warm.
Their diet totally consists of ants and an adult thorny dragon consumes about a 1000 ants per day.
7 Long-Wattled Umbrellabird (western Columbia and Ecuador)
A bird with a scarf, or with a bizarre umbrella hanging over its bill. Just like with hoatzin, you have to see it to believe it. Fortunately for us, we're living in the era when everything is captured and shared, so you can just look at this amazing bird on YouTube to make sure that it's real. They use their 'umbrella' for mating and they can do surprising things with it. However, this 'umbrella' makes them clumsy flyers so they don't like long flights.
Males are two times bigger than females and their 'umbrella' is much smaller or just absent. The low-frequency sound which can be heard to a mile away only adds up to the weirdness of these birds.
If you want to see this fascinating bird, go to 'Umbrellabird Lodge' in Buenaventura, Colombia.
6 Mudskipper (Indo-Pacific, from Africa to Polynesia and Australia)
Now let's take a look at another unexpected representative of the water world. Mudskippers can be found in the Indo-Pacific region and in Australia. These creatures live on mud flats and also in estuaries and swamps and they are they are well known for their ability to skip about, walk or climb out of the water.
They can breathe both in and out of the water and they usually prey on animals smaller than themselves. They are quite active on the surface as they defend their territories, attract partners and interact with one another.