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Across the globe, you'll find unique animals that exhibit truly remarkable and bizarre features and behaviors. Photo: Dragon Adventures Wiki - Fandom

What Are The Most Weirdest Animals in the World?

Scientists have estimated that there are 8.7 million animal species on Earth. Some of these are fierce (lions, sharks, tigers). Some are adorable (rabbits, deer, otters). And others are, well, really weird.

Across the globe, you'll find unique animals that exhibit truly remarkable and bizarre features and behaviors. From a frog that shows off its organs to a goat that faints when scared, here are the top 15 unusual animals to add to your travel bucket list now.

1. Glowing sea turtle

Divers in the Solomon Islands discovered a glowing sea turtle under the waves. While other animals are known to be bioluminescent, this is the first documented case of a glowing reptile in the wild. According to diver David Gruber, an associate professor of biology at Baruch College, the hawksbill sea turtle’s shell glowed both red and green, but it’s likely that the red came from biofluorescent algae.

“It could be a way for them to communicate, for them to see each other better, [or] to blend into the reefs,” which are also biofluorescent, Gruber told Live Science. “It adds visual texture into the world that’s primarily blue.

2. Pangolin

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Photo: The Third Pole

If an anteater and an armadillo had a baby, it might look something like the pangolin, an odd-looking mammal found throughout parts of Asia and Africa. The pangolin has a long, specially adapted tongue for eating ants and termites and wears a protective keratin shell — it is the only mammal known to have this adaptation.

Sadly, its unique characteristics also make it the most trafficked mammal in the world, as it is highly sought-after for its meat and armor. The pangolin is currently listed as a threatened species.

3. Diane’s bare-hearted glass frog

Is it just us, or does this frog look like Kermit? There are many different species of glass frogs, but this little guy is a new discovery — the first in Costa Rica since 1973. While its bright green coloring might grab your attention, the coolest part about this frog is that it is see-through.

Top 15 Weirdest Animals in the World You Probably Didn't Know Exist
A group of scientists led by Dr Brian Kubicki of Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center has described a new glassfrog species from the Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica.

That’s right — the underside is translucent, providing a stunning view of the amphibian’s internal organs. If you want to see one, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled — these tiny jumpers are less than an inch long.

New Species of Glassfrog Discovered in Costa Rica in 2015: The newfound frog belongs to the genus Hyalinobatrachium in the amphibian family Centrolenidae. With its 149 species, this family is found from southern Mexico, through Central America, into the northern half of South America, and along the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil and the extreme northeastern margin of Argentina.

The new species, named the Diane’s bare-hearted glassfrog (Hyalinobatrachium dianae), lives in the tropical wet forests and premontane rainforests of the Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica, at elevations between 400–800 m.

4. Axolotl - Mexican walking fish

Is it just us, or does this fish look like a Pokemon? The axolotl is a small salamander that can be found in various lakes around Mexico City, although it is currently listed as an endangered species. This amphibian can regenerate limbs, has lidless eyes, and can be black or albino.

And now, an axolotl named Frankie that lives in Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City has exhibited clearly its skill to regenerate lost body parts.

Top 15 Weirdest Animals in the World You Probably Didn't Know Exist
The Axolotl, aka the Mexican Walking Fish

Axolotls, which are anywhere from 15 to 45 cm long (most adult axolotls, however, only grow to a length of 20 cm) have grown as a symbol of Mexico. Despite its funny appearance and humble size, the creatures have proven to be of great interest to scientists, thanks to their regeneration abilities. According to Zamora, who is also a veterinarian, studying the regenerative properties of axolotls may help scientists apply the same knowledge to treat human injuries such as amputated limbs. It could also help in treating damaged liver or other organs.

5. Sunfish

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Photo: New York Post

The sunfish has the distinction of being the heaviest bony fish in the world — with an adult maxing out at 2 tons. This odd-looking creature (it kind of resembles Sloth from The Goonies) is found in temperate and tropical waters around the world and is considered a delicacy in places like Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

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6. Saiga antelope

The Saiga antelope can be found around Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan and is easily recognized thanks to its large and flexible nose.

In reality, its gigantic schnoz helps to filter out dust and regulate its blood temperature. In May 2015, more than 120,000 Saiga antelope were found dead. Scientists believe they were victims of a suspected epizootic illness that infected the herd.

Top 15 Weirdest Animals in the World You Probably Didn't Know Exist
Wild male saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) visiting a waterhole at the Stepnoi Sanctuary, Astrakhan Oblast, Russia. Photo credit: Andrey Giljov

Saiga antelope is superbly adapted to the harsh conditions of the semi-desert grasslands of Central Asia, which are among the last remaining wilderness areas in Eurasia. These unusual antelopes have a distinctive large, bulbous nose and live in what used to be vast nomadic herds, but sadly their numbers are plummeting and they are now critically endangered.

Saiga antelope Facts

  • The saiga’s nose has an unusual structure that is thought to filter out dust in the dry summers
  • The saiga can migrate over distances of up to 1,000 kilometres between summer and winter
  • Saiga herds once numbered in their millions, but the global population has declined rapidly to just thousands

7. Long-horned orb weaver spider

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Photo: Unique Facts And Information - blogger

This is the type of creature that’s cool to see in photos but you never want to see in your home. The long-horned orb weaver spider has eight eyes and long, horn-looking spines protruding from its abdomen. This particular spider can be found in the forests and fields of Asia.

8. Gharial

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill crocodile. This skinny-snouted croc is called a gharial, and it can only be found swimming in the waterways of India. Its long nose is filled with 110 teeth, making it well adapted to catching fish. Scientists estimate that there are only 235 gharials in existence.

9. Red-lipped batfish

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Photo: The Verge

You can’t put lipstick on a pig, but apparently, you can put it on a fish. The red-lipped batfish is found near the Galápagos Islands and looks like it’s wearing the color Dangerous from MAC makeup. In addition to its bright pucker, the fish has a horn and casually walks along the ocean floor instead of swimming.

10. Sparklemuffin

This Australian peacock spider was discovered inside the woodland forests of Wondul National Park, near Brisbane, in 2015. Scientifically named maratus jactatus, sparklemuffin earned its colloquial name from University of California researcher Madeline Girard, who discovered the species. These colorful spiders measure just five millimeters in length and display a signature mating dance, where male spiders raise a leg to signal females.

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11. Jabiru stork

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Photo: Sean Crane Photography

The glaring, dark stare of a five-foot-tall stork can be a frightening thing for the weary traveler. These mesmerizing birds can exhibit territorial tendencies, as seen in an infamous incident that occurred at the Belize Zoo. That stork’s exhibit now features a roof above the visitor viewing platform after a jabiru stork once tried to stab unsuspecting patrons with its 14-inch-long bill. Jabiru storks are native to Central and South America, where they typically feed on small mammals, fish and amphibians.

12. Alligator gar

This fearsome fish is a relic of the dinosaur age, dating back some 100 million years and growing to over eight feet in length. Their reptile-like snouts house rows of sharp teeth and an adaptation allows this fish to actually breathe air. Though intimidating in size and weaponry, alligator gar are docile creatures that can be found peacefully swimming freshwater rivers and lakes from the Rio Grande to the Missouri River.

13. Harpy eagle

With a look that suggests a cross between a cockatoo and a bird of prey, the harpy eagle is one of the most distinctive birds on the planet. Their wings can span over seven feet in width, carrying these 20-plus pound birds over the rainforests of Central and South America, where they hunt down large mammals like sloths and monkeys. Harpy eagles are threatened by habitat loss, but this bird can be seen at The Belize Zoo, a sanctuary for native species about an hour outside of Belize City.

14. Naked mole rat

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Photo: Smithsonian's National Zoo

Naked mole rats are a common sight in East Africa, where they burrow into the dry grasslands of Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. The naked mole rat has baffled scientists for decades thanks to a series of unusual biological traits. Naked mole rats are unusually long-lived for rodents; some have been documented at 32 years of age. They are also resistant to cancer and are capable of living in an environment with just a tiny amount of oxygen for hours on end. They are a common sight in zoos across America.

15. Tasmanian devil

The Tasmanian devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world. Though devils may resemble a small dog, these nocturnal animals carry their young in pouches and are more closely related to wallabies than canines. In recent years, Tasmanian devil populations have plummeted in the wake of a naturally occurring cancer called Devil Facial Tumor Disease. However, caretakers at the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo — a wildlife sanctuary dedicated to rehabilitating devils and researching the disease — say that the animals are adapting to fight back.

Animals are loved by nearly everyone in the world, yet humans are the biggest threat to their survival. Every single one of the animals on this list is not only rare but also critically endangered or “just” endangered. The low population of these rare animals is primarily due to habitat loss, hunting, or accidental death caused by human activities. While conservationists have successfully bred some of these animals, others are not so lucky and are on the brink of complete extinction. Hopefully, with more awareness, including the information on this list, we can see some of these rare animals recover in the future.

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