Unusual and Extraordinary Animals

Some 10,000-new species of animal are discovered every year. With over 1.5 million already discovered and an estimated 8.7 million in existence, there are bound to be some unusual animals out there. Here’s a list of 7 of strangest animals we know:

1) The red-lipped batfish

The red-lipped batfish can be found at depths of 3-76m around the Galapogas islands off the coast of Peru. This bottom dwelling fish is in fact not a good swimmer; instead using their adapted pectoral fins to ‘walk’ on the ocean floor. Reaching up to 20.3cm in length, the fish mainly feeds on other small species of fish and crustaceans such as shrimp or mollusks.

2) Glaucus atlanticus

Glaucus atlanticus, commonly known as the blue dragon, is a species of sea slug. Using the surface tension of the water, they float upside down, camouflaged by their blue upward facing body and silver/grey side facing down. They feed on the extremely venomous Portuguese man o’ war, storing the most venomous nematocysts in its cerata. These feeding habits give the Glaucus a strong sting which can be fatal to humans. Glaucus are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female sex organs; when they mate both animals produce an egg string.

3) Fossa

Fossa, found on the island of Madagascar, are a cat-like mammal, closely related to the mongoose family. The largest carnivore on the island, fossa feed primarily on lemurs, but also eat rodents, birds and reptiles. Their semi-retractable claws and flexible ankles allow them to climb head-first up and down trees and jump between them. With a large home range of 5-10 sq. miles, fossa are usually solitary animals. However, they can occasionally be observed hunting together, possibly mimicking cooperative hunting used to track down larger, now extinct, subfossil lemurs.

4) Star-nosed mole

The star-nosed mole is indigenous to Canada and the north-eastern United States, residing predominantly in the marshy lowland regions. Spending most of its life underground, the mole is nearly blind. It hunts for aquatic insects and annelids using its specially adapted snout. With 22 appendages, and over 25,000 sensory receptors known as Eimer’s organs; the snout is some 6 times more sensitive than the human hands and can even detect seismic activity.

5) The naked mole-rat

The naked mole rat is a burrowing rodent native to East Africa. As the name suggests they have a distinct lack of hair and pink/yellow skin. Lacking the neurotransmitter substance P, the naked mole-rat cannot feel pain, even when exposed to acid or capsaicin. What makes the naked mole-rat so interesting is its incredible lifespan of up to 31 years. Longevity of this scale is very abnormal for rodents of their size. Many factors affect this long lifespan including the ability to reduce their metabolism during hard times, maintenance of a strong cardiovascular system long into old age and a high resistance to cancer. Whilst the cause is debated, the resistance to cancer is of interest to researchers searching for treatments for cancer in humans.

6) Narwhal

The narwhal is a medium-sized whale, found in the Arctic waters around Canada, Greenland and Russia. Known as the unicorn of the see, narwhals possess a large tusk from a protruding canine which can grow up to 10 feet long. The International Union for Conservation of Nature categorise Narwhal as near threatened. Despite declining numbers narwhal are legally hunted by Inuit people for meat and ivory. Thought to maintain social dominance hierarchies, bull Narwhal may rub its tusk with other adult males. However, some theories suggest this is a way of sharing information about water chemistry, sensed in the tusks microchannels.

7) Axylotyl

Although colloquially known as the Mexican walking fish, the axylotyl is an amphibian native only to Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in Central Mexico. These small salamanders are nearly extinct in the wild, but are a popular exotic pet throughout the world. Axylotyl are of interest to medical researchers for many reasons, but attracting the most attention is its amazing healing ability. Regeneration of entire limbs is common and in some cases, regeneration of more vital parts, including parts of the brain is possible.