Scientists have discovered millions of species of animals living on this planet, some wild, some cute. As humans, we only know the names of a small percentage of these millions of species, and these animals may be of interest to many people because of their unusual characteristics. From the zebra-like okapi to the leafy sea dragon, here are the details on unknown animals…
Sugar gliders are palm-sized possums that can glide half the length of a soccer field in a single bound. They live in trees and are native to forests in Australia and Indonesia. They are closely related to other marsupials such as kangaroos. As nocturnal animals, they see well in the dark with their large black eyes. They also sleep huddled together for warmth and can be kept as pets as they are omnivores.
This animal, known as a shrimp, is actually a stomatopod, a carnivorous shellfish. They can kill larger animals with their front claws and their attacks are as fast as the speed of a .22 caliber bullet. In other words, it creates a force thousands of times its own body weight, shattering the shell of its prey and killing it easily. Its eyes have three focal points, allowing the animal to perceive depth with both eyes, allowing it to do two things at once.
Raccoon dogs are not related to raccoons at all. Also known as tanuki, these East Asian dogs are closely related to foxes. Furthermore, raccoon dogs have been an important part of Japanese folklore since ancient times. They are depicted as mischievous and playful and are famous for their shape-shifting. Many Japanese homes have a small statue of one on their bookshelves.
The gerenuk, also known as Waller’s gazelle, is a species of long-necked antelope found in dry thorn bush and desert in East Africa. The word gerenuk means “giraffe-necked” in Somali. Gerenuks have relatively small heads for their bodies. Gerenuks also rarely graze and feed on thorny shrubs such as acacia. By standing upright on their hind legs and extending their long necks, they can reach higher branches than other gazelles and antelopes.
LEAFY SEA DRAGON
Native to the waters off southern and eastern Australia, leafy sea dragons are closely related to seahorses. Male seadragons, which like male seahorses can give birth to offspring, have a spongy incubation area on the underside of the tail where females lay their bright pink eggs during mating. The eggs are fertilized during the transfer from female to male.
Native to eastern and southern Africa, aardwolves are closely related to hyenas. However, you are more likely to find them heading for a termite mound than a carcass abandoned by a lion. Ground wolves can eat up to 200,000 termites in one sitting, infusing them with both protein and moisture, allowing them to live successfully in some of the driest corners of the planet.
This fish, which lives in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador in the eastern Pacific Ocean, is called a batfish because it has bat-like characteristics. The body color of this species ranges from light brown to gray, but it is known for its distinctive red lips. These fish walk on the ocean floor because they are not good swimmers. They feed on small fish, lobsters, crabs and worms. From above, these fish are the same color as the seabed and are difficult to see, so they are easily hunted with their camouflage feature called reverse shading.
Although covered in spikes, the striped tenrec is not a hedgehog. When threatened, it rolls up in a ball and shoots feathers into the mouth of any predator that tries to eat it. However, it is more closely related to otters and moles. Tenrecs are native to Madagascar, and striped tenrecs scratch the floors of the rainforest, eating worms and other insects.
Living in the deciduous, subtropical and cloud forests of Central and South America, they are the only cats with the ability to rotate their hind legs 180 degrees and can jump from tree to tree. These carnivorous margays eat animals such as mice, tree frogs, birds and squirrels. In addition, its tail is longer than its hind leg, and margays are extremely rare, having been hunted for their fur in the 1990s, only to suffer from the illegal wildlife trade. It is now classified as a ‘near threatened’ species. It sprays urine or leaves tracks on tree branches or on the ground to mark its territory.
Known as the old man of the mountains, this extraordinary goat is found only in the remote mountains of northeastern Afghanistan and Pakistan and is the national animal of Pakistan. It is also on the world’s endangered wildlife list and its saliva is highly sought after as an anti-venom. Markhor are sloppy eaters, so when they chew the cud, saliva spills out of their mouths and dries on the ground, where locals scrape it off the ground.
Native to the Democratic Republic of Congo, okapi have the markings of a zebra, but their chocolate-colored bodies look more like horses and their faces more like giraffes. Okapi are closely related to giraffes, being the only other living member of the giraffe family. These solitary animals only come together to breed and, like giraffes, they are herbivores. Unfortunately, due to logging, hunting and human settlement, the okapi is now an endangered species.
CHINESE WATER DEER
The Chinese water deer, which lives on the Yangtze river in China and in parts of Korea, is more closely related to the musk deer. Males do not have antlers, instead, they have long fangs and are also known as ‘vampire deer’ because they look scary. If you encounter this animal in the wild, you are not in any danger. They use their fangs to root around for food and prefer to nibble on weeds and plants.
Thanks to its special beak, it catches large prey such as lungfish, snakes and baby crocodiles. With a wingspan of up to two and a half meters, they can remain motionless for hours. Although they were once classified as storks, they belong to a family of their own. Their closest relatives are pelicans. The breeding pairs of shoebills are monogamous, but these birds are solitary in nature and even pairs feed on different sides of their territory.
Known as flying lemurs, they are not members of the lemur family and are closely related to primates. They spend their lives clinging to tree trunks in the forests of Southeast Asia, and their gray or brown fur serves as excellent camouflage. They use a flap of skin called a patagium to glide from tree to tree and avoid predators. The young cling to their mother’s abdomen while she forages for food.
Found in the more ‘humid’ parts of North America, star-nosed moles are rare. The distinctive star-shaped organ at the tip of their snout is sensitive to touch and consists of more than 25,000 sensory receptors that they use to feel their way around. The same size as the average hamster, these moles use their noses to blow bubbles underwater to smell their prey, making them the only mammal known to be able to smell underwater.