Which one of these bizarre creatures and critters are you meeting for the first time? Discover animal kingdom oddballs that 500px photographers have captured for you, with jaw-dropping features that range from wide cartoon-ish eyes to extremely long limbs and snouts to exaggerated body parts that look downright scary. Plus, you’ll get the story behind each of these photographers’ wild encounters. Scroll down!
Also known as Whalehead or Shoe-billed Stork, is a very large stork-like bird. This large stork-like bird gets its name because of the shape of its beak. Even though it was already known to ancient Egyptians and Arabs, the bird was only classified in the 19th century. Shoebill prefers life in tropical dense marshes, swamps and wetlands.It is listed as a vulnerable species, with no more than 8000 birds left in the wild.
FYI: Bearded pigs use their scruff to dig around for roots, fungus, and bugs to eat. They also snarf down plants, small birds, and the occasional orangutan carcass. (It’s a pain getting the gristle out of your beard, though.) For more chuckles, steal a line or two from these animal jokes that will have everyone in your office howling. *No pun intended.*
This grotesque looking creature is the Aye- Aye, native to the island of Madagascar. These creatures are nocturnal i.e. they only come out at night. Aye-ayes spend their lives in rain forest trees and avoid coming down to earth. They have long witch-like fingers that help them grab small insects and grubs from tree trunks. These animals may not look like primates at first, but they are related to chimpanzees, apes, and even humans. Many locals regard the aye -aye as an omen of ill luck. For this reason they have often been killed on sight. Such hunting has made the aye-aye critically endangered, but thankfully they are protected by law.
When Anastassia was flipping through an old family album, she stumbled across a photo of herself playing with her pet birds when she was four years old. In the background was another girl holding what looks to be a stuffed animal. But the crazy part is, Anastassia says there was no other little girl there when the picture was taken—well, not living at least. Her parents also confirmed that they had never seen that child before. And as if this story wasn't creepy enough already, Anastassia allegedly was later told by a psychic, without being prompted, that the "spirit" of a young girl was following her.

Giant isopods live between 550 to 7020 feet deep, and prefer a mud or clay floor, which they burrow into for shelter. The most scary feauture about them, apart from their bug like appearance, is that they can get really BIG! Their size ranges between 7.5 and 14.2 inches in length, but they can get much bigger: One specimen pulled up with an ROV in 2010 was 2.5 feet long! They also can survive very long without eating. In fact, one giant isopod in Japan went for five years without eating a single bite before dying earlier this year. They are known to bite! But its a small one, harmless. Believe it or not THERE’S A WHOLE ALBUM DEDICATED TO SONGS ABOUT THEM. It’s called Songs About Giant Isopods, and you can listen to it here.

There are about 8.7 million species, that we know of anyway, on planet Earth. With so many animals, it’s likely you haven’t kept track of each and every one. We all know about lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!), but when you really dig deeper, you might be surprised by the strange animals roaming around out there in the wild. From weird looking amphibians to pokey mammals, the sheer amount of diversity in the animal kingdom is pretty amazing! Curious to see what oddball beasts we found? Here are 25 Bizarre Animals You Didn’t Know Exist.
Photo: 25. NOAA (Public Domain), 24. By Aaron Logan, Lightmatter gerenuk, CC BY 1.0, 23. Laika ac from USA, Laika ac Deep sea creatures (7472073020), CC BY-SA 2.0, 22. Nisamanee wanmoon, ปลาเปคู (Pacu), CC BY-SA 4.0, 21. gailhampshire via flickr. CC BY 2.0, 20. charlene mcbride via flickr. CC BY 2.0, 19. Camilousuga, Umbonia spinosa (Bicho espino), CC BY-SA 4.0, 18. Rein Ketelaars, Red-lipped Bat fish, CC BY-SA 2.0, 17. Imtorn, Glaucus atlant., CC BY-SA 3.0, 16. Ash Bowie, Silkmoth, CC BY-SA 3.0, 15. Frank Vassen, Lowland Streaked Tenrec, Mantadia, Madagascar, CC BY 2.0, 14. Navinder Singh, Saiga tartarica, CC BY-SA 4.0, 13. Bree McGhee via flickr. CC BY 2.0, 12. Dianne Bray / Museum Victoria, Mistukurina owstoni museum victoria – head detail, CC BY 3.0 AU, 11. Karthickbala at ta.wikipedia, Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, CC BY-SA 3.0, 10. Raul654, Okapi2, CC BY-SA 3.0, 9. Ba’Gamnan at en.wikipedia, Hummingbird Hawk-moth, CC BY-SA 2.5, 8. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 7. Tobias von Anhalt, Atretochoana eiselti, CC BY-SA 3.0, 6. Keven Law from Los Angeles, USA, Jaguarondi portrait, CC BY-SA 2.0, 5. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 4. Bäras, Thornydevil, CC BY-SA 3.0, 3. Nhobgood, Parrotfish turquoisse, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 1. Original: cliff1066™, Pink Fairy Armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) (cropped), CC BY 3.0
So what is it? It's clearly a person (or the shade of a person) just kind of jaunting along like a haunted iPod commercial, but what could produce that image on the security feed? A lot of YouTube comments jump to the conclusion that it's a reflection on the monitor, which would make sense if the room the monitors are in were about 60 feet long, and wide enough for someone to stand far enough away to make the appropriate scale and to walk a long enough distance to cast a seamless reflection on all four screens. Beyond that, the screens are stacked, not side by side, meaning the security office would have to be two stories tall and the person casting the reflection would have to teleport from the top level to the bottom level midstride in order to maintain the illusion. Either that or the reflection is being made by a very tiny man.
Kiwa hirsuta, which has been nicknamed the yeti crab (for obvious reasons), is a crustacean that was discovered back in 2005 900 miles south of Easter Island at a depth of 2,300 meters. Although there isn't a great deal of information on these curious animals, they seem to dwell around deep sea hydrothermal vents. As you can see, their pincers are covered with blond, hair-like strands. It transpires that these hairs are riddled with bacteria, which some believe may serve as a food source for the crustacean. 

To celebrate their first year in university, six friends went camping in the wilderness. After driving for several hours from the nearest town, they discovered a lagoon, nestled beside a cliff ideal for diving. They set up camp in the woods nearby and spent the evening swimming in the warm, clear water. As the sun sunk below the trees, one of the friends went up to the highest point on the cliff and jumped off, while the other 5 watched. Their laughter slowly subsided as they waited for him to surface. It only took half a minute for them to dive in after their friend. Struggling and sputtering among the reeds in the lagoon, they searched hopelessly for him. Finally they disentangled themselves and came up, but they never saw their friend again. Heartbroken they returned to the city and passed a strange and lonely year in which their only solace was the knowledge that they would return to the lagoon to honor the anniversary of their friend’s death.
The Mutillidae are a family of more than 3,000 species of wasps (despite the names) whose wingless females resemble large, hairy ants. Found in Chile, they are known for their extremely painful stings, hence the common name cow killer or cow ant. Black and white specimens are sometimes known as panda ants due to their hair coloration resembling that of the Chinese giant panda. (Image credits: Chris Lukhaup)
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