Also known as the Thorny Devil, this lizard has a body covered with thousands of spikes. These spikes are thought to make predators think twice before attempting to swallow a thorny devil. Not only does their spiny armor protect them from predators, it also helps them absorb water in their arid habitat. There are hygroscopic (moisure-attracting) grooves between their thorns. They obtain water from the dew that condenses on their bodies overnight, during rare rainfalls, or by brushing up against dew-coated grass. Any water that gets into the grooves between its thorns is drawn by capillary action to its mouth, allowing the thorny dragon to suck water from all over its body.
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.
This creature may look cute, but it is not to be messed with. Not only will it flip you the finger, but it’s the only entirely carnivorous primate still alive, meaning it attacks birds, snakes, bats and lizards. Judging by the size of its eyes, it must have been strapped to a chair and forced to watch the entire Twilight Saga. I suppose that would explain why it attacks bats.
This strange blue creature may look like a monster from a Japanese RPG, but it actually is a real animal—the Glaucus atlanticus, sea slug, to be exact. Known as the blue dragon, this creature is a is a species of blue sea slug. You could find it in warm waters of the oceans, as it floats on the surface because of a gas-filled sac in its stomach. The blue dragon is an aggressive predator that feeds on organisms much larger than itself, including the venomous Portuguese man o’ war. Not only that, it actually absorbs the man o’ wars venom and stores it in the tips of the finger-like appendages on either side of its body to use when preying on other fish! So small but so vicious.
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.
This one is not so exciting to look at, but it totally wins the bizarre animal contest. It is colloquially known as a “sea squirt.” This is a sea critter that eats its own brain. A marine invertebrate, it spends part of its life in a larval stage where it can swim around in the water much like a fish or any other mobile animal. This is a relatively brief period in the sea squirt’s life. They cannot feed in this stage, so they swim off, find a nice little bit of seabed to settle in on, and then plant themselves.
These creatures possess one of the most bizarre noses in the entire animal kingdom. The snouts are lined with more than 25,000 minute sensory receptors that help the mole feel its way through its underground lair. These 11 pairs of pink fleshy appendages ringing its snout is used as a touch organ and are perfectly poised to detect seismic wave vibrations.
Though sometimes called the Mexican walking fish, the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is not a fish at all, but an aquatic salamander that remains in its larval form throughout its life. Because axolotls can regenerate most of their body parts, including entire limbs and portions of the brain and spine, they’re popular subjects in scientific-research labs.
Thorn bugs have interested people because of their unusual appearances. These deceptive insects, which are related to cicadas and leafhoppers, have developed enlarged and ornate pronotums, which resemble thorns on a branch. Not only does this aid in camouflaging them to look like a part of the plant they’re resting on, but it also discourages predators of both the bugs and the plant from taking a bite from fear of getting pierced.
When my sister Betsy and I were kids, our family lived for awhile in a charming old farmhouse. We loved exploring its dusty corners and climbing the apple tree in the backyard. But our favorite thing was the ghost.We called her Mother, because she seemed so kind and nurturing. Some mornings Betsy and I would wake up, and on each of our nightstands, we’d find a cup that hadn’t been there the night before. Mother had left them there, worried that we’d get thirsty during the night. She just wanted to take care of us.Among the house’s original furnishings was an antique wooden chair, which we kept against the back wall of the living room. Whenever we were preoccupied, watching TV or playing a game, Mother would inch that chair forward, across the room, toward us. Sometimes she’d manage to move it all the way to the center of the room. We always felt sad putting it back against the wall. Mother just wanted to be near us.Years later, long after we’d moved out, I found an old newspaper article about the farmhouse’s original occupant, a widow. She’d murdered her two children by giving them each a cup of poisoned milk before bed. Then she’d hanged herself.The article included a photo of the farmhouse’s living room, with a woman’s body hanging from a beam. Beneath her, knocked over, was that old wooden chair, placed exactly in the center of the room.
Mommy told me never to go in the basement, but I wanted to see what was making that noise. It kind of sounded like a puppy, and I wanted to see the puppy, so I opened the basement door and tiptoed down a bit. I didn’t see a puppy, and then Mommy yanked me out of the basement and yelled at me. Mommy had never yelled at me before, and it made me sad and I cried. Then Mommy told me never to go into the basement again, and she gave me a cookie. That made me feel better, so I didn’t ask her why the boy in the basement was making noises like a puppy, or why he had no hands or feet.
When they hatch, they quickly infect other local anemonefishes. Parasites, by definition, don’t aspire to kill their host. After all, if the host dies, the parasite loses its home and food source. However, in the case of the tongue-eating louse, some individuals can grow to be so large that the hapless anemonefish struggles to close its mouth. Eventually, as you might imagine, this hinders the host’s ability to eat.
Gather round, children, and let me tell you about a time before the internet, when our phones were attached to the walls and we bought music stored on physical objects that we played in our cars. Back then, secret groups of videophiles collected creepy, avant-garde, and extremely weird clips stored on tapes. We even believed that a Japanese ghost could haunt a VHS cassette.
As a senior writer for Live Science, Laura Geggel covers general science, including the environment and amazing animals. She has written for The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site covering autism research. Laura grew up in Seattle and studied English literature and psychology at Washington University in St. Louis before completing her graduate degree in science writing at NYU. When not writing, you'll find Laura playing Ultimate Frisbee. Follow Laura on Google+.
Galeopterus variegatus, also named Sunda Colugo or the Sunda Flying Lemur, is a nocturnal and arboreal (lives in trees) mammal endemic to Indochina and Sundaland. These animals possess large membranes of skin called patagiums that extend along the limbs, allowing them to glide along distances of up to around 100 meters; given that these animals are only around 40 centimeters in length that's pretty impressive skills! The mottled coloring of these animals also makes them look a bit like the lichen of a tree and therefore helps to camouflage them.
Also known as "thumb splitters," these vibrant crustaceans are named in honor of their powerful claws, which can spear, stun and dismember prey with 200 pounds of force. In addition to their predatory tendencies, mantis shrimp are also distinguished for their impressive visual capabilities. The eyes of these psychedelic sea critters are equipped with 12 color receptors — meanwhile, humans and most other animals only have three. Scientists speculate this might enable them to process color information quickly within the eye instead going through the brain.
It almost looks like it could be viral marketing for something like Diablo III or a new season of Supernatural, but the footage has been floating around for over a year now and so far no one has claimed it. One part of your brain knows this is just a computer-generated effect. But goddamn, did they do a good job -- notice how the glow from the flaming angel beast even lights up the structure on the opposite side of the frame:
“The leaf-tailed geckos are native to Madagascar and are renowned for their camouflage. This individual is just a juvenile. Many of the leaf-tailed gecko species press their bodies against wooden limbs and trunks during the daytime, and their flattened bodies, fringes, and tails eliminate any shadow, making them invisible to predators. At night, they become active and hunt primarily invertebrate prey.” – Mike Martin
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It would (presumably) have to be CGI that was doctored directly onto the security tapes and then filmed on a separate camcorder during playback. Maybe the guard stole four separate tapes of footage, took them home to add the effects on each one and then brought them back to the park to play them on the security bank in perfect sync without anybody noticing. After all, it's not Air Force One, it's Disneyland. How hardcore could security possibly get? Well, they do have four cameras monitoring a single walkway ...
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.