Photo credit: Mike Kullen, via Wikimedia Commons. G. cancriformis, spiny orb weaver spider
Here’s a small collection of some of the strangest animals you’ve (maybe) never heard of.
Spiny Orb Weaver Spider
Gasteracantha fornicata. Image credit: Amos T Fairchild, via Wikimedia Commons
Spiny orb-weavers is a common name for Gasteracantha, a genus of spiders. They are also commonly called Spiny-backed orb-weavers, due to the prominent spines on their abdomen (cf. genus Isoxya). These spiders can reach sizes of up to 30mm in diameter (measured from spike to spike). Although their shell is shaped like a crab shell with spikes, it is not to be confused with a crab spider.Orb-weavers’ bites are generally harmless to humans.
Gasteracantha dalyi. Image credit: L. Shyamal, via Wikimedia Commons
Image credit: SWNS.
Pacu is a common name used to refer to several common species of omnivorous South American freshwater fish that are related to the piranha. Pacu and piranha do not have similar teeth, the main difference being jaw alignment; piranha have pointed, razor-sharp teeth in a pronounced underbite, whereas pacu have squarer, straighter teeth, like a human, and a less severe underbite, or a slight overbite. Additionally, full-grown pacu are much larger than piranha, reaching up to 0.9 m (3 feet) and 25 kg (55 pounds) in the wild.
“Peering into the chomping jaws of these fish will reveal their totally bizarre set of gnashers that look scarily like human teeth. They have these teeth because they normally feed on hard things like nuts and seeds which is why they have been nicknamed nutcracker fish, but a few joke articles came out stating they were also “testicle-biting” fish, as they supposedly left men in Papua New Guinea castrated after they took a shine to their crown jewels. After one was caught in Sweden, a fish expert Henrik Carl joked in a news article “They bite because they’re hungry, and testicles sit nicely in their mouth,” but it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, so don’t worry- they won’t actually eat your knackers, they’re safe around these guys.” Justine Alford
The blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) is a deep sea fish of the family Psychrolutidae. It inhabits the deep waters off the coasts of mainlandAustralia and Tasmania, as well as the waters of New Zealand. Blobfish are typically shorter than 30 cm. They live at depths between 600 and 1,200 m (2,000 and 3,900 ft) where the pressure is several dozen times higher than at sea level, which would likely make gas bladders inefficient for maintaining buoyancy. Instead, the flesh of the blobfish is primarily a gelatinous mass with a density slightly less than water; this allows the fish to float above the sea floor without expending energy on swimming. Its relative lack of muscle is not a disadvantage as it primarily swallows edible matter that floats in front of it such as deep-ocean crustaceans. Blobfish are often caught as bycatch in bottom trawling nets. Scientists now fear the blobfish could become an endangered speciesbecause of deep-ocean trawling.
In September 2013 the blobfish was voted the “World’s Ugliest Animal”, based on photographs of decompressed specimens, and adopted as the mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, in an initiative “dedicated to raising the profile of some of Mother Nature’s more aesthetically challenged children”
Kiwa hirsuta is a crustacean discovered in 2005 in the South Pacific Ocean. This decapod, which is approximately 15 cm (5.9 in) long, is notable for the quantity of silky blond setae (resembling fur) covering its pereiopods (thoracic legs, including claws). Its discoverers dubbed it the “yeti lobster” or “yeti crab”.
Atretochoana eiselti is a species of caecilian known only from two preserved specimens until its 2011 rediscovery in Brazil. Until 1998, it was known only from the type specimen in the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna. Originally placed in the genus Typhlonectes in 1968, it was reclassified into its own monotypic genus in 1996. It was also found to be more closely related to the genus Potomotyphlus thanTypholonectes. The species is the largest of the few known tetrapods, and one of two caecilians, to lack lungs, the other being Caecilita iwokramae.
Pink Fairy Armadillo
The pink fairy armadillo, or Chlamyphorus truncates, is the smallest species of armadillo, measuring a mere 10 centimeters in length on average. You’ll find these guys in Argentina, digging holes in dry grasslands or sandy plains. They live underground but surface at night to find food, which mostly consists of ants.
The proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) or long-nosed monkey, known as the bekantan in Malay, is a reddish-brown arborealOld World monkey that is endemic to the south-east Asian island of Borneo. It belongs in the monotypic genus Nasalis, although thepig-tailed langur has traditionally also been included in this genus. The monkey also goes by the Malay name monyet belanda (“Dutch monkey”), or even orang belanda (“Dutchman”), as Indonesians remarked that the Dutch colonisers often had similarly large bellies and noses. This species of monkey is easily identifiable because of its unusually large nose.
The gerenuk, Litocranius walleri, also known as the Waller’s gazelle, is a long-necked species of antelope found in dry thorn shrubland and desert in the Horn of Africa and the African Great Lakes region. The word gerenuk comes from the Somali language, meaning “giraffe-necked”. Gerenuk are sometimes also called the giraffe-necked antelope. It is the sole member of the genus Litocranius.
The Sarcastic fringehead, Neoclinus blanchardi, is a ferocious fish which has a large mouth and aggressive territorial behaviour from which it has been given its common name. When two fringeheads have a territorial battle, they wrestle by pressing their distended mouths against each other, as if they were kissing. This allows them to determine which is the larger fish, which establishes dominance. They can be up to 30 centimetres (12 in) long, elongate and slender and are mostly scaleless with great pectoral fins and reduced pelvic fins. They tend to hide inside shells or crevices. After the female spawns under a rock or in clam burrows the male guards the eggs. They are found in the Pacific, off the coast of North America, from San Francisco, California, to central Baja California and their depth range is from 3 to 73 metres (9.8 to 239.5 ft).
The tufted deer, Elaphodus cephalophus, is a small species of deer characterized by a prominent tuft of black hair on its forehead and fang-like canines for the males. It is a close relative of the muntjac, living somewhat further north over a wide area of central China and northeastern Myanmar. Although suffering from overhunting and habitat loss, this deer is not considered to be endangered. It is the only member of the genus Elaphodus. It is restricted to forested mountain habitat up to 4500 m above sea level, making study difficult.
Larva of the Hemeroplanes Triptolemus Moth
This is NOT a reptile! The larvae feed on Mesechites trifida. In its larval form, the Hemeroplanes triptolemus is capable of expanding its anterior body segments to give it the appearance of a snake, complete with eye patches. This snake mimicry extends even to the point where it will harmlessly strike at potential predators.