The World’s Weirdest Animals

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Scaly or feathered, adorably cute or shiver-inducingly fierce, startlingly large or barely-even-know-it’s-there, the planet’s most curious creatures draw eager wildlife-spotters to their countries of origin year after year. We’ve turned over every rock and peered into every damp cave, dived the depths of the ocean and rummaged through every bush to bring you a list of the world’s weirdest. From the prehistoric to the newly discovered, from all corners of the globe, here is our definitive who’s who of ‘what the hell is that??’

1. “Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle”

Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle

Scientific Name: Pelochelys Cantorii

Where to Find It: Southeast Asia, primarily the Mekong River

If you manage to catch a glimpse of the Cantor’s Turtle, consider yourself lucky. This water-dwelling reptile spends an astounding 95% of its life buried within the riverbed, only surfacing twice a day for a quick breather.

2. “Mexican Mole Lizard”

Mexican Mole Lizard

Scientific Name: Bipes Biporus

Where to Find It: Central America, particularly the Baja California Peninsula of Mexico

Amongst many other things about this curious creature, scientists are baffled by the gender politics of the Mexican Mole Lizard. It seems that although equal amounts of both sexes are born, there are twice as many adult females than males…

3. “Sea Pig”

Sea Pig

Scientific Name: Scotoplane

Where to Find It: Deep within oceans worldwide

Pink, snouted and weirdly cute, Sea Pigs have much in common with their land-dwelling counterparts. One notable difference however, is the bunch of extra legs the scotoplane sports along its back. You know, just in case.

4. “Sorting Hat Spider”

Sorting Hat Spider
Photo credit: Sumukha JN, Indian J. Arachnology 5:24 (2016)

Scientific Name: Eriovixia Gryffindori

Where to Find It: The Western Ghats Mountains, India

Discovered by a research team only last year, this oddly shaped critter was immediately named after the ‘sorting hat’ of Harry Potter fame. With members of the team professing to be huge fans, JK Rowling’s fictional creations even found their way into the spider’s scientific classification – Eriovixia Gryffindori!

5. “Ninja Lantern Shark”

Ninja Lantern Shark
Photo credit: Victoria Vasquez, Moss Landing Marine Labs

Scientific Name: Etmopterus Benchleyi

Where to Find It: Deep ocean off the coast of Panama and Costa Rica

The ocean’s newest sinister predator, Jaws has nothing on these guys – what it lacks in size, the Ninja Lantern Shark more than makes up for in shiver-inducing appearance. Although discovered in 2015, with its ninja-like tendencies, who knows how long this shark has been hiding in the shadows…

6. “Sea Sheep”

Sea Sheep

Scientific Name: Costasiella Kuroshimae

Where to Find It: Off the coasts of Japan’s southern islands

This little guy could easily star in the next Pixar film, and has cute appeal in spades. However, the Sea Sheep is not as innocent as his appearance may lead you to believe – he maintains his green glow by stealing chloroplasts from passing algae!

7. “Pink Fairy Armadillo”

Pink Fairy Armadillo

Scientific Name: Chlamyphorus Truncatus

Where to Find It: Only in Argentina

Although undeniably decorative, the Pink Fairy Armadillo’s shell actually functions as a portable radiator of sorts – cooling or heating depending on the temperature of the soil it burrows through.

8. “Solar-Powered Sea Slug”

Solar-Powered Sea Slug

Scientific Name: Elysia Chlorotica

Where to Find It: Off the eastern coast of Canada and the USA

Easily mistaken for a floating leaf, this day-glo sea creature harnesses the power of unsuspecting, passing algae cells to photosynthesise and produce its own food.

9. “Sea Mouse”

Sea Mouse

Scientific Name: Aphrodita Aculeata

Where to Find It: North Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean Seas

Resembling more a drowned rat than a cute, fluffy mouse, this diminutive sea dweller is distinguishable by its iridescent shimmer, caused by a specific pattern of light refraction.

10. “Lowland Streaked Tenrec”

Lowland Streaked Tenrec

Scientific Name: Hemicentetes Semispinosus

Where to Find It: Only in Madagascar

The Lowland Streaked Tenrec’s majestic spines have multiple functions – looking fabulous being the most obvious one. These spines are also crucial to a Tenrec’s social life, as they are rubbed together to create high-pitched, communicative noises.

11. “Dumbo Octopus”

Dumbo Octopus

Scientific Name: Grimpoteuthis

Where to Find It: Deep oceans worldwide

The adorable little sea-ears that propel this octopus through the water have led to it being named after everyone’s favourite Disney elephant. The inky critter has also been immortalised in Finding Nemo, as all hardcore fans of animation will no doubt remember.