Earth is a wonderful and weird place as evidenced by some of the unusual animals which roam the planet
From shrimp which fire bubbles as hot as the sun, to spider crabs twice the size of a normal human being, here are our top 10 strange animals you have probably never heard of.
It looks like an eight-legged cross between a pig and a bear but a tardigrade is in fact a water-dwelling, segmented micro-animal. Because of its appearance it is also known as a waterbear or moss piglet. They are small though, with the biggest adults reaching just 1.5 millimetres long. Despite their small size, they are tough. Really tough. They can withstand temperatures from just above absolute zero to well above the boiling point of water, pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionising radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, and are the only animal to survive in outer space.
Satanic leaf-tailed gecko
This demonically named lizard gets its name because it looks a like a dead leaf and its veins are showing and look just like the veins on a leaf. Native to the island of Madagascar only, its tail looks like it has been rotted or nibbled by insects.
The Tenrec is an elusive animal because of the way it has evolved. Different species can resemble hedgehogs, shrews, possums and mice, and range in body length from around 4.5cm to 39cm. Predominantly found on Madagascar and some parts of eastern Africa.
Another gem from Madagascar, the aye-aye looks like a cross between a terrified monkey and Albert Einstein. It is the world’s largest nocturnal primate, standing at about 60cm. It is characterised by its unusual method of finding food; it taps on trees to find grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood using its forward slanting incisors to create a small hole in which it inserts its narrow middle finger to pull the grubs out.
Named after the dragons of Chinese mythology, Leafy seadragons resemble a piece of drifting seaweed as they float in the seaweed-filled water. It body is covered in green, orange and gold hues and has leaf-like appendages, making it remarkably camouflaged. Only the fluttering of tiny fins or the moving of an independently swivelling eye, reveals its presence. Mainly found on the southern and Western Australian coast, the South Australian government listed it as protected in 1982.
This is fairly self explanatory, it’s a crab which looks like a yeti. Discovered in the South Pacific Ocean in 2005, its notable for the quantity of silky blond setae (resembling fur) covering its legs and claws.
The Grimpoteuthis is nicknamed the Dumbo octopus because it has what appear to be large ears on its head similar to that of the fictional flying Disney elephant of the same name.They are in fact fins which protrude from the mantle just above its lateral eyes.
Japanese spider crab
Anyone afraid of spiders, crabs, or both, should avoid the southern coasts of Japan where these monsters are found. It has the greatest leg span of any arthropod, reaching 3.8 metres from claw to claw.
The Pistol Shrimp can click its claw together and create bubbles which travel at 100kmh and are hotter than the surface of the sun (9900 degrees Celsius) when they collapse. It also uses the snapping sound the claw makes to communicate.
This panda ant is a species of mutillidae, which means it is not an "ant" at all, rather it is a flightless wasp. It gets its name because its black and white hair colouration resembles that of the Chinese giant panda. Beware though, the panda ant packs a nasty sting.
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