Five Weird Animals You Didn’t Know Existed

A red-lipped batfish strides along the ocean floor. Photo credit to Flickriver.

A red-lipped batfish strides along the ocean floor. Photo credit to Flickriver.

Aislinn Connon, Editor-in-Chief

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According to the BBC, there are approximately 8.7 million different species in the world, and it is estimated that only a quarter of that number are actually animals; the rest is comprised of fungi, plants, bacteria, and other forms of life. With that many animals roaming the earth, there are bound to be truly bizarre creatures hidden in the oceans, forests, and jungles. Here is a list of outlandish animals that don’t often get as much publicity as cats and dogs.

Starting off with something a little tame, the western tufted deer resides in southern and central Asia and mostly looks like any other deer. What makes them special is the dark tuft of hair on their head (which is their namesake) and the fact that they are armed with a pair of sharp fangs. They are active at night, and like other deer species, their diet is comprised of leaves, fruits, and twigs, so they aren’t using their fangs to eat meat. Instead, the fangs serve as an extra weapon alongside their antlers.

In the same corner of the world as the western tufted deer lives Cantor’s giant softshell turtle. As the name implies, their shells are not entirely solid, and they remain this way throughout the turtles’ entire life. These turtles live in freshwater and are massive, growing over 1 meter in length. Unfortunately, due to poaching and accidental killings, they are on the brink of extinction; they are so rare that not even ecologists can make a guess as to how many exactly are left.

If a turtle with a mushy shell wasn’t strange enough, how about a fish with human teeth? The South American pacu resides off the coast of Brazil, although it has made appearances as far north as New Jersey, and some scientists fear they will begin to invade the cooler waters off the eastern United States. The pacu is a relative of the piranha, and this (paired with the unsettling human-like teeth) gives them a poor reputation. Fortunately, pacus are vegetarian, and there are few cases of them ever biting humans.

On the other side of the South American continent, one can find the red-lipped batfish. For the most part, they appear as normal fish, with their tan bodies and white bellies, until its massive red lips are noticed. This batfish, which looks like it has just smeared on an entire container of bright red lipstick, inhabits the Galapagos Islands and prowls the ocean floor for a meal. Just in case things couldn’t get any more uncomfortable, this fish also has a pair of fins that resemble legs, which it uses to walk along the sandy ocean floor.

Lastly, the fossa is, for once, a lesser-known animal that might actually be described as cute. Fossas look like some odd combination of a cat, a ferret, and a dog, and is a relative of the mongoose. They are found only in Madagascar and their diet includes whatever meat they can get their paws on. Fossas use their tails as a tightrope of sorts, allowing themselves to maneuver so easily across the trees that scientists have had a difficult time observing them.

Unfortunately, none of these creatures are safe from human intervention; all the animals on this list are at least classified as vulnerable and on their way to becoming endangered or even extinct. Animals are a huge part of what makes the outside world so fascinating, and bizarre animals capture our interest even more, but if the destruction of the environment continues at the rate it is currently at, they might not be around for much longer.