If you read our list of 25 Bizarre Animals With Outrageous Body Proportions then you already know that our planet can host some of the craziest looking living things. But if you thought the animals on that list were weird, then you have not seen anything yet. Our world teems with odd and wondrous life. But of the life we know exists on planet Earth, some are especially strange, odd, and bizarre. From a fish ready for its Match.com date (this will make sense when you see the fish) to an edible rock creature, we’ve dug up (almost literally, in some cases) some of the strangest looking animals on Earth. Just to give you an example, there is a toad which nurtures and incubates its babies right under its skin, an insect that literally looks like something straight out of an apocalyptic nightmare, a crab with double an average human’s wingspan, and so much more. Believe us when we tell you that you’ve never seen animals this weird before! So get ready, grab a tub of popcorn, put down your phone, and do whatever else you have to do because we’re coming at you with 25 Freakish Looking Animals You May Have A Hard Time Believing Are Real.
Starting off our list of the strangest looking animals in the world is the critically endangered saiga antelope. Making its home in the Eurasian steppes, the saiga antelope has an extremely strange, over-sized nose called a proboscis. Its strange nose serves two valuable purposes: in winter, it heats up freezing air before it reaches the animal’s lungs; in summer, it filters dust and helps cool the saiga’s blood. That’s one strange looking animal!
The gharial used to dominate rivers of the Indian subcontinent but has been reduced to only 235 creatures left in the wild due to human impact. A crocodilian, the gharial has a unique, narrow snout with 110 sharp teeth which it uses to easily catch fish: its main prey. Unfortunately, this once-powerful and strange creature is rapidly nearing extinction.
Formally known as the striated frogfish, the hairy frogfish is one unusual creature. The strands along its body aren’t actual hairs but spinules (a small thorn or spine). Like the angler fish, the hairy frogfish has an illicium which it uses as a fishing rod to attract prey.
Also known as “frog fish” and “sea devils”, the monkfish is a seriously strange looking creature. With a head making up most of its body, the monkfish also has a mouth which extends most of the way across its head. Within its mouth are teeth which it can depress if it wants to swallow prey whole. Despite its strange appearance, you’re likely to see monkfish at your local fishmonger as it is a commonly fished animal.
Pyura chilensis is a relatively common food item in Chile. A filter feeder, pyura chilensis looks like a rock and is often mistaken for one. Its meat has been described as having a “slightly bitter, soapy taste”. Yum.
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If sea cucumbers weren’t strange enough, the family pelagothuriidae is an especially strange one. Pelagothuriidae uses its tentacles (top right of the picture) to scoop up mud from the seafloor which it then digests. These deep-sea inhabitants have webbed apparatus in their front and back which allows them to travel rather quickly.
A sea cucumber commonly known as the seapig is the Scotoplanes. Large tubes on the Scotoplanes look like feet and can be inflated and deflated. Living on the ocean floor, this strange animal can occasionally serve as shelter for other animals such as for the king crab in the photo.
The picture above may be a bit unclear, but it’s the surinam toad’s babies hatching from patches on its back. Almost completely flat, the surinam toad is one of the strangest creatures on the planet. To protect its offspring, it shelters their eggs in its back under a flap of skin and incubates them for four months. After the gestation period, the toadlets poke out through her back and swim off. She sheds the layer of skin soon after.
The water deer is native to China and Korea, living especially well in the demilitarized zone between the Koreas in protected habitat. This strange beast has massive upper canines, up to 3.2 inches (8 cm), which are used in territorial disputes and defense rather than eating. Because of these teeth, the water deer has earned the nickname “vampire deer”.
No longer than an average woman’s shoe size, the star-nosed mole is a small mole with 22 unique pink appendages surrounding its snout. It uses these tentacle-like appendages to feel its way around and detect if prey is edible (and eat it) – performing these mental operations as quick as neurons can physically process. The 22 appendages have 25,000 Eimer’s organs which act as touch receptors (like those on our fingers).
Pairing one of our biggest fears with an insect, the scorpionfly has nine families with about 500 species across the globe – that’s a big family! What will really throw you off is what its scorpion-like appendage is for – it’s the male’s genitals. One of the families, the Bittacidae, has a unique mating ritual. The male captures prey – as large as possible – and coaxes the female over with pheromones. She examines the prey – their first date and honeymoon dinner – and either flies away (she rejects it) or begins eating, at which point the male mounts the female and begins to mate.
Japanese Spider Crab
A gargantuan and strange animal, the Japanese spider crab has the largest leg span of any arthropod, reaching up to 12 feet (3.8 m) from claw to claw. Despite their daunting appearance, the Japanese spider crab is said to have a peaceful, gentle disposition.
The Pacific Ocean’s sarcastic fringehead can open its fanged-mouth to an enormous size to scare off predators. To establish dominance, two male fringeheads will stretch their mouths as wide as possible and ram them together in a UWWF (UnderWater World Wrestling Federation) match which looks more like a make-out session.
A rarely seen and little understood sea creature, macropinna microstoma looks like something out of a child’s coloring book. Its head is covered by a transparent, fluid-filled dome. Moreover, it has barrel-shaped eyes which point up (through the dome) while it’s horizontal in the water and can even be rotated forward if it changes position. This is one of the strangest looking animals, largely for those eyes which feel like they’re following you. Jinkies!
A sea-dweller always ready for a hot date, the red-lipped batfish is a strange looking fish which lives primarily around the Galapagos Islands. Harmless to humans, the red-lipped batfish lures prey in with an illicium, just like an angler fish. Marine scientists aren’t entirely sure why it has such bright red lips (think Marilyn Monroe Fish), but speculate they may help different batfish species recognize each other during spawning.
The real champ of UWWF, the mantis shrimp can punch at up to 75 feet per second (23 m/s) from a stopped position – that’s enough to break aquarium glass. Even if the shrimp misses, the resulting shockwave from the punch can paralyze the animal it swings at. The shockwave’s bubbles accelerate so quickly they can be up to several thousand degrees Kelvin. (Just 1,000 K is 1,340°F or 727°C.)
A popular food item throughout Asia, the soft-shelled turtle is a peculiar-looking reptile. This turtle uses its seemingly-oversized neck with long, snorkel-like nostrils for a variety of purposes, including to breathe air from the surface while keeping its body submerged, sometimes up to a whole foot away. (One advantage of their soft shells is they can travel much faster on land – reputably up to 15 mph).
The most beautiful though strange looking animal on our list is the glaucus atlanticus. A small sea slug (beauty comes in unexpected places), glaucus atlanticus can devour the strong-stinging Portuguese Man o’ War jellyfish and even store its venom in its own appendages to protect against predators (including humans who touch it!). It floats upside down on the ocean’s surface, using its colors to blend in with the blue of the sea and silver of the surface. The blue may even help reflect away harmful UV rays.
A herding dog with origins in the Italian Alps north of Milan, the Bergamasco Shepherd is one of the strangest looking dog breeds out there. This dog, an expert sheep and cattle herder, is most known for its bizarre fur which is thick and plentiful and can often times look like dreadlocks.
Uroplatus, also known as the leaf-tailed gecko, inhabits forests on Madagascar. It’s no surprise to find a gecko adept at camouflage, but the leaf-tailed gecko really hits it out of the park. Some have developed a flat flap of skin, the dermal flap, running from head to tail which, when lying against the tree bark, scatters shadows and makes them practically invisible.
A huge, stork-like bird, the shoebill inhabits swampy areas in Eastern Africa’s tropical regions. Its most noticeable feature is its large bill which looks like a shoe. The bill has sharp edges which the shoebill can use to decapitate its prey and a nail-like point at the end for tearing. This bird is so strange that scientists aren’t entirely sure what other birds it is related to genetically.
The frilled shark’s primitive features sometimes lead marine biologists to call it a living fossil. Resembling an enormous and terrifying sea serpent, the frilled shark is a rarely-seen sea dweller which likely grasps its prey by crimping its body and leaping forward to strike like a snake. That’s not even the worst part. The frilled shark’s teeth are plentiful: 300 chompers, each with five needle-like protrusions which can pierce the flesh of prey with ease.
Indonesia’s “pig deer”, the babirusa is a genus of pig found on the islands of Sula, Buru, Sulawesi, and Togian. Notable is the babirusa’s enormous upper canines. If this strange animal doesn’t grind its tusks, they’ll grow to the point where they pierce its own skull.
Its real name, the aye-aye doesn’t get a lot of notoriety even though it’s the world’s largest nocturnal primate (what a title, huh?). A lemur, the aye-aye looks like an alien straight out of Hollywood. Especially strange is how it gathers food – the aye-aye taps on trees to find grubs, gnaws a hole in the tree, then sticks its slender middle finger in to pull out the grub. This strange animal is found throughout Madagascar but is endangered.
The heaviest bony fish in the world, the ocean sunfish (or mola mola) is a massive fish which looks more like a fish head and an attached, deformed tail. Weighing up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg), female sunfish can produce more eggs than any other vertebrate – up to 300,000,000 at a time. That’s 300 million eggs. The mola mola is considered a delicacy in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, and definitely deserves a place on our list as one of the most bizarre looking animals on Earth.