Tuesday, February 18, 2014

14 Unusual Animals

There are more than one million non-insect species on the face of the earth and new ones are being discovered every day. The biggest creature is the Blue Whale with a heart the size of a small car and the smallest is the Pigmy Shrew that can apparently die of a massive heart attack if touched. In between, are a host of creatures, both great and small. Every animal is extraordinary, but Rose and I have complied a list of some of the most unusual (none of the images below belong to us; all rights to the very talented people who captured them ).

1. Jerboa
Image of a Northern three-toed Jerboa, courtesy of Montarano Nature Photography

When I first saw footage of this, when I was very small, I was under the impression that it was a sort of miniature Kangaroo. Now I think it looks a bit more like a long tailed Rabbit. Jerboas live in deserts anywhere from Northern Africa to Northern China and everywhere in between. Despite their small stature, they can reach speeds of up to fifteen miles per hour.

2. Chinese Water Deer

This is where Bambi meets the Saber-toothed Tiger... and Water Deer are not the only deer with fangs, other small species, such as the Tufted Deer and Muntjac, have fangs as well. Because the fangs are held loosely in place, they can be drawn out of the way when eating, but when danger threatens, they present a frightening site. Water Deer lack antlers...but I have a feeling they don't need them.

3. Clouded Leopard

This shy, Himalayan cat is more beautiful than strange, but its coat is remarkably unusual. Speaking of teeth, the Clouded Leopard has the longest canines in relation to their body size of any living carnivore, even though they are the smallest of the big cats. They aren't related to Leopards. 

4. Fossa

Not a cat, nor even a dog, the Fossa is its own species, existing only on Madagascar. It looks like a small Puma and even has retractable claws, but its head is more like a mongoose's. They are fairly rare, mostly solitary and cathemeral; which means they are sporadically active day and night.

5. Aye-Aye

The Aye-Aye perpetually looks as though it has had a very bad fright. Like the Fossa, it exists only in Madagascar and is known for the unusually long fingers that it uses for prying bugs out of holes in tree trunks. It's a kind of Lemur, which means it's a primate. 

6. Elephant Shrew

Rose thinks this is a cross between Piglet and Dumbo...in fact it has no relation to either. All Shrews have unusual noses, but the Elephant Shrew is particularly unusual. They use their strange proboscides to find food, then flick it into their mouths with their long tongues. There are several versions of the Elephant Shrew, all native to Africa. 

7. African Civet

No, it's not a Raccoon, but it's the best known of its species, which isn't very well known. It bears a resemblance to a hyena, but its actually of the family Viverridae. Civets are named because of the musk they produce, which is often used as a perfume base...weird, right?

8. Saiga Antelope

He looks fine until you get to his nose. The Saiga Antelope once lived in the vast Eurasian Steppe, from Hungary to Siberia and was even found across the pond in North America. Today, there are very few of them left in a handful of places in Kalmykia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. 

9. Proboscis Monkey

Speaking of noses, this is a nose...maybe we have a theme, here. The Proboscis Monkey is one of the largest monkey species in Asia. They are pot-bellied and often times their toes are webbed. They live almost exclusively off leaves and fruit. 

10. Emperor Tamarin

Named because of his striking resemblance to Kasar Wilhelm II, he and his mustache, live in the Amazon Basin. The Emperor Tamarin is affectionate and friendly and lives in large family groups. Does he look like something that could wage the First World War?...I don't think so, either.

11. Manx Loaghtan

This odd sheep looks like he couldn't decide on a set and ended up settling for both. Originating on the Isle of Man, the Manx Loaghtan can come equipped with up to six horns. Even though it is a rare breed, it is considered a gourmet delicacy and is known for its soft, brown wool.

12. Maned Wolf

Something like a fox on stilts, the Maned Wolf is native to South America. It isn't a wolf at all... nor is it a fox. Like the wolf and the fox, it belongs to the family Caninae, but has its own Genus. Because of its strong odor, it's sometimes referred to as the 'Skunk Wolf'.

13. Duck-billed Platypus

You've all heard of this one, I've no doubt, but I still think its fascinating. It's a Monotreme, one of only a handful of beaked mammals that lay eggs. They're all from Australia, or New Guinea, and sometimes their babies are called puggles. Despite the fact that their young are hatched, they are still true mammals, being warm blooded and producing milk.   

14. Okapi

Finally, the best (and probably the rarest) for last. The Okapi is likely what you'd get if it were possible to cross a Giraffe with a Zebra. A small number of them live in central Africa and in zoos around the world. They are so rare, it wasn't until 1901 that the species was formally recognized, but the Egyptians knew about them thousands of years ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment