Feeling heartsick by those photos of animals on the verge of extinction? Sick of posted pics of abused animals? Today, I bring you a happy animal article. A tale of strange tails in the form of a list of glorious animals that prove nature has a wild imagination.
These 10 beasties are considered newly discovered and/or wildlife you’ve never heard of. Some of these cute (using the term loosely) creatures have just been declared a new species in the past few years. You know how bulldogs are so ugly they’re cute? Along those lines, I present the 10 strangest animals you’ve probably never seen up close or ever.
1. Sea Pig
The sea pig (scotoplanes) is an echinoderm, or more specifically a sea cucumber. Echinoderms include glorious wonders like starfish, sea urchins and sand dollars. Sea cucumbers are marine animals found on the sea floor. The sea-pig brand of echinoderm have enlarged tube feet, usually five to seven pairs that look like pudgy little legs. Even the things on top of their head that look like antennae are inflatable legs. Water cavities inside the skin allow them to puff up their parts. They like to travel along the sea floor and scoop up tasty morsels in deep-sea mud. Yum yum. Sea pigs are between four and six inches long. Their pink color and rotund torso earned them the comparison to swine. If you ever have a chance to catch a newly deceased whale carcass that fell down to the bottom of the sea, you may get to spot a crowd of sea pigs gathered ’round it to feast. Hundreds of sea pigs all face in the same direction while chowing down on the dearly departed. What a sight that must be.
2. Cyclops Shark
I had a boyfriend in college who used to call his male member “the cycloptic one” and “the one-eyed monster.” I couldn’t help but laugh at that memory when I found this photo in my research for this dazzling list of bizarre beasts. Here I give you the cyclops shark. It is extremely rare, and although scientists have discovered cyclops sharks embryos a few times, the fact that none have been found outside a womb suggest that they don’t survive long in the wild. Or, hopefully, it just means they’re hiding. The one-eyed 22-inch fetus that was found in Mexico in 2011 had a single eye that functioned. Scientists determined that it is a mutant bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas). Maybe I’ll dress my dog up as one this Halloween. The costume would be easy enough to make I’d just need a sheet and a marker.
3. Leaf-Nosed Bat
This little fella would be a good candidate for a rhinoplasty. (PETA: Im just joking! Sheesh.) This distinct bat was discovered in Chu Mom Ray National Park in Vietnam in 2008. At first it was mistaken for an existing type of bat until it was determined the creature is genetically distinct. It has large ears but most notably a weird leaf-looking triangular flap of a snout. They have grayish to brown fur on their back with lighter fur below. They dont migrate or hibernate; their wings are too short for the long-distance flying required for migration. They like to curl up in caves, mines, hollow trees or animal burrows.
4. Penis Snake(Matt Roper photo)
TheBlot Magazine editor Nikki M. Mascali squealed when I submitted this photo for review. I thought she might kill the whole story due to the trauma I hoisted upon her. Poor Nikkella. But that woman is a trooper, and after much cajoling, she agreed that the world needs to know about this bizarre and rare caecilian, aka limbless amphibian. The penis snake got it’s name from … Ill let you guess where. It’s official name is Atretochoana eiselti, and six were found by engineers who were draining part of the Madeira River, a major tributary of the Amazon, while they were preparing to build a dam. Caecilians tend to be predators that feed on small fish and worms. Ooh, bon appetit. The slithery critters have poor eyesight and get around through their sense of smell. The average length of the schlong, err, penis snake, is 32 inches. That same college beau as mentioned above also called his asset an anaconda. Damn, that guy had a lot of names for his favorite body part. Although it was far from 32 inches, I will say it was impressive.
Editor’s note: Dorri did not exaggerate. I did shriek upon seeing this photo and promptly put my feet up on my desk, because, you know, just in case.
5. Lesula Monkey
The lesula monkey (Cercopithecus lomamiensis) is only the second new species of African monkey found in three decades. It was discovered in 2007 in the Lomami Basin of the Democratic Republic of Congo and then officially listed among the Top 10 New Species 2013 by the International Institute of Species Exploration at Arizona State University. The cute little bugger was selected out of 140 species nominated. The people who found the lesula were conservationists John and Terese Hart of Yale Universitys Peabody Museum of Natural History. They discovered a female lesula youngster in an elementary school teachers house in Opala. The teacher said her brother brought it to her. He looks like an old man, right? Albeit a hairy one. The lesula likes living in rain forests. And get this: Lesula monkeys have blue-colored bald patches around their privates. John Hart said, Adult males have a huge bare patch of skin in the buttocks, testicles and perianal area. Its a brilliant blue thats really pretty spectacular.
6. Yeti Crab
The yeti crab (Kiwa hirsuta) got its name because its furry look reminds folks of yeti, aka the abominable snowman or Bigfoot. The fuzz is not really fur though, it is setae, which means hair-like bristles. The cuddly-looking crustacean appears akin to a childs stuffed animal, but if you want to touch it, watch out for those pinching pinchers. It has no eyes, though, so you could probably get up close and personal without being detected. Marine life scientist Michel Segonzac discovered the yeti crab in 2005 during a series of submersible dives. He found it in the South Pacific Ocean near the Antarctic Ridge about 900 miles off the coast of Easter Island. Its about six inches long and chows down on the tissue of mussels. The hairy little crabs also love to eat bacteria. They keep it in their hair and munch on it whenever the urge hits ’em. Put it this way, they wouldnt go hungry.
The olinguito is a mammal in the raccoon family that was found in zoos for years before anybody realized it was a new species. It lives in montane forests in the Andes of western Colombia and Ecuador. In May 2014, it was deemed worthy of honor in the Top 10 Species of 2014 by the International Institute of Species Exploration. The olinguito weighs in the neighborhood of two pounds. It eats mostly figs, but also dines on bugs. After DNA testing, it was declared a new species by Kristofer Helgen, the curator of mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, olinguito expert Roland Kays of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and their scientific collaborators. Looks like another furry kids toy, eh?
8. Liropus Minisculus
A new type of skeleton shrimp, a Liropus minusculus, was found. It is a miniscule and translucent crustacean that lives in sea caves on Santa Catalina island in California. But its not really a shrimp, its an amphipod. José Manuel Guerra-García is the dude that first realized these little critters were an undiscovered species after he saw specimens in a museum in 2010. Guerra-García wrote a scientific article about them in the journal “Zootaxa” and noted them as the first example of the Liropus genus found in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Their claws are technically called gnathopods, meaning claws used to grasp females during copulation so sexy, so butch. Like a praying mantis, its a patient predator. Their coloring and shape lets them blend in around seaweed and vegetation on the sea floor, and theyll wait for quite a while just to snatch up the right little creatures and turn them into tasty bites.
9. Pea-Sized Frog
This itsy-bitsy frog was given the nickname pea-sized. It was technically named a Microhyla nepenthicola when Conservation International announced its existence in 2010. This froggie fellow was found on a pitcher plant in Borneo, an island in Southeast Asia. At first scientists thought it was just a baby frog, but then they discovered that the length of adult males is only about half an inch. These pea-sized amphibians are the smallest species of frogs in Asia, Africa and Europe. The discovery was made by Drs. Indraneil Das and Alexander Haas of the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, and Biozentrum Grindel und Zoologisches Museum of Hamburg with support from the Volkswagen Foundation. An article about this newly named species was published in “Zootaxa.” The frog was named after the pitcher plant it was found on, the Nepenthes ampullaria, one of many types of pitcher plants in Borneo. The frogs lay their delicate and dimunitive eggs on the sides of the pitcher plant and tadpoles grow in the liquid that accumulates inside the plant. Because theyre so small, its hard to find them out in the wild, and theyre tracked by their distinctive singing, which usually begins at dusk. Its a series of harsh rasping sounds that last for a few minutes in between moments of silence. Their little symphony goes from sundown till the early evening hours.
10. Pancake Batfish
Dont those lips remind you of Lisa Rinna? OK, so, the pancake batfish (Halieutichthys aculeatus) is mostly found in the western Atlantic, North Carolina, northern Gulf of Mexico and northern South America. This species was discovered in 2010. The way it maneuvers across an ocean floor is similar to how bats crawl, and it looks kind of like a pancake, although not a particularly appetizing one. Its round like a CD with eyes set close together on the top of their flattened head. It’s covered with cone-like scales called tubercles, which can have mini spines, so this flat fish with the trout pout looks like it is covered with coarse hair. The pancake batfish have fleshy bait on the front of their snouts that attracts prey. Pancake batfish are a distinct species within the Ogcocephalidae family of fishies. Its pectoral fins look like limbs as they use them, along with smaller pelvic fins, to travel. They give the appearance of strolling across the oceans floor.
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.