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25 Most Amazing and Unusual Animals On Earth-Part 1

25 Most Amazing and Unusual Animals On Earth-Part 1

I didnt' realize what a substantial project this was going to be when I started. It started at 10, then to 15, 20, and finally settled on 25. I just kept finding more weird and interesting stuff to put into it. This article is now nearly two months in the making, and has taught me as much as I hope that it will teach you. There are indeed some strange and wonderous creatures on this plantet, more and more are being discovered all the time.

For good reason I put the names of the creatures BELOW the pictures. I challenge you to see how many you can name before you get to the text.

WARNING: SOME OF THE PICTURES BELOW MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME VIEWERS.

The Red Panda

The (Ailurus fulgens)is also known in some areas as the Shining Cat. Native to the Eastern Himalayas and Southwestern China. It is the sole member of it's genus Ailuirs. It's diet mainly consists of bamboo, but it is an omnivore, and eats anything the woodlands provide. It's ability to eat bamboo rests with it's strong, curved, sharp claws. A distant relative to the giant panda, there are no more than 10,000 adults left in the world, though it is protected by several countries. It's decline is blamed on loss of natural habitat, and poaching. Like the giant panda it also has a false thumb that is an extension of the wrist bone which aids tremendously in gripping things. They are typically shy creatures living a solitary life, except around mating season. Females give birth to one to four cubs usually in the spring and summer. Young pandas remain in their nest for about 90 days before venturing out on their own.

The red panda had been previously classified as a relative of the raccoon (for obvious visual reasons) in the past but was found that this was not accurate. Though greatly smaller than their distant cousins, they are indeed panda bears.

The Giant Coconut Crab

With the exalted title of the largest land based arthropod in the world, it's a wonder that the Giant Coconut Crab doesn't get more press than it does. These animals are generally nocturnal and live in many coastal and forest regions of Indo-Pacific islands. Including the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, The Indian Ocean and the seas in the area of Indonesia. Some of it's "island names" are the Robber Crab or Palm Thief because of it's reported habit of taking anything it can use, specifically shiny items. But they get their common name from their ability to climb Coconut Palm trees, clip off the Coconuts, return to the ground, peel the husk fromt he coconut, and hammer them open by dropping it repeatedly on rocks, or banging them open with their large claws. The rest of their diet is primarily fleshy fruits, nuts and seeds. Though they are Omnivores and will consume other items as well.

Coconut crabs have a body length of about 16 inches, a leg span of 3 feet, and can weigh up to 9 pounds. Though there are accounts of them reaching upwards of 6 feet across and weighing up to 30 pounds. They can also live more than 30 years.

Coconut Crabs can't swim, even smaller crabs drown in water, though they require water to survive. They have an organ called a branchiostegal lung, that is explained to be something in between gills and lungs. This organ allows the crab to take oxygen out of the air, but also has to be kept moist to function. So it is more likely to see them in daylight during a rain storm as the moisture allows them to breathe more easily.

Though an adolescent has many predators, the only danger to a fully grown Coconut Crab are Human Beings. As the crab is a delicacy as well as an aphrodisiac in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Particularly if the eggs can be harvested from inside the female Coconut Crab.

Red Velvet Ant or "Cow Killer"

 The Dasymutilla Occidentalis are actually wasps. The female of the species are wingless and covered with red hair giving it the appearance of an ant. The males of the species have wings, but can not sting. The Red Velvet Ant is common in South Western America and Mexico. The name "Cow Killer" is not accurate, it is not believed that many cows are stung, and it is absurd to think that one bite would kill a cow. This name comes from the severely painful sting these insects inflict. As if to say, "that hurt enough to kill a cow".

Sloth

Sure, we've all heard of a sloth. But these are really very odd and unique creatures. There are multiple types of sloths, five types of three toed sloths or Bradypodidae. Three types of two toed sloths, and nine varieties of Megalonychidae (two toed and extinct ground sloths). Sloths are believed to have been around to about 60 million years, and are distantly related to Anteaters and Armadillos. What most of them have in common is that they all eat mainly leaves, insects, small reptiles and birds. Sloths have large slow acting stomachs with multiple compartments which in turn leads to a very slow digestion, and a very slow metabolism. This means that because of it's slow digestion it can take a month or more to fully digest something. Their metabolic rates are less than half of that of any mammal it's size, and they maintain a body temperature between 86 and 93 degrees (even lower when resting).

Sloths live in the rain-forests of South and Central America, and despite their usually slow speed they are not defenseless creatures. They will defend themselves if attached, not to mention that most sloths rarely visit the ground where they are more vulnerable. Sloths also have a natural camouflage, and move so slowly that it's difficult to spot them. Poachers pose little threat as they have found that sloths usually do not fall from their tree perch even when shot. Their main threat has been deforestation. Such a slow moving mammal would be put in harms way if it had to relocate even a half a mile. Their average ground speed is about 6.5 feet per minute!

Their hair even grows the opposite direction as most mammals because they hang upside down so much their hair reversed it's growth pattern to protect the skin from the elements. They even give birth hanging from trees. They go to the ground to defacate about once a week, burying their feces afterwards. The only oddity is that they use the same spot every time, which places them at risk. One theory is that they do so to nourish the tree they live in.

Aye-aye

The Daubentonia madagascariensis, commonly known as an Aye-aye is a type of Lemur that is only found on the island of Madagascar. The worlds largest nocturnal primate uses woodpecker like strategies, tapping on the bark of a tree up to 8 times per second to listen for insects inside of  the trees. Then after chewing a hole in the wood, it digs out the grub or insect from the tree using it's specifically designed elongated middle finger. Due to its varied features, there has been an ongoing debate as to the classification of the Aye-aye. The continually growing incisors would lead some to believe it a rodent, and was originally classified as a mammal. It's re-classification with primates has been just as widely debated.

Living primarily on the Eastern Coast and treeline of Madagascar, the Aye-aye have  a predisposition to live near the canopy of the forest, as high as 700 meters up. During the night the Aye-aye will spend 80% of it's night foraging for food, traveling as far as 2.5 miles a night.

Though the males are considered to be social animals, it has been found that a females territory will never overlap with another's.

The Aye-aye's main threat is Human Beings. Not only do the natives consider them to be nuisances, local legend says that the Aye-aye was a symbol of death, a harbinger of evil and is to be killed on sight. Others believe that should an Aye-aye point it's narrow middle finger at you that you would be condemned to death. These superstitions are directly resulting in the species decline. The Aye-aye is a near threatened species.

Geoduck

The Geoduck (pronounced gooey duck) is a very, very large species of saltwater clam. The shells can reach 15 to 20 centimeters in diameter, and the siphon, or neck reaching as long as 3 1/2 feet. Native to the Northwest coast of North America and Southwestern Canada, the average specimen weights between 1 and 3 pounds, though some reports have them weighing in at over 15 lbs, and have been commercially harvested since 1989. And most sales go to Asia where it is considered a delicacy and sells for about $30 a pound. The Geoduck trade today is an $80 million dollar a year US industry.

They also earn the title of one of the longest living animals on the planet with a life expectancy of about 145 years (The oldest recorded at 160 years old).

The Geoduck is the official mascot of The Evergreen State College located in Olympia Washington. The School's Latin motto, Omina Extares means "let it all hang out". I wonder what they're referring to?

Girarffe Weevil

 Native to Madagascar, the Trachelophorus giraffa gets its name from its jointed extended neck that is similar to a Giraffe. The majority of the body is black with distinctive red patterns covering the wings. The extended neck assist with nest building and fighting. The Giraffe Weevil is the longest weevil in the world at around 2.5 cm.

Tapir

 Pronounced ta-pier appears to be a cross between a pig and an anteater. Tapirs, found in the jungles of South and Central America are actually mammals and are more closely related to horses and rhinos. Adult males can weigh up to 700 lbs, and though the four species vary in color and fur, they all have oval, white-tipped ears, rounded rumps, stubby tails, and can possess as many as 44 teeth. Tapirs diet consists mainly of fruit, berries, and leaves, though they have a tendency to eat soft foliage underwater if they live near a water source. They have been observed consuming upwards of 85 pounds of vegetation in a single day. Their size and remarkable speed keeps them free from most predators. Despite this, and mainly due to loss of habitat, two of the four species of Tapir are on the endangered species list.

Slender Loris

Native to India and Sri Lanka, they are the sole members of the genus Loris. A small nocturnal primate, the Loris is able to live in wet and dry forests, as well as lowland and highland areas. About the size of a chipmunk with long very thin legs. Their diet consists mainly of insects and vegetation, and their average life span is twelve to fifteen years. Their movements are slow and meticulous so not to alert any prey. One of their unusual habits is to rub their urine over their hands face and feet. This is thought to be a remedy to them because they enjoy dining on toxic beetles and roaches.

Their main threat is human as natives have always believed all parts of the Slender Loris to have medicinal or magical powers. It is unknown how many survive in the world today. There are laws in India to protect the loris, but it is hard to gauge their numbers due to their nocturnal habits.

Monkfish

The Monkfish, or Headfish is native to the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean. They can grow upwards of three feet in length, and the largest recorded specimen was 219 lbs. They are in the genus Squatina, the angel shark family. They are not widely consumed throughout the world, although there are regions such as Spain and Velencia that it can be commonly found. It is thought that the reason they are endangered is because they are caught as bycatch by trawlers (caught accidentally and later used as bait).

Sea Pig

 Thriving on the deepest ocean floors, the Sea Pig behaves much like slugs do on land. They scavange the ocean floor for any organic material using their tube feet to move them along and using their tentacles to push food into their mouth. The Sea Pig is not an endangered species, but rare to see due to the depths of ocean in which they live. Though they appear to be some sort of slug/pig combination, sea pigs are scotoplanes or sea cucumbers belonging to the genus of the deep sea Holothurians.

Stick Bug (or Stick Insect)

 The Phasmatodea (or Phasmida), are known around the world as walking sticks, stick bugs, stick insects, and ghost insects. Their adaptation of natural camouflage make them exceptionally difficult to spot (as you probably noticed from the first picture). There are over 3000 known species around the world, but are most abundantly found in tropical areas.

Giant Isopod

Isopod, meaning crustacean, this behemoth is actually related to shrimp and crabs. First discovered in 1879 by French zoologist Alphonse Milne Edwards, it was the first proof of life at the azoic (deep ocean) level. They are of little interest to commercial fisheries as there numbers are too scarce to market, and are "scavenged beyond marketability" before they are recovered. They are also related and bare resemblance to the Pill Bug, or as we know them around here, the Roly-Poly. Mature adults reaching as long as 14 inches, and weighing nearly 4 pounds, they are formidable scavengers of the deep sea. They live in areas over five hundred and fifty feet below the surface in pitch darkness, they scavenge the carcasses of dead whales, fish and squid. Due to the lack of food at the depth they live in, they have adapted to long periods of famine. They are known to survive up to two months without any food.

Glass Frog

While their genaral color is green/lime green like most frogs. The abdominal side is transparent. The Internal organs, and gastrointestianl tract are visible through the skin. First discovered in 1872, they were first placed with tree frogs in the genera Hyella. It wasn't until 1951 that the family Centrolenidae was created. That family is now host to over 50 species of glass frogs. Found primarily along rivers and streams in Central and South America, Glass frogs are small, between 1.2 and 3.0 inches in lengh.

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