Top 10 Weirdest Looking Animals in the World

Spike the thorny devil

Top 10 Weirdest Looking Animals in the World

Spike the thorny devil
Spike – the thorny devil by Mark Roy cc2.0

Most of the time, nature is beautiful, majestic, fascinating — making us want to take out our cameras and bring out our inner artist. Let’s face it, though. Sometimes, nature can come up with some pretty weird things. Just take a look at ten of the weirdest looking animals on earth.

10. Coconut Crab

Coconut Crab {Birgus latro}
Coconut Crab {Birgus latro} by Drew Avery cc2.0

A crab that can open a coconut? This sounds too good to be true. And yet, the coconut crab is known to be capable of this feat. That’s exactly how it got its name. Well, that’s not surprising when you consider that this weird creature can grow over 3 feet (91 centimeters) long.

Coconut Crab in a sea shell
Young coconut crab in a shell. Juvenile in shell Diego Garcia (Chagos Archipelago) British Indian Ocean Territory by Drew Avery cc2.0

Indeed, the coconut crab is the largest crab. It has large claws but strangely enough, its left claw is always larger than its right. Young coconut crabs use snail shells or broken coconut shells to protect their soft abdomens, but as they grow older, their abdomens become tough and they don’t need shells anymore. One more difference between young and old coconut crabs? Young coconut crabs can swim, but adult coconuts crabs can’t. They will drown if left in the water.

9. Giraffe Weevil

Male specimen of Trachelophorus giraffa
Male specimen of Trachelophorus giraffa (Attelabidae; en: Giraffe weevil); picture taken in Ranomafana National Park. Photo taken by Axel Strauß cc3.0

On the island of Madagascar lives a shiny black and red insect unlike any other. The males have long necks just like giraffes, hence the name. What do the males use their long necks for? To fight for the right to mate with a female, of course, with the larger male often winning. Recent studies show, however, that even small male giraffe weevils stand a chance, sneaking beneath the females while the large males are on top, oblivious that they are being two-timed. Who actually succeeds in fertilizing the eggs? That remains a mystery.

8. Pangolin

Scaly Anteater
Scaly Anteater (Ground Pangolin at Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa.) by David Brossard cc2.0

It’s normal to see a reptile or a fish covered in scales, but a mammal? Now, that’s weird. Yet, the pangolin is exactly that — the only mammal to have its backside covered in tough, overlapping scales, that look like artichoke leaves. The scales are made from keratin, the same substance that makes our nails and hair. Like our nails and hair, a pangolin’s scales keep growing, but get filed down as it constantly digs. Some pangolins live in burrows under the ground, and most of them dig in search of termites, ants and earthworms to eat. As they dig, they close their eyes and ears to keep the soil out, and they also have a special muscle inside their mouths that prevent captured prey from crawling out.

When sleeping or threatened, pangolins can roll their bodies into a ball with just their tails sticking out. Female pangolins can roll around their babies, protecting them. Pangolins can secrete a nasty-smelling fluid, as well.

Pangolins are featured in the following book:
25 Nocturnal Animals

7. Glass Squid

Cranchiidae sp from the Operation Deep Scope Expedition 2004. By Edie Widder

Imagine a transparent balloon with polka dots and tentacles. Next, imagine that this balloon lights up in the dark. Good work. Now, you know what one of the weirdest creatures on earth — a glass squid — looks like.

A glass squid retains ammonia inside its body, which makes it inflated like a balloon and helps keep it afloat. As for the polka dots, these are pigment-filled cells which provide the squid with excellent camouflage. Most glass squids have light organs around their large eyes to cancel their shadows, while some females also have light organs on the tips of their third pair of arms, in order to attract mates.

6. Dumbo Octopus

grimpoteuthis discoveryi dumbo octopus
One of the rare finned octopods known as “Dumbos” collected on the summer 2009 MAR-ECO cruise.

We all know that an octopus has eight legs, or tentacles. But did you know that there is an octopus with ears, and large ears at that? That is exactly how the dumbo octopus got its name.

(Remember Dumbo, the flying elephant?) Its “ears” however, are not real ears, but fins standing out from the sides of its head. In addition to its weird “ears”, the dumbo octopus also has webbed tentacles which, when spread out, look like an umbrella. It hovers just above the ocean floor in search of prey and when it finds it, it pounces on it and eats it whole.

Dumbo octopus is discussed in several books from our Amazing Animals Series…
25 Weirdest Animals in the World
Alien of the Deep – the Octopus!
25 Deep Sea Creatures

5. Treehoppers

adult treehopper
Live adult treehopper (family Membracidae) Ceresa taurina photographed at Blackwell Forest Preserve, DuPage County, Illinois. By Bruce Marlin cc3.0

Treehoppers are among the weirdest looking animals in the world because, well, they don’t look like your typical insects. In fact, they don’t look like insects at all. They look like leaves, thorns, rocks or tree bark, which protects them from predators.

Treehoppers feed on tree sap and in the process, create honeydew. They have to get rid of the honeydew, though, or else it will get moldy and they will become sick. Ants happen to like honeydew, so they come and get it. The treehoppers don’t get sick. The ants get fed. Both sides are happy. It seems like the kind of relationship that’s built to last.

4. Thorny Dragon

Thorny Devil
Thorny Devil by chem7 cc2.0

The thorny dragon, or thorny devil, is one creature you won’t like to pick up. After all, it is covered in rows of sharp spikes, which are meant to make it look less appetizing to its predators. You wouldn’t want to put something spiky down your throat, would you?

Just in case the spikes don’t work, thorny dragons can also puff themselves up to make themselves look bigger. And if that doesn’t work, either? They present predators with a “false head”, an extra appendage on their backs that looks just like a second head. Weird, perhaps, but hey, if it works, it works.

Thorny dragons (also known as thorny devils) are featured in the following books:
25 Australian Animals
101 Facts… Desert Animals

3. Narwhal

Put together a whale and a unicorn and what do you get? A narwhal, of course!

Indeed, the narwhal’s tusk is its most weirdest feature, and at the same time, its most amazing. The narwhal’s tusk, which is actually an overgrown tooth, is the only straight tusk in the world. Because of their straight shape and spiral lines, narwhal tusks were once mistaken for unicorn horns and prized as such, believed to have magical powers.

Narwhals use their tusks as a sensory organ, with a single tusk having as many as ten million nerve endings. Narwhals also use their tusks to break through thick ice so that they can breathe, and rub them as a means of communication or exerting dominance.

Narwhals are featured in the following books:
25 Whales, Dolphins and other Sea Mammals
25 Polar Animals
Whales! An Early Reader Book

2. Okapi

Okapi by Eric Kilby cc2.0

It’s a horse. It’s a zebra. It’s a giraffe. No, it’s an okapi!

Here’s another creature that looks like two rolled into one. It has the head and the robust body of a giraffe, which is not surprising since the okapi is the only living relative of the giraffe. Like the giraffe, the okapi has large ears, which allow it to easily detect the presence of approaching predators. The okapi also has a long, bluish tongue — long enough to clean its eyelids and the inside of its ears. Leaves for lunch, earwax for dessert.

The okapi’s lower half, however, resembles a zebra more, with black and white striped legs. According to scientists, these legs help an okapi with camouflage and also help calves easily follow their mothers across the dense rainforest.

1. Platypus

Platypus Credit JohnCarnemolla

The platypus looks unlike any other creature in the world. In fact, it looks so weird that even scientists didn’t believe it was a real animal at first. Indeed, the platypus looks more like a mythical beast with its mash-up of awkward looking features — the wide, flat tail of a beaver, the bill and webbed feet of a duck and the thick fur of a mole.

The platypus doesn’t just look weird. It is actually one of the weirdest creatures on earth. For one, it is one of the few mammals that lay eggs. That’s right, it lays eggs like birds instead of giving birth to live young. But after the eggs hatch, it feeds its young with milk, which trickles out of its skin like sweat. If that’s not weird enough, the platypus also doesn’t have a stomach, literally, and it seems to do just fine without one. It also has no teeth, instead having sensors inside its bill which detect electric current, allowing it to find prey in murky waters. Oh, and the platypus is one of the few venomous mammals, too. Male platypuses have nasty spurs on their hind feet which inject venom. While the venom isn’t deadly to humans, it is still painful. (Keep that in mind before making fun of this creature’s weird looks.)

Duck billed platypus are featured in the following books:
25 Australian Animals
25 Weirdest Animals in the World

Did we get it right or wrong?

Is this the right order? What do you think? Scroll down to the comments and let us know what order these ugly creatures should be in – or if we’ve missed something hideous!

25 Weirdest Animals in the World!


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