The 9 Strangest Animals on Earth

From giant salamanders the size of grown men, to fish that turn inside out and bladder-infesting sea creatures, the world is full of some truly bizarre (and at times frightening) creatures. Yet they each serve an ecological purpose and these strange animals are fascinating in their own right.

Chinese Giant Salamander

(Images via xinhuanet and ZSL)

Something tells us these giant salamanders were never called for in any witch’s recipe. Seriously, look at that thing! That lives under some people’s porches! The United States is also home to a giant salamander called the Hellbender, and it’s…well, the name fits. However, it is not as endangered as the shockingly strange-looking Chinese cousin. The Chinese giant salamander can grow to be nearly six feet long.

Giant Coconut Crab

(Image via kottke)

This is not shopped. This is not a hoax. That is a giant crab on a garbage can. They’re native to Guam and other Pacific islands. Coconut crabs aren’t endangered, per se, but due to tropical habitat destruction they are at risk. In WWII, American soldiers stationed in the Pacific theater wrote home with tales about entire atolls being covered in the armor-plated giants. These crabs can crack a coconut in one swipe; but they’re generally too slow to be very dangerous to humans. Children pass lazy afternoons by picking the crabs off tree trunks and watching them crash to the ground; it’s reportedly great fun. And kind of messed up.

Angora Rabbit

(Image via purpleslinky)

The nightmare of every new boyfriend, this fluffy creature looks like a science experiment crossing a Sasquatch and a kitten gone wrong. It’s just a rabbit, however. They were exceptionally popular in the 17th and 18th centuries among European nobility as lap pets, and many different hybrids were bred to suit changing tastes of different royalty. The angora rabbit is still popular to this day.

Cantor’s Giant Soft Shelled Turtle

(Image via Sharenator)

The Pelochelys cantorii, or Cantor’s Giant Soft Shelled Turtle, is one of the most unusual looking animals on earth and certainly one of the most odd looking turtles in existence. Yet few people have seen it or know about it. It’s not a sea turtle – the Cantor prefers to inhabit inland, close to streams and wetlands. It grows very large, with adult shells often spanning more than six feet. They are native to Cambodia but are very rare.

Star Nosed Mole

(Image via Purple Slinky)

Pucker up. The star nosed mole is a tenacious creature, able to withstand severe cold and burrow easily through ice to make its home and find food. It lives in Canada and the East Coast of the United States. It favors a high protein diet of clams, snails, small rodents, mollusks and worms. It’s not a very big creature – about the size of a hand. But its 22 nose tentacles are hard to miss. They help the mole find food.

Climbing Fish

(Image via 7is7)

People were shocked to find the fish with “hands” – and now scientists are even more shocked to find a fish that happens to be a skilled rock climber. It would seem the march of evolution is indeed inexorable. Lithogenes wahari is a type of catfish with specialized pelvic fins that act as gripping “hands” to climb rocks, walls and other terrain. The fish is incredibly rare and the most recent sighting occurred after twenty years of research. There are actually a number of so-called walking fish although not all are true fish.

Angler Fish

Images: left, middle, bottom

Some guys just can’t catch a break. The male angler fish is 1/20th the size of the female angler fish. The huge, traumatizingly ugly spiny fish with the glowing “fishing rod” lure you saw in Finding Nemo? That’s the female. The male is that tiny little blob attached to his horrific goddess that you never noticed. He burrows in with his teeth and she “feeds” him ex-utero style until he eventually loses his eyeballs, then internal organs and finally his life. By then, she’s got his sperm so it doesn’t matter. Anglers are deep-sea fish, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe from threat.


(Images via wikimedia, damn interesting and eyes on brazil)

Did you hear the one about the Amazonian fish who swam up a penis, took up residence in said penis owner’s bladder, and could not be extracted due to its umbrella-like spines? It ate away at the man until he hemorrhaged. Though evidence of candiru extraction surgeries are mostly secondhand, enough discussion exists in the scientific body of literature to confirm the dreadful possibility. (Legends of penectomy are almost certainly false, however.) The slick, slim, small Candiru frequently lodge themselves in larger fish and animals and are nearly impossible to remove. (By the way, there are actually far more poisonous fish in the world than there are snakes. Just something to think about.) The moral of the story: don’t pee in the Amazon.


(Images via myfoxmaine and NOAA)

The Pacific Ocean Hagfish has a disgusting way of defending itself. When under attack, it oozes a suffocating slime from its many pores that envelops its predator in a fatal mass of fibrous goo. The hagfish, unfortunately, sometimes falls prey to its own defense mechanism, but normally it twists itself into knots to escape the gelatinous goop.

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