Evolution keeps weaving a beautiful story called nature and has sculpted millions of species of plants and animals across the span of time. And from time to time some truly unusual animals appear. Sometimes they make you wonder “What in the heck is that?” Or, “Was nature drunk when it created that?”
Each of the animals below is a combination of the dance performed by nature and evolution. And here I’ve compiled a thoughtful list of 10 unusual animals who definitely fit in the whimsical category.
These animals are truly amazing
Including Vietnam’s strange Dragon Chicken.
Called the Dong Tao chicken or Vietnamese Dragon chicken from the country’s Khoai Chao District, they look armed and dangerous. Because these chickens are extremely rare, their meat is highly prized. A breeding pair of these rather ungainly bulbous-legged birds sells for as much as $2500, Domestic Animal Breeds reports.
Those huge legs, which can be as thick as a man’s wrist are one reason this bird is in trouble. Dragon chickens only lay about two or three eggs per week and the birds continually break them because their feet are so large.
Here are some more amazing animals
The Goliath Frog.
The goliath frog is aptly named. It’s the world’s largest frog. Reaching a length of 12.5 inches and weighing a whopping 7.2 pounds, the goliath is the size of a housecat, notes the San Diego Zoo. You can find this massive guy in the equatorial rain forests of western Africa. Like most frogs, the goliath eats insects, but it has other culinary preferences as well — crustaceans, bats fish, and other amphibians.
Some animals are black when they are supposed to be grey
In parts of eastern North America as well as parts of the western U.S., eastern grey squirrels aren’t grey. Instead, they’re black, rusty red, or blonde. These cute critters are in fact a color morph of the eastern grey squirrel.
They are, in fact, an example of polymorphism, which Bay Nature describes:
“…as the presence of two or more distinct characteristics within a single breeding population.”
And this ancient reptile that lived with dinosaurs
The gharial crocodile has jaws that are uniquely adapted for catching fish and other vertebrate prey, Edge Of Existence notes. Males, such as the one above, have a bulbous growth (known as the ghara) on the tip of their snout. It’s thought that the ghara helps the sexes distinguish between each other, but it may be used for other associated sexual behaviors.
Gharials are truly amazing, with males reaching a length of 20 feet. Despite that fearsome size, they aren’t a danger to humans unless you mess with them. These massive crocs once ranged across Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Sadly, now they are only found in tiny and severely fragmented populations in India and Nepal. Considered critically endangered by the IUCN, populations of this magnificent reptile have plunged by 98 percent since the 1940s and now less than 250 remain in the wild.
The original grumpy-looking cat
No doubt about it, the Pallas’ cat, also called the manul cat is beautiful, but it does look a bit grouchy. About the size of a housecat, you’re not likely to catch a glimpse of them in the wild since they live in the Asian steppe and you’re going to have to climb. You see, these animals typically make their dens in rocky crevices at elevations reaching more than 15,000 feet, HuffPost reports.
With their wide expressive faces and luxurious fur, Pallas’ cats are exceptionally beautiful. They are classified by the IUCN as “near threatened.” Tragically, hunters eliminated many of these cats because of their highly prized fur. Fortunately, protective laws mean that hunting is on the decline.
The cat’s situation is still precarious, though. Sadly, many people kill off their main food source — voles and pikas and cut down the forests where these amazing cats live.
This whimsical bird which looks like it belongs in ‘Where The Wild Things Are’
Called the shoebill or whalehead stork, it’s actually not a stork. Instead, the Shoebill is actually a relative of the pelican and it’s now placed in the order Pelecaniformes, Owlcation notes.
This marvelous bird lives in central and eastern Africa, where it’s found in a number of countries. It prefers to hang out in tropical marshes and swamps. In general, they reach a height of three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half-feet. They use those stilt-like legs and scaly feet to hunt their favorite prey — lungfish.
And while they look a bit ungainly, shoebills are careful parents who take turn incubating their eggs. When the weather gets too hot, they take care to drop water on the precious eggs, which hatch after about 30 days. Shoebills typically lay a pair of eggs, three to five days apart. In most situations, only one chick survives, either because it gets the most attention (and therefore the most food) from its parents or because the stronger sibling kills the weaker one. This may seem cruel, but it’s an effective strategy that has evolved over time to help the strongest sibling to survive.
The adorable giant rodent that’s the size of a large dog
And they can weigh up to 200 pounds.
Unsurprisingly, the capybara is the world’s largest rodent, LiveScience reports. Reaching a length of up to 50 inches and standing 20 inches tall at the shoulders, these tailless guinea pig relatives are indeed quite large.
And they kind of look like a large guinea pig, don’t they?
But unlike guinea pigs, capybaras live in areas that contain a lot of water, which is essential for them to keep their skin moist. As such, you can find these big boys in estuaries, marshes, riverbanks and streams in Central- and South America. To hide from predators, capybara spend much of their time in the water in dense vegetation where they even sleep.
This animal, which looks like a Pokemon character but isn’t
Glaucus atlanticus, however, is in the “look but don’t touch category.”
At barely one inch long, it’s believed that this little sea slug (also called a nudibranch) occurs in all the world’s oceans. Because these little nudibranchs are so attractive, they’ve actually earned a host of names — sea swallow, blue angel, and blue dragon, just to name a few. Perhaps this creature is called the blue angel because if you touch one of them, you may be seeing angels, Weebly reports.
These graceful, tiny beauties feed on Portuguese Man-O-War, a siphonophore that’s a relative of jellyfish. Ornamented with powerful stinging tentacles, a Man-O-War is powerful enough to kill a human. And Glaucus atlanticus takes advantage of this when it eats one of these critters. The rounded protuberances you see projecting from the sides of this creature’s body are called papillae. And there can be as many as 84 papillae in each cluster. Within the papillae, there are clusters of finger-like appendages called cerata which are tipped with tiny cnidosacs, where the poison is concentrated. These amazing beauties are protected from their own venom by tiny hardened internal disks and by a layer of mucus on the outside.
And while it may be tempting to hold one of these beauties, it’s definitely a bad idea because they can be even deadlier than a Man-O-War, a creature whose sting has been described as feeling like “hot knives on skin.”
This tiny falcon, which is Africa’ smallest predatory bird
Found in southern and eastern Africa, this tiny falcon is only six inches long.
The pygmy falcon hunts in the morning and the late afternoon and spends a large part of the day roosting, WorldAtlas reports. It hunts primarily insects and lizards but also takes rodents and small birds occasionally. Unlike many other predatory birds, they nest in colonies. This helps provide extra protection for young falcons.
Fortunately, these tiny falcons are common and aren’t considered endangered.
Lastly, this bird, which isn’t a Muppet
Even though the Ceylon frogmouth looks like one.
Seriously, how cute is this little face? I think they are adorable. More commonly called the Sri Lanka frogmouth, this comical-looking bird is only found in the Western Ghats of southwestern India and Sri Lanka, BeautyOfBirds reports.
At just under 10 inches long, these aptly-named birds have wide, gaping mouths, just like a frog’s. These little guys are active at night when they hunt insects. During the day, frogmouths are experts at camouflage. Resting upright in the trees, they are often mistaken for broken branches.
These remarkable animals are proof that nature is truly amazing, and you can learn more about them in the video below.
All images courtesy of the video above