Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bizarre and Unique Creatures of the Animal Kingdom

A look at the unique creatures of the world.

Nature has provided the world with an abundance of bizarre and unusual creatures. So unique are these animals, that it’s hard to imagine they exist at all. Let’s take a brief look at these wonderful creatures of the world.

Thorny Devil

Say hello to the Moloch, or mountain devil. Dr. John Grey, who discovered the lizard, named it after the Canaanite god (Moloch), who used to sacrifice children. This small lizard may look fierce, but that’s just the impression it wants to give. The horns are a defense to ward off potential predators. In fact, the animal is rather non-aggressive. It may grow up to 8 inches. It readily eats ants, sometimes thousands in one day. It is also able to absorb water through its skin by way of channels that lead to their mouths. Their skin contains tiny grooves that run throughout their scales. When they come into contact with water, the water channels its way to the corners of the lizard’s mouth where it becomes absorbed.
This animal is elusive and rarely seen. The name Narwhal means corpse whale, most notably due to its bluish, blotchy skin tone. It is much like the mythical unicorn, with the males growing a tooth larger than the rest. Narwhals have 2 upper teeth. The male’s left tooth will end up growing and spiraling outward of its mouth. The tooth will then grow to be nearly 7-10 feet long. The use of the tooth is unknown; perhaps to be used during mating season to fend of rivaling males. More recently however, it has been suggested that the tooth is a sensory organ, used in channeling sonar pulses.
Proboscis Monkey
The male monkeys grow noses up to 3 inches long in this species. And the longer the nose, the better the odds with the ladies. The nose also amplifies sound when danger is near, or when the male becomes aggressive. They are mostly arboreal animals (tree-dwelling), living in troops of 11- 24. They are endemic to Borneo, and sadly, there are only 3,000-4,000 of these creatures left. They are unable to survive in captivity due to their complicated digestive systems. They cannot eat fruit like humans, and most of their diet consists of leaves, starchy dried fruits, and leaves, hence why their stomachs are larger than most simians.
Long-eared Jerboa
This little fellow is a nocturnal animal, marked with Mickey Mouse-like ears. It has the biggest ear-to-body ration of any animal. It is primarily found in Mongolia and China, and the animal is very elusive. Sadly, little is known about the rodent, and it is already an endangered species. They hop on their hind legs, much like a kangaroo would. They have hairs on their feet that protect their paws as they jump along the hot sand.
Oreo Dory
It’s found in the waters around New Zealand and Australia and can live to a depth of nearly 4,200 feet. They’ve been documented to having lived up to 100 years. That’s amazing for a fish! They feed mainly on planktonic animals and crustaceans.
Although they appear to look like reptiles, they are actually mammals. There are 3 types of pangolins; the tree pangolin, the ground pangolin, and the giant pangolin. They exist in Africa. If frightened, they will roll themselves into a ball in order to defend themselves. Even when a mother senses danger, the baby will slip under her as she rolls up her entire body. Once rolled up, predators are unable to reach to their underside. They also produce foul smelling secretions from their anal glands when frightened.
Carrier Shell
They are mollusks who decorate their shells by selecting bits of other shells, rocks, or fragmented pieces, and cementing them onto their own. There are only 22 species, and each species likes to design their shell with their own preferred objects. They add fragments of objects by secreting a calcium carbonate while holding the object in place. Scientists are uncertain as to the purpose of the shell attachments. Some theories include camouflage, shell support, and adding strength in areas of weakness.
Whorl-Tooth Shark
While this shark no longer exists, it is certainly bizarre and unusual. The animal lived more than 250 million years ago, having grown to maybe 13 feet in length. The bottom row of teeth resemble that of a buzz saw, whilst the upper jaw only contained a few teeth. Scientists are unsure about the exact operation of the teeth, but perhaps they acted as a whip, slicing or disabling prey that came near; which then allowed the shark to eat when ready.
Bongo Antelope
They are a species of antelope, where both sexes are characterized by their striking horns. In other species, only the males have horns. They are the largest forest antelope. In their native Africa, native people will not hunt them because it is believed that the meat of the antelope will give them seizures. Unfortunately, they are hunted for sport, and the Lowland Bongo is almost an endangered species, whilst the Mountain Bongo has now been classified as an endangered species.
Philippine Tarsier
It is one of the smallest animals in the world. So small is this creature, that a human is capable of cradling it in their hand. The abnormally large eyes allow for incredible night vision while hunting for prey. Their numbers are drastically falling in the wild, making them an endangered species. Hunting and deforestation have added to the decimation of this unusual creature.
Yeti Crab
This blind, furry crustacean has only been discovered in the last few years. It was found more than a mile and half down near hydrothermal vents. No one is sure as to the use of the fine hair that covers the crabs’ claws. It is theorized that perhaps they trap bacteria which then filters out toxic minerals spewed forth from the vents.


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