Science-fiction has been giving us strange animals for centuries. Whether the tales involve sea monsters taking down sailing ships or wild carnivores stalking people in the woods, fiction has often given us animals that are both strange and terrifying. But the world is filled with animals that are even stranger than the fictional ones residing in the best novels or million-dollar Hollywood films. No CGI is needed to marvel at these five strange animals found in nature.
Dragonfish of the Deep Sea
The deepest parts of the ocean do not benefit from the sunlight, but the dragonfish produces light through bio-luminescence. It is able to do this because the dragonfish has an entire organ devoted to producing special light. These lights serve the purpose of drawing in prey or attracting mates.
Another strange aspect of the dragonfish is its transparent teeth. The teeth are actually made of thin crystal particles. Although thin, the teeth are large and transparent. The Smithsonian believes that transparent teeth help the dragonfish to hunt by hiding their teeth from prey until it is too late.
Hollywood loves their zombie movies, but most of us live comfortably knowing that the brainless existence of a monster could never really happen to us. But for ants living in the tropics, that certainty is not guaranteed.
Ants can be infected with the Ophiocordyceps fungus. Different species of Ophiocordyceps infect different species of ants, but each species has a similar result upon the ants. While the ants are out looking for food, the fungal spores attach themselves to the ant. An invasion of the entire body soon follows.
- Start a new nest that is better for the growth of the fungus
- Find a new leaf in the climate
- Bite into the leaf
- Stay in place on the leaf until they die
Upon death, the spores erupt out of the ant’s head and infect other ants in order to continue the spread of the “zombie” state.
The red-lipped batfish is native to the ocean around Galapagos. The fish can be found both on the ocean floor and at the bottom of reefs. Regardless of the location, the red-lipped batfish is immediately strange due to the look of the fish.
Observers note that the fish seems to be “walking,” but does not have any legs. Instead, they use their fins as legs because they are actually terrible swimmers.
Pink Fairy Armadillo
These mysterious armadillos are the smallest armadillo found in the wild, and definitely the most mysterious. Found in warm grassland and deserts in Argentina, pink fairy armadillos love to dig, bury and stay hidden. Unless there is a sudden flooding of water inside their burrows at the right time, you may never see them.
Along with their mysterious nature, the strangeness of a pink fairy armadillo can be found in their appearance. While most species of armadillos are black, grey or brown, the pink fairy armadillo has light brown and white fur with a pink armor that runs only along the top of its back and down the front of its face. While some armadillos can be the size of a pig, the pink fairy armadillo is only five inches in length.
Up close, the thorny devil looks like a monster summoned out of a horror film. Like any good monster, the animal has multiple names, including thorny dragon and mountain devil. But for the most part, the animal spends most of the day in sandy regions of Australia, looking for ants.
Due to the dryness of its habitat, this unique animal has a special way of getting the water it needs to survive. The spikes in the thorny devil’s skin hide tiny grooves that llow the thorny devil to pull water out of sand. The sand is thenpulled across the lizard’s body with the same network of grooves into the lizard’s mouth.
The thorny devil’s survial also depends upon a “fake” head on the back of its neck and of course, the thorny spikes all over its body. Both traits are designed to ward off predators.
Hollywood may try its best, but Mother Nature has far stranger animals than fiction could imagine. Between the deep sea and sandy deserts, a variety of fantastic zombies, devils, fairies, dragons, and batfish await.