World's Most Bizarre Animals

Environment

RED PANDA

The Red Panda is named after the fiery colour of its long, soft coat. The coat's red colour serves as a disguise to blend with the red lichen that occurs in the fir trees of China. The Red Panda's lips, cheeks and ear edges are white and dark red-brown tear tracks run from the eyes to the corners of the mouth. It has a bushy tail that makes up two-thirds the length of its body. The Red Panda has an enlarged radial sesamoid bone on its forefoot wrist that is opposite its other digits. This extra thumb enables the Red Panda to grip and hold slender branches and leaves in its forepaws.

SHOEBILL

The Shoebill, also known as the Whalehead, is a very large bird related to the stork. It derives its name from its massive shoe-shaped bill. The Shoebill is a very large bird, averaging 120cms tall, weighing 5.6kgs and with a wingspan of 23cms. The adult is mainly grey in colour while the young ones have a browner tinge. The Showbill lives in tropical East Africa in large swamps from Sudan to Zambia. This species was only discovered in the 19th Century. Shoebills feed in muddy waters, preying on lungfish and similar fish. They nest on the ground and lay two eggs. The population of Shoebills is estimated at between 5,000 and 8,000 individuals, with a majority living in Sudan.

THE PROBOSCIS MONKEY

The Proboscis Monkey has one of the most unusual appearances of any of the leaf-eating monkeys. Its name refers to the mature male's large pendulous nose that hangs down over its mouth. Local people referred to these large monkeys with their potbellies and red noses as 'Dutch monkeys' as they were considered a distortion of Dutch sailors and plantation owners of the area. Apart from their large noses, male Proboscis Monkeys are also distinctive by being much larger and heavier than females. Their coat is light brown with red on both the crown of the head and the shoulders. The limbs and tail are grey in colour and there are cream patches on the throat. Infants are born with black fur and a vivid blue face.

PYGMY MARMOSET

Pygmy Marmosets are one of the smallest primates and the smallest monkey species in the world. They have a body length that varies between 12 and 15cms, a tail length between 17 and 23cms and they weigh between 100 and 125gms. Their fur is yellowish brown in colour and they have ringed tails that are at least as long as their bodies. Much of their time is spent up in the trees and their colouring helps them camouflage. They have long, forward-turned incisors that are the same length as their canines. They use their specially adapted teeth to gnaw into the barks of trees so they can feed on sap. They move quadrupedally and are very agile, active monkeys that are difficult to observe in the wild as they move so quickly through the trees.

YETI CRAB

The Yeti Crab is a crustacean that was discovered in 2005 in the South Pacific Ocean. This decapod (having 10 feet), which is approximately 15cms long, is notable for the quantity of silky blond setae that cover its thoracic legs, including its claws. Its discoverers dubbed it as the Yeti Lobster or Yeti Crab. The hairy pincers contain filamentous bacteria, which the creature may use to detoxify poisonous minerals from the water where it lives. Alternatively, it may feed on the bacteria, although it is thought to be a general carnivore. Its diet also consists of green algae and small shrimp. Although it is often referred to as the furry lobster outside scientific literature, the Yeti Crab is not a true lobster and is more closely related to squat lobsters and hermit crabs.

ANGORA RABBIT

The Angora Rabbit is a variety of domestic rabbit bred for its long, soft hair. The Angora is one of the oldest types of domestic rabbit, originating in Ankara, Turkey. The rabbits were popular pets with French royalty in the mid-1700s and spread to other parts of Europe by the end of the century. They first appeared in the United States in the early 1900s. They are bred largely for their long wool, which may be removed by shearing or plucking. There are many individual breeds of Angora Rabbits. Such breeds include French, German, Giant, English, Satin, Chinese, Swiss and Finnish Angora Rabbits. Angoras are bred mainly for their wool because it is silky and soft. Grooming is necessary to prevent the fiber from matting and felting on the rabbit.

BLOBFISH

The Blobfish is a fish that inhabits deep waters off the coasts of Australia and Tasmania. Due to the inaccessibility of its habitat, it is rarely seen by humans. Blobfish are found at depths where the pressure is several dozens of times higher than at sea level, which would possibly make gas bladders incompetent. To remain afloat, the flesh of the blobfish is primarily a gelatinous mass with a density slightly less than water. This allows the fish to float above the sea floor without expending energy on swimming. The relative lack of muscle is not a disadvantage as it primarily swallows edible matter that floats by in front of it. Blobfish don't need muscles as they have a feeding strategy that consists of sitting and waiting for something edible to go by. As well as that, their jelly-like flesh is slightly lighter than water, so they don't need to use energy or scarce oxygen to stop themselves from sinking towards the sea floor.

PHILIPPINE TARSIER

The Philippine tarsier is a very peculiar small animal. In fact, it is one of the smallest known apes, no larger than an adult man's hand. Mostly active at night, it lives on a diet of insects. Folk traditions claim that tarsiers eat charcoal, but actually they retrieve insects from burnt wood. They can be found in the islands of Samar, Leyte, Bohol and Mindanao in the Philippines. This species is scarce and on the verge of extinction.

AYE-AYE

The Aye-aye is native to Madagascar. It has rodent like teeth with a long, thin middle finger and falls in the same ecological position as a woodpecker. It is the world's largest nocturnal primate or night-time ape and is characterised by its unique method of finding food. It taps on trees to find insects, then nibbles holes in the wood and inserts its extended middle finger to pull the insects out.

Aye-ayes dwell chiefly in forest coverings. They weigh about 2.5kgs, with the female weighing slightly less than the male. They grow from 30-37cms from head to body, with a 44- 53cm bushy tail shaped like that of a squirrel. They have bright, beady, luminous eyes with very large incisors that grow continuously throughout its lifespan. These features contrast its monkey-like body and are the likely reason of why scientists originally believed them to be rodents. Aye-ayes live primarily on the east coast of Madagascar. Its natural habitat is rainforest or deciduous forest, but many live in cultivated areas due to deforesting. Aye-ayes sleep during the day in nests built in the forks of trees.

TAPIR

Tapirs are large pig-shaped animals with short snouts. They inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America and Southeast Asia. All four species of tapir are classified as rare or vulnerable. Their closest relatives are other odd-toed ungulates, horses and rhinoceroses. Although they frequently live in dry land forests, tapirs have access to rivers and spend a good deal of time in and under the water, feeding on soft vegetation, taking refuge from predators and cooling off during hot periods.

Tapirs near a water source will swim, sink to the bottom and walk along the riverbed to feed. They have been known to submerge themselves underwater to allow small fish to pick parasites off their bulky bodies.

Tapirs often roll in mud pits, which helps to keep them cool and free of insects. In the wild, the tapir's diet consists of fruit, berries and leaves, particularly young, tender growth. Baird's Tapirs have been observed to eat around 40kgs of vegetation in one day. Tapirs are shy, but when aggravated they can defend themselves using their powerful jaws.

STAR-NOSED MOLE

The Star-nosed Mole is a small North American mole found in eastern Canada and the north-eastern United States. It is the only member of the Condylurini family. It lives in wet lowland areas and eats small invertebrates, aquatic insects, worms and molluscs.

It is a good swimmer and can feed along the bottoms of streams and ponds. Like other moles, this animal digs shallow surface tunnels for foraging. Often, these tunnels exit underwater. The Starnosed Mole is covered in thick, blackish brown, water-repellent fur and has large scaled feet and a long, thick tail, which appears to function as a fat storage reserve for the spring breeding season. Adults are 15 to 20cms in length, weigh about 55gms and have 44 teeth.

The mole's most distinctive feature is a circle of 22 mobile, pink, fleshy tentacles at the end of the snout. These are used to identify food such as worms, insects and crustaceans by touch.

SAKI MONKEY

Saki monkeys are small monkeys with long, bushy tails. Their furry, rough skin is black, grey or reddish-brown in colour depending upon the species. The face of some species are naked, but their head is hooded with fur.

Their bodies are adapted to life in the trees, with strong hind legs allowing them to make jumps. Sakis reach a length of 30 to 50cms, with a tail just as long, and weigh up to 2kgs. They live in the trees of rainforests and only occasionally go onto the land.

They are generally very shy, cautious animals and live in family associations. They are territorial animals, defending their territory in relation to other families. Sakis are omnivores and eat fruits, leaves, flowers, insects and small vertebrates such as rodents and bats.

SUN BEAR

The Sun Bear stands at approximately 4ft in length, making it the smallest member of the bear family. It is often called the dog bear because of its small stature. It has a 5cm-long tail and usually weighs less than 65kgs. Males tend to be slightly larger than females - the former normally weigh between 30 and 60kgs, the latter between 20 and 40kgs. The Sun Bear possesses sickle-shaped claws that are relatively light in weight. It has large paws with naked soles, probably to assist in climbing. Its inward-turned feet make the bear's walk pigeon-toed, but it is an excellent climber.

Unlike other bears, the Sun Bear's fur is short and sleek. This adaptation is probably due to the lowland climates it inhabits. Dark black or brown black fur covers its body, except on the chest where there is a pale orange-yellow marking in the shape of a horseshoe. This distinct marking gives the Sun Bear its name.