Thursday, March 17, 2011

13 World's Weirdest Animals

Western tarsier
The huge eyes of this pocket-sized primate - each bigger than its brain - are surely nature's most outlandish night vision goggles, while it's huge feet and powerful back legs mean it is capable of leaping from tree to tree in search of insects and small invertebrates.

Sloane's viperfish
The front end of this fish is the stuff of nightmares, with a grotesque battery of fangs protruding from its cavernous mouth like the spikes of an iron maiden. The explanation for these features lies in the fish's habitat,
between 1,000 and 2,000 metres below the surface of the ocean.

Bald uakari
The shocking red pate of this follically-challenged simian has earned it the nickname among South Americans of 'mono angles', or 'English monkey', in honour of the first sunburnt Britons to visit their homeland.

Fog-basking beetle
This ordinary-looking beetle employs an extraordinary method for capturing water. Rain in its Namib Desert home is a luxury, so when coastal fog rolls inland it performs a headstand in the sand, capturing droplets of water on its back legs.

Lowland streaked tenrec
Tenrecs hail from Madagascar, home to a number of oddball species including the Aye Aye and the Lemur. Bristling with quills and boldly decked out in yellow and brown stripes, this creature will attack would-be assailants, aiming to drive home the lethal, detachable barbs around its neck.

A type of salamander, this amphibian is the Peter Pan of the animal world. It remains in its larval stage throughout its life, which explains its feathery gills and lidless eyes. It also has remarkable healing powers. An axolotl that loses a limb will quickly grow a new one and it can even regenerate complex body parts, including parts of its brain and its spinal chord, making it of particular interest to scientists.

It's no wonder that the bizarre tusks of the babirusa are the stuff of legend on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, inspiring tall tales and demonic masks among the islanders who share its home. The babirusas will sharpen the tusks against trees and use them during disputes with rivals.

Proboscis monkey
The Malay word for this primate is orang belanda, or 'Dutchman', its pot belly and big nose reminding locals of Borneo's first European settlers. Regardless of stereotypes, this monkey does boast one of the most comical faces in the animal kingdom.

Also known as "thorn bugs", these insects are certainly adept at the art of impersonation. Some species have even more ornate, horn-like protrusions that allow them to resemble a dead leaf. If their disguise is rumbled, they spring away on powerful hind legs.

Puss moth
This caterpillar's hideous face and striped tails are a defensive strategy, intended to ward off predators. It is also capable of spraying formic acid at its more persistent enemies.

Ground pangolin
This bizarre mammal is the only warm-blooded creature on the planet that is completely covered in scales. A threatened pangolin curls up to protect its belly, wrapping its tail over its head to form a virtually impregnable ball, before unleashing a skunk-like, foul-smelling spray from its anal glands

Leaf-horned frog
This amphibian sports an elaborate disguise that leaves it indistinguishable from the forest floor where it lurks. It rarely moves, but simply waits for prey (crabs, lizards, small rodents and even other frogs) to come within range, and swallows them whole.

This large African bird resembles a heron with a size-ten clog stuck to its face. The shoebill's mighty beak is 10cm wide and 23cm long. About as big as your average shoe, then?

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