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Sep 14 2015

15 Unique Animals You Didn’t Know Existed

From the depths of the ocean to the tropical forests, these are the animals you’ve probably never heard of before unless you are a zoologist.

Strange Creatures You Probably Didn’t Know Existed

#15   Northern Bald Ibis

The Northern Bald Ibis is considered to be critically endangered with only 500 left in the wild on Moroccan territory and less than 10 in Syria. Before his disappearance from Europe, the Ibis had religious significance in Tukey and his return to the north was largely celebrated. The Northern Ibis lives in colonies and mates for life. According to legends, he was the first bird Noah released from the ark and it’s considered as a symbol of fertility.

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#14 Cuban Greater Funnel- Eared Bat

Natalus primus is a Cuban native bat inhabiting only one cave in Cueva La Barca. He has distinctive ears, tail longer than his body and head combined and black hairs above his lips,  looking like a moustache. On his diet menu beetles, crickets, and moths are regulars. Sadly, he is likely to go extinct due to erosion, human disturbance and cave modification.

Bats you didn't know exist

#13 Gooty tarantula

Named after the town in which it was discovered, the Gooty tarantula faces loss of habitat and poaching issues. Although spiders have a very bad reputation and people probably won’t make efforts to save one because they are afraid, this tarantula is actually not so dangerous. Not only does it has very appealing metallic blue color, but also “dry” bites, meaning that no venom is injected.

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#12 Northern hairy- nosed Wombat

As one of the rarest mammals in the world, the Northern hairy- nosed wombat lives in a 3-km2 range in the Epping Forest National Park in Queensland along with 162 individuals from his species. Heavily built, with fat reserves and a low metabolic rate, wombats can survive for several days without food. They are nocturnal creatures that live underground and rely on their sense of smell to detect food.

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#11 Common Sawfish

The once common sawfish widespread in the Meditteranean, tropical and subtropical regions of the Atlantic Ocean and eastern Pacific is now facing a huge risk of extinction. The common sawfish also inhabits fresh water ecosystems where their young stay for the first year. Known for its flat snouts edged with teeth, this ocean creature can weigh up to 600 kg, reach 6.5 m in length and live up to 80 years.

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#10 Visayan Warty Pig

Found only on two islands in the central Philippines, Visayan warty pigs live in groups of four to six called sounders. They feed on roots and fruits. For mating season, Visayan males acquire an impressive new mohawk hairdo. The female gives birth to two to four piglets with orange to brown stripes that disappear after a year.

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#9 Tonkin Snub -Nosed Monkey

Although he is the world’s most endangered primate this unusual monkey has a rather comic appearance thanks to his thick pinky lips and flat nose. More slender than his relatives and with less pronounced sexual dimorphism this species is endemic to evergreen forests in Northern Vietnam. Climbing, walking and leaping through the canopy while eating fruits and seeds keeps him busy throughout the day.

#8 Nelson’s Small- Eared Shrew

Discovered in 1894 this small shrew fooled scientists into believing he was extinct until 2003,  when he appeared in the forests of Southern Mexico. His survival is threatened by induced fires, logging, cattle grazing and human activities. Shrews have a voracious appetite for insects and are on the constant lookout for food, day and night.

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#7 Red- Crested Tree Rat

Santamartamys rufodorsalis is the only member of the Santamartamys genus in the rodent family. As one of the rarest neo- tropical mammals, he was rediscovered in 2011 after 113 years,  in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Columbia). Young species are born with gray coat that becomes intensely red when they reach adulthood. As nocturnal creatures, they feed mostly on fruits and seeds.

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#6 Angonoka

The Ploughshare tortoise lives in the tropical grasslands of Madagascar. With only 600 left in the wild, this rare land tortoise is on the verge of extinction. The biggest threats to their survival are illegal pet trades, habitat loss and pigs as their natural predator. Young tortoises are the size of a ping pong ball, fully independent after emerging, but they have to wait up to 20 years to become sexually mature.

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#5 Vaquita

Cute as their cousins, the dolphins, vaquitas are the world’s smallest living cetaceans and share their looks with the common porpoise.  They use high pitched sounds to communicate and for echolocation. This species is endangered primarily as a result of harmful fishing practices. Found only in the upper Gulf of California, vaquitas are very difficult to observe. The word “vaquita” is Spanish for little cow.

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#4 Pygmy Three- toed Sloth

In the red mangrove forests of Isla Escudo de Veraguas, only 17 km from mainland Panama, lives the Pygmy Three- toed Sloth. This critically endangered creatures spend most of their day hanging upside down from trees or swimming. They have a low – energy diet based on leaves which makes them very slow. Thankfully, their symbiotic friends, the algae growing on the fur provide camouflage as their primary defense system.

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#3 Lord Howe Island Stick Insect

There are 250 000 species of insects that make up about 80% of all known animal species and among them the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect is the rarest. In 2001, on Ball’s Pyramid (small islet) population of only 24 individuals was rediscovered after nearly 80 years. Luckily, reproduction can happen without the presence of males, which happens to be very important for their survival. The males follow the females everywhere and plan activities around their schedule which makes them the greatest “gentlemen” in the insect world.

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#2 Kakapo

The Kakapo, also known as owl parrot is an endemic species with a population of only 126 individuals living in New Zealand. Kakapos are very human- friendly birds with pleasant musty sweet odor and proud holders of two titles: “The World’s only flightless parrot ” and “The World’s Heaviest parrot”.

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#1  Glasswinged butterfly

Known for its translucent wings due to lack of tissue between the veins, this magnificent butterfly named Greta oto is a sight for sore eyes.  In her native Central America, she goes by the name”espejitos” which literally means little mirrors. Before mating, the males gather together and show off their best features (almost like a beauty pageant) making it easier for females to choose the most visually attractive male.

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Glasswing Butterfly at the Butterfly Farm in Stratford-upon-Avon

Glasswing Butterfly at the Butterfly Farm in Stratford-upon-Avon