One look at the platypus and you know right away that nature has a sense of humor. With a duck-shaped bill, webbed feet, a beaver-like tail and fur similar to that of an otter, it's almost as though nature couldn't decide whether to make a mammal or a bird. However, the platypus isn't the only animal where nature's humor gets a little twisted. From insects to bears, you have to wonder what in the world prompted such strange designs.
1The Hummingbird Hawk Moth
In general, hawk moths seem to be a confusion of design. The hawk moth possesses the body of a bee, yet has a wing spread resembling a butterfly. This is forgivable in the respect that bees and butterflies are both insects, but it becomes a little difficult to justify a moth that looks so much like a bird.
While visiting the British Isles, you might want to stop and smell the phlox and watch the hummingbirds flitting about. You also might wish to look closely, because among those tiny, humming, busy creatures, there is actually a moth that looks just like them. The hawk moth also hovers, but it doesn't have a beak. Instead, it has a very long tongue, called a proboscis, which splits down the middle for cleaning.
Additionally, the hummingbird hawk moth is unlike other moths in several ways–it comes out during the day, it doesn't mind the rain, and it doesn't die after leaving a brood of eggs.
2The Goblin Shark
Each year Halloween is the time for spooks and goblins, but at the bottom of the ocean, goblins can be found anytime–that is, if you're lucky enough to spot them.
The goblin shark avoids sunlight and only lives in very deep water, where it lays in wait for unsuspecting fish, then quickly snaps, or sucks them up in its jaws.
Flabby, wrinkled and gray with a pink and white underbelly, the first few times this elusive shark was seen, it was thought to be deformed. Only fifty of this species have been found so far, but it's not on the endangered list as it's not known how many exist.
If you've ever wanted to kiss a fish, there's one who's already applied the heavy lipstick just for you.
The red-lipped batfish looks like it has a bit of an attitude. This might be due to appearing a bit flattened by spending its life on the ocean floor. Adding insult to injury, it's a fish that doesn't swim. It walks with the aid of its modified fins that look more like legs than underwater propulsion devices.
Native to the Galapagos Islands, a place where nature is always experimenting with adaptation, it must be assumed that the architect of design decided an overdose of red lipstick is an excellent way to attract a mate.
While the name sounds fancy enough, the Glaucus Atlanticus is a sea slug, but before you say, “ugh”, it's actually a very pretty one.
Rarely growing to more than two inches long, the glaucus atlanticus has silvery blue spikes at its sides that shoot off like the trails of a fireworks display. These spikes are called cerata, and as lovely as they appear, they're stored with poison. However, the glaucus atlanticus isn't actually born with stored poisons. It collects them from attacking other poisonous creatures, primarily the deadly jellyfish known as the Portuguese Man-O-War.
The glaucus atlanticus spends most of its life floating upside down on the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, its color camouflaging it from predators, but after a storm, it can sometimes be found washed up on shore. While the glaucus atlanticus is considered a delight to view, you might want to ask yourself if it's been battling with any Man-O-Wars, before picking one up!
5Venezuelan Poodle Moth
Cute and cuddly animals always gain attention, but the terms "cute and cuddly" are not usually associated with moths.
Discovered in 2009 by Dr. Arthur Anker, the above image received very little attention until someone pointed out this fluffy moth looked a lot like a Pokémon character. When the image went viral, some were convinced it was a fake. After all, whoever heard of a moth with a proper poodle haircut and what appeared to be ultra-long eyelashes on the antennae just above its saucer shaped eyes? However, scientists assure us it's real.
There's not much known yet about this recently discovered species, other than that you'd save a fortune on grooming costs if you owned one as a pet, but it's believed to be related to the moth genus Artace, which ranges from the North American continent, down into Venezuela.
Once again, there seems to have been a lot of muddling around with species when the aye-aye popped up on the list. While officially a lemur, it has a face that resembles a weasel, the body of a small monkey, sloth-like claws and incisors that would make any rodent feel proud.
Native to Madagascar, the aye-aye is the largest of the nocturnal primates, but this still does not make it very big at only six pounds. An extra long middle finger allows the aye-aye to poke around inside dead wood for insect larvae, it's favorite food of choice.
The aye-aye has been placed on the endangered species list in some parts of Madagascar, yet they are 16 protected areas in the country that have healthy populations of this lemur.
Still, the aye-aye is believed to be an agricultural pest in some areas of the country, and also a bad omen. Some villagers believe that if the aye-aye's long finger is pointed in their direction, death will befall him/her and hapless aye-aye are often killed on sight.
No, you haven't been drinking in your cups too long if you spot a pink hippopotamus. Although the occurrence is rare, it does happen.
Scientists were thrilled when the rare animal was recently spotted and photographed along the banks of Kenya's Mara River. Pink hippos have also been located wallowing about in Zambia.
Their unusual color does not mean they are albinos. The suffer from a condition called “leucism” in which the pigmentation cells fail to develop properly. This can be a drawback for some animals, as it makes them stand out to predators, but there aren't very many that want to wrestle a hippo.
The biggest worry for a pink hippo is that he sunburns easily, so the next time you're in Africa you might want to leave behind a little sun screen on the river banks.
For proportions relative to body size, rabbits have nothing on the long-eared jeboa. It's ears measure
around two-thirds its body size. If humans had the same proportions, our ears would be three
feet long! The mouse sized rodent also has very long hind legs that allow it to jump around like a kangaroo.
Native to the Gobi desert and China, it is believed its jumbo sized ears serve as a shady umbrella for cooling itself off in the hot summer months. Feeding primarily on insects, the long-eared jerboa is one of the few rodents actually considered beneficial in controlling the insect population. Now if it would just learn to fly, it could make a fortune in the movie industry!
When it comes to a show of impressively long tongues, you're going to have to do better than some rock n' roll artists. The sun bear's tongue is over nine inches long and it isn't even a very big bear. In fact, it's the smallest bear species in the world, and has the shortest coat. The sun bear doesn't get its name from basking in the sun, but because of a bright yellow, or sometimes white patch on its chest.
This rare, elusive animal not only defies most bear traits, it also has a unique bear habit–it spends most of its time in the trees and feeds on fruits, small rodents and insects.
Native to the Southeast Asian tropical forests, the sun bear's survival is currently being threatened through hunting and deforestation.
10One Horned Roe Deer
There may be some basis to the legends concerning unicorns after all. A roe deer was discovered on a preserve near Florence, Italy sporting only one horn. This is not to say he lost a horn and has been wandering around looking a bit lopsided–the horn grows directly in the center of his head, adding a great deal of speculation as whether this rare creature could be the stuff from which fables grow.
One horned deer are uncommon but not unheard of, although the solitary horn is usually positioned on one side or another. It is believed this unusual occurrence may have been the result of early trauma or a genetic defect, but if there is one unicorn wandering around, perhaps there have been others. We'll find out for sure when Harry Potter arrives on the scene to test if the one horned roe deer has healing powers.