Welcome to the second installment of this two-part blog series on animals you’d likely encounter in a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not zoo if the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not franchise did indeed have a zoo. If you haven’t read Part 1 you can check it out by clicking the following link:
Read Part 1. I mean, who reads Part 2 before reading Part 1? Are you dyslexic? Are you an anarchist trying to upset world order? Or are you another hipster on yet another fruitless quest for originality?
Here are the next 5 super strange critters on my list!
Deep Sea Pompeii Worm
Image Source: news.sciencemag.org
Contrary to appearances, this is not some outlandish proctology case study. It’s a very special kind of deep-sea worm that belongs in the cool-sounding category of the “extremophiles,” which are organisms that thrive in extreme environments. The neighborhoods of choice for Pompeii worms are hydrothermal vents and volcanic fissures, especially around the active plate boundaries in the Pacific Ocean. Also known as bristle worms, these rather hideous deep-sea squishies are a very recent addition to our taxonomic system, having only been discovered off the coast of the Galápagos Islands in the 1980’s.
Named After: Pompeii worms are named after the Roman city that got completely leveled by Mount Vesuvius’ epic tantrum in AD79. It’s kind of ironic that these worms, which thrive in volcanically active areas, are named after a city that did anything but thrive in a volcanically active area.
Physical Address: Pacific Ocean
It’s On This List Because: Pompeii worms live in water that is close to boiling point! They’re also covered in hairs that aren’t hairs at all: they’re stringy colonies of bacteria that are thought to help them withstand the perpetual heat they live in. To repay them, the worms secrete a delicious gooey snot that the bacteria feed on. Bloody charming.
Image Source: http://www.wildlifesydney.com.au
The echidna is just one of Australia’s many and very unique offerings to the animal kingdom. They look very much like hedgehogs, with a bristling back of spines that would deter even the hungriest, most desperate and stupid of predators. Like the duckbilled platypus, the echidna is a monotreme; the order of mammals that lays eggs. Yes. A mammal that lays eggs.
If you want to impress an echidna, lay out a picnic spread of termites and ants and they’ll hoover up the lot. There are three different species of echidna in Australia and one of them is named after my third favorite old man, Sir David Attenborough. My dad comes first and Santa Claus a close second.
Close Relatives Include: Duck-billed platypus.
Physical Address: New Guinea and Australia.
It’s On This List Because: It’s a mammal that lays eggs. I mean, could you imagine walking in on your cat sitting on a clutch of eggs? So weird!
Sphynx Hairless Cat
In Egyptian mythology, the Sphynx was a great and terrible beast that had the head of a man and the body of a lion. In fact, the Sphynx was such a douchebag, it would get a kick out of posing travellers impossible riddles that – if they got wrong, which they invariable would – would land them up as lunch. Today, however, the Sphynx has been very much downgraded from merciless flesh-eating beast to a bald, comical looking cat. Whether it’s divine justice or coincidence that these two share the same name is yet to be proven by science.
Around the 1960’s some idiot got it into his or her head that it would be fun to own a hairless cat and rather than simply shave a regular domestic cat, they began a selective breeding program that has resulted in the breed known as the Sphynx. They’re strange-looking beasts, with velvety downy skin, huge sardonic eyes and prominent cheekbones; an aesthetic they share with most runway models.
Closest Relatives: The Egyptian Sphynx (yet to be proven by science)
Physical Address: Yours possibly… if you like your cats hairless.
It’s On This List Because: It’s a bald cat that doesn’t seem to know it, or care.
Photo Source: Miguel A. Landestoy T. 2007
Okay, so I KNOW you’ve never heard of this one before! In fact, I had to slowly pronounce the name of this critter about 7 times before I could say it out loud properly. The Hispaniolan solenodon is not a Latin dinosaur*. Rather, it’s a long-snouted nocturnal mammal that – get this – is venomous! The Hispaniolan solenodon gets its very name from the unique structure of its teeth (dont meaning tooth in Latin), which are capable of delivering a shot of venom into its prey or enemies. This special critter is found exclusively on the island of Hispaniola, hence its name, although there is another specie of solenodon on Cuba.
*Please excuse my culturally inaccurate joke.
Physical Address: Of the two surviving species of solenodons, the Hispaniolan solenodon can be found hanging out on the island of Hispaniola (shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti) and the other smoking cigars in Cuba.
It’s On This List Because: It’s a rodent-like critter that’s venomous! Also, solenodons closely resemble the primitive mammals that were alive towards the end of the reign of the dinosaurs.
The goblin shark is one of those creatures whose name pretty much nails their appearance. It’s probably a good thing these animals dwell at ocean depths where no sunlight filters through, because if girl goblin sharks saw just how ugly boy goblin sharks are, the species would likely go into extinction. In fact, the first person who accidentally discovered this species reportedly thought it was a regular shark that had been accidentally or genetically disfigured.
Goblin sharks usually grow to between 3 to 4 meters in length and use their very large and sensitive schnozz to sense out the weak electrical impulses generated by other deep-sea animals. They typically hang out below 100m depth and the only reason we know they exist is because the odd one gets dredged up by deep-sea fishing trawlers.
Physical Address: Goblin sharks adore the inky darkness of the deep ocean, so you’ll find them around submarine canyons and upper continental slopes.
It’s On This List Because: It could literally eat an apple through a tennis racket with those teeth and its nose would make a Jewish banker jealous.
What’s Your Suggestion?
That concludes my list! So, apart from your husband, what do you find to be the strangest animal and why?