Earth’s Top 10 Weirdest Animals, PART 2

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?

Just kidding.

Here are the next 5 super strange critters on my list!

Deep Sea Pompeii Worm

Alvinella pompejana 

Deep sea pompeii worm

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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.


Zaglossus attenboroughi

echidna strange animals

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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

sphynx hairless cats

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.

Hispaniolan Solenodon

Solenodon paradoxus

Solenodon picture

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.

Goblin Shark

Mitsukurina owstoni

goblin shark pictureThe 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?

Earth's Top 10 Weirdest Animals, Part 1

Our beautiful Blue Planet is home to a staggering variety of life that ranges from the simplest, single-celled amoeba to the most complex and advanced mammals. We interact with a variety of these species on a daily basis, whether its swatting away an annoying fly, taking your dog for a run or giving your husband a pat on the back for being civil to your mom, even when she chews him out for not being Brad Pitt.

Then of course there are those species we only get to see on the odd occasion – perhaps at the zoo, on safari or even in your own backyard if you’re lucky (or unlucky depending on your worldview). Bears, raccoons, porcupines, deer, wild cats, monkeys… the world is full of places where human and beast regularly brush shoulders with each other. Unfortunately, it’s rarely for the good of the beast or for your neighborhood’s aesthetics.

However, this blog isn’t about any of these critters. This blog is about the truly exceptional and outlandish; the animals you’ve probably NEVER heard of and that make you “ooh,” “aah” and “UGH, what IS that?” And so I present to you: Earth’s 10 weirdest animals according to me and my life experiences, environmental exposure and current opinion on what is normal and what isn’t, which is dodgy to say the very least.


Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
Capybara funny picture
 If you like your hamsters supersized, here’s a great pet for you! Capybaras are the largest rodents on the planet and are not only coveted by South American tribes for their meat and fat, but also by slightly more civilized folk for their company. That’s right: it’s not unusual to find families with a pet capybara taking up the majority of the TV room couch. These gargantuan rodents may wear a perpetual expression on their hairy faces that could only be described as morose or philosophical at best, but capybaras are chipper creatures that enjoy recreational swimming, hanging out with friends and lumbering about sniffing out jungle floor delicacies.

Close Relatives Include: Rock cavies and guinea pigs

Physical Address: South America

It’s On This List Because: Capybaras are the largest rodents on the planet and they look like giant hamsters.

Pet capybara on couch
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Amazon River Dolphin

Inia geoffrensis

What’s pink, wet and slippery?

The Amazon River dolphin, of course! And you thought I was being rude.

Pink amazon river dolphin
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This particular species of odontoceti or “toothed whale” is also aptly known as the pink river dolphin for its rather strange color, which is (can you believe it) PINK! They’re also the largest river dolphins and are as unfussy about what they put in their mouths as a broke hooker. The Amazon River dolphin’s diet includes more than 50 different kinds of fish and, if they happen to come across them, crabs and turtles, too. Unfortunately, these dolphins don’t do very well in captivity, which makes breeding and conservation programs a tad tricky.

Close Relatives Include: Flipper, the dolphin.

Physical Address: The Amazon and Orincoc basins, as well as Bolivia’s upper Madeira River.

It’s On This List Because: It’s a PINK dolphin, for crying out loud!

Star-Nosed Mole

Condylura cristata

Star-nosed mole
If you can look at this picture without feeling like you’ve been touched by your uncle, I commend you.

With 22 fleshy tentacles offensively wiggling about at the end of its nose, this astounding critter would be the envy of any self-respecting octopus. Well, it’s the star-nosed mole and it uses its rather grotesque schnozz to sense out the unfortunate invertebrates that make up its diet. This “touch organ” is rather extraordinary, not only in appearance: it houses a staggering 25,000 sensory receptors, which enable the mole to negotiate its way around and detect food.

Physical Address: The wet lowlands of the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada.

It’s On This List Because: It’s got a nose that makes me want to wear a chastity belt and cross my legs.

Blob Fish

Psychrolutes marcidus

Ugliest animal blob fish
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I’m pretty sure the blob fish was the inspiration behind the classic horror film “The Blob” and for obvious reason. Although, instead of looking disgustingly malignant, the blob fish looks more like a cartoon rendition of a pasty, overweight, middle-aged guy called Steve. From the front, it doesn’t even look like a fish! Actually, these deep-sea fish are fish, but unlike the fin-and-flipper variety we’re used to, blob fish are jelly-like masses whose buoyancy (and the fact that they’re slightly less dense than water) allows them to drift just above the deep ocean floors they forage off of. With a lack of sophisticated hunting machinery, the blob fish will simply eat anything remotely edible that happens to float past its maw.

Close Relatives Include: Eyeless cave fish

Physical Address: Deep ocean off the coast of New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania.

It’s On This List Because: It’s a gelatinous beast that thrives at an ocean depth where the ambient pressure is as much as 120 times that of sea level! Also, it’s the official mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society and 2013 winner of the world’s most hideous critter!

Komondor Dog

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If Bob Marley were reincarnated as a dog, THIS would be it. The Komondor is a type of sheepdog that, given its vocation as a shepherd, is obviously struggling with some serious identity issues. I mean, can you imagine how many times this poor dog has had to politely turn down the amorous advances of unsuspecting male sheep? This be-dreaded pooch naturally grows these long matted locks, but don’t be too hasty to make fun of it. The Komondor is a proud breed of Hungarian sheepdog and a powerhouse of discipline and service, accounts of which date as far back as 1544.

Physical Address: The Komondor is believed to have been introduced by the Cuman warrior tribe to Hungary. Today, it’s not a breed often seen in your neighborhood dog park, but it can probably be found on all continents with the obvious exception of Antarctica. Because no domesticated dogs live there.

It’s On This List Because: It’s a sheep dog that looks like a sheep and could probably double up as a Swiffer or a floor mop.

Having Fun So Far?

 Good, but you should really get some work done and so should I, so stay tuned for Part 2 on Monday 21st December to read about more creepy, exotic, strange, otherworldly and outlandish creatures!

Today's Biology Lesson: A Talking Squirrel

There’s nothing like a flurry of cute animal videos to make you feel better about going to work. This one of a fast-talking squirrel will only take 10 seconds of your day, so when your boss exits the room for Office # 2 (to see a man about a wallaby), you’ll have ample time to watch it at least four times… because you’re going to want to.

The more you watch it, the funnier it gets. Here’s a grateful talking squirrel…

Video Source: “A Talking Squirrel” uploaded by Fun4you on YouTube channel

“Hello there I am a fat little squirrel sitting on your porch thank you very much for giving me these delicious walnuts I like them very much you are a nice person i will be sure to come back tomorrow to get some more walnuts you are my favorite person in the neighborhood I like you like you love you love”

Apes Gone… Er, NOT Wild

If you’ve ever doubted our genetic relationship with apes, now’s the time to open your mind. Simply watching this orang-utan carefully wash his or her face with a moist cloth is absolutely enchanting and convincing of the fact that we share a common ancestor.

Video Source: “Proof that Darwin was Right” Uploaded by Sour Cherries on YouTube channel