21 Animals With Strange Features That Make Them Look Like Aliens on Earth
We live in a very diverse world. If we talk numbers, scientists put the total number of species on Earth at 8.7 million and stated it would take us another 1,000 years to catalog them all. Of course, some of the creatures in the animal kingdom have such weird features, they might as well not be of Earth.
Bright Side delved through some of the rarer beings in the natural world and collated the coolest of them for you to look at. One can’t help but wonder about what Mother Nature was thinking when she made these strange but fantastic creatures.
1. The proboscis monkey’s nose could rival an elephant’s.
Endemic to the island of Borneo, the proboscis monkey has a strange, strange nose indeed, but it’s only the males that have it. The nasal call of the male is what attracts a female, so the bigger the nose, the more attractive the male.
These monkeys are arboreal, which means they live on trees, and they’re herbivores. Plus, since they live in swamps, they’re also excellent swimmers with webbed hands and feet to escape the crocs in the water.
2. The shoebill’s baleful glare can get intense.
The shoebill stork resembles a Dutch clog and can either look funny or downright grim, depending on your perspective. With the scientific name, Balaeniceps rex, as in the B-Rex, this bird inhabits the marshlands of East Africa.
It’s a carnivore that likes to snack on large fish, eel, small crocs, and even the Nile monitor lizard.
3. The peacock mantis shrimp packs a punch.
One of the most colorful underwater creatures, the peacock mantis shrimp, also known as the harlequin shrimp, is not an actual shrimp, although it is related to the lobster and shrimp family.
Other than bearing every kind of hue, it’s the Muhammed Ali of the sea.
When threatened, its front legs can move at a speed of 23 m/sec, the same as the speed of a bullet. And these legs can kick with a force that is 100 times their weight. Since the average weight of this shrimp is one pound, it can kick with a force of 100 pounds.
4. Meet the Picasso bug that nature painted herself.
The Picasso bug, better known as the Zulu hud bug, is one of the prettiest insects in nature and is mostly found in the hot Saharan regions of Africa. While it’s a bright little bug, it’s actually related to the stink bug family, which means that getting too close to it can make it raise a stink, literally.
5. The ocean sunfish looks permanently surprised.
In case you want to reel in a mola mola, also known as the ocean sunfish, you better have some hefty muscles to help. The average mola mola is 10 feet long and weighs 2,000 to 5,000 pounds, making it heavier than a car.
They are voracious predators and love jellyfish snacks but are also prone to parasites and hunting, making them a vulnerable species. They are called sunfish because while they can dive down to 2,600 feet, they love to float to the surface and sunbathe.
6. No, this isn’t kelp, it’s the leafy sea dragon.
The leafy sea dragon is classified as a fish and is closely related to the sea horse and the pipefish. They’re also the most adorned and perfectly camouflaged beings in the ocean, looking just like the seaweed and kelp formations that they live in.
Once captured by divers as pets, these gossamer-like creatures are found in the waters of Australia, and conservation efforts have let their population rise to decent numbers.
7. The okapi looks part giraffe, part zebra and all weird.
The okapi is found only in the Ituri Rainforest of Congo in the wild. While it looks like a cross between a giraffe and a zebra with a sprinkling of antelope, it’s also the only living relative of the giraffe.
It has oily fur to be able to withstand heavy rains and eats tough plants, riverbed clay, and even bat droppings for a vitamin boost. Sadly, this rare animal is endangered today.
8. The frogfish are clownish predators.
The frogfish is from the angler fish family and uses various tricks to lure prey into a mouth that expands 12 times the size of its body. As the wicked wolf said in Red Riding Hood, “All the better to eat you with, my dear.”
The particular example above is that of a warty frogfish, with natural camouflage to blend in better with the coral reef it lives in.
9. The maned wolf is the only golden dog of its kind.
Standing at about 3 feet tall, the maned wolf looks like a tall fox and is called a wolf, although it is neither. It’s basically a canid, as in a dog, and it’s the only one of its kind in the world. Its urine has a very musky smell, nearly skunk-like, so you can probably smell one before you see it.
Indigenous to South America, the maned wolf is an omnivore that eats small animals, fruits, and vegetables and looks very different from any other member of the dog family.
10. A cross between a fish and an alligator
The alligator gar is North America’s largest freshwater fish and can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh up to 350 pounds. It’s named for the alligator-like mouth it has, although it shares no relationship with the reptiles.
A carnivore, the alligator gar poses no risk to humans, but its eggs can be poisonous if eaten, one of its natural defense mechanisms at work.
11. The snootiest fish in the sea
The batfish also belongs to the angler family of fish. These are hidden predators who often have a colorful lure swinging over their heads like a pendulum. When prey comes closer to investigate, thinking it to be a tasty morsel, the batfish leaps out and gobbles it up.
The picture above is of the red-lipped batfish, found only in the waters of the Galapagos Islands. Other than a pout that could put starlets to shame, it sashays down the ocean bed, walking on its fins instead of swimming.
12. The caterpillar with snake camouflage
There are many species of caterpillars in the world that have snake-like markings on them in a bid to scare away would-be predators. One of the most common examples is this green little beauty is the caterpillar of the swallowtail butterfly that tries to look like a dangerous green snake.
13. A moth that looks more like a Pokémon
Unlike many of the Internet pictures of cute and fuzzy animals that are later proven to be fake, if creative, the Venezuelan poodle moth is very much real and looks like a poodle with wings — or some kind of Pokémon.
Scientists are still trying to find out more about this creature that may be related to the fuzzy muslin moth while the Internet’s imagination runs amok.
14. The long-necked turtle looks almost snake-like.
The long-necked turtle makes up a total of 16 species and is also called a snake-necked turtle for obvious reasons. Found mostly in Australia and New Guinea, these are hidden predators that lunge at fish with their long necks.
The length of their necks is so intense that they cannot be completely retracted within the shell, making them anomalies in the turtle world.
15. The star-nosed mole looks exactly as it sounds.
The star-nosed mole is a strange creature, but considering it’s almost blind and lives most of its life underground, looks aren’t as important as the sense of smell. It has what looks like a baby octopus on the center of its face, and these are tentacles around each nostril, packed with 100,000 nerve fibers or smell receptors.
It can also smell underwater by releasing an air bubble and then sucking it back in its nose.
16. Patagonian hares have hooves.
Patagonian hares or maras are a strange mix of a rabbit-like body with hoofed legs, like a cross between a bunny and a goat. They hop like rabbits but also have a strange gait called a stot in which they can bounce on all fours.
The maras are monogamous and mate for life. Found mainly in Argentina, these animals can weigh up to 16 kilograms.
17. The moth that looks like a hummingbird
The hummingbird hawk-moth is basically a moth that looks so much like a hummingbird, it’s easy to mistake the 2. Much like the bird, it also moves its wings incredibly quickly, creating a sort of hum.
It’s like Mother Nature liked hummingbirds so much, she duplicated the design, but as a moth.
18. The amphibian with the sweetest smile
The axolotl has all the traits of a teacup poodle, in that it remains adorable for all its life, never dropping its larval features. Very popular as pets because of their smiley features, axolotls are basically salamanders that live only in the Xochimilco waters near Mexico City.
Today, their numbers are on the decline because of the demands of the aquarium trade as well as being a delicacy.
19. The black-headed jabiru stork
A rather pre-historic-looking creature, the jabiru stork has a red-ringed black neck and head, with a white body, giving it a vulture-like look. It stands about 4.5 feet tall and is a rather social creature who mates for life.
Once threatened, the number of these birds has risen enough to be of little concern, according to IUCN.
20. The tarsier looks just like Baby Yoda.
Tarsiers are one of the smallest primates in the world and live in the jungles of Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Barely 15 cm long, these are nocturnal creatures that hunt at night, which explains those large, eerie eyes.
With eyeballs this big, they can rotate their heads 180 degrees for a better view, so basically, think of them as a cross between Baby Yoda and the gremlins.
21. This pretty slug packs a venomous punch.
This colorful sea slug, often called a sea dragon, is the blue glaucus. Despite those pretty looks, it’s the kind of carnivore that snacks on poisonous Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish. It stores the stingers of this jellyfish inside its body to pack a walloping sting when it needs to defend itself.
The blue color you see is actually because this slug floats on its backside, showing off its colorful underbelly to camouflage itself in the sunshine-lit blue waters of the ocean.
Have you ever come across any of these or other strange-looking animals? Share your aliens on Earth stories with us in the comment section below.