Top 10 CREATURES You Didn't Know EXISTED
It’s a vast, strange world out there, and no matter how much you think you know about it, there’s always something out there new to discover. The more we explore the unfounded corners of the world, the more we find. After much exploration, we’re here with the top 10 creatures you likely didn’t know existed.
Orange Tortoise Spider
Can 8-legged arachnids really be cute? Brightly colored and small, reaching only .3-inches or about 8-millimeters, this little squishy isn’t backed by much information as time spent researching it has been minimal. Known scientifically as encyosaccus sexmaculatus and not to be confused with the spider tortoise, this tiny guy is allegedly found in Ecuador and is recognized by its thorax, which closely resembles that of a turtle shell. The tortoise spider can be found in a variety of colors, but the most striking seems to be a bright orange with black spots on the “shell” and legs.
Combine the visual attributes of a praying mantis and the underwater qualities of shrimp and you have yourself the mantis shrimp, a crustacean found in the order of Stomatopoda. Though common in Asian cuisine as a sushi topping, the mantis shrimp packs a nasty pinch known to leave a grisly gash if not handled appropriately, while larger varieties are temperamental and strong with the ability to escape glass aquariums by breaking the glass in one strike. One of the more colorful kinds of species is the peacock mantis shrimp. Coated in a rainbow of beautiful colors, the peacock is believed to have the most complex set of eyes of any animal. Millions of cells and 16 color-receptive cones allow it to see 10x more color, including ultraviolet light, than any human.
This eel-like fish is a slime-producing, near-blind, jawless marine animal that has remained unchanged for over 300 million years of existence. Averaging about 20-inches or about 51-centimeters in length, the hagfish has four hearts and is the only living animal to have a skull with no vertebrate column. Lined with dozens of glands, it can produce a milky slime that is primarily used as a defensive mechanism to escape a grasp or essentially clog the gills of any threatening fish. For all its time in existence, the unique member of the Myxinidae family has repulsed most marine predators and is mostly threatened by birds and other mammals – such as man. The slimy fish has slithered its way into Korean cooking, where its slime is harvested and used in the same manner as egg whites.
If you’re looking for proof of life on other planets, you can stop looking. The blanket octopus is clearly an amphibious extraterrestrial that landed in the waters of the Pacific and started breeding. What’s classified as a member of the pelagic cephalopod genus, the blanket octopus, or tremoctopus, is equipped with a membrane webbed between its tentacles that’s used as a means of intimidating potential prey. Resistant to the Portugues man o’ war, the blanket octopus has been known to tear off the smaller creature’s venomous tentacles and use them for defense. One incredibly unique facet to the genus is the variation in sizes from males to females. Males are often only about 1-inch or 2.54 centimeters long, while females can grow up to 6.6 feet or about 2-meters in length.
Bare-Hearted Glass Frog
Found in the tropics of Central and South America, this tiny little critter is a translucent member of the Centrolenidae (sen-troh-LEN-ih-dee) amphibian family. As the name implies, the bare-hearted glass frog is best known for its see-through abdomen, which visibly shows the animal’s heart, intestines, and liver. At only 3 inches or roughly 7.5 centimeters long, these green-tinted animals are a tiny member of the humid mountain forests, in which they are considered viable indicators of the environment’s health. Attracted to moist climates, researchers can watch the glass frog to determine how the overall weather in an area may be changing. One member of the family, the Cricket glass frog, is indigenous to Costa Rica, Colombia, and Panama and is identified by the distinct cricket chirp males emit during mating season.
The Blue Dragon
Known by its scientific name Glaucus atlanticus, this crazy creature looks like it was pulled from a Tim Burton movie. While colorful and pretty, the blue dragon is a species of sea slug… which sounds far less striking than it looks. Found swimming about in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, atlanticus is unique in that it can feed on venomous organisms, specifically the Portuguese man o’ war. It moves around slowly using their wing-like ceratas and can be known to sting predator and prey from the nematocysts, or stinging cells, absorbed from their regular diet of man o’ war.
Named for the distinct look of its beak, the shoebill is an African species commonly found in the swamps and marshes of Sudan and Zambia as the poorly oxygenated water forces fish to come to the surface more often. The stork-like bird is attributed to the Ciconiiformes order but seems to share no relation to any other modern bird. Depictions of the mostly solitary and almost muppet-like creature can be traced as far back as Ancient Egypt. Throughout time, it has been known as one of the most desirable birds amongst ornithologists. It currently stands as a vulnerable species mostly due to habitat destruction and hunting.
Looking at this tiny critter, it looks like something you’ve seen before, like a face you can’t just place, but chances are you’re confusing it with the unrelated but closely resembled jackrabbit. The Patagonian mara may have the characteristics of a rabbit, but it’s actual a member of the rodential, or rodent, order. Found mostly in the northwestern region of Argentina, primarily within the Monte Desert, the quirky mara is near threatened with hunters using the skins for rugs and other household items. Patagonian mara is known for being monogamous and only move on to other partners when their current one dies.
A member of the suidae or pig family, the babirusa genus, which roughly translates to “pig-deer” in Malay, is found primarily on the Indonesian islands of Togian, Buru, Sula, and Sulawesi. Unique to the males of this incredible creature are tusks that grow inward towards its skull. If the tusks aren’t ground back and maintained, which the babirusa does through normal activities, the long canine teeth can grow far enough to pierce the forehead, killing the animal. Why it’s outfitted with these ever-growing teeth is unknown as it’s known to fight with its hooves rather than its tusks. Currently, the babirusa is a protected species in Indonesia, though poaching continues to dwindle the genus’ numbers.
The Maned Wolf
Mention the word wolf and chances are people immediately picture the common gray wolf. Rarely will you find someone that chimes in with this majestic canid. Despite bearing the name, the maned wolf is not a wolf, and though it looks similar to the red fox, it is also not a fox. The long-legged omnivore, known for being the tallest of the wild canids at an average of 3 feet or about 1 meter, is the only species in the Chrysocyon genus and is indigenous to regions of Brazil. Its sweet face matches its personality, which is typically shyer around humans. For years, the maned wolf was hunted as its eyes were believed to be good luck charms.