Nothing makes tourists whip out their cameras faster than seeing an animal on vacation. Whether searching for the big five on an African safari or combing the beach for sea lions in the Galápagos, getting up close and personal with our furry friends is always a highlight.
But what if we told you that lions, tigers, and bears (oh, my) were just scratching the surface? What if we told you that in some parts of the world, there are creatures so odd and rare that many people don’t even know they exist?
Here is a list of some of the strangest animals around the world.
1. Glowing sea turtle
Just last week, divers in the Solomon Islands discovered a glowing sea turtle under the waves. While other animals are known to be bioluminescent, this is the first documented case of a glowing reptile in the wild. According to diver David Gruber, an associate professor of biology at Baruch College, the hawksbill sea turtle’s shell glowed both red and green, but it’s likely that the red came from biofluorescent algae.
“It could be a way for them to communicate, for them to see each other better, [or] to blend into the reefs,” which are also biofluorescent, Gruber told Live Science. “It adds visual texture into the world that’s primarily blue.
If an anteater and an armadillo had a baby, it might look something like the pangolin, an odd-looking mammal found throughout parts of Asia and Africa. The pangolin has a long, specially adapted tongue for eating ants and termites and wears a protective keratin shell — it is the only mammal known to have this adaptation. Sadly, its unique characteristics also make it the most trafficked mammal in the world, as it is highly sought-after for its meat and armor. The pangolin is currently listed as a threatened species.
3. Diane’s bare-hearted glass frog
Is it just us, or does this frog look like Kermit? There are many different species of glass frogs, but this little guy is a new discovery — the first in Costa Rica since 1973. While its bright green coloring might grab your attention, the coolest part about this frog is that it is see-through. That’s right — the underside is translucent, providing a stunning view of the amphibian’s internal organs. If you want to see one, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled — these tiny jumpers are less than an inch long.
4. Axolotl, aka Mexican walking fish
Is it just us, or does this fish look like a Pokemon? The axolotl is a small salamander that can be found in various lakes around Mexico City, although it is currently listed as an endangered species. This amphibian can regenerate limbs, has lidless eyes, and can be black or albino.
5. Sun fish
The sun fish has the distinction of being the heaviest bony fish in the world — with an adult maxing out at 2 tons. This odd-looking creature (it kind of resembles Sloth from The Goonies) is found in temperate and tropical waters around the world and is considered a delicacy in places like Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.
6. Saiga antelope
The Saiga antelope can be found around Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan and is easily recognized thanks to its large and flexible nose. In reality, its gigantic schnoz helps to filter out dust and regulate its blood temperature. In May 2015, more than 120,000 Saiga antelope were found dead. Scientists believe they were victims of a suspected epizootic illness that infected the herd.
7. Long-horned orb weaver spider
This is the type of creature that’s cool to see in photos but you never want to see in your home. The long-horned orb weaver spider has eight eyes and long, horn-looking spines protruding from its abdomen. This particular spider can be found in the forests and fields of Asia.
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill crocodile. This skinny-snouted croc is called a gharial, and it can only be found swimming in the waterways of India. Its long nose is filled with 110 teeth, making it well adapted to catching fish. Scientists estimate that there are only 235 gharials in existence.
9. Red-lipped batfish
You can’t put lipstick on a pig, but apparently you can put it on a fish. The red-lipped batfish is found near the Galápagos Islands and looks like it’s wearing the color Dangerous from MAC makeup. In addition to its bright pucker, the fish has a a horn and casually walks along the ocean floor instead of swimming.