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6 of the Weirdest Animals on the Planet

pangolin
When it comes to "weird" animals, we have to admit that the pangolin makes us do a double take. Jupiterimages / Getty Images

What makes an animal "weird"? Maybe it looks different from other animals in its family, or has an uncanny resemblance to another creature in the animal kingdom they are not closely related to.

Here, we'll take a look at some of the weirdest animals in the world and learn what makes them so special.

naked mole rat
Naked mole rat. Eric Isselee / Shutterstock

1. Naked Mole Rat

You may know the naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) as the pet of Ron, Kim Possible's sidekick from the early-2000s cartoon of the same name, but naked mole rats do not make good pets. They live in large underground colonies in semiarid areas of East Africa and would not thrive living alone aboveground.

Naked mole rats have very limited sight and hearing, and although they appear naked due to their lack of visible fur, their bodies are actually covered in tiny hairs that they use to feel out their surroundings.

Their long teeth are specialized for digging tunnels; as they dig, they feed on underground tubers. They also eat their own feces to conserve energy. Not our first choice of snacks (or second, or third), but nature gets that you do what you have to sometimes.

Even weirder? When deprived of oxygen (which can sometimes happen when digging underground tunnels), the naked mole rat can use fructose (the sugar plants use for energy) instead of glucose (the sugar animals use) to power its cells.

pink fairy armadillo
Pink fairy armadillo. Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

2. Pink Fairy Armadillo

The pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) is weird because of its color. Unlike other species of armadillo, which have brown or gray armor, the pink fairy's outer shell is, as its name suggests, pink.

It's also the smallest species of armadillo, measuring 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) long and weighing up to a quarter of a pound (0.11 kilograms). Like a fairy, the pink fairy armadillo is elusive; people who live alongside these armadillos in the Mendoza Province of Argentina might go their entire lives without seeing one.

sea pig
Sea pig. Monterey Bay Aquarium Research I

3. Sea Pig

Many of the animals that look the weirdest to us humans have simply evolved to live in environments very different from ours, like naked mole rats that live underground and glowing deep-sea fish that dwell close to the sea floor. The sea pig (genus Scotoplanes) is one such unusual species.

Like land pigs, sea pigs love dirt. But their "dirt" is the sand on the ocean floor, and they're not pigs — they're actually sea cucumbers.

Sea pigs live 1,800 to 22,000 feet (550 to 6,700 meters) below sea level, where they use their tube feet to forage for dead plants and animals that have fallen to the sea floor.

Although sea pigs are much smaller than real pigs (1.5 to 6 inches or 4 to 15 centimeters in length), like pigs, they'll pretty much eat anything — think of them as the ocean floor's cleanup crew.

Galapagos land iguana
Galapagos land iguana. Andrew Peacock / Getty Images

4. Galapagos Land Iguana

The Galapagos Islands in South America are home to plenty of bizarre animals, from the world's largest tortoise to the blue-eyed flightless cormorant. One of the strange animals found only on the Galapagos Islands is the Galapagos land iguana (Conolophus subcristatus).

Most iguanas are green in color, but the Galapagos land iguana is a brilliant yellow. Adding to its odd appearance is the fact that the Galapagos land iguana often has finches on its back. The two animals have a mutualistic relationship, with the finch removing ticks from the iguana's scales.

Giant crab with long legs walking on sand near unidentified spinal bones
Japanese spider crab. Gerald Corsi / Getty Images

5. Japanese Spider Crab

The Japanese spider crab (Macrocheira kaempferi) is one of the weirdest-looking animals we actually eat. With legs over 13 feet (4 meters) long, it's easily the biggest crab in the world.

Its ultra-long legs extend from a much smaller body, giving it the unusual appearance of a humungous spider. This weird animal doesn't deter fishers, who can make good money selling this seasonal delicacy to foodies in Japan.

pangolin
Pangolin. GP232 / Getty Images

6. Pangolin

The pangolin (family Manidae) is a scaly mammal native to eastern and southern Africa. Although it looks like a cross between an anteater and an armadillo, the pangolin is actually more closely related to dogs and cats, according to Save Pangolins.

Some pangolin species are critically endangered due to poaching. The Pangolin Specialist Group estimates that over 1 million pangolins have been poached in the past decade.

Original article: 6 of the Weirdest Animals on the Planet

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