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.
- 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.
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.
- Patagonian Mara
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.
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.
- 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.