10 Not-So-Odd Creatures (or Did I Just See What I Thought I Saw?)
One of my most popular hubs is "10 Odd Creatures (or Fun Day at the Petting Zoo)" and I appreciate it if you have read that hub. I was thinking of doing a sequel to the hub, but thought this time instead of going for the really weird, I would go more for the slightly unusual. The wonderful creatures listed here are not quite so different from creatures you might see from day to day and in fact may be somewhat familiar to you, but they are interesting and show just a bit of how diverse and varied the world we live in can be.
There is no denying that this monkey has a big nose. Males can have a schnoz up to seven inches long and yes, size does matter. It is believed that males use the largeness of their proboscides to attract females who, compared to their male counterparts, do not have particularly large snouts though they are larger when compared to other monkeys. Interestingly, the males are overall about twice the size of the females which is thought to be the largest male-to-female size ratio in the animal kingdom.
Now I have seen a few squirrels in my time. Okay... I have seen few bazillion squirrels in my time. But I had never seen a black squirrel until recently. It turns out, they are not all that unusual though certainly less common than your average gray squirrel. But when you get right down to it, a black squirrel is just an Eastern Gray Squirrel that has darker fur. The black squirrel's mom and dad may very well both have gray fur and all his siblings probably have gray fur, but for some reason the black squirrel ended up with more melanin which gives him his dark colored coat. All I know is if I were going to be a squirrel, I would want to be the black one. Definitely cool.
Pink River Dolphin
Pink river dolphins are one of five species of dolphins that make their home in rivers. They are also known as Amazon River dolphins because the Amazon River is where the pink river dolphin is found. These dolphins are only distantly related to ocean dolphins and are considered the most intelligent of the river dolphin species. Other than the unique coloration, a pink river dolphin's appearance differs from the more familiar dolphin in that the dorsal fin is replaced by a dorsal hump. Just like their more familiar counterparts, pink river dolphins are unusually smart and socially friendly creatures.
Looking at the picture above, you might think the creature pictured is just a slightly deformed guinea pig. But if there were something in the photo to give you a true idea of the size of the capybara, you would realize that this is definitely no cuddly little house pet (though that hasn't stopped some people from make them into cuddly huge house pets). At over 4 foot in length and weighing on average up to 140 pounds (with the record weight for one of these guys at over 225 pounds), the capybara is actually the world's largest rodent. These gentle animals get along well with humans allowing themselves to be petted and hand fed.
Asian Palm Civet
This little fellow, who can grow slightly larger than the average house cat, is distinctive from other civets by its tail which has no rings. Found throughout most of Asia, the Asian palm civet is interesting for more than just its unique look. Kopi Luwak coffee is made by collecting coffee cherries that have been eaten and partially digested by the Asian palm civet. I will not go into details of exactly how they collect these. And I will not be having a cup of coffee anytime soon.
You might think the pangolin is closely related to the anteater. After all, it kind of looks like an anteater wearing armor and another name for it is the scaly anteater. Or you might think it is a close cousin of the armadillo since it sort of looks like armadillo in an... uh... anteater suit. But you would be wrong. Scientist tinkering around with that pesky DNA have now determined this guy is in the same family as raccoons, bears and weasels. Pangolins, which are found in the tropical regions of Africa and Asia, have large keratin scales covering their skin which really mean they sort of have really tough fingernails all over. They are the only mammals that have this characteristic. They are primarily nocturnal and spend most of the day curled up in a ball sleeping.
Of all the oddities on this page, the black squirrel and this guy are the only ones I have seen with my own eyes. There was that nightmare about the capybara with the chainsaw, but that was just a dream brought on by a marathon session of Chip 'N Dale cartoons. And of course, unlike the black squirrel who was running wild on the roadways of North Carolina, the sloth was at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. The sloth is probably best known for being the slowest mammal on Earth, the very personification (or perhaps that should be animalization) of, well... sloth.
I guess the sloth also is probably the only animal named after one of the seven deadly sins. Unless I am forgetting the sins... Let's see, I saw the movie Seven... I should know these... Sloth, greed, envy, gluttony, wrath, lust... Is that seven? Umm... oh yeah... wearing white after Labor Day... or is it Memorial Day? Wow! I'm pretty proud of myself!
Japanese Raccoon Dog
The Japanese raccoon dog, also known as a tanuki, is one of my favorite new animal discoveries. From its appearance, you might think it is a relative of the common raccoon, but it is in fact a member of the canid family that includes foxes, wolves and Spot next door. When video gamers pop the "tanooki suit" on Mario, this is actually the animal that it refers to, not a raccoon as most players probably believe. There is also a raccoon dog found in other parts of Asia and scientists disagree as to whether or not these are disctinct species or subspecies of the same animal. But I'll leave that to someone smarter to discuss.
Happy Face Spider
The happy face spider may just be pleased to be the only spider living solely on the islands of Hawaii, but in reality not all of these spiders have markings resembling a smiley face. And even if a particular spider does, the markings could change after breakfast as they do seem to be affected by what they eat and change over time. The happy face spider is a web spinner, but they make their webs very small beneath the leaves of plants. As you might expect, a spider in this good of a mood is not poisonous.
Yikes! Who skinned the cat? Actually the sphinx is a so-called hairless cat that really isn't hairless at all -- just extremely short-haired. This cat is a relatively new animal and can be traced back to a kitten named Prune who was born in 1966. That means I have been around longer than these cats! Through selective breeding, the sphinx was created. Why anyone would do this to a poor cat on purpose, we may never know, but there you have it. I guess it has a certain charm... Oh, who am I kidding? That thing is butt ugly!