10 Odd Creatures (or Fun Day at the Petting Zoo)
The world is full of unusual creatures and every year hundreds -- that's right... hundreds -- more are discovered. Most of these have been around for sometime and, while they may not be right outside your door, they definitely ad a little flourish and excitement to the marvelous world in which we live.
The Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) is also known as the Maumag and can be found primarily in the southern Philippines. Ranging somewhere between 3" and 6.5", the Philippine Tarsier is one of the smallest primates on the planet with an adult being about the size of an average human fist. Its unusually large eyes provide it with excellent nocturnal vision and the Philippine Tarsier also has excellent hearing. These odd little creatures have been around about 45 million years.
The axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum}, also called the ajolote, is an aquatic salamander that even has gills. This strange looking fellow is used extensively in scientific research due largely to its ability to regenerate most body parts as well how easily it can be bred. They are found mostly around Mexico City and are near extinction due to that city's urbanization.
The star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) is mainly found in eastern Canada and the north-eastern United States. This small North American mole has, however, been found as far south as the lower parts of Georgia. It lives in wet lowland areas and eats insects, worms and mollusks. It digs tunnels to forage for its food with its tunnels often exiting underwater. They are believed to live in colonies, but little is known about their social life. It is believed to use the unusual tentacles of its snout to find food by touch and is recognized as the fastest consumer of food in the animal kingdom taking less than 227 milliseconds to identify and consume its prey. And I thought my girlfriend could really shovel it in! (Don't tell her I said that...)
The yeti crab (Kiwa hirsuta) which is sometimes called the yeti lobster is a crustacean found in the South Pacific Ocean. It is a crustacean and is approximately 6 inches long. It was only recently discovered in March 2005 so little is known about this beautiful sea animal. For instance, it is known that its pincers contain bacteria but it is not known if this is used to detoxify minerals that exist in the places it makes its home or if the crab eats bacteria or maybe even both.
The blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) is a deep water fish found off the coast of Tasmania and mainland Australia. It is rarely seen by humans due to the depths at which it thrives but it can ocassionally be caught in fishing nets used to harvest other deep sea fish. It feeds by floating along the sea bed eating whatever happens to float by.
It would be hard to find a more fascinating creature in all the sea than a ribbon eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita). Young ribbon eels are black with a yellow dorsal fin but turn blue as they mature. At one time these were thought to be separate species but these are now recognized as different life stages of the same animal. Female ribbon eels are yellow with a black anal fin. Ribbon eels are rarely seen in captivity as they tend to stop eating when confined and die within a month, but if properly cared for in an adequate environment, they have been known to survive for several years.
Prussian Blue Terriswalkeris Terraereginae
The Giant Blue Earthworm (Terriswalkeris terraereginae) is a giant earthworm found in Australia. Its two unusual features is its bright blue color and its length of nearly six feet long. Surprisingly however, this lengthy worm is tiny compared to the Giant Gippsland earthworm (Megascolides australis) which commonly grows to ten feet or more. These enormous worms generally live underground and are rarely seen unless their habitat is disturbed by man (road construction, etc.) or nature (heavy rains, etc.).
Allegedly named for its resemblance to the German emperor Wilhelm II, the Emperor Tamarin (Saguinus imperator) grows to only about 10 inches and weighs less than a pound. It is found in the rain forests of the southwestern part of the Amazon Basin. It lives in groups of two to eight with a dominant female as the leader and spends most of its life in the trees.
Long Eared Jerboa
The Long-eared Jerboa (Euchoreutes naso) has a head and body 3 to 3 1/2 inches but a tufted tail that is twice as long. It is only found in southern Mongolia and northwestern China and eats mostly small insects. Very little is known about this nocturnal desert-dwelling mouse-like rodent as it is rarely observed in the wild. Its long hind legs and large back feet make it an excellent jumper.
Scientists believe the Chambered Nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) has remained unchanged for over 400 million years. It is a mollusk and a member of the cephalopod family. It lives in deep waters. As a defense mechanism, the Chambered Nautilus has a shell that features what is known as countershading -- it is light on the bottom and dark on the top causing it to blend in with the ocean floor when seen from above but blend in with the light coming from above when seen from below.