The Most Beautiful Animals You've Never Heard Of
When I was thinking of ideas for this article, I decided to be a little different, and base my chosen animals not only upon their aesthetic appeal, but their unusual characteristics as well. Read on for some inspirational photography, and descriptive information.
Update: Part 2 is officially ready! It can be found here: The Most Beautiful Animals You've Never Heard Of Part 2
A Cute Albino 'Javan Slow Loris'Click thumbnail to view full-size
Javan Slow Loris
If only all the Javan Slow Loris in the world were as gorgeous as the one above. Unfortunately this particular specimen is a one-of-a-kind albino.
Ordinarily, this creature is a striped myriad of yellowish-grays, browns and white. Due to their small size, pleasing appearance and (somewhat foolish) habit of sleeping atop open branches in the daytime, the Javan Slow Loris is often sold through the illegal pet trade.
While the animal is defended by law, it's protection is not heavily enforced. In some areas of its native Java, it is even hunted for medicinal purposes.
The Majestic MarkhorClick thumbnail to view full-size
The stunning creature known as the markhor is the national animal of Pakistan. With its trademark twisting horns reaching up to 1.6 meters long, the markhor is an imposing species of goat. Current populations of the markhor are but a shadow if their former glory. However, they can still be found scattered throughout central Asia and parts of India.
Much like many of the animals in this article, the markhor is believed to have medicinal properties. Both the horns and the cud of this goat are used for traditional Eastern medicine. However, a new hunting program designed to protect the markhor has proved successful, and with a bit of patriotism, there is hope for this animal.
The Eminent Emperor TamarinClick thumbnail to view full-size
Twins With Two Fathers?
The emperor tamarin is thought to be named after the German Emperor Wilhelm II, as a result of their distinctive appearance (and moustache).
If you were looking for some interesting facts about the emperor tamarin, here they are. Approximately two-thirds of the female population of emperor tamarins are trichromats, or able to see three colours. This allows them to easily pick ripened fruit, the staple of their diet.
The rest of the females and all of the males are dichromats, or only able to see two colours. This allows them to more efficiently spot predators amongst the jungle undergrowth. Watch the video on the right to learn more information.
The Tough Tufted DeerClick thumbnail to view full-size
The tufted deer, so-named for the often-distinctive tuft of brown or black hair present on it's forehead, is a species of deer that lives in China. It prefers damp forested areas between 500 and 4500 metres above sea level. It is a close relative to the muntjac, the oldest known deer species.
Both male and female tufted deer have prominent canine teeth. In mature males, these canines resemble fangs, (seen above), and are the subject of several evolutionary studies.
As with many animals on this list, the tufted deer risks becoming endangered as a result of ever-encroaching human presence and a renewed market for this animal's stiff hide.
The Spindly Maned FoxClick thumbnail to view full-size
Maned Wolf "Barking"
The maned wolf is the animal I am most proud to show to you. Doesn't it look just like a wolf on stilts? My first thought when I saw this animal was, "It's probably evolved long legs so it can see over tall grass." However, I have no idea if this is true or not!
What I do know is that whoever named this animal should be fired. Not only is the maned wolf not a wolf, it's not even closely related to wolves! If you're thinking however that the maned wolf should be called a maned fox, I regret to tell you that you're also wrong. The fact is: The maned wolf is an oddity distinct of all foxes, wolves, dogs, and other similar creatures.
The maned fox prefers to live a solitary life amidst the grasslands of Brazil and other South-American countries.
The Opulent OkapiClick thumbnail to view full-size
I want you to read this animal's name carefully: Okapi. I had a lot of trouble pronouncing this properly because for some reason I read it as O-pa-ki. Just letting you know so you don't make the same mistake!
Moving along, the okapi is an animal native to parts of Central Africa. It is often misunderstood to be part of the zebra family due to the strips along its legs. If you take a very close look at it's head though, you might notice the reminiscent signs of giraffe heritage. The okapi is the only living relative of the giraffe.
It is commonly believed that the zebra-like markings of the okapi serve two purposes:
- To act as camouflage, and;
- To help young okapi keep track of their mothers in the rainforest.
The Fiery Billed AracariClick thumbnail to view full-size
Check This Out!
Fiery Billed Aracari
The fiery-billed aracari is a bird native to parts of Costa Rica. It is a variety of toucan unusual in it's social habits. Instead of sleeping alone or in small groups, the aracari has been known to roost in groups of five throughout the whole year.
As with the araripe manakin bird below, information about this beautiful bird is sorely lacking.
The Illustrious Nicobar PigeonClick thumbnail to view full-size
A Nicobar Pigeon Display
The Nicobar pigeon is a bird native to the eponymous Nicobar Islands. It is most easily recognized by its distinctive metallic plumage. The beauty of this animal goes beyond its outward appearance too: it's gizzard is used in traditional jewellery.
This pigeon makes a mockery of a painters palette. It consists of a mix of iridescent blues, spectacular greens, pure whites and dull reds. However, the most important part of this animal is often it's most overlooked. The Nicobar pigeon uses its flat white tail to identify with others of its species.
Even the eyes of this bird are different colours depending on gender and maturity!
The Reckless Roloway Monkey
The roloway monkey is an endangered species found primarily in Ghana, Africa. It is distinguished from other similar-looking monkeys through its long white beard and orange back.
Today, possibly due to an increase in "bushmeat" hunting, the roloway monkey is listed amongst the world's 25 most endangered primates. Bushmeat is the common name for a collection of various meats that are often combined before sale, creating a sort of 'mystery meat'.
In the past 100 years, it is believed that roloway monkeys have lost approximately 80% of their native habitat, and 80% of their population.
The Araripe Manakin
The araripe manakin was once considered one of the rarest birds in the world, with an estimated 50 of the birds remaining. Today however, the "Little soldier of Araripe" bears much better prospects to its name, with an improved estimate of around 250 to 800 birds remaining.
Little is known about this bird because of it's scarcity.
The Careful CassowaryClick thumbnail to view full-size
First of all, my apologies to all the Australians and New Guinea people who are reading this. If you're Australian, you've likely heard of the cassowary, and therefore it shouldn't really be on this list. Sorry guys...
For the rest of us, the cassowary is one of the largest birds in the world, save only for the ostrich and the emu. While the evolutionary status of the cassowary is greatly unknown, there are three types of cassowary, all essentially similar.
The cassowary is a normally shy bird armed with keratinous barbs on its wings, and three dagger-like claws on each foot. This armament combined with a bad reputation for aggressiveness when provoked, makes the cassowary renowned as a dangerous creature. Even as a young boy my mother warned me about the dangers of an enraged cassowary. I wasn't too keen to even approach the enclosure of this bird, and I'd never actually encountered it outside a zoo.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. Please feel free to comment below, your feedback is welcome and certainly appreciated. Also, if you enjoyed reading this article, check out my others at My Homepage.