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Animals You've Never Heard Of - A Edition
DISCLAIMER: You may have heard of some of these animals.
The more you look at aye-ayes, the stranger they seem. Aside from their glowing eyes, haggard appearance, and ridiculous ears, they have a most peculiar set of hands, which they use in a similar fashion to a woodpecker's beak; tapping on trees to hear for grubs and then hooking them out of tiny holes in the bark.
The nocturnal aye-aye is actually a Malagasian lemur (how come we didn't see any of these guys in the movie Madagascar?), and it is theorized that they are the only primates that utilize echolocation as a means to find food. "Food" can be anything from beetles and grubs, to fruit and tree sap!
With its somewhat unsettling appearance, it is no wonder that the people in Madagascar are put off by the sight of the poor things. Unfortunately this fear results in many aye-aye killings throughout their native homes because people there believe them to be symbols of death, and will not hesitate to destroy them on sight. With diminishing forests, the aye-ayes often resort to raiding villages for food, but are often met with lethal hostility by superstitious villagers.
What exactly is this? A dog? A cat? It is actually neither! Hailing from the family of viverrids (as opposed to canids or felids), African civets are related to a number of other exotic beauties which you may see in succeeding lists by this author.
The African civet is the second largest of them all, growing to be around 30 inches long and 16 inches at the shoulders. They are omnivores by nature, and will readily eat berries, birds, and snakes.
African civets produce an aromatic substance from their perineal ('butt' region) gland called civetone, which people have been using as an ingredient for perfumes, fragrances, and even attractor scents for hunters. But with the creation of synthesized scent in recent years, the use of African civet juice has declined.
Also known as the Mwanza Flat-headed Agama, this quick little lizard is quickly growing in popularity due to the brilliantly colored males, which enjoy sunning themselves out in the open for all the world to see. Which is fine by us! Flaunt it if you've got it, honey! With its half blue, half red body, it's no wonder this lizard is also being called the Spider-Man lizard. The similarity is uncanny!
Although they do not fight crime, they do keep bug populations down by performing complicated maneuvers known as "eating bugs." These lizards are scattered about near Kenya and Tanzania in the wild, but are showing up more and more often in herpetoculture. As with most other agamids, they have simple care requirements. Unfortunately, the females are butt ugly.
If you've seen one cow, you've seen 'em all, right? Wrong. Check out the cranium on these guys. Is your mind not blown?
Like most of the animals on this list, the Ankole-Watusi is from Africa, and it exudes its bizarre beauty with a surefooted gait and a hardy experience in inhospitable terrain. So much different from the pampered blobs we call "milk cows" here in the United States, the Ankole-Watusi is the face of milk cows in Africa. But the amount of milk produced by this breed is considerably less than that of traditional dairy cows such as the Holstein-Friesian, and with the onset of industrialization and consumer demand, many African villages are attempting to breed the Ankole-Watusi for better production.
Specifically bred to withstand harsher climates, the amazing horns were an afterthought, but they gave fame to the breed after they were announced to be the largest horns in diameter in the world. A particular bull named CT Woodie was classed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the one with the fattest of them all at 40.75 inches around. Yowza!
The term "antlion" refers to the larval stage of the antlion lacewing, which is as dainty and pretty as the antlion is terrifying.
Fortunately it only eats ants and other very small arthropods, so we are safe for now. These bugs actually have a most interesting way of procuring food for themselves as this cross-section shows, similar to the way the memorable Sarlacc catches Bobba Fett. It digs itself a nice hole in some sand, and forms a crater around the hole just deep enough for unsuspecting victims to fall into. Once an ant or other small critter falls into the hole and flounders, the antlion is quick to grab it up in its formidable jaws.
Though they look scary, they are actually incredibly small, and pose no threat to us since they do not have venom and we are not the size of ants.