The animal kingdom is a strange, wonderful, and somewhat terrifying place. We may think we know everything there is to know about it, but truthfully, we don't even know half! Some astonishing critters have been around since biblical times, and others boast talents that put us humans to shame. Here are some of the weirdest and wildest animals that can be found all around us. We couldn't believe some of them actually exist!
This Jellyfish Ages Backward
For the most part, we try to stay far away from jellyfish. The old pee trick to soothe a sting doesn't actually work, despite what they tell you! And everybody knows their sting can be seriously painful. But scientists have gotten closer on our behalf, and they found a type of jelly with a trick. Turritopsis dohrnii lives in the waters of Antarctica, and it seems to outwit death. How does it do that?
As the animal ages, it transforms back into a stage of being a bunch of tiny, genetically identical jellyfish. Anytime it gets injured, it can revert to this cycle. Then, it begins anew as a clone of itself!
This Horrifying Fish Has the Best Smile
This picture went viral online in recent years, and we still hate it. It's beyond terrifying! A man in Georgia caught this thing, and he couldn't believe his eyes. It was a fish with human teeth, and rows upon rows of them, at that. It's not a freak accident of nature, either: This is a species called the sheepshead fish. There are more of them out there. Good luck going for a swim with that in mind!
It's not even a rare fish. The sheepshead fish is not listed as endangered, and it's actually regularly eaten in North America. Its white meat is said to be mild in flavor. But we bet patrons have no idea!
This Creature Was Born Before the Civil War
Deep in the sea, all sorts of ancient creatures swim around unnoticed. One elderly animal is the bowhead whale, as seen here. The oldest we found in the species was estimated to be 211 years old. That easily made it the longest-living mammal around. How did scientists know its age? Well, when some indigenous fishermen in Alaska captured it, they noticed there were a number of rusty harpoons stuck in its body. Thus, clues!
We would be intrigued by the catch, too. Knowledgeable folks came in and said those weapons dated back to the 1800s. That means the whale was swimming around with piercings for hundreds of years. Ouch!
This Tiny Octopus Is the Deadliest
Blue-ringed octopuses are beautiful and as tiny as a golf ball. We can see all their vivid markings here, and swimmers could be tempted to touch them. But we suggest staying far away from these little monsters. Their venom causes respiratory failure in just 10 minutes. In thirty minutes, you will be dead: There is no known antidote! There's a reason you've never seen this on a seafood menu.
The amount in just one bite could kill 26 men. Even the cooking process will not neutralize the poison! In conclusion, keep clear of these little guys when you go for a swim!
Blue Lobsters Are Actually Mutants
Red lobsters are the norm at seafood dinners. You would probably freak out if any other color were served. Yet, there are blue lobsters in the world, and they're not poisonous or spoiled. They're just incredibly rare! To put it into perspective: Just in the Gulf of Maine, there are around 250 million normal lobsters. But only about 2 million blue ones exist, worldwide. We know you're wondering: What accounts for their blue hue?
It's all a rare genetic mutation, as these things often are. We're pretty sure they will survive, and grow as a group over time. They look too unappetizing to boil!
Pink Dolphins Are No Joke
You might accuse us of showing you a fake, but we assure you pink dolphins are alive and well. You've never seen them because they live in the Amazon Rainforest rivers in South America. We know you are wondering why nature made them such a pretty color. The reason is simple: Their blood vessels are really close to the surface of their skin. You'd be pink too, if that happened to you!
Sadly, we must report that there are around 2,000 of them left in the world. That is just the minimum number required to maintain their group. We need them to get busy, quick!
This Giant Tortoise Has Definitely Been Around
You may know that tortoises live longer than we humans. But the current record-setter in this category is a lot older than anyone would guess. Meet Jonathan, a resident of St. Helena Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Guinness World Records has named him the oldest animal on land right now. At 187 years old, he's earned that honor! But historically, there are other tortoises who have him beat. Who?
Tu'i Malila was a Madagascar radiated tortoise owned by the royal family of Tonga. We know she was at least 188 when she died in 1965. But top prize goes to Aldabra the tortoise who died at an Indian zoo at age 255. Wowza!
Mantis Shrimp Are Faster Than Bullets
We all know about cocktail shrimp. But what are mantis shrimp? Also known as stomatopods, these water critters branched away from the main line about 340 million years ago. Today, they are a small variety that grows to 10-38 cm in length. But that's not the interesting part about being a mantis shrimp. Did you know they can punch really, really quickly? The recorded speed will even shock Mike Tyson.
Mantis shrimp can scare away threats by punching at a speed of 80kph. As a reference point, that's how fast a 22-caliber bullet explodes. Don't get in the way of this shrimp!
Naked Mole Rats Are Cancer-Proof
Naked mole rats are basically hideous, nearly blind creatures. It's not their fault, and maybe we shouldn't judge them so harshly. Open-minded scientists dragged them out of their holes recently to study their biology a bit more. Why? Well, apparently they are super resistant to cancer. Something about their DNA or immune systems stops the bad cells from multiplying and taking over. Maybe these critters have something to teach us?
In the wild, they are known to live up to 37 years. They don't need a lot of oxygen to survive, and they can tolerate a lot of pain. Overall, they have a lot of talents. Impressive!
Greenland Sharks Swim for Centuries
Many people feel that Shark Week on the Discovery Channel is the best week. But the footage tends to focus on the killers. The Great White, the Tiger Shark, and the Hammerhead are all popular choices for shows. But what about the kinder, gentler, Greenland Sharks? They are not considered dangerous to humans, and they float around for hundreds of years cleaning up the ocean. And there's something quite remarkable about them, too.
Their lifespans are impressive, to say the least. Scientists estimate they live at least 250 years. One specimen, in particular, was found to be 400 years old!
The Largest Feline of All
Sure, lions and tigers are both large. But what happens when you combine them? We can't believe it, but the result is an even bigger cat. An adult tiger weighs up to 660 pounds and an adult male lion weighs up to 570 pounds. But a Liger, an experimental cross between these species, is larger than both. This is Hercules, a fully grown male liger at Myrtle Beach Safari Wildlife preserve. He weighs in at 922 pounds!
Ligers only happen in captivity through IVF. It's not exactly natural, and we're happy we don't run into them in the wild. But now that the numbers are in, you can believe this picture is real. It looks photoshopped, sure. But ligers really are giant!
The Human Fish
Meet the human fish. Yes, that's the real name! This disgusting, slimy creature is perfectly normal in its world of European caves. It slithers around in the dark in a blind state smelling for prey. It also has a special talent for detecting electrical fields from other animals. That may not sound like a fun life. But that's what they do, and they can live for 100 years with this strategy.
It seems like an alien, in every way. But actually, this is just a type of salamander. It has a funny name because it is so flesh-colored. That part bothers us!
Meet The Oldest Living Dog
Sadly, man's best friend doesn't live as long as man. Dogs typically have a lifespan of 8-15 years, depending on the genetic mix. But of course, there is always a stand-out in the species. Meet Funny, a miniature dachshund in Osaka, Japan. His breed actually lives longer than most, at 12-16 years. But Funny has outdone all the other wiener dogs with his record-setting age. Guess how old he is?
Funny is 21 years old, which makes him the oldest doggo in the entire world. Congrats, Funny! But historically, there is a canine that went farther: One Australian cattle dog named Bluey reached the age of 29, back in 1939.
Who Knew Sponges Could Live This Long
The animals of the seas sometimes seem downright alien to we land-dwellers. Looking at some of them, we wouldn't even guess they are alive, But indeed, the seafloor is filled with all kinds of life that have been here longer than us. Look at this giant barrel sponge, for example. Would you ever guess it is thousands of years old? Experts have actually found one that is 2,300 years old.
Sure, it looks like a big, pink rock. But maybe it has some good stories to tell. If these old sponges could talk, we would have a lot of questions!
The World's Most Unusual Panda
Pandas actually only exist in China. According to it government, it owns every panda on earth, and the one at the local zoo is on loan. That not only means all the black and white ones you know so well, but it also includes this rare variety. Check out the brown panda! As you can see, its distinctive colors are muted into a warmer tone. It's still just as adorable, though.
The brown fur is believed to be a genetic mutation, like so many oddities out there. Examples have rarely been seen in the wild, so far.
The Golden Zebra Is No Fantasy
Zebras are the striped horse-like animals of Africa that we could never quite tame. There actually were a few attempts around the turn of the century to bring them to Europe and pull carriages. But they didn't really want to be there, and we don't blame them. Zebra roam free n giant herds on the savanna. To confuse predators, they have evolved stripes that confuse the eye as a group: Where does one start, and the other begin?
It's a neat trick. But this golden zebra would be picked out right away by lions. Not albino, but blond, the pigment condition is called Amelanism. The trait doesn't get passed on for a reason. Captivity, it is!
The Longest Snake Ever
Snakes trigger negative emotions in a lot of folks. Although some people like to keep them as pets, most of us have a deep instinct from the human past. Stay away from these poisonous, strangling things! If you've been doing that successfully, you should be grateful. Just make sure to stay away from the longest snake in the world, which is a specimen of the reticulated python. It looks like this, as a forewarning.
The record-holding serpent is 26.2 feet long. To put that into perspective, that's longer than 5 queen-sized mattresses, 4 refrigerators, or half a semi-truck. We do mean long!
Lyrebirds Say More Than Parrots
It's amazing how parrots can learn human phrases and repeat them back to us. The trick amuses us to no end, and it is even better when we teach them naughty words. But for whatever reason, the lyrebird hasn't gotten any credit for talking in the world of animals. This less colorful species can make any sound they hear. That includes chainsaws, car alarms, and camera shutters. What a talent!
Lyrebirds can mimic human speech, too. If you've never run into one, that's because they live in Australia and roam free. And that's what surprises us the most: No one has adopted them all as pets, yet!
There Are Only Seven Strawberry Leopards
Leopards are reclusive cats, as far as felines go. They don't sit out in the open on the savanna like lions do. They are more secretive and like to spend time in the tree: Even after they kill, that's where they drag their lunch. We bet you've never seen these camouflaged, spotted animals in real life. But even among researchers who see them all the time, there are surprises. Behold, the strawberry leopard!
Right now, there are only seven known to exist on the planet. They have ginger spots, kind of like a strawberry blond. Quite stunning to look at, no?
Bombardier Beetles Are Literally Hot
For the most part, we try to stay away from bugs on a daily basis. We don't want to find them in our cupboards, and we don't like things crawling up our legs. But the common, everyday insects we see aren't that much of a threat. They're just icky! If we had to deal with the Bombardier Beetles all the time, we would be a lot more anxious. Guess what it can do?
If attacked, this little guy knows how to trigger a chemical reaction that shoots out as boiling liquid on its attacker. Bombardier Beetles actually live somewhere on every continent, and we're not sure why we never meet them. Hopefully, we never will!
These Things Are Older Than America
These bizarre, fleshy things look like they are from a galaxy far, far away. But sometimes, mother nature gets creative on earth, too. The real name for this species is Lamellibrachia tube worms. They inhabit the hydrocarbon vents on the ocean floor, twenty thousand leagues under the sea. That's probably why we never see them! And frankly, when no one is around to see your look, does it really matter that much?
We say no. And anyway, fashions change. This organism lives for at least 170 years! Some have been estimated at 250, even. Do they even care what you think?
The White Tiger Is the Rarest
Africa has lions, but Asia has tigers. These majestic, striped cats hunt whatever they want. Sometimes, they get ambitious and attack villagers. It must be terrifying to see that flash of orange when it's not safely behind zoo glass. We hope we never do! Occasionally, there are also albino tigers, like most species. But there's a third option: The white tiger, the rarest of all. Just how uncommon are they?
As it turns out, white fur is a very rare mutation. Experts think it occurs in 1 in 10,000 wild births. We don't expect that to change anytime soon. It is what it is!
This Dog Set the Record for Animal Vocabulary
We might think that parrots have an exceptional memory for human words. The famed African Grey Parrot can learn up to 1,000. But does this bird know what any of they mean? Of course not! Let's focus on a more impressive case. Chaser the Border Collie actually knows 1,022 different items by name. This includes around 800 stuffed animals and a lot of different frisbees. Ask, and he shall retrieve!
As of now, Chaser holds the record as the animal who knows the most words, period. We're pretty impressed that he accomplished so much. Learning a foreign language is never easy!
This Albatross Set a Record
The albatross has the honor of having the widest wingspan in the animal kingdom. They can all brag about that. But one albatross at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge wins top prize for something else within the speicies. This is Wisdom, the oldest bird in the world. Even into old age, this feathered female keeps laying eggs and having chicks. Here she is, with a new baby. Today, mom is 68 years old. She's had 31 chicks, so far!
Usually, an albatross lives between 12 and 40 years. She has outlived them all, and she's still around. We wonder what her anti-aging secret is. Will she ever reveal it?
The Oldest Living Gorillas Out There
Gorillas are one of our closest relatives in all of nature: 96% of our DNA is exactly the same. We share opposable thumbs and a love of bananas. But how long do they live? Typically, the answer is around 30 to 40 years in the wild. If they live a comfy life in captivity, they can make it to their 50's. A few apes stand out above the rest, outliving even those at zoos.
Two female gorillas are the oldest in the world, both 61: Fatou in Berlin and Trudy in Little Rock, Arkansas. The oldest male is 58, by comparison: Ozzy the gorilla resides at the Atlanta, Georgia Zoo. Which of these three elderly primates will win the birthday contest? Ultimately, only time will tell!
This Coral Is Older Than the Bible
Coral reefs are living structures. They're in danger these days from boats, pollution, and even chemicals from sunscreen in the water. Some warn it will be sad if they are gone forever. What do we know about their history? If you have been wondering how long it takes to grow, the answer is here. Researchers found that some varieties of elkhorn coral in Florida and the Caribbean are super, duper ancient.
Technically named Acropora palmata, this type of coral is at least 5,000 years old. If we lose the reefs, it's safe to say that it won't be back anytime soon.
This Is the Largest Rodent on Earth
When we think about rodents, a lot of small critters probably come to mind. If you said gerbil, hamster, rat, mouse, or guinea pig, you would be right. But the family is actually a lot bigger than that. Beavers are in the same category, believe it or not. And even large than that, there is the capybara, the king of them all. Seen here, this friendly creature is native to South America. How large is it, exactly?
The capybara stands an impressive 2 feet tall. We know that's still smaller than your dog, but we think it's pretty big for a rodent. Even more impressive: They're skilled swimmers!
The Tuatara Will Outlive Us All
There are a lot of lizards out there, and we don't know even half of them. Maybe we've heard about gators and chamaeleons. But there are all kinds of interesting, cold-blooded creatures on our planet that don't get the attention they deserve. Take New Zealand's tuatara reptile, for example. Did you know that they actually live to be 120? It's incredible, and we don't know why no one is talking about it.
If you want to find one and cuddle it, you can check out 32 islands around the kiwi nation. They're everywhere, basking in the sun. but they do bite. So actually, stay away!
Red Sea Urchins Are Geriatric
Snorkelers love hanging out at coral reefs to see all the strange lifeforms in inaction. Most of the organisms don't move, but they sure are pretty. Take this red sea urchin. for example. It's bright, it's spiky., and we love the look. But what do we know about, it really? Experts say that this species is known to live for more than 200 years in the Pacific ocean. That's pretty incredible!
Don't get too up close and personal, though. We suspect these creatures have survived so long because they sting. If you get spiked by a red one, you will not die. But it's going to be a real pain. Predators learned to stay away!
The Oldest Elephant Ever
They say an elephant never forgets. But if you were Changalloor Dakshayani, we are even more impressed. The Asian elephant was the oldest we've ever recorded, and she is well missed. She has passed on now, but she reached the ripe old age of 89 years old while living at a temple in India. That's a lot of years of memories! Did any other elephant come close in the record books?
Other oldies include Gaja Muthassi, an 88-year-old elephant who recently died before beating the champ. In Amercna zoos, a number of elephants made it into their 70's. But for now, it seems Ambika is the winner!
There's Something Unusual About This Penguin
Penguins are already sophisticated birds in their natural black and white. But this specimen is even classier: He's all black and totally chic, and it's not a trick on Instagram! His rare genetic quirk is incredibly rare. As of now, this is the only black penguin ever spotted by scientists. He might just be one-of-a-kind! Unless, of course, all the ladies decide to breed with him and more of his genes propagate in the colony.
We don't know if this is a good thing, from his point of view. The dual colors helped his flock blend in with the environment, which throws off predators. If he gets caught, the look will die with him!
This Cat Has Sure Seen Things
Cats live longer than dogs, but still far less than human beings. Usually, they make it to around 15, but 17 or 18 is considered very elderly in cat years. What is the record for the oldest housecat, right meow? At present, the oldest pet cat in the world is Corduroy, seen here. He has reached the remarkable age of 26, and lives in Oregon. Guinness World Records recognized him, as he deserves.
It's an incredible honor for Corduroy and the whole family. Still, he isn't the oldest cat of all time. That title belongs to the late, great Crème Puff, who died at age 38 in 2005.
The Exceptional Albino Gorilla
Gorillas are pretty much one tone: Dark. We never see red ones, like orangutans. And we never see blond ones, either. But now, it's time to see an albino ape. Yes, gorillas get this condition just like us. They are our close relatives, after all! This is Snowflake, who lived at Barcelona Zoo. He has passed on now, but during his life, he was a prolific father figure. How many times did he succeed?
Snowflake had 22 babies, which we find impressive. But sadly, only six made it to adulthood. And none of them were albino. Experts say half of his grandkids will even carry his light gene. It really is that rare!
The Two-Faced Kitty
Common cats come in a few different shades. We've all seen white, black, orange, grey, and calicos. But has there ever been a pattern like this? Meet Venus, the kitty with two faces. Animal experts say that this look is the result of a condition called chimerism. If you are a chimera in any species, that means you are a combo of two different sets of DNA fused together. It's rare, but it happens!
In this case, Venus got the genes for two different eye and fur colors, blue and yellow, plus black and orange. She's a bit of a celeb on social media, these days. We're big fans!
The World's Oldest Cockatoo
If you've been wondering where the oldest cockatoo on earth resides, we have some news. Fred is his name, and he lives at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Australia. Today, the sulfur-crested cockatoo is 104 years old. Why is that remarkable? Well, the normal age range for his species is just 30 to 70 years. Fred isn't dead, and we don't really know why. Who is his closest competition out there?
Glad you asked. Another cockatoo named Cocky Bennett lived until 120, also in Australia. But this was back in 1916, so we can't do an autopsy. Could that really be accurate?