Planet Earth’s rarest breeds of animals

Did you know there are more than 8.7 million different species of animals in the world? That’s right, but the number looks set to rise as we continue to explore the depths of the oceans and rainforests in search of critters that have gone undiscovered for so long. Although many of us have furry companions in our homes, there are some rare animals that look so strange it seems as though they came from some alien planet. Who would’ve thought so many weird and wonderful creatures could live right here on Earth?

Umbonia spinosa

You might think you’re looking at a thorn on a twig, but this is actually a bug; the umbonia spinosa to be precise. These little critters are found all over South America and are usually pale green, red, and yellow in color.

Perhaps it’s no wonder that their dorsal fin has earned these bugs the nickname the thorn bug? To top it off, groups of umbonia spinosa usually collect together after heavy rains which can make any bush seem as though it’s suddenly covered in thorns.

Blanket octopus

Many of us have seen octopi with their long tentacles, but have you ever seen a blanket octopus? These sea creatures live around the top of tropical waters where they show off their true beauty.

The blanket often comes out whenever the creature senses danger but can be a fascinating sight for anyone from above. As if that wasn’t enough, these octopi have adapted to carry the venomous arm of the Portuguese man o’war that they can then use to fend off any predators.

Flying lemur

Although these mammals have lemur in the name, they actually aren’t related to lemurs themselves. Plus, they don’t really fly. So what gives?

The lemur part of their name comes from the similar faces, while the flying part is a unique feature of this rare animal. The flying lemur can stretch out the membrane between their arms and tail so they’re able to glide through the air. They’re not really flying; they’re falling, with style. If you want to see one in the wild, then you’ll have to take a trip to the Philippines or Southeast Asia.

Narwhal

Here is the true unicorn of the sea: the narwhal. However, that’s not a horn on their head but is a large, modified tooth. Some have even adapted to grow two tusks.

They’re pretty large too as males can grow up to 16-and-a-half-feet, or five meters, long, as well as weigh around 1.5 tonnes. Narwhals have kept scientists guessing for many years as their specific living conditions mean that one has never been successfully caught and kept in captivity.

Bald uakari

These little monkeys are found all over South America. No, they haven’t spent too long in the sun. Their bald, red faces are thanks to years of adaptation.

Although the rest of their bodies are covered in thick fur, it’s their faces that are the striking point of this creature. Studies have shown that the redder their face, the better their chances of attracting a mate. You might have to look hard if you want to see one in the wild though as these monkeys spend the majority of their time up in the rainforest trees.

Fish hook ant

It might be easy to think that all ants are the same, but here, the fish hook ant proves how even the smallest of critters can be some of the most fascinating creatures on Earth.

Amazingly, the ants weren’t discovered until 2007 during an expedition to Cambodia. It’s shown the ants will use one of their three razor-sharp hooks to cut into predators and hold on, as well as hooking onto other ants as a defense mechanism. As if that wasn’t enough, they can even grow to 1.5cm long.

Mangalitsa pig

Believe it or not, but the mangalitsa pig is a result of us humans breeding the wooly farm animal. The idea of the breed was to create a large pig that didn’t need much looking after.

It wasn’t long before they became one of the most popular kinds in Europe. Initially from Hungary, the mangalitsa pig is now found all over the world. Sure, they might have been bred to create the perfect sausages, but now they are some of the most popular pets thanks to their cuddly appearance.

Giraffe weevil

It might not take a lot of guessing to see how the giraffe weevil earned its name. Yes, the bug’s long neck is the most defining part of its appearance and can come in quite handy.

In fact, the bug often uses its long neck to help build nests and to fight off any competition. The males tend to have longer necks that can reach lengths of one inch, or 2.5cm. Although they are generally peaceful, these bugs can also fly through the forests of Madagascar.

Akhal-Teke

Horses are just about everywhere in the world and have been used for all kinds of tasks, but the akhal-teke is one of the rarest animals in the world. Its gold coat has made it a popular choice across desert countries.

However, it’s thought the breed was once one of the greatest racehorses in the world. Their thin skin and strength have made them the perfect breed for the endurance needed while traveling hundreds of miles across the desert terrain.

Kiwa Hirsuta

This species of crab is so unique that it looks as though the kiwa hirsuta could be about to make a whole new family of crab.

It’s all thanks to its unique adaptations that are unlike any other species of crab on the planet. It’ long arms covered in hair have earned this sea critter the nickname of the yeti crab, but they aren’t all that is special about the kiwa hirsuta. The animal also has no eyes and has been slipping past scientists for the last 30 years. Many are determined to capture the crab for further studies.

Bush viper

No one knows how many bush vipers there are in the world as this rare animal predominantly lives as far away from humans as possible, but will often seek out the rainforests of Africa as a place to call home.

These venomous snakes don’t grow very long as they only reach lengths of around 23 inches, or 58cm. However, it’s their curved scales that have people talking. The shape of their scales means people often refer to the bush viper as spiny or spiked vipers.

Mantis shrimp

Once again it seems as though we have a deceptively named rare animal. The mantis shrimp is neither of those animals and is actually related to crabs and lobsters.

There are hundreds of species found all throughout the ocean who all come with their own unique adaptations. The peacock mantis shrimp can punch so hard they can actually make the water around them briefly reach the temperature of the sun. As if that wasn’t enough, they are also older than dinosaurs.

Shoebill

Amazingly, this type of bird can stand at a whopping five-foot-tall and reach lengths of four-foot-long. It’s the bird’s unusual bill that has earned it the shoebill name, but the story doesn’t end there.

The genetics mean the shoebill isn’t actually closely related to any other type of bird in the world; it stands out on its own. To top it off, the shoebill’s beak can be nine inches long and four inches wide, finishing with a hook they use to catch prey.

Axolotl

These amphibians have become popular all around the world, but there is only one place you will find them in the world: Lake Xochimilco in Mexico City.

Amazingly, they have adapted to breathe through their skin when their gills aren’t getting enough oxygen. The creatures often roam the lake eating all kinds of crustaceans and mollusks. However, one of their main threats is humans as many enjoy serving up the animal as a local delicacy. Out of harm’s way, axolotls can live for up to 12 years in the wild.

Pink fairy armadillo

No, this isn’t a mythical creature. It is, in fact, the pink fairy armadillo. The species only grow up to four-and-a-half-inches long meaning they are easily the smallest species of armadillo in the world.

They live all over central Argentina where these rare animals often dig into the sandy soil to hide from any predators. However, this digging skill also comes in helpful when it comes to finding food as the pink fairy armadillo often digs into ant colonies for a snack.

Venezuelan poodle moth

This species wasn’t officially identified until 2009 as many believed the Venezuelan poodle moth was such a rare animal that it didn’t exist.

Although there are many species of moth in the world, it is this one that has caught so many people’s attention thanks to its fluffy appearance. Its size and rarity in the wild mean that not much is known about the Venezuelan poodle moth apart from the fact they are so small and adorable. It’s no wonder they have taken the internet by storm since their discovery.

Goblin shark

It was Japanese fishermen that first gave the goblin shark its name. Many kept accidentally pulling the fish up from the sea only to realize it looked like the mythical goblins from stories.

However, they naturally prefer deeper water where the goblin shark can grow up to 12-and-a-half feet, or 3.8 meters, long. Many people have studied the sharks to look for a reason for their long noses, but no one has ever come up with an answer. It seems as though they are destined to be a mystery of the deep.

Sea pig

It looks as though the sea is home to some pretty interesting creatures, including the sea pig. Although they look like little farm creatures, these animals are actually a type of sea cucumber.

They are found all over the world where these animals live in the deepest parts of the ocean. However, they are incredibly small and could easily fit in the palm of most people’s hand. Down on the ocean floor, sea pigs use their legs to walk around in the hunt for food.

Blue parrot fish

This blue parrot fish is more than just another fish in the ocean; it has a massive impact on the world around us. The fish has incredibly strong teeth that it uses to grind up various rocks and corals under the water.

However, it’s what happens afterward that makes such a huge impact. The blue parrot fish digest the rocks into sand and can produce more than 200 pounds of the stuff a year. That’s so much that these fish have even been responsible for creating entire islands.

Thorny dragon

Could these lizards really be found anywhere else other than Australia – the home of all the weird and wonderful reptiles in the world? Thorny dragons are covered in spikes that they use to ward off any predators.

If that doesn’t work, the animals can also puff themselves up to appear bigger. The reptiles spend most of their time sitting and waiting for ants to pass them by as they can eat thousands of the bugs a day and merely use their tongues to grab their next meal.

Barreleye fish

What is it with the sea creating all these rare animals? The barreleye fish is often thought to be one of Mother Nature’s best pieces of work thanks to its unusual appearance.

The creature looks as though it should be straight out of a movie. However, those eyes are covered in a green fluid shield that mean the barreleye fish can spot a predator swimming above them no matter how dark it is down at the bottom of the ocean.

Royal flycatcher

Although this bird might not be related to any kings or queens, the royal flycatcher has earned its name thanks to the impressive crown of feathers it has on its head.

These birds use their bright colors as a mating display whenever the time is right but keep them tucked away for the rest of the year. The rest of their bodies are often brown helping their crest to stand out even more against the Amazonian rainforest backdrop.

Red-lipped batfish

It looks as though this fish has somehow found its way into Kylie Jenner’s makeup collection, but believe it or not, those rosy red lips are all an adaptation from the red-lipped batfish.


Although they are a type of fish, the red-lipped batfish has specially adapted fin bones that act as legs. This means they can often be seen walking around on the bottom of the ocean. It’s believed their horn-shaped snout is what attracts in prey before those bright red lips devour them.

Saiga antelope

There are many types of antelope all over the world. However, it’s the rare saiga antelope that live throughout Europe and Asia that have got people talking. These animals are around the size of a goat.

So why have they got such a strange shaped nose? That’s all so they can survive in harsh environments. The saiga antelope has specially adapted nostrils that mean dust can’t get into their lungs during the summer as well as warming the winter air when the temperature drops.