14 weird and wonderful creatures that actually exist

Every year researchers discover new species and certain parts of the world seem to produce more than others.  And we've no doubt got a lot more to discover, whether they're hidden in the middle of tropical jungles or inhabit the dark depths of ocean floors.

Here's a selection of 14 rare animals. Some may be familiar, others will make your jaw drop! 

1. The Tarsier

© imago/blickwinkel/EAST NEWS  

This primate meets marsupial is native to South East Asia and measures between 7 and 15cm. They have long fingers that help them to climb and cling to trees. Their large dark gold eyes give them an adorably cute look, but they should never be kept as pets - they can't be domesticated and should be left to flourish in the wild.

2. The White Lion

© Ilya Naymushin / reuters.com  

White lions are not an albino version of their sandy relatives.  Their white fur comes from a genetic difference rather than a pigment deficit. They're mainly found in South Africa, although white lions have been spotted in prides elsewhere.  Their stunning fur means that they're often targeted by poachers - these guys need our protection!

3. The Axolotl

This one's straight out of Finding Nemo and they can be kept in aquariums. They're found off the coasts of Mexico, but being an animal that's largely kept in captivity, their sea-dwelling numbers are declining. Their fringe-like fins are brightly colored and adult axolotl can measure up to 15 cm.  What's more, they possess a 'super power' - their legs, fins and tails will grow back if they're damaged or bitten off by a predator!

4. The Thorny Devil or Thorny Dragon 

These dinosaur-like lizards come from Australia - the only country in which they're found. Their bodies and heads are covered in spikes that are designed to confuse predators and prey.  They're also really greedy! They feed on ants and can eat up to 2,000 every meal.

5. The Pygmy Marmoset

These cuter than cute primates grow up to 15 cm. Alongside zaris (also from the 'marmoset family') they're the smallest primates on the planet and live in dense tropical forests around South America.

6. The Blobfish

These deep sea fish live 750 m below the surface, which may explain their lack of color and, for want of a better word, their blobby shape! They're one of the weirdest creatures you're never likely to meet, unless you're in Asia - and then it will probably be on a plate, as their delicate flesh is considered to be a delicacy!

7. The Cherax Pulcher

© Christian Lukhaup/ZooKeys (Pensoft)  

This has to be the prettiest crayfish in the world, with its stunning rainbow-colored shell! Colors apart, they're just like any other crayfish but sadly overfishing has meant they've become an endangered species. 

8. The Japanese Spider Crab

Trust us when we say you'll be amazed if you ever meet one in the flesh. These leggy beasts can weigh up to 90lbs and their forelegs can grow up to 9 feet long! They feed off mollusks and scavenge for dead fish.  They can also live to a hundred!  

9. The Aplysina Archeri

© MAURICIO HANDLER/National Geographic Creative  

This species of sponge has distinctive, cylindrical tube-like structures and a blobby surface.  Their tubes can reach 4ft long and they keep growing until the day they die.  Bearing in mind that they can live to 100, this is one hefty sponge!

10. The Aye-Aye

© EAST NEWS  

Part of the lemur family, this little primate is native to Madagascar and is sadly on the verge of extinction. They're tiny little things with tails that only grow to 5cm long.  This insect and fruit-loving beastie is the only primate to have 18 teeth. 

11. The Mouse Deer

The smallest, oldest ungulates in the world, these mini-Bambis only grow to 25cm in height.  They're extremely timid, so only come out at night. In Asia, they're considered to be cunning little things - a bit like foxes in Western Countries!

12. The Frill-necked Lizard

© Jean-Paul Ferrero / ardea.com /EAST NEWS  

These 'Jurassic Park-like' lizards were once thought to be little dragons - except that they don't breathe fire! Their distinctive frilled neck helps them to hunt and despite their size (roughly 90cm), they're highly-skilled predators.  By standing on their claws and fanning out their frills they can produce a very startling display!

13. The Great Potoo

© Kevin Zaouali  

This large-beaked bird loves hunting in mid-flight. Imposing and scary, the Great Potoo is an awesome sight to behold! Its feathers provide a superb camouflage that blends into the South American landscapes where it lives; even seasoned bird watchers find them hard to spot! 

14. The Albino Tarantula

© Jesse Franks  

This has to be the cutest, fluffiest, most adorable spider in the world!  If you see one, pick it up and give it a big, squidgy cuddle.  Why?  Because it's a toy!

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