We’re all familiar with animals, and the majority of us have one as a pet, but have you heard about these fascinating critters before? I’m willing to bet not!

Panda ant | Chile

Panda ant

Credit: Seeds of Eaden

Don’t be fooled by the namehttp://www.seedsofeaden.com – this “ant” is actually a WASP! The wingless females resemble large hairy ants, which are coloured like pandas. Found in Chile, they are known for their excruciating sting, which have been known to kill cows! Hence the local name, cow killer.

Red-lipped batfish | Galapagos Islands

Red-lipped batfish

Credit: Barry Peters

This pretty looking thing is found on the Galapagos Islands. The red-lipped batfish is actually a really bad swimmer despite being a FISH and having FINS which it uses to “walk” on the bottom of the ocean! Interesting… Looks a bit like my Nan, who occasionally goes crazy with the makeup, bless her.

Umbonia spinosa | South America and southern USA

Umbonia spinosa

Credit: Dirk van der Made

The Umbonia spinosa, found in South America and southern USA, is also known as the thorn bug (no prizes for guessing why). They’re considered a huge pest in southern Florida as they like to live in ornamental trees and fruit trees, which they end up destroying by sucking out all of the sap and also by laying their eggs inside. Pest or not, their camouflage is very impressive indeed!

Lowland streaked tenrec | Madagascar

Lowland streaked tenrec

Credit: Frank Vassen

Found in Madagascar, this cute spiky thing is the only mammal known to use stridulation for generating sound. Like me, I will assume the word stridulation means nothing to you. This is the sound that’s usually created by snakes or insects (like grasshoppers) by rubbing their body parts together.

Hummingbird hawk-moth | Great Britain

Hummingbird hawk-moth

Credit: IronChris

I really, REALLY don’t like moths. They usually have me running around the house screaming like a little girl, but these moths are actually amazing! They look and sound just like hummingbirds, and they even feed like hummingbirds! They also have an exceptional memory, and are known to return to the same flowerbeds at the same time everyday. It’s a shame I’ve never actually seen one here in Blighty, though! 🙁

Glaucus atlanticus | Pacific & Atlantic Ocean

Glaucus atlanticus

Credit: Sylke Rohrlach

Wow! This creature really does look fictional, like something you would see in a movie like Avatar! This is called the blue dragon. The colourful creature is a species of blue sea slug (Ed: They’re called nudibranchs, and Nick wrote about them last year). You can find it floating upside down on the surface of warm-ocean waters, such as the southern Pacific or the western Atlantic Ocean. It’s cute but don’t be fooled – it has a painful sting!

Venezuelan poodle moth | Venezuela

If I didn’t inform you enough earlier, I must reiterate: I am scared to death of moths. But look at this thing! It’s so cute! I think I might have a different opinion if it was flapping around my face, though. Anyway, information about this moth is scarce as it’s a new(ish) discovery from 2009. Surprisingly, there isn’t much information on this yet. Come to think about it, I’m pretty sure I caught one of these under a glass a few years back… Terrifying.

Shoebill | Africa

Shoebill

Credit: Hans Hillewaert

I have included the shoebill purely because of its prehistoric look. Again, it almost looks fictional! This large stork-like bird gets its name because of its shoe-shaped beak, oddly enough. These clever birds stalk poorly oxygenated shallow waters where fish surface more often, becoming very easy prey for them.

Thorny dragon | Australia

Thorny dragon

Credit: Bäras

Coloured in camouflaging shades of desert browns, this intimidating little lizard has a peculiar false head, which is presented to his predators by dipping his real head. Why the thorny appearance? This is to help him pass off as some kind of cactus, acting as a deterrent to predators. This is all well and good, but you wouldn’t want to hold it, would you?

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