Nothing makes tourists whip out their cameras faster than seeing an animal on vacation. Whether searching for the big five on an African safari or combing the beach for sea lions in the Galápagos, getting up close and personal with our furry friends is always a highlight.
But what if we told you that lions, tigers, and bears (oh, my) were just scratching the surface? What if we told you that in some parts of the world, there are creatures so odd and rare that many people don’t even know they exist?
Here is a list of some of the strangest animals around the world.
1. Saiga antelope
iStockThe Saiga antelope can be found around Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan and is easily recognized thanks to its large and flexible nose. In reality, its gigantic schnoz helps to filter out dust and regulate its blood temperature. In May 2015, more than 120,000 Saiga antelope were found dead. Scientists believe they were victims of a suspected epizootic illness that infected the herd.
7. Long-horned orb weaver spider
iStockThis is the type of creature that’s cool to see in photos but you never want to see in your home. The long-horned orb weaver spider has eight eyes and long, horn-looking spines protruding from its abdomen. This particular spider can be found in the forests and fields of Asia.
iStockThis isn’t your run-of-the-mill crocodile. This skinny-snouted croc is called a gharial, and it can only be found swimming in the waterways of India. Its long nose is filled with 110 teeth, making it well adapted to catching fish. Scientists estimate that there are only 235 gharials in existence.
9. Red-lipped batfish
iStockYou can’t put lipstick on a pig, but apparently you can put it on a fish. The red-lipped batfish is found near the Galápagos Islands and looks like it’s wearing the color Dangerous from MAC makeup. In addition to its bright pucker, the fish has a a horn and casually walks along the ocean floor instead of swimming.
10. Goblin Shark
This rare shark is sometimes even called a “living fossil”, “is the only extant representative of the family Mitsukurinidae, a lineage some 125 million years old.”Goblin sharks inhabit around the world at depths greater than 100 m (330 ft), with adults found deeper than juveniles. Given the depths at which it lives, the goblin shark poses no danger to humans.