Posts filed under ‘Conservation’

16 Unique Animals That You Probably Haven’t Seen

The animal kingdom is full of fascinating,unique, and sometimes strange and unusual animals. Here are just a handful of animals you probably have never seen from all around the world.

1. Happy Faced Spider

The happy faced spider is native to Hawaii (United States), and is instantly recognizable for the “happy face” on its back, hence the name. This spider species is about 5mm long overall,they have a yellow body, and each spider has its own unique markings. The variations of body color and markings serve as camouflage against birds, to counteract patterns recognized by predators. The pattern changes according to what the spider has eaten. The happy faced spider lives beneath the leaves of plants, where they also spin their webs.

2. Aardwolf

The aardwolf,also called the “maanhaar jackal” is a rather shy and nocturnal subspecies of the striped hyena that is native to eastern and southern Africa, living in open dry plains and bushlands, they are never found living in mountainous areas.  The aardwolf lives in burrows, usually ones abandoned by aardvarks,they hide in their burrows during the day, and come out at night to eat. Their diet completely consists of insects such as larvae and termites, they are capable of eating up to 200,000 termites in a single night.


  • The name means “earth wolf” in Afrikaans/Dutch.

3. Fossa

A carnivorous mammal endemic* to Madagascar, it is closely related to the, mongoose family. The fossa is the largest mamalian carnivore on Madagascar compared in size to a small cougar, they hunt medium sized animals such as fish,birds,rodents, and small lemurs. The fossa were once widespread on Madagascar, now they can be found in small numbers in the countries’ last remaining forests. This species is considered to be cathemeral**, their activity can peak early in the morning,late in the afternoon and late at night. They do not reuse sleeping sites, but females and young do return to the same den. Their population is considered vulnerable by the IUCN due to their population decline over the last 20 years.

*Endemic is basically another word for native.

*A cathemeral animal is one that has sporadic and random intervals of activity the day or night.

4. European Ground Squirrel

The european ground squirrel,also known as the european souslik, is found in eastern Europe in: Ukraine,Czech Republic,Greece,Romania,Bulgaria, some parts of Asia, and as far north as Poland. Living in colonies, in individual burrows, they are diurnal which means they are active during the day and they sleep at night. Their diet consists of seeds,plant soots,roots, and flightless invertebrates. They hibernate during autumn, and March depending on the climate. They begin building up fat reserves in late summer, early in the summer the european ground squirrels give birth to a litter of five to eight cubs. Their population is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.

5. Blobfish

A deep sea fish found off the coast of Australia and Tasmania, it is rarely seen by people and it lives at a depth where the pressure is several dozen times higher than at sea level. The blobfish has a density that is slightly less than water which allows it to float above the sea floor without it having to waste energy swimming. It’s diet consists of edible matter that floats in front of it. The blobfish is often caught by bottom trawling with nets as a bycatch, because the oceans off of Australia may be its only habitat, it is considered to be under threat of extinction.

blobfish.jpg image by Azzedarius

6. Lesser Grison

The lesser grison belongs to the ferret family and it can be found in:Peru,Argentina,Bolivia,Brazil,Chile and Paraguay. They are usually found near water,living under rocks and tree roots and have been known to inhabit vacated burrows.The lesser grison feeds on small mammals,invertebrates,reptiles,amphibians,fruits and eggs. They have litters of two to five, and the young are capable of leaving the birth place after just a few days. The lesser grison are known for their aggressiveness, in fact there is even a Chilean expression: “estar como quiqe” meaning be like the grison.

7. Ring-Tailed Cat

The ring-tailed cat is a relative of the raccoon family and is native to north america found in nine states in the United States (California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico,Nevada, Texas, Utah) as well as three Mexican states (Guerrero, Oaxaca and Veracruz).They live in rocky areas, and deserts,where they nest in hollowed out trees or abandoned wooden structures.They are nocturnal and omnivorous eating fruits,berries,insects,lizards,small rodents and even birds. The ring-tailed cat has several predators including owls,foxes,coyotes,raccoons, and bobcats. They are easy to tame and are legal to keep as pets in parts of the United States.

8. Blanket Octopus

This rather unique looking blanket octopus is found of Australia’s northern coast. This species exhibit an extreme degree of sexual dimorphism*, the females can grow to six feet (two meters) in length while the males are at most a few centimeters long. The species is immune to the poisonous Portuguese man o’ war, whose tentacles males and immature females rip off for defensive purpose. Unlike other octopuses this species does not use ink to intimidate predators, they simply uncurl a large net like membrane which spread out, this trait is what gives this species it’s name.

*sexual dimorphism is a size difference between genders of the same species

9. Glass Frog

The glass frog is found from Mexico to Panama, and through the Andes into Bolivia and Venezuela some species have been found as far as the Amazon basins,Brazil, and Argentina. The frog’s name comes from its translucent skin through which the glass frog’s internal organs including the heart and liver are visible. They are generally small from 3 to 7.5 centimeters (1.2-3 inches) in length, their colors range from yellow to green, except for their translucent skin which covers the lower part of it’s body.

10. Hairy Frog

The hairy frog comes from Sub-Saharan Africa, they are also known as squeakers because their high-pitched call. The males have hair like structures on the body and thighs hence the name. They are small only 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) in length, they are mostly found in leaves on the forest floor. They do not have an aquatic stage, and thus do not have tadpoles, they lay eggs on the ground in leaf litter or crevices and the offspring undergo a direct development. Some species are hatched in their adult form, while others are born with tadpole like tails still attached. The hairy frog has been threatened by habitat loss, but they are currently not considered endangered by the IUCN.

11. Leafy Sea Dragon

The leafy sea dragon lives off the southern and western coasts of Australia, where they live near clumps of sand in waters about 50 meters (or 150 feet) deep.  They feed on plankton,mysids, shrimp and small fish. Oddly the leafy sea dragon does not have teeth which is a rare among animals that eat things such as small fish and shrimp.Like sea horses the males of this species also care for the eggs, taking care of up to 250 bright pink eggs at a time.Once they are born the young leafy sea dragons are completely independent, only 5% make it to adulthood. This species is related to the smaller multi-colored weedy sea dragon.

12. Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko

A species of gecko that is endemic to Madagascar, it is also known as the eyelash leaf-tailed gecko, and the fantastic leaf-tailed gecko.They live in the leaves and leaf litter on the forest floor, relying on their color and tail for camouflage. The adults are anywhere from 2.5-6 inches in length, and they come in a variety of colors ranging in hues of purple,orange,tan,and yellow. The satanic leaf-tailed gecko’s diet consists of a variety of insects including crickets and moths. Habitat destruction and deforestation in Madagascar have prompted the IUCN to label them as vulnerable.

13. Angora Rabbit

The angora rabbit is a variety of domestic rabbit prized for its long,soft fur. One of the oldest types of domestic rabbit,it originates in Ankara,Turkey.Angola’s are bred mainly for their wool which is cut every three to four months throughout the year. There are four different breeds of angora rabbit:English,French,German,Giant,and Satin. Pictured below is a English angora rabbit.

14. Frilled Shark

This prehistoric looking shark lives in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, its “primitive” features have earned it the nickname “the living fossil. They are usually found deep under water at depths of 1,500 meters (about 4,500 feet), but have been found on rare occasions on the surface of the water. They prey on bony fish,cephalopods,smaller sharks,and squid. The frilled shark has been offered as an explanation for sea serpent sightings, as the sightings occur in their habitat. They are sometimes caught by fishermen as a bycatch, and as a result they are considered near threatened by the IUCN.

15. Purple Frog

The purple frog endemic to the Western Ghats of India, also known as the pignose frog, it was discovered in October 2003. Adults are typically dark purple in color, and around 7 centimeters long, and interestingly enough they are said to have a cry that sounds like a chicken. The frog spends most of the year underground, surfacing only for two weeks during the monsoon to mate. Their diet consists of insects, mostly termites. The species is listed as endangered by the IUCN.

16. Spiny Turtle

The spiny turtle is found in Brunei, Indonesia,Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, it’s name comes from its sharp,pointed,spiky edged shell. Also known as the cog-wheel turtle, they typically live in rainforests near streams in hilly areas, 900m or so above sea level. They are listed as endangered by the IUCN.


September 23, 2010 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment

12 Amazing Extinct Animals

All of the animals featured on this list have gone extinct in the last 7,000 years and with the exception of a few, mankind is to blame for their extinction. unfortunately these are just a small handful out of the many species that have been lost. Hopefully this will serve as a reminder to some how important wildlife conservation and preservation of the environment is.

1. Quagga

The quagga is probably Africa’s most famous extinct animal, and it is a subspecies of the plains zebra we see today. They were once found in great numbers in South Africa,however not long after their discovery over hunting caused their numbers to plummet. The last wild quagga is believed to have been shot in the late 1870s, and the last one in captivity died on August 12 1883 at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam.

2.Thylacine the Tasmanian Tiger

Thylacine,better known as the Tasmanian Tiger, was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times. Native to Australia and New Guinea, the Tasmanian Tiger was driven to extinction by many factors the greatest of which was intensive hunting encouraged by bounties. Other contributory factors included disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment on their habitat. The last known Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity inn 1936.

The last Tasmanian tiger (thylacine), a female about 12 years old, which  died in 1936.

3. The Irish Deer

The Irish deer, or giant deer, was the largest species of deer that ever lived. Found in Eurasia from Ireland all the way to Lake Baikal, it was 7 feet tall at the shoulders. They had the largest antlers of any deer having the maximum width of 12 feet from tip to tip, capable of weighing up to 90 pounds! Discussion of the cause for their extinction has primarily been attributed to their antlers, many believe that their antler size restricted their movement in the forests they lived in. Others consider the possibility that it was hunted to extinction by man. Whatever the case the species died out approximately 7,700 years ago.

4. Steller’s Sea Cow

The steller sea cow was named after the man who discovered it, Georg Steller. It grew up to 25 feet in length and was capable of weighing up to three tons, much larger than the manatee or dugong. The species was widespread among the North Pacific Coast, living in a range that stretched as far north as the Bering sea, and as far south as Japan and California The arrival of humans into the area is believed to have caused their extinction. there are sporadic reports of sea cow like creatures being seen in the area,however no sighting has ever been confirmed. It is believed that the last steller sea cow died in 1768.

5. The Dodo

The dodo was a flightless bird found in the Indian Ocean on the Island of Mauritius, standing about three feet tall it was a relative of the modern day pigeon dove. The dodo lived on fruit and built their nests on the ground. Humans drove this species to extinction sometime in the 17th century. The dodo is probably the best known extinct species and their extinction has given way to some commonly used phrases such as: “dead as a dodo” meaning undoubtedly and unquestionably dead, and “to go the way of the dodo” meaning to become extinct or obsolete, to fall out of common usage or practice, or to become a thing of the past

6. The Caspian Tiger

The caspian tiger, also known as the persian tiger was the westernmost species of tiger. Out of all the subspecies of tigers the persian tiger was the third largest. This subspecies of tiger was found in many countries including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Caucasus, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Poaching is usually attributed to causing its extinction, the last known caspian tiger died in the 1970’s.

7. Auroch

The auroch,or urus, was a large species of cattle that was found in Poland,Lithuania,Moldavia,Transylvania,and East Prussia. After they were discovered they were hunted by royal families and nobility for sport which decreased their numbers dramatically, by the time the hunting was stopped there were only 38 aurochs left. The last recorded auroch died in 1627.

8.Giant Auk

The giant auk, also referred to as the great auk or garefowl,was the only species of the genus Pinguinus to survive to modern times. The giant auk stood 30-34 inches high, and was found in great numbers on the islands off the east coast of Canada,Greenland,Iceland,Norway,Ireland, and Great Britain. This species was hunted by man into extinction, becoming officially extinct in 1844.

9. The Cave Lion

The cave lion,also known as the European or Eurasian Cave Lion, was the largest known subspecies of lion to ever exist. A male’s body could reach a length of sex feet (not including it’s tail), they were about 5-10% bigger than the modern day lions. The cave lion is believed to have gone extinct 10,000 years ago during the Wurm glaciation, although there are indications that the species may have survived until about 2,000 years ago in the Balkans.

10. The Bubal Hartebeest

The bubal hartebeest was a species of antelope that once lived in Algeria,Egypt,Libya,and Morocco,and Tunisia, and possibly in the Middle East. They stood four feet tall at the shoulder and had a pair of lyre shaped horns. Hunting in the 19th century dramatically decreased its numbers, sealing its fate. The last known bubal hartebeest was a female who died in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, in 1923.


  • The name hartebeest is a dutch word that literally means deer.
  • The Egyptians domesticated the bubal hartebeest, and it may have been used as a sacrificial animal


11. The Golden Toad

The golden toad was discovered in 1966 by Herpetologist Jay Savage, the toad was native to the tropical cloud forests that surround Monteverde, Costa Rica. The golden toad is best known for its namesake, its brilliant golden orange color. The extinction of this species is largely blamed on global warming and climate change, the last golden toad was seen in 1989. However, experts are not entirely convinced it is extinct, some species, particularly amphibians will go unseen for 20-100 years, sometimes longer before they are seen again.

Golden Toad

12. Baiji River Dolphin

The Baiji River Dolphin is one of the more recent species to go extinct, the population decreased dramatically in recent decades as China industrialized making heavy use of their rivers for fishing,transportation and hydroelectricity. Industrial and Residential waste flowed into the rivers poisoning the water, noise pollution caused the nearly blind animal to collide with ship propellers, and most deaths were attributed to entanglement in fishing gear. Only a few hundred were left in the 1970’s which dropped to 400 in the 1980’s and by 1997 there were only 13 left. A full fledged search was conducted, and the Baiji River Dolphin was declared extinct in late 2006 when the expedition searched their entire range but failed to record a single individual after their extensive search.


September 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm 2 comments


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