14 Weird Animal Names You Won’t Believe Are Real
The world is full of strange creatures that have roamed the Earth for centuries. While many of these interesting species look fairly normal, some have names that will make you do a double-take. These weird animal names show that scientists have a sense of humor when it comes to classifying new discoveries.
We have compiled a list of some of the weirdest animal names we are sure you’ll get a kick out of. Whether it’s the penis snake that looks like, you guessed it, a penis, or the spiny lumpsucker, these animals all have weird scientific or common names that make them stand out.
14 Weird Animal Names You Won’t Believe Are Real
1. Satanic Leaf Tailed Gecko
The uroplatus phantasticus is believed to be the smallest species of uroplatus geckos that are found only in Madagascar. First discovered by Belgian naturalist George Albert Boulenger in 1888, the gecko has a flat, leaf-like appearance, which explains part of its name. Nobody is quite sure where the word “satanic” comes from, but many speculate it could have something to do with the gecko’s almost evil appearance courtesy of spines protruding from its body and head.
Able to easily blend into its surroundings thanks to its appearance, the satanic leaf tailed gecko hunts at night despite having no eyelids. The gecko just has a thin covering over each eye and uses its tongue to keep its eyes clean and free of dirt.
2. The Chicken Turtle
No, this is not some sort of weird science experiment gone wrong. The chicken turtle is in fact just a plain old turtle. There are no feathers or beaks, just a regular-looking freshwater turtle that’s native to the United States.
The chicken in the name is a reference to the taste of the turtle, with deirochelys reticulata (its official scientific name) known to have tasted very similar to chicken. Turtle soup was once a famous southern dish that is now no longer available due to regulations on the hunting of the turtle.
Weird name aside, the chicken turtle has been walking the planet for around five million years. It lives on both land and water and is a carnivore that eats mainly invertebrates, such as crayfish and dragonflies.
3. Spiny Lumpsucker
The spiny lumpsucker has a name you could use as an insult next time you want to annoy someone. A member of the Cyclopteridae family, this boney fish gets its name thanks to its pelvic fins that have evolved into suckers. This allows the Eumicrotremus orbis to attach itself to various surfaces, which is handy as its round-shaped body lacks big or powerful fins and often needs to hold onto rocks to stop it from being carried away by the currents.
4. The Paradoxical Frog
Beginning life as one of the largest tadpoles in the world (around 11 inches long), pseudis paradox shrinks to a small size and morphs into an average-sized frog, also known as the paradoxical frog. Living in lakes, ponds, and lagoons throughout South America, this species of frog varies in color from brown to green and uses its strong toes to hunt insects and other small water creatures.
The paradoxical frog may also possess the cure for those suffering from Type 2 diabetes. A compound in its skin is able to create insulin, which doctors hopefully think will be able to be turned into a usable drug that can replace insulin injections.
5. The Screaming Hairy Armadillo
It sounds like some kind of sex move, but the screaming hairy armadillo is in fact a member of the armadillo family. Chaetophractus vellerosis looks like your average armadillo besides the strands of hair that cover its black plates.
Found in South America, it is known to emit loud screams when handled and is often hunted by locals for its meat. Small in size (less than a foot long), the screaming hairy armadillo lives in burrows and prefers tropical locations.
6. Wunderpus Photogenicus
Found in the coastal waters surrounding Indonesia, Malaysia, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea, the Wunderpus Photogenictus is a type of octopus with a rust-colored body that has a unique design of white spots across its body. The underwater creature gets the first part of its name, wunderpus, from the German word “wunder” (meaning “marvel” or “wonder”) and the English word “octopus.” The second name, Photogenicus, references the photographic nature of the wunderpus.
The wunderpus photogenicus has several impressive defense mechanisms and is able to change its color to avoid predators or by mimicking other more dangerous sea creatures. It also has the ability to detach its arms if attacked by a predator so it can make a quick escape. These lost limbs can regenerate, which is a pretty neat trick.
7. Pleasing Fungus Beetle
Erotylidae, or the pleasing fungus beetle, is the name given to a family of beetles that contains over 100 different genera and somewhere close to 2,000 species. Most are black and brown in color and feed on fungus or plant matter. Harmless to humans, some species of the pleasing fungus beetle are seen as pests, but on the whole, these insects normally keeps out of trouble.
8. Rasberry Crazy Ant
While it does look reddish in color, the rasberry crazy ant is actually named after the Texan exterminator Tom Rasberry, the man who first noticed an increase in the ant’s population in 2002. Identified by scientists as Nylanderia fulva, the “crazy” part of the ant’s name is a result of its quick movements, with the raspberry crazy ant known to change direction quickly and for no apparent reason.
Originally from South America, the ants have set up camp in the United States, particularly in Texas, where they can be quite the pest due to their attraction to electrical equipment. They often bite through wires and cause circuits to blow, although researchers are unsure why this is.
9. Tasselled Wobbegong
This species of carpet shark is found off the coast of northern Australia and New Guinea. Growing up to six feet in length, the Eucrossorhinus dasypogon (common name tasselled wobbegong) has a flat body and head and a color combination that helps it blend into the coral reefs it inhabits. While it can be aggressive – it has been known to bite humans who get too close – for the most part, the shark keeps to itself.
The shark derives its name from two sources. Around its head it has a series of lobes that resemble tassels, hence the word “tasselled.” The word “wobbegong” is an Indigenous Australian word that means “shaggy beard,” another reference to the appearance of the tasselled wobbegong.
10. The Penis Snake
Officially known as Atretochoana eiselti, this disgusting-looking snake resembles a long, thick penis, so it’s pretty obvious where the nickname penis snake comes from. Incredibly nobody had seen a penis snake since Sir Graham Hales found one and preserved it in the 1800s until 2011 when workers in Brazil came upon one while building a dam.
The limbless amphibian is a species of caecilian with no lungs, a sealed mouth, and a fleshy dorsal fin. It burrows in the Earth like a worm and can grow up to three feet in length.
Despite the terrifying name, the hellbender is a harmless species of salamander. Cryptobranchus alleganiensis is the largest member of the salamander family in North America, capable of growing up to 29 inches long. Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the hellbender differs from other salamanders not only in size but also in the number of toes it has, with the hellbender having hind feet with five toes, not four.
As for its name, the Missouri Department of Conservation believes it has something to do with its appearance: “The name ‘hellbender’ probably comes from the animal’s odd look.” One theory claims the hellbender was named by settlers who thought “it was a creature from hell” while other stories say the undulating skin of a hellbender reminded observers of “horrible tortures of the infernal regions.” Get past the evil name and you’ll discover this creature is nothing but a harmless aquatic salamander.
12. Agra Cadabra
Someone had a lot of fun when they named the agra cadabra beetle. This ground bottle is a member of the agra family of Carabidae, which is made up of over 500 different species, with a further 1,000 or more still yet to be described in detail. These beetles are easily recognizable thanks to their long narrow neck and head and are believed to eat other insects, along with pollen and sap.
13. Star-Nosed Mole
Not only does the star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) have a weird name, but it also looks bloody strange too. While it has the body and shape of your average mole, on its nose is a star-shaped limb consisting of 22 appendages covered by over 25,000 tiny sensory receptors, known as Eimer’s organs. As the mole is blind, it uses its nose to detect vibrations, helping it navigate and hunt for food.
Located in Canada, the star-nosed mole prefers wet areas, often living in and around lakes, streams, and creeks, although it can survive on dry land. They mainly eat worms and aquatic insects and can grow up to eight inches long.
14. The Ice Cream Cone Worm
Scientifically known as pectinariidae, the ice cream cone worm is a burrowing invertebrate that builds tubes made from sand grains around its body. Encased in the tubes, the creature resembles an ice cream cone, although not the type you want to bite into unless you enjoy eating slippery, slimy, tentacled animals.
The ice cream cone worm lives in shallow waters and mudflats all around the world and has tentacles near its mouth it uses to find food and digest sand particles, much of which passes straight through the worm and out the other side.
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