A shoebill bird stands in the long grass in Uganda
13 May, 20192 minute read

Weird and wonderful wildlife

Some animals are naturally more beautiful than others. Some are quite odd. But they have all evolved to be as they are for specific purposes. We’ve taken a closer look at some of the world’s less-than-normal creatures, without whom the world would probably be a much less fascinating place…

1 Armadillo: Spanish for ‘little armoured one’ the armadillo has a protective shell in the form of bony plates. The three-banded armadillo can roll into a ball if it feels unsafe.

2 Proboscis monkey: a monkey with an unusually large nose, found on the island of Borneo.

3 Aye-Aye: a lemur that lives on the island of Madagascar, with a special thin middle finger which it uses for reaching grubs inside tree branches.

4 Gerenuk: meaning ‘giraffe-necked’ in the Somali language, this antelope has a long neck and can also stand on its hind legs to reach high vegetation.

5 Axolotl: an amphibian often referred to as a Mexican salamander, it has external gills and a permanently smiley face! Maybe you would too, if you had their ability to regrow limbs…

Did you know?

  • Scientists believe that reindeer have the ability to alter the colour of the retina in their eyes, to help deal with long, dark winters

  • The tongue of a blue whale weighs as much as an elephant

  • Polar bears actually have black skin

  • Hummingbird wings can beat at up to 80 times per second and they are the only birds that can fly backwards

  • A giraffe has the same number of vertebrae (seven) in its neck as a human

6 Giraffe weevil: an insect endemic to Madagascar. Its name comes from its unusually long neck, which it uses to roll leaves into tubes for its eggs.

7 Hoatzin: known to Amazon natives as ‘stinky turkey’, they have spiky feathers and blue faces. Their name derives from their method of leaf digestion, causing them to smell like fresh cow manure.

8 Shoebill: a member of the stork family, with prehistoric looks and a very large, shoe-shaped bill.

9 Red-lipped batfish: found in the Galapagos Islands, this fish is known for its bright-red lips and also for its ability to use its pectoral fins to ‘walk’ along the ocean floor.

10 Booby birds: with a name that derives from the Spanish for silly or clown-like (Bobo), booby birds are related to gannets. In the Galapagos Islands you will find a number of different species, including the Blue-footed booby, Red-footed booby and the Nazca booby.

Did you know?

  • A group of parrots is known as a pandemonium

  • Humpback whale songs spread through populations as they migrate through the oceans

  • Sea otters hold hands when they sleep to keep from drifting apart

  • An ostrich can run faster than a horse

  • If humans could jump the same distance in relation to our height as a flea can, we could jump over the Empire State Building

Read our Walk on the Wild Side guide to find out more about our wildlife holidays.

Image of blog author Nicola James

Nicola considers herself very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit a number of places around the world and these experiences usually involve searching for as many kinds of wildlife as possible. Recent highlights include penguins in Antarctica, bears and whales in Canada and Alaska and sea otters in California - but there are always more animals to search for.

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