These species may have strange names, but like any other species on Earth, they also play an important role in preserving our health and our entire natural environment.
Almost every animal on earth has been assigned its very own boring, nearly unpronounceable species and genus names, but only a few commendable are the kinds of nicknames that make the average nature enthusiast sit up and say, “Hey! What the heck is that?”
The Pleasing Fungus Beetle
Any so-called pleasant fungus beetle immediately raises the question: is this bug named after the nasty fungus beetle? If so, how can one fungus bug be more annoying than the next, given that they’re fungus beetles?
The fact that the pleasant fungus beetles – which include about 100 genera in the family Erotylidae – have brightly coloured shells and/or intricately patterned carapaces, making them very popular with entomologists, if to nobody else. And the pleasant fungus bugs have a nasty habit: they eat some of the gourmet fungo prized by Asian epicures.
The chicken turtle
What do you get if you cross a chicken with a turtle? Well, instead of coming up with a sensational story for that school joke, we’ll introduce you to the chicken turtle, Deirochelys reticulata, a freshwater species of the Southwestern United States.
The turtle’s name is not because of its feathers and wattle, but because its meat tastes strangely like chicken, which once made it a prized menu in the deep south. However, it is unclear where this flavour originated, as D. reticulata has an extremely varied diet, eating plants, fruit, frogs, insects, crayfish and pretty much anything that moves or photosynthesis.
Pe.ɴ.ɪ .s snake
The ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ.ɪ s snake, Atretochoana eiselti, may look unsettlingly like a p.ᴇ.ɴ.i.s but it’s certainly not a snake: this South American vertebrate is in fact a 2-foot-long caecilian, an amphibian family apparently living in the mud like earthworms.
Incredibly amazing considering its stark appearance, the snake ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ.ɪ.s was discovered in Brazil in the late 19th century, then quickly forgotten for over a hundred years until a living specimen was rediscovered in 2011. Even more weirdly, if you happen to be a naturalist, A. eiselti lacks lungs, and its broad, flat head is unique to caecilians.
The Sarcastic Fringehead
“Hey, good science writer! Why waste your time on tiny vertebrates like me when you can write about lions and elephants? What, National Geographic doesn’t recruit? ”
Okay, the sarcastic fringehead, Neoclinus blanchardi, may not necessarily be sarcastic from a human point of view, but this fish certainly has a nasty personality, with its enormous, colourful mouth it uses to grapple with others fringehead and has a pronounced tendency to defend its own territory.
Basically, like many “sarcastic” animals, N. blanchardi is all barks and no bite: it opens its mouth wide but doesn’t say anything worth listening to.
The King of Herrings
It sounds like a joke from a Woody Allen movie, circa the mid-1970s (think of the Russian herring merchant from Love and ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ), but the king herrings, also known as the giant oarfish is, in fact, the longest bony fish in the world.
However, this 10-foot-long marine vertebrate is only distantly related to the much smaller herrings we all know and love; it got its name because 18th-century European fishermen thought it was guiding schools of herring into their nets. (At that point, you might ask: what kind of king would lead his subjects to such a ʜᴏʀʀɪʙʟᴇ ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ?)
The Screaming Hairy Armadillo
It sounds like the kind of backhand you’ll hear in a Disney TV sitcom— “God, mom, don’t have that screaming feathered dog!” – but Chaetophractus vellerosis is a real animal and one living up to its name.
This armadillo’s backplate is covered with long, fringed hairs that look unattractive, and it has the annoying habit of making loud noises when touched or even a lot when looked at. Fortunately for the tender ears of the native peoples of south-central South America, the howling hairy armadillo is also tiny, only about a foot long and two or three pounds.
The Raspberry Crazy Ant
You can imagine that the raspberry mad ant, Nylanderia fulva, gets its name because it looks like a wild skittering raspberry. Well, the truth is stranger than fiction: this ant is actually named after Texas exterminator Tom Rasberry, who first noticed a general ɪɴᴠᴀsɪᴏɴ of this South American species.
(Since then, most people have spelled the raspberry part of this ant’s name with a “p,” just because it seemed more appropriate.) The “crazy” part refers to N. fulva’s seemingly self-ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴜᴄᴛive behaviour; ᴀɢɢʀᴇssɪve swarms have been known to chew through electrical wires, resulting in mass ᴇʟᴇᴄᴛʀᴏᴄᴜᴛɪᴏɴ.
Jellyfish fried eggs
If the fried egg jellyfish (Phacellophora camtschatica) were really made from an egg, what kind of egg would it be? Clearly not produced by a common bird or reptile, like the jellyfish’s bell can measure a whopping two feet in diameter; maybe you have to go back to the titanosaurs dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous period.
However majestic, fried egg jellyfish are not particularly ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀous, either too hungry and nearsighted humans or for other marine invertebrates; Its tentacles inflict cause very weak stings, still enough to harvest its own much-needed daily breakfast.
To fully appreciate the angora rabbit, you need a brief introduction to the textile industry. Technically, the wool of the angora goat is used to make mohair, while cashmere wool is derived from the cashmere goat.
By definition, Angora wool can only be harvested from Angora rabbits, of which there are four internationally recognized varieties (British, French, satin and giant). All that said, the angora rabbit is not only one of the funniest named species, but also one of the funniest-looking animals on this list: imagine naive domesticated bunny that stayed up all night watching Dawn of the ᴅᴇᴀᴅ.
The Paradoxical Frog
A little paradoxical as its name suggests, the Pseudis paradox has an interesting life cycle: the tadpoles of this frog grow up to 10 inches long, but adults are only a quarter of that length.
In case you’re wondering how a three-inch-long female can give birth to cubs that are nearly foot-long, it’s not a paradox at all since tadpoles hatch (and grow) to take the eggs are of normal size. (Completely unrelated to its paradoxical nature, the skin of P. paradoxical secretes a protective chemical that could one day be used to treat type II ᴅɪᴀʙᴇᴛᴇs).