The scope and diversity of wildlife on our planet is simply breathtaking. Not only are there new types of creatures being discovered every day, but even the species we are familiar with sport impressive evolutionary adaptations and magnificent appearances.
You may not know it, but many of the Earth’s most stunning creatures aren’t very well known outside the scientific community. Here we’ve gathered some of the most beautiful animals in the world that you likely haven’t heard of!
1. Golden snub-nosed monkey: This monkey lives in the mountainous regions of China and is recognizable for its flattened, blue-hued face. Some biologists believe that they evolved this way to protect against frostbite, but regardless, no other creature looks quite like this!
Wikimedia Commons / Giovanni Mari
2. Gerenuk: This elegant animal lives in the very dry regions of eastern Africa and looks like a hybrid between a gazelle and a giraffe! Its enlongated neck actually allows it to reach woody vegetation that’s out of the reach of most other animals in its region.
Flickr / Laura Gittner
3. Maned wolf: This creature is neither a wolf nor a fox, which is its closest relative, but its impressive reddish coat and dog-like features frequently get it mistaken for both. It’s colloquially named the “skunk fox” in South America for its distinctive foul smell that sets it apart from other critters!
Wikimedia Commons / press-office.fc.de
4. Hispaniolan solenodon: This scavenger rodent only lives on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and is distinctive for its adorably long snout, which allows it to sniff out hidden food sources in the island’s soil!
Wikimedia Commons / Seb az86556
5. Fennec fox: This fox is actually the smallest in the world and it lives in the Sahara desert. It’s instantly recognizable by its humongous ears, but its distinctive light fur may be more impressive, allowing it to stay cool in the desert heat.
Flickr / Nathan Rupert
6. Blue parrotfish: The parrotfish gets its name from its beak-like jaws that it uses to dislodge food from coral and the ocean floor, but also like a parrot, it has a distinctive color pattern, typically with bright, almost-neon shades of blue!
Reddit / GillyRoze
7. Okapi: These creatures weren’t discovered in Africa until the early 20th century, which is strange given their distinct, zebra-like stripes! They’re actually close relative of giraffes, and like their long-necked cousins, they live on fruit, leaves, and grass.
Wikimedia Commons / Raul654
8. Arctic fox: This fluffy little creature looks adorable, but it’s also an extremely resilient animal, able to survive temperatures as low as -58 degrees. It’s fur is actually brown in the summer, but when snow falls it grows the distinct white coat that helps it hunt!
Flickr / Mark Dumont
9. Tufted deer: This fanged deer may look vampiric, but despite the teeth, it’s actually completely herbivorous, living on the leaves, twigs, and fruits native to marshy Chinese grasslands where it makes its home!
Wikimedia Commons / Николай Усик
10. Glaucus atlanticus: Most people are surprised to learn that this dazzling sea creature is actually a slug! Unlike its land-bound cousins, though, this slug not only looks incredible, but is quite feisty and can deliver nasty stings to its enemies.
Flickr / Sylke Rohrlach
11. Mouse Deer: Also known as a chevrotain, these little creatures weigh anywhere from four to 33 pounds and are native to Asia and Africa. It’s not actually related to deer but is the last surviving species of the Tragulidae family, members of which used to live all over the planet.
Wikimedia Commons / Sakurai Midori
12. Chinese white dolphin: This dolphin, native to Hong Kong’s Pearl River Estuary, is actually born black, but as it grows up, it loses its pigmentation and appears white or pink! This is due to the blood vessels near the surface of its skin that help keep it warm.
Flickr / John Georgiou
13. Orchid mantis: As its name implies, this beautiful mantis very closely resembles a flower, and its camouflage is so good, in fact, that it doesn’t even have to hunt! Instead, its prey usually comes to it, believing the bug is actually a plant.
Flickr / Frupus
14. Silkie: This breed of chicken sports a number of unusual features including feathers that are said to be as smooth as silk (hence its name), black skin, blue earlobes, and five toes on each foot, which is one more than chickens usually have!
Wikimedia Commons / Boris Bartels
15. Dhole: This endangered Asian animal is usually mistaken for a fox because of its thick red fur, but it’s actually more closely related to wolves. However, unlike most canines, it communicates using a distinctive whistling sound instead of a bark or howl!
Wikimedia Commons / julielangford
16. Markhor: This mountain creature is recognizable by its long, silky coat and its spiraling antlers which can grow up to three feet long! It can be found all over the Middle East and Asia, and it’s actually the national animal of Pakistan!
Flickr / Graham Norrie
17. Sunset moth: This African insect’s wings appear to have all the colors of the rainbow, but this isn’t due to pigmentation. Rather its wings are covered in ribbon-like scales that reflect and refract light in such a way that they appear to be beautifully colored!
Flickr / Frank Vassen
18. Tanuki: These little critters may look like cousins of raccoons, but they’re actually much more closely related to dogs and wolves! They’re native to Japan, and interestingly, they’re the only canines that hibernate during the winter like bears.
Wikimedia Commons / 663highland
19. Royal flycatcher: This South American bird rarely shows off its impressive plumage, saving it for special occasions like mating season. When the feathers do come out, though, this bird sports them by doing a sort of dance where it sways itself from side to side!
Flickr / Richard Gibbons
20. Glasswinged butterfly: This insect is named for its amazing, translucent wings that resemble the panels of a stained-glass window. Unlike most butterflies that use their colors to scare away predators, this one uses its see-through wings to blend into its surroundings better!
Wikimedia Commons / David Tiller
Wow, I’ve never heard of almost any of these animals! They really are stunning.
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