Have you ever seen a picture of an animal and thought that it had to be fake? Chances are that it probably wasn't, as the animal kingdom is much more vast and diverse than most of us realize.
With this in mind, it should be no surprise that there are wild and often freaky-looking animals in the great outdoors. These oddballs would look much more at home in a children's story book than, say, roaming the plains of Africa.
Oarfish are rarely seen near the surface, but when they are, it's easy to mistake them for some sort of mythical serpent. Adult oarfish have been known to grow up to 36 feet long.
2. Musk Deer.
At a glance, these furry critters look more like vampires than deer. However, their sharp fangs are only used for mating. For most of the last century, scientists believed musk deer to be extinct. Late last year, though, one was spotted in the wild for the first time in 60 years.
Narwhals are more closely related to dolphins than whales. With their large, single ivory tusk growing out of their head, you might call them the unicorns of the sea.
4. Saiga Antelope.
These animals look like a kind of anteater from a distance, thanks to their proboscis-like nose. Despite their reproductive prowess, these creatures have experienced a dramatic population drop in recent years due to hunting.
5. Colossal Squid.
These rare sea beasts look more like the mythical "Kraken" than something you'd expect to come across in the ocean. Since their discovery, only a few specimens have been examined by scientists, but they are massive and can grow up to 46 feet long.
6. Glaucus Atlanticus.
Glaucus atlanticus is a beautiful sea slug that feeds itself in an inventive way. Its main prey is the deadly Portuguese man-of-war. After it eats one, the atlanticus stores the man-of-war's stingers on its own appendages and uses them for defense.
The okapi is not quite a zebra, not quite a horse, and not quite a giraffe. It's something special in-between all three. Its specialized skill set is perfectly adapted for the environment of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
8. Superb Bird Of Paradise.
There are a lot of birds of paradise, but the superb is the most magical. The bright blue breast shield sometimes doubles as a sort of cape for the bird. Male superb birds use it for a unique mating display.
9. Thorny Devil.
These pointy Australian lizards will leave you with more than a few scratches if you try to handle them. Their thorns protect them when they're feeding on ants, their primary food source.
10. Red Uakari.
These monkeys are social creatures who gather in packs of 100 or more for activities. Their bright red faces are what sets them apart from other primates.
11. Streaked Tenrec.
It's like a yellow and black version of Sonic the Hedgehog. However, the tenrec's body is covered in quills. These guys actually communicate with each other by rubbing their quills together.
12. Japanese Spider Crab.
While this guy looks a little scarier than the other animals on this list, he's just as amazing. These crabs can grow up to 12 feet in length, and have the largest leg span of any arthropod on the planet.
(via The Dodo)
What I would really love to see is a children's storybook dedicated to the Japanese spider crab. Sure, they look freaky, but I think they have a certain childlike charm to them.