Weirdest Mammals in the World
I was in Borneo recently and whilst the group and I were looking at a wonderful red morph Colugo we were talking about the strangest and weirdest mammals in the world. So we came up with the idea of throwing this out to the mammal watching community, to see if we could get a definitive top 10 weirdest mammals in the world.
Now I know that weird and strange are very arbitrary things and what is someone’s weird is someone else’s normal. I also understand that is you take an elephant, giraffe, hippo or rhino you have some very strange and weird animals indeed. But I think you will understand where I am coming from when i say weird.
I am talking from an unusual looking, evolutionary distinct, bizarre life history and not commonplace at all point of view.
So after much thought and discussion among the group I settled on my Top 10 Weirdest Mammals on Earth. Please let me know yours, you can comment here or email me (email@example.com) and similar to Jon when he compiled the top mammals to see, i will work out the ultimate top 10 from everyones suggestions.
- Solenodon (any)
- Colugo (any)
- Pink Fairy Armadillo
- Echidna (any)
- Giant anteater
- Naked Mole Rat
- Marsupial Mole (any)
I am very much looking forward to hearing other people’s thoughts.
Maned rat is a great inclusion. I also thought about a tree kangaroo.
When we get the final list, we have to find places to see every one
Great thread. Mammals may be “wierd” due to atypical shape, pigmentation, behavior, taxonomy or other factors, in any combination. Distinctive morphology probably constitutes the most straightforward notion of “wierdness”. Individual species and small taxonomic groups could be divided into several `grades’ of morphological uniqueness:
A – those with truly idiosyncratic shapes, resembling no other animal.
B – decidedly unique and unusual species / groups that nevertheless aren’t extraordinarily distinctive.
C – members of larger taxonomic groups that stand out for unusual shapes.
The assessment is entirely subjective but here are my picks for each category. Most are small groups of related species. The “wierdest 10” would come from the first group listed but all mammals below would be candidates. For compilation purposes, probably add 1 vote for any species mentioned by others if it appears herein.
A – the most distinctive and unique mammals:
Tier 1 – top
Anteaters, especially Giant and Silky
Armadillos, especially Pink and Greater Fairy Armadillos
Hippopotamus and Pygmy Hippopotamus
Rhinos, especially Sumatran (looks utterly prehistoric in the greater sense)
Bactrian and Dromedary Camels
Manatees and Dugong
Kangaroos, Wallabies, Quokka, Pademelons Bettongs and allies – large assemblage but absolutely distinct.
Tier 2 – following closely behind
Tier 3 – just slightly less distinctive
B – species / groups that are unique but not extraordinarily distinctive:
Tier 1 – top
Llama, Guanaco, Alpaca & Vicuna
Tapirs, especially Malayan
Agoutis and Acouchis
Highland and Lowland Streaked Tenrecs
Rhynchocyon Elephant-shrews (4 species)
Tier 2 – following closely behind
Chevrotains and Mouse Deer
Eastern and Western Falanoucs
Hyenas and Aardwolf
Olingo and Olinguito
Ringtail and Cacomistle
Tier 3 – slightly less distinctive
Pyrenean and Russian Desmans
Greater Glider (talk about cute)
American Bison and Wisent
C – atypical members of larger groups
Tier 1 – top
Franciscana (i.e. Pontoporia blainvillei)
Northern and Southern Bottlenose Whales
Northern and Southern Right Whale Dolphins
Baird’s and Arnoux’s Beaked Whales
Pygmy and Dwarf Sperm Whales
South Asian and Amazon River Dolphins, plus Baiji if extant
Naked Mole Rat
Tier 2 – following up
Pygmy Right Whale
Sifakas and Indri
Babirusa, Warthogs, Red River Hog, Bushpig, Giant Forest Hog
Sable Antelope, Roan Antelope, Oryxes, genera Alcephalus and Damaliscus
Tier 3 – less distinctive
Northern and Southern Elephant Seals
Red-and-white Giant Flying Squirrel
Pel’s Flying Squirrel
… And surely I am forgetting some things. Mammalian diversity is amazing, even more so when considering prehistoric species. It’s easy to be fascinated with these animals.
– Eran Tomer
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Very good lists, and mine would also have significant overlap. I do agree that the montoremes would top the list – platypus and echindas. Here’s mine (of which I’ve seen 4 in the wild)
4. Marsupial mole
5. Giant anteater
8. Aye aye
10. Donald Trump
I also have a pretty significant overlap with the other lists, with three that haven’t been mentioned already. This list is in no particular order, with the three new species at the top.
1. Hairy long-nosed armadillo (Dasypus pilosus) – must be one of the oddest mammals on earth, with a standard armadillo head, limbs and tail on a body that looks like it has come from a totally different animal.
2. Strap-toothed whale
3. Chapin’s free-tailed bat
4. Pangolin (any species)
5. Star-nosed mole
6. Maned rat
7. Streaked tenrec (either species)
8. Tarsier (any species)
9. Colugo (either species)
I love lists like these because I always learn about mammals I didn’t even know existed (Like the Pink Fairy Armadillo). So, thanks for starting this Martin. My list if fairly straight forward and I am not going to include any mammals I that didn’t know existed. These are in no particular order:
1 – Giant Anteater
2 – Proboscis Monkey
3 – Platypus
4 – Aye Aye
5 – Narwhal
6 – Star-nosed Mole
7 – Kangaroo (Any)
8 – Giraffe
9 – Pangolin
10 – Tapir
Sao Tome fruit bat (asymmetric teeth)
Giant naked bat
Wrinkle-faced bat – many other bats have very weird faces
Golden snub-nosed monkey (those flaps on the lips of a male and punk haircut of a female)
Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (blue and pink face and those white woolly trousers)
Ganges river dolphin (blind)
beaked whales (spend most of life in deep water)
naked mole rat
Some animals look weird in the real life, but not so much on photos. Douc langur looks like an alien to me, with strange lack of cheeks on the face. Elephant seal looks like a giant slug to most people.
There is actually a discipline which can measure weirdness objectively. It measures so-called ‘morphospace’ of a group of animals and picks species which legs, tail, head etc are most dissimilar to the mean of the group.
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That’s a good list. Mine has a good deal of overlap …. and in no particular order
Long-beaked Echidna (definitely even weirder than its cousin)
Laotian Rock Rat
and I was a bit stuck for a 10th – Naked Mole Rat or Fairy Armadillo is a good one, as might be one of the Tree Kangaroos or the Numbat though I think I might give my vote to the Tasmanian Devil.