As a culture that grew up on Star Wars, it can be easy to think the weirdest stuff we’ll ever see will be in sci-fi movies. And there are no shortage of choices: the orcs of The Lord of the Rings, the creepy sandworms of Dune, the buggers of Ender’s Game, the arachnids of Starship Troopers.
But as it turns out, there are a ton of crazy weird animals right here on Earth. Most of them we never see or hear about because they aren’t particularly photogenic or common, but they’re out there, lurking under rocks, or gliding through the depths of our oceans. There’s a whole world of sci-fi monsters right here on our very own planet.
1. Venezuelan poodle moth
The satanic-looking Venezuelan poodle moth is a possibly new species of moth that we know very little about. It was only discovered in 2009, presumably while it was haunting a village and eating the souls of children.
The blobfish actually looks relatively normal in its deep sea habitat, but it has low-density flesh — used to help it float so it doesn’t expend energy on swimming — which makes it look like a gross gelatinous blob when it’s taken out of water. The blobfish was voted “World’s Ugliest Animal” in 2013 by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.
3. Tufted deer
Found mostly in China and Myanmar, the tufted deer looks totally normal with the exception of the creepy fangs found solely in the males of the species. Despite the fangs, the deer is an herbivore, and is not at all like the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
4. Pink fairy armadillo
The pink fairy armadillo grows to a length of about 4.5 inches, and is mostly found in the deserts and grasslands of central Argentina.
5. Irrawaddy dolphin
The Irrawaddy dolphin, which is actually closer genetically to a killer whale, is found mostly in Oceania. It’s known to help drive fish into fishermen’s nets in return for some of the fish caught.
6. Tube-nosed fruit bat
There are many different types of tube-nosed fruit bats, but the genus has been nicknamed “Yoda bats” for obvious reasons.
7. Lion’s mane jellyfish
The lion’s mane jellyfish is the world’s largest jellyfish, and can have tentacles up to 120 feet long. In 2010, a single dead lion’s mane jellyfish managed to sting 150 separate people as it washed up on the shore.
8. Snub-nosed monkey
Snub-nosed monkeys are found mostly in China, and their apparent lack of nose is totally normal. They are endangered, but it’s due to habitat loss, and not due to looking up while it’s raining.
9. Frilled shark
The frilled shark is found mostly in deep water, and has not been known to attack humans, except for the time Han Solo tried to park the Millennium Falcon in one of their mouths.
10. Wolf fish
Wolf fish can grow up to 6 feet long, and are known bottom feeders, tending to eat shelled animals like crabs and sea urchins. Hence the absolutely terrifying teeth.
11. Sunda colugo
Found mostly in Southeast Asia, the Sunda colugo — or Sunda flying lemur — is a lemur that lives solely in the trees, and is known to glide from tree to tree using a membrane on its sides.
12. Aye-aye lemur
This is not photoshopped: The cracked-out, Salacious Crumb-looking aye-aye is a particularly ugly lemur found in Madagascar. It is known to be an omen of death or bad luck, and as such, is often killed on sight.
13. Barreleye fish
The barreleye fish — also known as the “spook fish,” which seems more apt to me — is known for its transparent head, which apparently houses Krang.
14. Sea lamprey
Lampreys are actually pretty common, but that doesn’t make them any less horrifying. They are bloodsuckers common to the Great Lakes and the Mediterranean, and unlike most of the animals on this list, they are not remotely endangered. They are everywhere, and they are coming for you.
15. Cyclops shark
This is actually not a species, but is a mutated shark fetus found in Mexico. Cyclopia is pretty rare in any animal, and usually causes their death shortly after birth.
A pangolin is actually just a scaly anteater, though when it curls up, it can look like a resting dragon. They are found in the tropics of Asia and Africa.
17. Goblin shark
This terrifying shark is found mostly in the deep sea, and rarely comes into contact with humans. We’re actually much more dangerous to it than it is to us, but that doesn’t make me want to encounter it any more.
18. Yeti crab
The yeti crab lives in the ocean along hydrothermal vents. Its hair contains bacteria that’s thought to remove poisonous substances coming through the vents, thus making the area livable for the crab. The yeti crab totally doesn’t want to drag you down into the depths and feast on your corpse.
19. Banded piglet squid
The banded piglet squid is a member of the “glass squid” family, which refers to their translucence. In this writer’s humble opinion, they should be referred to instead as “alien muppet squids.”
20. Saki monkey
Sakis are small monkeys found in many parts of South America, and are known for the yellow facial fur that makes them look like Martian monkeys.
21. Naked mole rat
The hideous naked mole rat lives mostly in Eastern Africa, and has a very high pain tolerance, and also an apparent imperviousness to cancer. They can live up to 31 years, are the only mammals to have “queens” as primary breeders, and are definitely that sound you’re hearing in the closet at night.
22. Star-nosed mole
The star-nosed mole is found mostly in Eastern Canada and the United States. The sarlacc-like snout is a sensitive sensory organ that basically takes the place of eyes, and the mole is able to detect earthquakes, which makes it the perfect alien pet.
The uakari is a close relative of the saki monkey from earlier in the list, and totally wants to lead you through the alien jungle to its hobo hovel. These are relatively small Amazonian monkeys, and have been known to travel in packs.
24. Pygmy marmoset
Pygmy marmosets are the smallest monkeys in the world, weighing only about 100 grams. They are found primarily in the Amazon, and their babies are always twins. Adorable, extraterrestrial twins.
25. Giant isopod
Move from “adorable” to “kill it with fire!” Isopods are related to crustaceans, and this variety is thought to be abundant on the deep sea floor, which is as good a reason as I can think of to never go to the deep sea floor.