13 Rare Species You Probably Didn't Know Exist

13 Rare Species You Probably Didn’t Know Exist

1. The Emperor Tamarin

Two words: HOLY MUSTACHE.

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Need more ‘stache in your life? Emperor Tamarins can be found in the Amazon rainforest throughout parts of Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. The mustachioed primates live in troops (usually consisting of two to eight members) that are led by the eldest female.

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2. The Spirit Bear

It’s a unique (and rare) subspecies of American black bear that lives in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada.

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Only 1 in 10 Kermode Bears have cream-colored coats. Beyond just looking cool, the coats act as a kind of camouflage in rivers, allowing the blonde bears to catch more salmon than their darker-furred counterparts.

3. The Quokka

The happiest place on earth is actually anywhere within a five-foot radius of a quokka.

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Seriously. Could these mini-marsupials be any more smiley? They primarily live on Rottnest Island, Australia (which was named after “rat nest” from the guy who initially discovered the island and thought the quokkas were big rats). But if you go to visit them, be chill and don’t feed them. They’re already a vulnerable species, and messing with their diets is not a way to help.

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4. The Bat-Eared Fox

If the quokka is the happiest, most jovial-looking animal on the planet, the bat-eared fox appears to be, uh … on the opposite end of the spectrum.

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Fact time! Their big ears not only help them hear potential prey, but they also help them stay cool in the grassy plains of Africa.

5. The Sand Cat

Ready to meet the only cat species that lives in sandy deserts?

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Meet the adorable Sand Cat. This small but fierce feline lives in the deserts of North Africa and Asia and can weigh up to seven pounds. Its large ears help it detect prey underground before quickly digging it up with its tiny paws.

Speaking of paws, its footpads are completely covered with thick, wiry hair to help protect against extreme temperature.

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6. The Sloth Bear

It’s time to introduce a fluffier animal to this list. And there’s no better animal to do the honors than the sloth bear.

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These big, messy balls of bear-fluff primarily live in the forests of South Asia and are considered a vulnerable species because of habitat loss and, in some cases, human capture.

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7. The Bengal Slow Loris

If the sloth bear wasn’t fluffy enough for you … challenge accepted.

This is a baby Bengal Slow Loris:

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8. The Rock Hyrax

Now this little furball is full of surprises.

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The Rock Hyrax is actually most closely related to the elephant and the manatee. If you think that’s crazy talk, you can read even more about it here on Psychology Today.

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More fun facts? They’ve got a huge range of vocalizations, they have sweaty feet that work like suction cups on rocks, and they enjoy group sunbathing sessions. If that sounds right up your alley and you’d like to meet these delightful little elephant cousins, they can be found in parts of East Africa and the Middle East.

9. The Cotton-Top Tamarin

If the animal kingdom ever decided to form an ’80s rock band, the Cotton-Top Tamarin and its long, white head of hair would totally be the lead singer.

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Unfortunately, the Cotton-Top Tamarin is considered critically endangered by the IUCN. An estimated 80% of their population has been destroyed in the past two decades due to $!#%ing deforestation.

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10. The Patagonian Mara

Ever wonder what the offspring of a horse and a rabbit would look like? Yeah, I never really considered it either … until I saw the Patagonian Mara.

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So weird? So cool. So weird and cool!

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OK, the Patagonian Mara is not actually the product of some torrid horse-rabbit love affair, but it is a member of the rodent family, even though it has hoof-like front claws.

11. The Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey

Ever seen a blue-faced monkey with orange fur?

If so, you’ve met the distinctive Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey, resident of central China. And sorry, but it’s on a totally different level than you. No, seriously: It spends over 97% of its time in trees.

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12. The Pallas Cat

ALL HAIL THE KING OF FLUFF: THE PALLAS CAT.

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It really does have the longest and densest fur of any cat species in the world, which plays a key role in keeping it well-insulated during the winter months in central Asia. Unfortunately, it’s this same fluffy coat that has made the Pallas Cat a target for poachers, which in turn has contributed to population decline.

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13. The Sun Bear

The Sun Bear lives in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia and is the smallest of all living bear species (about half the size of your good ol’ American black bear). They’re also a total delight.

Comically long tongue? Check. It helps them extract and eat their favorite foods: termites and honey. It also lends itself to some spectacular “blargh” memes, as you might imagine.

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Sadly, we also know they’re a vulnerable species, as defined by the IUCN — yet another consequence of deforestation.

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