Drone

 





At first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking some of these images are the work of Photoshop.
But no, all these animals belong to a gang of rare and somewhat comical-looking creatures that hide away in the farthest corners of the earth, and you might not have seen them until now.
From the African antelope with the freakishly long neck, to the tiny kangaroo-legged rodent which can bounce an astonishing ten yards, feast your eyes of the animal kingdom's most charmingly bizarre characters.

The gerenuk 
Gerenuks have long necks, disproportionally large ears and can stand on their hind legs while using their gangly forelegs to feed from tall trees
 
The gerenuk is, unsurprisingly upon inspection, the longest-necked antelope on earth. Found in the Horn of Africa, they take their name from the Somali term 'giraffe-necked', and they use their lithe appendages to reach high-growing foliage. 

Gerenuks can also stand on their hind legs and use their gangly forelegs to feed - sometimes reaching up as high as eight feet.
Their somewhat comical stature is only enhanced by their large ears, which help them keep cool in the searing African heat. 

The ribbon seal 
Ribbon seals are rarely seen by humans and thus not well researched, but they populate Arctic pack ice and all have four white bands on their black bodies
Ribbon seals are rarely seen by humans and thus not well researched, but they populate Arctic pack ice and all have four white bands on their black bodies. dailymail

Ribbon seals inhabit pack ice in the north Pacific Ocean and the adjacent fringes of the Arctic Ocean, and due to their remote habitat, little is actually known about them.
Adults all have four white bands on their black bodies, but are born completely white.
It has been suggested that their distinctive markings help them identify one another during mating season, but that the pattern also works to camouflage them when seen from a distance against the broken ice and water.   

The sunda flying lemur 
Is it a bat? Is it a squirrel? No, it's a sunda flying lemur - and confusingly it isn't actually a lemur either, nor can it fly, but this beady-eyed colungo can do a mighty good job of gliding
Is it a bat? Is it a squirrel? No, it's a sunda flying lemur - and confusingly it isn't actually a lemur either, nor can it fly, but this beady-eyed colungo can do a mighty good job of gliding

The sunda flying lemur looks like a happy hybrid between a bat and a squirrel, with big beady eyes and furry wing-like structures. 
But all is not what it seems. Despite their name, these chaps aren't lemurs and they can't fly. They can glide rather effectively, however, for distances of around 300 feet. 
Sunda's live in various forests around South East Asia and belong to the colugo species. While gloriously graceful mid-air, they are known to be clumsy on foot. 

The maned wolf 
Is it a red fox on stilts? No, it's the only one of its species, the chrysocyon, and is a solitary mammal found in South America
Is it a red fox on stilts? No, it's the only one of its species, the chrysocyon, and is a solitary mammal found in South America

This spindly-legged mammal is not a fox, nor, as its name suggests, a wolf. It is special enough to have its own species, the chrysocyon. 
The maned wolf lives across central regions in South America and possess big ears and very long legs. Unlike wolves or dogs, they mate for life with one partner and don't form packs.
Generally they are shy beings but if threatened, the fur on the scruff of their necks puffs up - thus the name. 

The fossa 
The fossa, with its chunky paws and long dexterous tail, is unique to forests of the African island of Madagascar and is most closely related to the mongoose
The fossa, with its chunky paws and long dexterous tail, is unique to forests of the African island of Madagascar and is most closely related to the mongoose

Another confounding-looking creature which seems hard to categorise, the fossa is most closely related to the mongoose. 
Until fairly recently, it was thought to be some sort of primitive cat. 
The fossa, with its chunky paws and long dexterous tail, is unique to forests of the African island of Madagascar, where it is the largest carnivore, but is sadly endangered due to having lost 90 per cent of its habitat, thanks humans.

The white peacock 
White peacocks lack the kaleidoscopic colour we are used to seeing with this bird, due to a genetic mutation which means they are missing melanin  
White peacocks lack the kaleidoscopic colour we are used to seeing with this bird, due to a genetic mutation which means they are missing melanin  

These startling peacocks are not albinos, but rather a subspecies of the blue peacock born by genetic mutation. 
White peacocks boast beautiful blue eyes but thanks to a lack of melanin have no colour to their plumage.
When two of them breed, their chicks are yellow but all turn white, so they have been mated and multiplied in captivity. Generally, though, they remain a rare sight. 

The white reindeer
Not an albino, despite the pinkish hue of its horns, this rare sight in Swedish Lapland is another example of a genetic mutation
Not an albino, despite the pinkish hue of its horns, this rare sight in Swedish Lapland is another example of a genetic mutation

Much like the white peacock, this magnificent creature is of the same species as a brown reindeer but is another case of a genetic mutation.
White reindeer, which appear in the wilds of Finland, Norway and Sweden, are extremely rare, though they have been born in captivity elsewhere, including England.
In their northern homeland, they are seen by some as magical and a signal of good luck. 

The Japanese dwarf flying squirrel
This little pocket-sized pipsqueak is native to Japan, and hidden under those furry armpits is a thin membrane which allows it to glide through the air
This little pocket-sized pipsqueak is native to Japan, and hidden under those furry armpits is a thin membrane which allows it to glide through the air. dailymail

The Japanese dwarf flying squirrel looks as if it could be straight out of a Disney film.
With huge cartoon-ish eyes, grey-striped fur and the ability to glide thanks to a fine membrane connecting its wrists and ankles, it's hard not to find these little chaps appealing.
They are found in abundance in sub-alpine areas of Japan, and sadly are even kept as pets in some parts of the world. 

The southern flying squirrel 
 This variation of airbourne squirrel lives in the US and Canada and is capable of gliding for distances of more than 100 feet
 This variation of airbourne squirrel lives in the US and Canada and is capable of gliding for distances of more than 100 feet

More widespread than its Japanese cousin, the southern flying squirrel is a remarkable critter found across the US and Canada.
They are nocturnal, and very social - choosing not to hibernate during winter but instead curling up together in groups of more than 20 and hiding in tree hollows.
Again, they don't actually fly but they are capable of gliding for distances of more than 100 feet. 

The Chinese water deer 
This primitive breed of deer has roots in China but has been introduced to other regions including the UK, and has long fangs in its jaws instead of horns on its head
This primitive breed of deer has roots in China but has been introduced to other regions including the UK, and has long fangs in its jaws instead of horns on its head

Upon first glance, the Chinese water deer doesn't appear particularly peculiar, until you zone in on their mouths.
These primitive deer grow long fangs instead of tanduk, which they use to fight one another, and have a wide vocal range of 'barks' and screeches when alarmed.
Despite their Chinese heritage, around ten per cent of their world population now resides in the East of England.

The blue-footed booby 
The dance you see before you is the male (right) desperately trying to prove the impressiveness of his blue feet, which signify good genes, to the female (left)
The dance you see before you is the male (right) desperately trying to prove the impressiveness of his blue feet, which signify good genes, to the female (left)

Nice feathers, very impressive feet.
The blue footed booby is a bird found in tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean, and particularly the Galapagos islands. It gets its brightly-coloured walkers from the carotenoid pigments present in its food.
When mating season rolls around, males perform splendid dances to showcase these dazzling feet - and the bluer the better in terms of attraction. 

The caracal 
This tuft-eared feline may look serene but in fact, when enraged, it's one of the most vicious and formidable members of all the wild cats
This tuft-eared feline may look serene but in fact, when enraged, it's one of the most vicious and formidable members of all the wild cats

The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat that lives in Africa, the Middle East, Persia and the Indian subcontinent. 
Once used in Iran and India to hunt birds, the caracal boasts handsome dark turfs on both ears and is often referred to as 'the desert Lynx'.
Don't cross one though. Caracals are known for being extremely viscous - the grumpiest and hissiest of all the wild cats in the world. 

The jerboa 
This peculiar-looking fellow has powerful legs which can propel it to distances of up to seven feet in height and ten feet in length through the hot desert sands of the Gobi and Sahara
This peculiar-looking fellow has powerful legs which can propel it to distances of up to seven feet in height and ten feet in length through the hot desert sands of the Gobi and Sahara. dailymail

This teeny jumping rodent has a bit of everything going on. A mouse-like head, long cat-like whiskers, kangaroo-style hind legs and a long tufted tail.
It may look fragile, but the jerboa is supremely adapted to its boiling hot habitat, stretching from Asia to Northern Africa, where they happily make their homes in the Gobi and Sahara deserts.
Its incredible legs can mendorong it to distances of up to seven feet in height and ten feet in length, making it one of the bounciest little joy bundles you are likely to (not) come across anywhere.

The fennec fox 
Enormous ears distinguish the fennec fox from other members of its species, and are essential for dispersing heat in the hot environment of the Sahara, the only place they are found in the world
Enormous ears distinguish the fennec fox from other members of its species, and are essential for dispersing heat in the hot environment of the Sahara, the only place they are found in the world

The fennec fox is a very small nocturnal fox with disproportionately giant ears which it uses to disperse heat, found only in the Sahara of North Africa. 
They have hairy feet which act somewhat like snowshoes to help them navigate over hot sand, and double up as good diggers for all their burrowing needs.
Fennecs live in small communities in wild underground dens, but alas, their adorable features make them prime targets for use in the captive pet trade. 

The dumbo octopus 
This rare deep ocean dweller is something of a mystery in many ways, but we do know it can change colour and grow up to six feet long
This rare deep ocean dweller is something of a mystery in many ways, but we do know it can change colour and grow up to six feet long

The dumbo octopus is a rare breed, often called the Blind Octopus due to its large but rather useless eyes.
It lives very deep in the ocean and can use jet propulsion to move through the water, as well as a crawling motion to cross the seabed.
Although not much is known about these shy ocean dwellers, they can grow up to six feet long and are capable of changing colour. 

The spoon-billed sandpiper
Sadly, this little wader bird, which breeds in north-eastern Russia and migrates to south-east Asia, is critically endangered
Sadly, this little wader bird, which breeds in north-eastern Russia and migrates to south-east Asia, is critically endangered

Fewer than 100 pairs of spoon-billed sandpipers remain in the wild, together weighing less than a single swan. Illegal hunting is the main culprit for this.
The tiny wader birds breed in north-eastern Russia and migrate to south-east Asia for winter.
Thanks to a dedicated effort from various conservation programs around the world, two females laid eggs for the first time in captivity earlier this year at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Gloucestershire. Hope remains, for now at least. dailymail


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