Weird Creatures

by Chris McMahon

I’ve always been inspired by nature, but when it comes to Fantasy creatures I have always let my imagination guide my inspirations. But there are creatures in nature that are at least – or sometimes perhaps more – bizarre than the ones created in Fantasy fiction. Why not study nature for inspiration?

I’ve always been fascinated by the prior epochs when the Earth’s atmosphere had a different composition. At one point the oxygen was up to 30% by volume, allowing the stupendous growth of insects that are currently limited by the skin-diffusion breathing mechanisms that fuel their metabolism.  Once there were dragonflies with wingspans of up to a metre!

But there are plenty of weird animals around now. How about the Blind Cave Fish that uses its highly developed sense of smell and tactile organs on its head and sides to track predators and prey from minute changes in water pressure (not true ‘radar’ as is often stated, but pretty impressive nonetheless)? Or the electric eel.

How about the denizens of the deep like the Angler Fish that uses a bioluminescent lure to attract prey into its fearsome  mouth? The sea has quite a few – what about the Giant Squid, or the bizarre Oarfish, the longest bony fish alive?

We take bats for granted, but stop and think about how damn amazing their echolocation is. What other creatures could evolve it?

Here is a list of 25 very weird looking animals. My favourites being the beautiful Leafy Sea dragon, the repellent looking Star-nosed Mole, the face-dangling Proboscis Monkey, ever popular Narwhal, perpetually surprised Aye-aye and the aptly named Blobfish.

What is your favourite weird creature?

15 comments

  1. I have a long list, but I’ll give tonight’s vote to the barnacle. Not only does it give free-swimming life of a crustacean to dive head down and feet kicking onto a rock, but it then secretes cement to stick itself there, and spends the rest of its life sessile, kicking food into its mouth. However it still practices internal fertilization. Which means… it has to be able to reach the next lady-barnacle to take its fancy. Work it out for yourself, but barnacles are quite small, quite far apart, and I imagine have no external eyes. It’s indeed passing strange and nearly as much of a mystery as to why they so often go into politics 🙂

    1. Hi, Dave. That is indeed a weird life form. I must admit I have never thought much about barnacles (other than they hurt to walk on), but that is truly fascinating. When I wrote this post I was wondering what your vote would go to!

    1. Good point! I am so surprised at the variability in human form despite that fact that we have such a narrow genetic variation. Amazing really. I personally believe evolution is alive and well & driven by more than natural selection.

  2. The fish with hands. They totally freak me out. I saw one, a tiny one, in a pet store once and the wrongness was incredibly disturbing.

    And it just occurred to me that Dave probably knows what those are.

  3. Nutria, they are not really that wierd, but the simple idea that they have teats on their back so that their young can nurse while swimming has always struck me as one of those things that is so logical and unusual that it is wierd.

    1. Nice one. The fact that aquatic mammals manage to ‘breastfeed’ while swimming always amazed me anyway. Those little guys must have one hell of grip on the teat.

  4. I think caterpillars are undeniably weird. They go from one fully functional form where they eat, move, and act naturally to a sorta hibernation where they change shape, color and type of locomotion.

    1. Absolutely. This was the core premise behind Tau Ceti Diversion. In this case I use that as inspiration for a species where the ‘butterfly phase’ was originally sentient, but the caterpillar phase was non-sentient. The hitch came when the caterpillar phase developed sentience and worked out a way to delay their transformation – essentially delaying the rebirth of the advanced civilisation of the adult phase.

  5. Platypus. I mean, come on G-d, seriously? Did You just have a bunch of left-over bits or is this further proof that You have a sense of humor?

    Pre-Holocene mammals as a collection are quite fascinating. So many really intriguing “might-have-beens” roamed the Earth.

    1. Of course. Being Australian I guess these guys were already familiar, but they are really weird. They are also VERY hard to observe in the wild. Apparently when the first specimens were sent back to England they were believed to be a hoax concocted of other animals cobbled together. Egg laying mammals that have a duck bill and detect faint electric currents to find food? Life truly is amazing. I often wonder if DNA is non-terrestrial, and would actually just find some way of evolving into just about anything.

Comments are closed.