With almost nine million species of animals identified on Earth, you might assume most had been discovered by now. But according to scientists, we have only scratched the surface — we’ve only discovered about 20% of the world’s creatures. Let’s pause and explore a few oddities in the animal kingdom that exist largely in the land, air and sea:
Land: Eyelash Leaf-Tailed Gecko
With over 1500 species of geckos, this one stands out while also blending into the scenery of its Madagascar homeland. As its name suggests, this gecko has a flattened tail resembling a leaf, and its body has multiple shades of brown; this allows the lizard to hide well among tree branches, waiting for its next meal to pass by. And because it has no eyelids, it needs to lick its eyes to provide moisture and wipe away dust or debris.
Considered one of the most intelligent birds in the world, the kea parrot can solve logic puzzles, fashion and use tools, and work with other parrots to achieve a common goal. Residing on the South Island in New Zealand, it is the world’s only alpine parrot, and the locals call it the “clown of the mountains” because of its panache around tourists. Keas can be found rifling through bags and stealing items, throwing stones at people, and even teaming up for a big heist. They also enjoy rolling around in the snow and will perform acrobatic tricks in the air when the wind is blowing strong.
While technically an amphibian (a neotenic salamander) and not a fish, axolotls live primarily in the water but don’t undergo metamorphosis. With its long tail, four short legs, wide-set eyes, smiling mouth, and six protruding external gills looking like a wild hairdo, the axolotl, or “walking fish,” has the look of an adorable Pixar character. Amazingly, the young axolotl can regenerate their limbs and parts of their spinal cord, heart, brain, and other organs.