Home Biology50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
BiologyBy Joe Burgett -

What if we told you that there were animals throughout history that you never managed to see in a textbook or even hear about? What if we told you that there have been animals throughout history that were rare from the start and remained that way? It might be a shocking thing to hear, but some of the rarest animals in the world are shocking to see.

There are some rare animals you might have heard of. Yet we decided to cover a lot of these animals from different walks of life. In fact, this list is so versatile that we can guarantee you may be hearing and/or seeing some of them for the very first time here. How can we guarantee such a thing?

Some of them have only been known about for a short time period. Others simply just aren’t going to be where humans might frequent. Others, meanwhile, are located in specific parts of the world where even natives see them rarely.

We decided to use the term “rare” in a loose way. Throughout history, there have been a ton of amazing creatures that have gone extinct or eventually ended up close to it. Meanwhile, there are others that people just do not see very often, making them a rare sight.

Some of these animals have been gone for so long that they have simply become legends or merely referenced in writings from thousands of years ago.

In this list, we decided not to mention any of the Dinosaurs. We also chose to only use animals that are proven to have lived, not ones based out of fantasy like the Unicorn for example.

That said, sit back and enjoy our list of the 50 rarest animals known throughout history.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Alex Vargas]

50. Madagascar Serpent Eagle

  • Current Status: Endangered

When you think about eagles, most Americans only concern themselves with the infamous bald eagle. Around the world, various nations have eagles mostly native to them. Yet one of the animals you’ve likely never heard of is known as the Madagascar Serpent Eagle. It is a beautiful bird native to, obviously, Madagascar. The species is currently endangered and dying out fast. It is currently one of the rarest animals in the world and incredibly hard to come across in the wild.

This is mostly due to habitat loss because it seems like they have an entire place filled with food they can eat. Heck, they eat every animal as well as most fruit that calls Madagascar home. At one point, we thought the species was lost forever as the last sighting was in 1930. Then when more were spotted in the 1970s and 1980s, there was hope it could come back. Sadly, it remains endangered and may stay that way due to the habitat issues.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via NT News]

49. Speartooth Shark

  • Current Status: Endangered

The Speartooth Shark may very well be one of the most incredible looking sharks in the world. Yet they happen to also be the rarest shark you’ll come across. The species has been endangered for years with only small points of coming back here and there sadly. They can be found in places like New Guinea as well as Northern Australia. The species gets its name from the appearance of the shark, with the nose and front portion looking similar to a spear tip.

What makes this species so special is that they are part of the incredibly rare “River Sharks.” You read that right, sharks can be found in rivers too. The Speartooth Shark is a freshwater species, which is incredible in its own right. This is why we do not see them among other sharks throughout the oceans, as they contain saltwater. Yet despite this, they can be found in marine waters somewhat as rivers tend to empty out into oceans. So they’re often spotted in these dropout points too.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via discoverthetarkine.com.au]

48. Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger)

  • Current Status: Extinct

The Thylacine is sadly an extinct animal today but during the time of the species being present, they were among the rarest animals on the planet. It was an incredible species known to most as the “Tasmanian Tiger.” The species sadly went extinct due to bounties put on them as well as things like disease and habitat loss. The Thylacine was actually native to places like Australia, New Guinea, and obviously the island of Tasmania.

However, it went extinct in Australia before the British arrived. This was ensured by the Brits who ran across them and made sure to wipe them out. They were top apex predators in their time as well, but they were not actually tigers or even wolves. They’re actually the largest known carnivorous marsupial to be seen after the pre-historic era. Despite the danger of the Thylacine, unsuccessful attempts were made in the early 1900s to save the species. Sadly, the last known passed in 1936.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via saharaconservation.org]

47. Addax

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

The Addax is a species of antelope native to the Saharan Desert. They are often referred to as the infamous “White Antelope” that is often at the center of hunting myth stories. Yet unlike the “white” deer or elk stories you might hear, the Addax is quite real. The funny part about these animals is that they are not always white as this is based completely on the season. During the winter, for example, they’re grey-ish brown with white hindquarters. In the summer, they turn sandy blonde or white.

The species is now extremely rare in the wild though they are incredibly common in captivity. The Addax once could be seen all across Northern Africa but it sadly began dealing with humans. Habitats died out and unregulated hunting took the population down massively. The Addax population is extinct in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, and Western Sudan as a result of this. However, they can be found in Chad, Mauritania, and Niger. They’ve even been reintroduced to Morocco and Tunisia.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Pinterest]

46. Bush Viper

  • Current Status: Varies Among Species Type, Most Are Endangered

Bush Vipers happen to be one of the most notable species of snake due to their impressive look and coloring. While there are several species of snake that are arguable unique and beautiful, it seems that we humans tend to get a kick out of the Bush Viper more than most. There are currently 16 known Bush Viper types, but a number of these are dying out due to things like habitat loss. Some, like the one pictured, are among the rarest animals in the world to ever see in-person.

Bush Vipers are often found in the tropical sectors of Subsaharan Africa as well as Southern Africa. Some of the Bush Vipers have fragmented or completely isolated numbers due to only being in rain forests. They try to stay far away from humans, which is likely why they are among the rarest animals seen by us in the wild. The Bush Viper is very poisonous as well, containing a Hemotoxin venom. Due to the lack of bites, an antivenom for their poison is currently not available.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via MNN.com]

45. Lord Howe Island Stick Insect

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered [Rarest Insect on the Planet]

The Lord Howe Island Stick Insect is one of the rarest animals in the world but it might be on a comeback! It was believed for years that the species had gone extinct dating back to 1920. However, the species was rediscovered in 2001 with just 24 of them being found. That made them the rarest insect in the world at the time. The insect gets its name basically due to being native to the Lord Howe Island. However, they went extinct here.

The 24 found were actually on an island called Ball’s Pyramid. Luckily, we’ve managed to use proper conservation techniques with them and the Melbourne Zoo was able to bring up the population by 2012. They managed to bred over 9,000 of them and get 20,000 eggs out of this as well. Some were even placed back on Lord Howe Island over the last few years. The Toronto Zoo, San Diego Zoo, and Bristol Zoo have taken on eggs of the species to assist its comeback too.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via NewsObserver.com]

44. Red Wolves

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

The Red Wolf happens to be one of the rarest animals in the world today but it was once abundant. Several conservationists, as well as biologists, feel we need to do all we can to save the species due to how special it happens to be. The Red Wolf is a mix of both a wolf and coyote. This is actually an ancient genetic admixture and likely happened in a time when Wolves and Coyotes were much closer in relation and size. However, its origin may be its biggest problem.

Weirdly, the US Endangered Species Act of 1971 does not offer protection to admixture animals of any kind. Yet the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as critically endangered. The entire wild Red Wolf population can be found in North America with the main portion being in the Southern United States and upper areas of Mexico. Therefore, the U.S. needs to get on board to help keep the species alive. Currently, less than 200 red wolves are known to be living today.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via SustainablePulse.com]

43. Borneo Pygmy Elephant

  • Current Status: Endangered

Elephants are generally known to be large animals that could absolutely destroy just about anything in their path. They are even known to be capable of killing lions, cheetah, and tigers. However, there is one species known as the Borneo Pygmy Elephant that’s actually quite small. The Disney character Dumbo happens to be based on these elephants but sadly, they are quite endangered.

They are native to the island of Borneo but can also be found in places like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. As a rule, Asian Elephants are smaller than African Elephants. However, the Pygmy Elephants come out of the Asian Elephant category but now set themselves apart as an entirely different species. The average male reaches 5’6 to 8’6 inches in height with females going at 4’11 to 7’2. Therefore, some can still get quite large but this is dwarfed by the average elephant size.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via the World Wildlife Fund]

42. Saolas

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

The Saola happens to be one of the rarest animals on the planet with, at one point, only one true photo taken of one back in 1999. The image was taken by the World Wildlife Fund with the help of the Vietnamese Forest Protection Department. The Saola is incredibly tough to narrow down in species as it’s actually related to cattle, goats, and antelopes. We did not really even know they existed until 1992 after remains were found of one.

Funny enough, Saolas have been kept in captivity several times over the years but it was usually only for short periods. Often called the “Asian Unicorn” due to rarely seeing them in the wild, they were added to the endangered list years ago. Located in only Vietnam and Laos, both governments have tried to protect the tens of the species left. Over 20,000 snares have been removed from their habitat and hunting them as well as selling their fur has been made illegal.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Reddit]

41. Japanese Spider Crab

  • Current Status: Vulnerable

The Japanese Spider Crab is thankfully not on the endangered species list as of now, but it is considered vulnerable. What’s the difference? Humans can still hunt and remove the Japanese Spider Crab from its habitat currently. However, Japan does have a ban on doing this during their mating season. The uniqueness of this crab has made it one of the most infamous marine species living today. Most of them are capable of reaching gigantic sizes.

It has the longest legs of any arthropod, and can often reach over 12 feet in height! As of now, the crab species is only found in the waters close to Japan and some surrounding nations. Thus, giving the crab its name. The bite of a spider crab is not poisonous to humans due to the venom not being potent enough to affect us. Plus their fangs rarely if ever break the skin. Yet they can be a huge threat to other marine animals.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Animal Planet]

40. Zanzibar Leopard

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

When you bring up elusive predatory cats, the Zanzibar Leopard may need to be near the top of the list. We thought that this leopard species went extinct over 25 years ago. The reason for it was due to locals of Tanzania believing the leopard to be evil due to its appearance as well as the fact that the species did not mind attacking humans or stealing food. The demonization of the leopard led to a determination by locals to completely exterminate it.

It was considered a success until 2018 when a wildlife biologist named Forrest Galante recorded one using a camera trap. This renewed hope that the species could still be alive. However, it was thought that the leopard captured on camera was much smaller than the ones the area saw decades ago. Due to the people here of Tanzania considering them to be vermin, conservation of the Leopard may not be an option. The Leopard seems to know its hated, as they remain elusive.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via YouTube-Fact & Fiction]

39. Panda Ant

  • Current Status: Endangered/Vulnerable

It’s unlikely you’ve ever seen something like this unless you live in South America, specifically Chile where they’re located. Yet the Panda Ant is very real and absolutely amazing. Known to science as “Euspinolia militaris,” the Panda Ant was discovered in 1938 and remains a rare gem to the South American region. They are sadly endangered despite their impressive spawning numbers.

The reason for this is that they may lay around 2,000 eggs in this period but they’re actually pretty bright. Predators can see the eggs from afar and eat a good portion of them. This results in the population having trouble. Also, the species generally only survive for around 2 years. Contrary to their name, the Panda Ant is not actually an ant. It’s actually a form of wingless wasp. It looks like an ant and has the colors of a panda, thus developing the name it holds today.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via ResearchGate.net]

38. Golden Toad

  • Current Status: Extinct

It’s possible that you’ve seen the Golden Toad all over the place over the years. It’s sadly known by most as the poster child for the amphibian survival crisis. The first known spotting of the Golden Toad occurred in May of 1989 with one male toad but signs of others were rarely if ever seen after this. This led to the creature becoming a critically endangered species right away but by 2004, the species reportedly went extinct.

However, as we’ve seen in this list already, we’ve assumed many creatures were gone until they weren’t. The Toad lived in Nothern Costa Rica at the time of their believed survival. The problem with the Golden Toad may very well be that it often looks like Poison Dart Frogs, and happened to be a similar size. Some of those frogs favored the toad so many feel that the Golden One could still be out there hiding in the brush, assumed to be another dart frog.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Wikipedia Commons]

37. Maned Wolves

  • Current Status: Near Threatened

Maned Wolves are beautiful animals and one of the hardest types of animals to nail down to a species. They often look like foxes in their hair and overall appearance. However, they are usually larger than foxes making them favor wolves. Yet the species is neither fox or wolf. It actually belongs to a rare species type known as “golden dogs” of which it is the only member of the genus.

Despite this, it is the largest canid of any type in South America and typically calls most of the nation home. They’re often found in open grasslands as well as scattered bushes and trees throughout places like Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Uruguay. Perhaps the best-known trait of the species is being known for “roar-barking,” which is quite terrifying according to those who have heard it. Despite being similar to dogs, foxes, and wolves…Maned Wolves are solitary animals.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via National Geographic]

36. Pangolin

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

The Pangolin species is one of the most unique in nature today. It has the ability, similar to that of Armidilos, to tuck itself in and let its outer shell protect it from predators. Their shell is said to be as tough as what you’d see from Turtles and other hardshell animals. This protects them against multiple animals, including Lions and Tigers. The scaled Pangolin shell is made of Keratin, the same sort of things human fingernails are made from.

Four of the Pangolin species types are found in Asia while two are found in Africa. There were more but they sadly went extinct a long time ago. Currently, all 6 Pangolin species are on the Red List for Critically Endangered Animals. They often deal with illegal poaching which is the biggest reason for the decline of the species. Another major reason is deforestation, which is a big problem since Pangolins make their home in trees.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Dawn.com]

35. Markhor

  • Current Status: Near Threatened

Markhors are absolutely incredible animals and have an appearance that can be considered a bit odd. They’re often called “Screwhorn Goats” due to, well, the horns the animal possesses. The Markhor is one of the rarest animals in the world due to the population dwindling rapidly. The biggest reason for their struggle seems to currently be natural predators. However, poaching or simple hunting by man was a massive reason for its original decline.

Hunters find them to be one of the toughest animals to hunt in any mountain region. This makes them one of the best animals to hunt for sport and their horns, of course, make for good trophies hunters can display. Now the National Animal of Pakistan, it is part of a huge conservation process here. The animal can only be hunted with special licenses and usually, the nation only allows hunters to kill males no longer capable of breeding. A little over 5,000 Markhor remain but the number is improving.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Wildlife Reserves Singapore]

34. The Fossa

  • Current Status: Vulnerable

It’s often easy to overlook the Fossa species but they are some of the coolest animals in nature due to how unique they come across. Technically, they are part of the Mongoose family. However, when you look at them, Fossa does not look like your typical Mongoose. Most are relatively small but they do not seem to care about this as they go after very poisonous snakes on the regular. Now add in this small fry attitude into a much larger animal. That’s the Fossa, which is quite frightening.

They are located only on the island of Madagascar and happen to be the largest mammalian carnivore there. They’re often related to small cougars due to how large they come across. Unlike normal mongoose, they have things like semi-retractable claws, flexible ankles, and can even climb down trees head first! Their diet consists of things like insects all the way up to Lemurs. They’re also incredibly feared by the native people of Madagascar.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via St. Louis Zoo]

33. Sumatran Orangutan

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

As a rule, if you see something with the word “Sumatran” in the name, it’s often endangered seemingly. The Sumatran Orangutan is not an exception to this rule as they are currently critically endangered with around 7,500 of this species currently alive today. What is the biggest reason for their decline? Deforestation and overall habitat loss. Of the three species of Orangutan, the Sumatran species is the most endangered.

They’re of course only located on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Conservation efforts have been in play for the Orangutan for several years now. Luckily when not threatened, these Orangutans can live over 50 years. The problem is making sure both legal and illegal deforestation ends in their habitat. Over 80% of the species is confined to the Northern tip of Sumatra and this could be prevented.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via AustralianNews.com.au]

32. Thorny Dragon

  • Current Status: Least Concern

While conservationists will claim the Thorny Dragon is of least concern today, this was not always the case. At one point, there was a true scare for the safety of the long-term survival of the species. Things have gotten better but the Thorny Devil is still quite unique and worth checking out. They can only be found in Australia and are easily spotted due to their appearance. A species of Lizard, the Thorny Dragon is famous for the hard scales or spikes.

These make it hard to handle for both man and multiple predators. Thorny Dragons are often in the color of their environment, making them tough to see once you get into places like the Australian Outback. A cool survival technique the species has developed is a false head. Using mere soft tissue, it pushes this up to appear like its head. This allows the predator to assume it captured and killed the lizard. It then escapes while the predator is in a docile state.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Flickr]

31. Philippine Crocodile

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

For many years, the Philippine Crocodile was thought to be a subspecies of the New Guinea Crocodile. However, after 1989, this changed as biologists realized they were their own crocodile species. It’s obviously only native to the Phillippines too. Sadly, the species has been critically endangered since 2008. What is the main reason for the population dying off? They’re actually a freshwater crocodile, which allows them to keep away from the large saltwater crocodiles also native to the area.

However, due to the freshwater affiliation, overfishing by man is taking more marine life from the crocs. Dynamite fishing seems to be one of the biggest risks, as it kills more fish and has caught crocs in the explosion. On top of this, freshwater sources are often contaminated by mankind causing habitat loss. Luckily, it’s actually illegal to kill one of these crocs in the Phillippines. Yet it often just involves a fine that reaches no more than $2,500.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Mile High Wildlife Photo Club]

30. Pika

  • Current Status: Varies 

The Pika species is quite compelling. On the surface, the species overall is nowhere near rare. While this list mostly concerns the rarest animals throughout history, we believe the Pika belongs for a few big reasons. First, there are currently a little over 30 Pika species still alive. However, several more are extinct. Nearly 60, in fact!  Others are not far off from the extinction listing, making some from the Pika species among the rarest animals in the world.

Pikas can be seen worldwide due to how massive the overall species used to be. However, they are mostly found in multiple areas of Asia and North America today. The Collared Pika is the biggest that conservationists are concerned for. It’s quite endangered among several others. What’s causing the species to have trouble surviving? While deforestation and habitat loss contribute, climate change appears to be the biggest cause.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via ZooChat.com]

29. New Guinea Singing Dog

  • Current Status: Vulnerable

The New Guinea Singing Dog is one of the rarest animals in the wild, though they are not exactly as endangered as others on this list. They do happen to the rarest dog species in the world, but there is still quite a number of them. At one point, most that we knew of were located in zoos across the world. Today, we know there are still some in the wild but it’s insanely rare to see. They are called a “singing dog” due to their howl.

The dogs have a uvula similar to humans, so when they howl, it sounds like they’re singing. In fact, if you have multiple together it can come off like a cool dog chorus. They are closely related to the dingo species of Australia over your normal domesticated German Shepard type. The species is known for having cat-like reflexes as their spine is curved like cats, allowing them to climb trees and become kings of escaping captivity. They are absolutely fascinating.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Perth Zoo]

28. Sumatran Tiger

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

Remember earlier on when we mentioned whenever you see “Sumatran” in an animal name, it’s often endangered? The same is in play with the Sumatran Tiger. One of the rarest animals to see in the wild today, it’s actually even more amazing than we thought. The extinct Javan Tiger was thought to be the last in the line of the Panthera Tigris Sondaica species set. However, in 2017 there was enough evidence to prove the Sumatran Tiger is actually the last in that line.

It makes sense that this Tiger is related, as the Javan and Bali Tigers also lived on the same Sumatra Island. It’s estimated less than 700 are still alive in both the wild and in captivity. Attempts are being made to bring the species back up through conservation efforts and breeding programs. Yet this has not worked as well as scientists hoped. It’s wildly assumed that the isolation on the island and lack of food as a result, on top of climate change, is the main cause of the decline.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via YouTube]

27. Bubal Hartebeest

  • Current Status: Extinct

One of the most fascinating animals you’ll ever hear about is the Bubal Hartebeest. Get this, the animal was actually domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians around 3,000 years ago. They kept them around mostly for food and sacrifice. At the time, there was so many and they breed so well, extinction was never assumed possible. They lived all over Africa for several centuries, mostly being found in the Saharan Desert.

Eventually, the population declined so heavily that everyone thought they were gone. It was not until 1923 that we found them in the wild once more. Sadly, morons decided that they should hunt them and did not consider the declined numbers in this time period. By the 1950s, overhunting led to the official extinction of the species. At one point, they were among the rarest animals in the world and some of the most unique. We had an opportunity to breed them back and dropped the ball, big time.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via National Audubon Society]

26. Shoebill Bird

  • Current Status: Vulnerable

It does not take a rocket scientist to see how the Shoebill Bird managed to get its name. Their beaks look exactly like a shoe and it’s pretty compelling. It has been known to come off like a stork, though it’s not technically part of this family of birds. In fact, the look of their beaks and overall bodies connect them to early aviation dinosaurs like the pterodactyl. The Shoebill is currently listed as “vulnerable” by conservationists.

This basically means that it’s not endangered but is at risk of this developing. Currently, under 8,000 are still living that we know of. They tend to live throughout tropical areas or swamplands in Africa, specifically in places like Sudan, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia. The reason for the decline appears to be due to habitat loss partially. Yet the biggest reason is due to the solidarity of the species. Due to this, they simply do not breed enough, causing decline.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Reddit]

25. Yeti Crab

  • Current Status: Least Concerned

It has been said that we know more about the surface of Mars than we know about what is in the Earth’s oceans. To be honest, it seems like this is probably accurate. We did not discover this creepy thing known as the Yeti Crab until 2005. You would be forgiven in thinking that this species looks more like a lobster than a crab. Most people assume it’s a type of lobster. However, it is called the Yeti Crab for a reason.

While it may not seem like it, the species is closer in relation to crabs than lobsters based on its scientific make-up. In fact, it has more in common specifically to Hermit Crabs. On top of this, it’s one of the rarest animals in the world today but this is not completely due to a lack of population. They are simply just not seen very often, which is likely why it took so long to discover them. They are also known for living in extreme environments, places humans simply do not frequent on average.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Hinckley]

24. Diana Monkey

  • Current Status: Vulnerable

It’s not shocking to see that a fellow primate is in slight danger of extinction. However, it pains us to see the reason for it. The Diana Monkey is known for being quite intelligent but also known for how it operates within its groups. One would not be wrong to assume them to be old school Mormon as groups typically consist of one male and multiple females. Normally, mating happens often and this obviously means populations should be massive.

However, Diana Monkeys lives primarily in Africa in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire. Due to the rising areas here, humans have expanded out and thus need to take up more land for themselves. By doing this, Diana Monkeys are going through massive habitat loss. This is on top of diseases that spread among primates as well as humans in the area. Due to the problems, Diana Monkeys are among the rarest animals in the world and are at a huge risk.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance]

23. Seneca White Deer

  • Current Status: Endangered

The story of the Seneca White Deer is quite interesting yet also insanely weird. The story goes that in 1941, a huge fence was put around the Seneca Army Depot in New York. Due to this, several white-tailed deer were trapped inside. Some of them had rare white coats but the group was small and that meant they’d likely die out due to being trapped. They inbred among themselves, causing the population to grow to around 700.

Of course, it also caused some obvious issues with the deer population at times. As for their white coat, they’re actually not albino at all. The white coloring comes from a rare recessive gene that exists now only among these particular deer. The GIs that are on the land are forbidden from killing the deer. However, this has not stopped some hunters who aren’t in the Army as well as coyotes from killing them. They are pretty easy targets, often in open fields and in large groups.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Mongabay.com]

22. Hooded Grebe

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

The Hooded Grebe truly should not be endangered at all. In fact, it was not even close to endangered for a long time. The species is only located in one place, Patagonia. Now, this is a coastal area spread across multiple countries like Argentina and Chile. The Grebe was often spotted here and usually left alone by humans if seen by them at all. They also lived in areas where they were quite safe. Yet the introduction of the American Mink to the area led to the Grebe’s population decline massively.

It was introduced around 2010 or 2011, people are not clear which. Immediately, the Mink hunted many animals but the Grebe was the easiest target. In the first year of its arrival at the Buenos Aires plateau, it killed over half the adults in a breeding colony of well over two dozen nests. It’s estimated that a single Mink, due to its mass killing, could wipe out complete populations of Grebe. This is not even including others that will pop up due to the Minks mating in the territory.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via National Audubon Society]

21. Philippine Eagle

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

The Philippine Eagle is quite a majestic and beautiful species of eagle. However, it is sadly one of the rarest animals on the planet right now. As it currently stands, the species is critically endangered. As their name suggests, they are only native to the Phillippines. While there have been points where they manage to show up elsewhere, it just is not that common. It is also the largest eagle species in the world that is still living or in the wild.

This eagle is known for being extremely powerful, which due to its size, makes complete sense. It could pick up full-grown deer off the ground and fly off with them, that is the kind of strength we’re talking about here. Due to being the national bird of the Philippines and its endangered status, it is illegal to hunt or kill them in the country. Anyone doing so could face up to 12 years in prison.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via History.com]

20. Woolly Mammoth

  • Current Status: Extinct

Today, the elephant is the closest living relative to the amazing Woolly Mammoth. You may be wondering why they are on the list due to the fact that they were quite abundant before the mass extinction period. The reason for adding them is due to a story surrounding them that is often ignored, likely due to the recency of it. Mammoths lived in numerous herds a little over 10,000 years ago. However, a mass extinction came into play due to a huge climate change problem.

Due to their status with humans, there are several drawings and even tales passed down about Mammoths. Yet we thought the mass extinction took them all out, but that did not happen. Fossils of the Mammoth were found on Wrangel Island that proved some survived the original mass extinction and lasted until around 4,000 years ago. This is 6,000 years longer than the bulk of the species. Thus, at the time, it made them some of the rarest animals in the world.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Fossil Rim Wildlife Center]

19. Bongos

  • Current Status: Near Threatened

While you would be forgiven for wondering why we were mentioning a musical percussion instrument, we must be upfront and let you know there is actually an animal by this name. Located in Africa, the Bongo has been part of conservational efforts since 2006. Efforts were pretty good in this time period, as more breeding occurred and more Bongos were born as a result too. However, the species faces a problem many others on the list face.

It has been vulnerable to increasing habitat loss on top of poaching. Bongos are the only Tragelaphus in which both the males and females grow horns. Due to this, both males and females are poached at the same rate, which drastically cuts down the population of both. However, the killing of females can completely destroy the population for multiple herds. Increased logging has led to more habitat loss. Reports claim that Mountain Bongos, one of the two species of Bongo, is down to 100 individuals.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via LabRoots]

18. Yangtze River Dolphin

  • Current Status: Near Extinction

For many years, it was widely assumed that the Yangtze River Dolphin was extinct. In fact, it is credited with being the first dolphin species of any kind driven to extinction-level numbers directly due to human impact. It is a freshwater dolphin, so the main issue for most freshwater creatures is that man tends to dumb toxic materials into places like rivers and lakes. Unlike oceans, it has nowhere to really go in freshwater.

Due to China using the Yangtze River for overfishing, mass transportation, and even hydro-electricity, the Yangtze River Dolphin could not possibly last. Assumptions were right and conservation attempts were too late. In 2002, the last dolphin of the species passed. At least that was what was assumed. In August of 2007, a video came out showing some were still living. However, they look to be far too old for breeding purposes. Thus, they are among the rarest animals known today.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via EdgeOfExistence.org]

17. Common Sawfish

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

The Common Sawfish is insanely unique but what is so odd is that you’ve likely seen them a lot growing up. Do you remember watching cartoons or other 90s films that involved aquatic creatures? The sawfish was usually always part of the action, so we know of its existence. However, as time goes on, animals run into more problems than any of us really notice. In fact, they were once seen in oceans around 75 countries.

It eventually disappeared from 28 of them, then another 27. This left a mere 20 with some form of sawfish. Only Australia appears to have a healthy and populated amount of them. Many feel this is the last place on Earth they’ll disappear from, but they are still declining. The U.S. put the sawfish under the Endangered Species Act in 2003, with others doing similar. Nothing has ended the decline. It all seems to be as a direct result of overfishing, which caught several juvenile sawfish.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Los Angeles Zoo]

16. Chacoan Peccary

  • Current Status: Endangered

The Chacoan Peccary has a very unique honor of being assumed extinct due to fossils found of the species found in 1931. It was widely assumed that the species was related to the extinct Platygonus and were likely a subspecies that lived alongside them. 40 years later, a population was found to still be living in a small area within Argentina.

Though they are certainly related to the extinct Platygonus, they’re also the last living relative to it as well. Funny enough, locals knew of their existence in the area for some time. Scientists just refused to believe the people who lived among them. Looking back on things, that seems pretty stupid. The species remains among the rarest animals on the planet, with around 3,000 still said to be living within Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay in the Gran Chaco region.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via iNaturalist]

15. Mantis Shrimp

  • Current Status: Least Concerned

While scientists have added the Mantis Shrimp to the Least Concerned category, a species is only added to this if there is a decline in the population but it’s expected to be drastic or remain a threat. We’ve known of the Mantis Shrimp for thousands of years. In fact, the Ancient Assyrians notably hated them and referred to them as “sea locusts.” In Australia, they’re nicknamed “prawn killers.” Luckily for some, they are some of the rarest animals to come across in the open ocean.

They truly are very dangerous and can completely rip some animals apart and even cause problems for humans. They have inflicted painful attacks on humans, causing gashes and breaks for things like fingers and toes. These shrimp have powerful claws that dismember their prey. People often assume they’ll be like lobster or other shrimp, but they are much quicker and harder to deal with. Due to being hunted by humans as well as habitat issues, they are still in a slight decline.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Vanity Fair]

14. Dire Wolves

  • Current Status: Extinct

When you hear or see anything regarding Dire Wolves, you automatically think of them from fantasy movies like Twilight as well as shows like Game of Thrones. How they’re used in these areas are somewhat accurate to what they really were like. Other times, they were played up to fit a scenario for the fantasy drama they were part of. It is true that they were an early version of the wolves we see today. They were very large, based on what their fossils tell us.

They went extinct thousands of years ago, but it is widely assumed they were around with the first humans. Though they were already in decline, making them some of the rarest animals in the world at the time. Climate Change led to their downfall as well as evolutionary factors that allowed other wolf species to be less carnivorous and more graceful than the Dire Wolf. Thus, they are thought to have outcompeted the last of the Dires.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via The Irish Sun]

13. Javan Rhino

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

The Rhinocerous population overall is far lower than it should be. However, the Javan Rhino is one that is nearing its end faster than others. Unlike other Rhinos, the Javan is not hunted for its horn. In fact, we often refer to this species as the “lesser-horned rhino.” They do not have a large one, so you’d imagine poaching would not be a real threat to the species. However, it truly is and they do not care about the size of the horn. They’ll kill the Rhino and take the smaller horn.

Javan Rhinos are spread out in the wild all across Asia. Yet this may be part of the problem regarding its decline too. There around 58 to 68 currently in the wild. Many males have been killed, leaving many females and a lack of males to mate with. It is also sad to report that we do not study the Javans as much as we probably should. As a result, after the death of Sampson the Rhino in 2018, no Javan Rhino is in captivity. This leaves the only remaining ones in the wild, which is a huge risk.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via FromTheGrapevine.com]

12. Tufted Deer

  • Current Status: Near Threatened

When you see the Tufted Deer, you’ll likely think it is something out of a horror movie. However, these deer are completely real and we did not alter any image on them. Obviously the most notable feature of the Tufted Deer is its fang-like canines. They also have a nice, prominent tuft of black hair on their forehead. This helped to give them the name they are now known as today.

The species is sadly overhunted and has gone through tremendous habitat loss, making it one of the rarest animals in the world. Though on the “Near Threatened” list, the population decline is enough to draw true concern in the conservation community. The species is mostly found in China, often in mountainous ranges thousands of feet above sea level. This has made studies on the deer population very difficult for humans. It has also partially hurt the conservation effort.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Lars Petersson]

11. Golden-Rumped Elephant Shrew

Current Status: Endangered

The Elephant Shrew species is not completely endangered, but several types of shrew within the species family are at great risk. Likely the biggest is the Golden-Rumped Elephant Shrew, currently listed as Endangered by the IUCN listing. Of course, all Elephant Shrew get their name in part due to their large trunk-like nose. The Golden-Rumped version happens to be the largest of the species. It is endangered, not so much due to bad breeding or predators.

Rather, they are experiencing massive habitat loss. They need dense vegetation to live in as this is critical to helping them avoid overheating and becoming prey to larger animals. However, due to their small size, despite being the largest of the species, they are quite vulnerable to traps put out for other animals by humans. Climate Change is also playing a big role in their decline. Overall, very little is being done to help or protect them so their population may remain in decline.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via World Wildlife Fund]

10. Western Lowland Gorilla

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

Most people have seen a Gorilla in their life. Whether it was on television, at a zoo, or even in-person. They are some of the strongest yet most intelligent animals on the planet. Due to being from the primate family, they are similar to humans in multiple ways. We’ve even found ways to communicate with them through sign language. Despite how good they have been with humans over the years, there have been times where they are violent toward them.

Most of the time, this is due to feeling threatened. Gorillas are also very notable for being incredibly territorial. This is especially when it concerns their young. This is often the reason for their violence. When you think of a Gorilla, it’s likely you’re picturing the Western Lowland Gorilla species. Sadly, this species is critically endangered. This is due to habitat loss as well as the lack of food, regardless of location. This is on top of things like diseases that have spread due to man.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via The Pollachi Papyrus]

9. The Dhole

  • Current Status: Endangered

When you’re looking for some of the rarest animals in the world you likely don’t know about, it’s possible that the Dhole species will pop up. Most do not assume this due to the fact that they look just like normal dogs. However, they are often called the Asian Wild Dog due to being a wild dog species spread throughout the continent. While they may come off like a simple house pet, they are as dangerous as full-grown wolfpacks.

They often have to compete with animals like leopards and tigers in Asia, neither of which typically mess with Dhole packs. It is quite compelling to know these animals will attack elephants but not dogs most of the time. This competition for food is a part of the reason they are currently endangered. However, habitat loss is the biggest problem for them. On top of this, house dogs that carry disease and ends up socializing with Dholes and pass these sicknesses on. This also has caused mass deaths.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Mongabay.com]

8. Atretochoana

  • Current Status: Data Deficient

The Atretochoana species is known to turn a few heads due to their appearance. They are part of the Caecilian family of animals, which are simply known as legless amphibians. The Atretochoana was originally discovered in the 1800s but there were no notable sightings afterward until 2011. Due to the clear lack of time we’ve spent with them as well as what little we know of the species, it is considered “Data Deficient” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Due to seeing them sparingly, they are considered some of the rarest animals on the planet to come across. We have had the chance to see them a bit and we know that they are lungless, the only lungless caecilian as far as we know. However, the most interesting thing about them is their appearance. They are often nicknamed the “penis snake” by those who see them for, well, obvious reasons. While we cannot truly disagree with the assessment, it may be best to call them by the Atretochoana name.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Animal Almanac]

7. Zebra Duiker

  • Current Status: Vulnerable

The Zebra Duiker is yet another from the interesting family of Antelopes we’ve been mentioning throughout this piece. It seems they just have the most unique types in their species. For those unaware, the Zebra Duiker gets its name from its appearance. You’ll notice that it has stripes that look quite similar to what a Zebra might have. Although it is not all over their body nor white and black like that of a Zebra.

They are sadly a Vulnerable species currently but they happen to be one of the earliest of the Duiker family to have evolved. It is quite compelling to see a seemingly young species turn out to be among the oldest of its species line. The species can primarily be found in Liberia but they are also seen in places like the Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Sierra Lione. It is here that they have sadly been a victim to habitat loss and overhunting for both humans and other large predators alike.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Chicago Zoological Society]

6. Amur Leopard

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

The Amur Leopard is considered to be the rarest major big cat animal species on the planet. At one point, less than 30 were assumed to be living, making them near extinct. Thankfully, the population has been able to bounce back off and on a lot in recent years. While less than 100 are reportedly living, it does show progress is being made. You may be wondering, how did they drop so rapidly?

Our friend habitat loss has played a major role as well as competition for food not just among other animals, but humans as well. The main threat to their survival, however, is poaching. Amur Leopards are located in Asia, mostly Russia and China. Here, the fur from these leopards has been sold for thousands of years. They can often go for big money, so poaching has remained a consistent issue that neither nation seems willing to stop.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via BearConservation.org]

5. Atlas Bear

  • Current Status: Extinct

We feel the Atlas Bear deserves mention in this list simply due to how historic it was and the impact it made. It is the only Bear species in history that became native to Africa. Most bears tend to be in the Americas or Asia, but they have also been native to Europe as well. This led to the Romans deciding to introduce the Atlas Bear population to Africa thousands of years ago. These Bears were used for gladiator-like fights with other animals like Lions and Tigers. Oh my!

This brown bear species bred and eventually became quite notable in the wild across North Africa. They were mostly found in the mountains of places like modern-day Morroco and Libya. They survived into modern times but were huge targets for big-game hunts by man. Due to their capture by man as well as major hunting, they went extinct in the late 1800s. Africa’s only native bear, now extinct, directly due to man.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via National Geographic]

4. Sumatran Rhino

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

The Sumatran Rhino happens to be the smallest of the surviving Rhino family of animals. Although still insanely large, this is mostly due to weight. It is often referred to as the Asian Two-Horn Rhinoceros due to the two horns it possesses, similar to that of the African Rhino types. The Sumatran Rhino is slightly unlike the other Rhinos as the norm tend to travel in packs or families. This species of Rhino is actually quite solitary and is rarely flanked by others of its kind.

They do get together with other males or females for mating but will go out on their own once again just after this. They are also not notable for fighting a great deal with other rhinos or animals over territory disputes. This has allowed the Sumatran Rhino to come off as one that man can be around easier but due to the poaching that has resulted in their decline, wild Sumatrans rarely trust mankind. This has made them some of the rarest animals for people to even see, much less be around.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via AP-Richard Vogel]

3. Okapi

  • Current Status: Endangered

The Okapi is native to only one area, the Democratic Republic of Congo. They may look similar to antelopes but they actually belong to the Artiodactyl Mammal species type. This includes animals like Giraffes, Buffalo, and Camels. They are actually the last living of the Giraffidae sub-species line, along with Giraffe too, of course. They are often related to Zebra due to their appearance. Their legs are stripped almost exactly like a Zebra, in the same black and white coloring.

Okapis are considered fascinating by biologists but sadly, they are endangered. This is due mostly to habitat loss and logging but due to their appearance, they are a huge target for poachers who want to sell their hide. The Congo protects the Okapi by making it illegal to hunt them, but that doesn’t stop the other issues nor poaching as much as they assume. Due to being in the Congo, Okapis are among the rarest animals for humans to be near due to strict entrance laws for the nation.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Brendan Hunter]

2. Vaquita

  • Current Status: Critically Endangered

When you talk the rarest animals in the world, the Vaquita is one of the biggest. Part of the porpoise family, Vaquitas are beautiful dolphins located in the Northern region of the Gulf of California. The species is currently on the brink of extinction sadly, with numbers that dwindle annually. Both the U.S. and Mexico has protected the Vaquita species from being hunted, but the main issue for them seems to be due to bycatch issues.

They are often caught up in the illegal gillnet fishery for the also endangered Totuava fish. Mexico has spent millions trying to end bycatch issues but it still persists. The U.S. has tried its best to help the Vaquita, even putting together conservation organizations specifically for it. Sadly, it has not helped. Illegal fishing and lack of food still persist despite bans and imprisonment for such actions. Vaquitas are also not breeding nearly enough to help bring back the species as well.

50 Out of the Ordinary Animals from History
[Image via Wikipedia Commons]

1. Ligers/Tigons

  • Current Status: Incredibly Rare (Only Exist In Zoos)

Probably the rarest animals to ever see are Ligers and Tigons, mostly due to mankind playing God. Ligers are a cross between a male lion and a female tiger. Meanwhile, Tigons are a cross between a male tiger and a female lion. This is a very important thing to remember about them. The reason they are among the rarest animals or perhaps THE rarest animals to see is that they mostly only exist in zoos and cannot mate among each other.

Scientists were able to make them happen by extracting male seed and implanting them into the females, unlike normal mating in the wild. It is unlikely tigers and lions would mate in the wild, though it has happened in places like India before. The rarest animals in these species lines are the White versions as there are limited white tigers and lions on the planet. While males are sterile, the females can mate with other true lions or tigers. Male Tigers and Ligresses are the best-producing of the combos.

 

Sources: [National Geographic, World Wildlife Fund, Animal Planet, Australia Zoo, LA Zoo, National Audubon Society, International Union for Conservation of Nature]

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