Home AnimalsThese Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
AnimalsBy Joe Burgett -

There are many stories behind mysterious animals all over the world. Some of them are mythological, often not considered to be real but certainly inspired by real-world animals or events. Even some books are inspired by real-life animal encounters that might seem unreal but actually were completely true. For example, the story that inspired Moby Dick about a whale might seem like just a tall tale. In a way, the story itself is but the story that inspired it was absolutely true. There were sea tales referenced for years, but usually, all were not real. Rather, they were used to just scare people or make the sailors themselves look braver.

Yet the story about a rogue whale that seemed to have something against ships was likely accurate. Sperm whales as well as Blue whales have been known to avoid ships, but at times they will become territorial and attack anything in their way. This is likely what occurred in the story that inspired Moby Dick. Yet there are many tales just like this along with others. Meanwhile, there are stories referenced that could seem to be completely false but are actually 100% true. If that isn’t enough, there are also simply mysterious animal species that baffle science entirely. We’ll be covering all the above below, so let’s get started!

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Olga Alper/Shutterstock.com]

Beluga Sturgeon

There are countless stories about the sturgeon species, but the people telling the stories do not usually know they are referring to these creatures. The problem with this species has always been that it migrates a lot. Therefore, you can see them in places all over the world. For example, the white sturgeon can be seen a lot on the West Coast of North America as well as being landlocked in the Columbia River somehow. Yet the beluga sturgeon tends to get a lot of play due to how large it can get. While the largest on record was a little over seven feet long, it weighed over 3,400lbs too.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Rostislav Stefanek/Shutterstock.com]
Belugas are usually found in the Caspian and Black Seas, but they were also found in the Adriatic. All of these seas are prime territory for tales to be told about large, weird-looking sea monsters. While sturgeons do not have teeth, they look absolutely terrifying. If one were to come across a beluga, they are all large on average. A male typically can be between 4.5 to 10 feet long and weigh just under 600lbs while females can get around 20% larger than this (up to 24 feet). Therefore, they could have inspired thousands of stories from random people in small villages to experienced fishermen in large settings. They remain mysterious animals to this day.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Flickr]

Zombie Ants

We get it, this can be kind of weird and any sort of mention about “zombies” automatically takes something from potentially real to completely fake. While we’d agree most of the time…that is not true in this case. As these ants quite literally become zombies, and it’s absolutely remarkable. We’ve actually covered how this works slightly in an article from 2019. There is something known as a zombie-ant fungus, going by the scientific name of “Ophiocordyceps unilateralis.” It tends to affect carpenter ants as these ants come across it in the Brazilian jungle.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Rezamonium/Shutterstock.com]
The fungus will infect the ant and will begin to drain them of its nutrients, thereby hijacking its mind. Over the next week, the fungus will begin to make the ant leave the safety of its colony and go to a nearby plant stem. The ant will climb up around 25 centimeters, which is usually the right temperature and humidity for the fungus to grow. To keep in place, the ant will lock its mandibles around a leaf. All of this will result in a long stalk that goes right through the ant’s head, putting multiple spores on the plant. Since the ant usually climbs a leaf near its colony’s common trails, fungal spores will fall down onto colony members below and zombify them too!

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via IVANNE/Shutterstock.com]

Portuguese Man O’War

Once assumed to be a jellyfish, the Portuguese Man O’War is far from it. This species is what scientists call a “zooid.” These are multicellular beings that share a common exoskeleton. In the past, zooids exhibited polymorphic behavior where they adapted for different functions like feeding or colony anchoring. This means the Man O’War might look like a complete being but every bit of it is separate from the rest. Thus allowing it to lose part of itself and develop it back later. Sadly due to rising tides, the Man O’War has been washing up on beaches across the world, especially in North America.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Laurel A Egan/Shutterstock.com]
Known for its painful sting, the Portuguese Man O’War was commonly found around Portuguese waters but has since started to migrate out worldwide. Part of its body, the one everyone tends to see at first, rests on top of the water. Meanwhile, tendrils that can be longer than 160 feet, rest below the surface. It’s no wonder why some that have randomly come across them have been shocked by the sight. Often assuming the creature to be a monster, especially as they run into the venomous tendrils. While their sting is very painful, it’s rarely deadly thankfully. The Man O’War is still one of the world’s most mysterious animals that science is still studying.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Dotted Yeti/Shutterstock.com]

Narwhal

As mentioned previously, there are countless tales from the sea about mysterious animals that sailers will tell others. Most of them are false, but you will occasionally get a few true stories as well. The problem is trying to figure out which is which. Back in the Middle Ages through the Renaissance era, the mythical unicorn with its magical horn was incredibly popular. While usually referenced in known myths, many believed they were real. In fact, some still believe unicorns exist today. However, while it might be a long shot to claim to see a unicorn, this sea creature fits the bill of being extraordinary.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Dotted Yeti/Shutterstock.com]
During the aforementioned time period, people used to sell “unicorn horns” which only enhanced the myth. However, they were actually selling the tusks of Narwhals instead. This is a whale species found in the Arctic, often hunted by Vikings. These same Vikings would sell the tusks for high prices to Europeans but did not bother to tell people what animal they came from. This began to change in 1577 after English explorer Martin Frobisher led a Canadian expedition where they came across a deceased narwhal. They called it the “sea-unicorn” at the time, but eventually, it would be renamed to what we see today.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Georgi Baird/Shutterstock.com]

California Condors

While condors are known for being a very interesting bird species, they only became more interesting in late 2021. For years, this condor species has been dangerously low to extinction with around 22 known still alive during the 1980s. This led to a breeding program, still ongoing today, to save the species. In late 2021, two deceased male California Condors were being studied by scientists at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance known as SB260 and SB517. What they found was shocking! Neither of these male condors had a genetic contribution from any males in the breeding program.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Brian A Wolf/Shutterstock.com]
This is important because none of the female condors had left captivity. Sadly, both of these male chicks died before reaching sexual maturity. SB260 lived for two years before its death, believed to be from malnourishment. SB517 was a little smaller than most male condors and died around eight years old of a foot infection. The lack of any male genetic contribution means the mothers of these male condors gave “virgin births,” also known as parthenogenesis. While this was previously seen in turkeys, pigeons, and chickens…none of the eggs survived hatching. Yet these male condors survived, proving parthenogenesis was possible among large birds.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Delcarmat/Shutterstock.com]

Charybdis

The mythical Charybdis was feared by sea explorers for centuries. Known as a sea monster in Greek Mythology, it became incredibly popular due to its use in Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey tales. It was used as an “epic challenge” for characters like Odysseus, Jason, as well as Aeneas. It is widely assumed by scholars that Homer’s placement of the creature would have been in the Strait of Messina. Homer used the Charybdis and Scylla as challenges to get past in the sea because both alone were nearly impossible to defeat or avoid once spotted.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Japan’s Fireworks/Shutterstock.com]
This gave rise to the idiom “between Scylla and Charybdis” which is similar in meaning to “between a rock and a hard place.” Charybdis was essentially a flesh-eating whirlpool monster, and most would find this to be absolutely crazy. Yet much like a lot of Homer’s work, there is some truth to the myth. Whirlpools are a real thing that can be experienced in the ocean and are not at all uncommon. It is likely that Homer, or someone he met, saw something like this in the ocean and felt it had to be some sort of monster that was responsible for it. Thereby, giving rise to the tale of one of the most mysterious animals or creatures ever.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via F11photo/Shutterstock.com]

Japanese Spider Crab

If one ever comes across a Japanese Spider Crab, assuming they are a monster is understandable. There is truly nothing like them, and they can be absolutely terrifying to come across in the wild. Even at aquariums or zoos where some happen to be, people are startled by them. These mysterious animals baffle scientists to this day and are being heavily studied. The species can grow up to twelve feet long yet they are almost microscopic when they are first born. What might freak out some is that they come across as a species you’d likely see in a deep ocean territory.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Reddit]
While they do tend to live about 1,000 feet under the surface, there are some that live roughly 150 feet down. This is not an uncommon depth for your average diver. This is the area where most of the larvae tend to hatch too, meaning any adults present are likely to be quite territorial. What might also surprise some is that the Japanese Spider Crab also lives relatively long. Many tend to live between 70 to 100 years on average. They do not tend to go after humans, but if they do, we’re kind of screwed. The claws on the Spider Crab are quite powerful. Oh and another note, they tend to eat pretty much anything. Therefore, we’re not exactly off the menu.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Milan Zygmunt/Shutterstock.com]

White-Necked Jacobins (Females)

Perhaps there is no creature that better represents “girl power” in the animal kingdom better than the White-Necked Jacobin. Females in this species have a difficult time, often because the males seem to have access to food sources that the females do not. This is due to the lack of respect for females among males, resulting in simply not allowing females to access these sources. Moreover, the females are harassed by the males. Is this starting to sound familiar, ladies? This hummingbird species is known for picking fights and fiercely defending its food sources. They’ll even do this to the death if they have to.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Zeno Swijtink/Shutterstock.com]
Male Jacobins will also claim territories prime for breeding, and do not mind trespassing females but will react to them through bully tactics. Females tend to look greenish with a gray-dabbled chest while males will have a flashy blue and white plumage. All females start out looking like adult males, but as they age, at least 80% shift into drab plumage. Yet the 20% that do not keep the male-like plumage, resulting in less social harassment from males. To test this, scientists used taxidermied mounts of Jacobins among living ones. The decoys with male coloration faced fewer problems than female-colored decoys, explaining why females do this.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Rey Rodriguez/Shutterstock.com]

Ancient Jackalope

Most people who hear about the infamous “jackalope” will find them to be completely mythical. However, as we’ve already proven, sometimes there is some truth behind the myth. Jackalopes are creatures that have the body of a jackrabbit but contain the horns of an antelope. What this looks like will usually depend on the source. Due to being mostly part of North American folklore, people tend to put deer-like horns on them as well as some that resemble an Elk’s horns. A lot of this would be problematic for the average jackrabbit we know today, considering these horns would be far too top-heavy for them.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Argus Leader]
However, to the surprise of everyone….the jackalope was proven to be real. Well, sort of. Archeologists came across the bones of an extinct jackrabbit that appeared to have horns. Yet further research found that this deceased jackrabbit along with all others with horns is afflicted with something known as the Shope Papillomavirus, which causes Cottontail Rabbit Papillomavirus of CRPV. This illness causes carcinomas that resemble horns to essentially grow not just on the head of rabbits but all over them. Of course, the horns are nothing like a deer or elk but rather look like what a very young male deer might develop if anything.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via New Line Cinema]

Hobbits

While it would be sort of wrong to call Hobbits “animals” or “creatures,” we tend to put them in the magical creature territory. However, as we’ve made very clear here by now, myths are often based on reality in some form. While movies/books like Lord of the Rings have made Hobbits relatively popular today, they weren’t liked a long time ago and were sometimes even feared. Therefore, those with dwarfism might be attacked or killed out of fear. Mysterious animals of all kinds make people act out of fear, and attack those assumed to be different. Yet Hobbits were actually real, sort of.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via New Line Cinema]
Archeologists uncovered what could only be described as protohumans that were roughly 3 feet tall in length and would have lived among modern humans. The bones uncovered date back 65,000 to 50,000 years but others found date back nearly 200,000 years. Many would likely assume the skeleton studied, found in Indonesia, just belonged to a person with dwarfism. However, this was not the case as the skeletons they studied all grew to what would have been the norm for their bodies and hard large primitive feet. While no pointy ears, large noses, or anything like that was found…the discovery that Hobbit-like humans were real is fascinating.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via EA_stasy/Shutterstock.com]

Colossal Squid

Likely the most infamous story told by sailors on the high seas had to do with the fearsome Kraken. This was a mythical creature that usually appeared near the coast of Norway. Many feel the story was embellished by Vikings that was held as fact in order to protect one of their most notable homelands. It helped as the Kraken story was told from the 17th to 18th Century. Francesco Negri referenced it in 1700 and the Dano-Norwegian missionary/explorer Hans Egede described it in detail and equated it to an Icelantic sea monster from medieval times. Perhaps no one is more synonymous with the Kraken than Pontoppidan, a Norweigan Bishop.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Daniel Eskridge/Shutterstock.com]
In 1753, he described it as a giant octopus and claimed it had taken down several ships. Then Frenchman Denys-Montfort in the 19th Century started to pioneer the idea of gigantic octopuses existing. Noted novelists like Victor Hugo and Jules Verne even referenced it. However, we all thought it was just a myth. That was until we found out the colossal squid actually does exist. They reach up to a little over 1,000lbs on average but can get up to 1,500lbs. The length can be pretty extreme, with the largest versions reaching 33 to 46 feet! These squids remain some of the mysterious animals in the ocean and are very rare to come across.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Entertainment Weekly]

The Gorilla

If we told you that Gorillas were once considered to be a complete myth, you’d laugh us out of the room. Many found them to be mysterious animals that would be impossible to ever see. To be fair, for the longest time, humans did not really interact with known Gorilla habitats. Those that did would often go back to tell their friends about the experience. Dating back to the 5th Century BCE, tales of “human-like monsters” were known for visiting human camps. These creatures were like dark-haired humans but had ten times the strength of any human being.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via World Wildlife Fund]
Yet these mysterious animals eventually lost their mystery. In 1847, scientists finally and officially identified the species when they found and studied a gorilla skull for the first time. The first person to identify the gorilla species in the wild was Paul Du Chaillu, as he came across them in the 1850s during various expeditions. What might shock people is that photography had already been invented by this point. Therefore, photos were taken in the mid-to-late 1800s of the gorillas. Meanwhile, others ended up sketching them out and made official drawings of the species for books.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Dotted Yeti/Shutterstock.com]

Greenland Shark

The Greenland Shark is very notable by this point, as it has managed to stand out due to its long life. Studies have shown that these sharks, often found in cooler arctic waters, can live up to 500 years. This was clearly surprising for most marine biologists as well as regular animal biologists at the time. However, today we know there are creatures that can live longer. On top of that, there are even tree systems that have lasted for hundreds of years as well. Yet the Greenland Shark still manages to baffle us, making it one of the most mysterious animals in the wild today.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via DIVE Magazine]
What might also surprise people is that this shark evolved to produce trimethylamine N-oxide in high concentrations. This aids the shark to allow the species to live at lower depths. However, many people in the arctic territories (including both Iceland and Greenland) have hunted the shark for food for centuries. It is considered a delicacy in this part of the world. The issue is that due to the trimethylamine N-oxide, the meat is too toxic to eat. Yet the people in these areas know how to treat the meat, and know how to remove its toxicity. That said, this shark species is not exactly easy to find these days and the ICUN considers it to be “vulnerable.”

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
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Werewolves

While most think of Werewolves from old black and white movies of the past or even newer books/movies like Twilight, the idea of werewolves has existed for hundreds of years. The usual story is that someone is cursed by some type of magical being or bitten/scratched by a werewolf. The person will then transform into an uncontrollable half wolf/half man during a full moon. This European folktale was first referenced by Roman courtier Gaius Petronius Arbiter, who wrote about them sometime between 27 to 66 CE. Gervase of Tilbury, a canon lawyer, was also important to their development. He referenced them sometime between 1150 to 1228 CE.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
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Due to the heavy connection to medieval folklore, werewolves were thought to be real. Christians then began to connect them to the occult and would hunt believed werewolves down. They’d execute suspected werewolves the same as they did those suspected of using witchcraft. While they were mysterious animals or creatures thought to be a myth, werewolves were kind of real. Essentially, a person would be bitten by some sort of canine, such as a wolf. They would then develop a fatal illness that made them crazy. It is quite likely they were infected with rabies, which can make people go nuts until their death.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
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Hydras

While some will think we’re referencing the mythological creature known as the Hydra, we’re actually bringing up a real species simply given this name. That very name is interesting to use, as this aquatic inch-long organism is capable of regrowing a lost head. We’re totally serious, and scientists are somewhat baffled by the process. Yet due to the fact that they are related to jellyfish, sea anemones, and corals…it’s not as crazy. The Cnidaria group of symmetrical invertebrates is known for having specialized survival abilities that make them incredibly unique to other species in the animal kingdom.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Rattiya Thongdumhyu/Shutterstock.com]
However, the Hydra is special because it is not only quite small but it is also thought to be biologically immortal. They can regrow any part of themselves, which makes killing them nearly impossible. The question was how they did it. Scientists found that they do this through a form of asexual reproduction, where the hydra grows a polyp that is basically a duplicate of itself. Yet this came down to budding or regenerating, where a budding head formed differently than a regenerated one. Thus, the hydra uses two different genes to accomplish each one. To this day, scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how they do this and how they choose which one.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Murilo Mazzo/Shutterstock.com]

Goffin’s Cockatoos

What if we told you that in spite of our connection to other primate species, the species that would first make advanced toolsets like humans would be cockatoos? You might want to laugh us out of the room, and we wouldn’t blame you. However, this is actually true and we discovered this in the Fall of 2021. Goffin’s Cockatoos were being studied at the Tanimbar Goffin Lab in Indonesia where they keep flocks of 15 in an aviary for a few months at a time to study, then release them back into the wild. In one study, these intelligent birds were given basic foods like papayas and coconuts. Yet they were also given a slightly more challenging mango.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Agami Photo Agency/Shutterstock.com]
The tough fruit is full of seeds these cockatoos love, but it takes a lot to work for. The scientists watched as these cockatoos made three different types of tools, all used in sequence, to pry open the pit of the fruit. One bird bit off the soft flesh of the fruit before snapping off a small piece of a branch from a nearby tree. It then used its beak to remove the bark and carve down the wood into a wedge shape. The cockatoo pushed it into the pit to open it up. After, it made a sharper, narrower tool to break into the tough skin around the seeds. Then, made a flatter tool to scoop out the seeds. All of this shocked scientists observing for obvious reasons.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Ernie Cooper/Shutterstock.com]

Vinegaroons

While some might not add this to mysterious animals lists over one about creepy animals, the Vinegaroon is certainly mysterious. Its look all the way down to what it can do is incredible to see. They have been described as land lobsters due to their pinchers. Some speculated it is related to scorpions. Usually found in places like Texas, Arizona, and Florida…the species is often seen in the summer. Essentially, summer rains bring them out of their hiding spots and act as a prime opportunity to search for food as well as a mate.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Creeping Things/Shutterstock.com]
God help any humans that come around them, as well as any predator. They actually whip out a small tail from their abdomen that shoots out a form of acetic acid, which is described as having a “vinegar-like” smell. Hence the name of the creature. While its pinchers will hurt if they pinch you, the acid it shoots out is not poisonous to humans. Of course, it is still advised one does not get it in their eyes and that you wash off any surface the acid hit very well. It ranks as one of the most mysterious animals to science because it seems so unlike other spiders and so unique in the animal kingdom. At the same time, it only enhances evolutionary theories.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Daniel Eskridge/Shutterstock.com]

Bunyip/Diprotodon

The Bunyip is a mythological creature that has been referenced by Australian aborigines for centuries. It is claimed the creature is known for hunting prey in places like swamps, creeks, riverbeds, and watering holes. The Bunyip is usually described as being amphibious and almost entirely aquatic, but the other defining characteristics are numerous and rarely agreed upon. It is claimed that most of the believed sightings resemble seals or dogs going for a swim. A smaller portion of sightings is of a long-necked creature with a small head. Thus, it is hard to really describe but the ambiguity is what allows the Bunyip to remain a known legend.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Australian Museum]
However, while mysterious animals like this tend to be myths entirely…there is potentially a creature it is based on. The Diprotodon was a creature from the Pleistocene era, yet was not only a marsupial but often found in Australia. Massive fossils were discovered in 1830 and were almost confused for a rhino or elephant. Sir Richard Owen essentially gave it the Diprotodon name. They grew as large as 5 feet, 11 inches and from head to tail, could be 13 feet or so. Yet the creatures weighed over 7,000lbs. They died off around 25,000 years ago but it’s possible early humans in Australia saw them or came across fossils to create the Bunyip legend.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Wausau Daily Herald]

The Two-Headed Goat

While there have been ancient myths about mysterious animals with multiple heads, these myths likely began from a real-life issue that can happen before an animal is born. Although, our “two-headed goat” friend has two faces and not two heads. Known as craniofacial duplication, one will be born with essentially two faces with one head. This can actually happen to humans as well as animals as the extremely rare birth defect is not species specific. The versions can differ where one might develop three or four eyes, some have just one nose or mouth, and others have complete facial features. Yet this is simply one creature, making it differ from something like conjoined twins where most do not share the same brain. This occurs due to the fusion or incomplete separation of two embryos.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via NBC-15]
In the case of the goat, it is believed that twin goats were going to be born until the eggs weren’t able to fully split. All of this is a result of abnormal activity of the SHH protein. Along with corresponding genes, SHH plays a critical role in signaling craniofacial patterning during the process of embryonic development. As widening becomes greater, the more structures end up duplicating. This will occur in a mirror image form, giving something like the two-headed goat identical facial features. Specialized neural tissues control the size and shape of brain structures, but cyclopia can occur too. This is what caused facial features not to develop completely, resulting in perhaps the loss of an eye, nose, etc. Sadly for our goat friend, his life was quite short.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Pinterest]

Anelosiumus Eximius

This spider species is relatively unique, in that they do not isolate themselves from other spiders. Rather, it is part of the rarer social spider type. There is power in numbers and Anelosiums Eximius certainly proves this. Scientists have found that this spider species is able to take down creatures much larger than it like grasshoppers and moths simply due to its strength in numbers. Native to the tropical forests in French Guiana, the species is roughly a quarter-inch long and would need help to take down much larger prey like this. The group will spin basket-shaped webs that can be so huge that they resemble the length of a small home.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Reddit]
Once the prey ends up being caught in the webbing, a synchronized attack takes place where the group works as one to take down the prey. For a while now, scientists knew about this species but were not sure how they communicated to work in synchronization. At least, not until recently. These mysterious animals are believed to communicate through vibrations of some kind. It is possible they send out a low-pitch vibration but some believe the spiders are so sensitive in their senses, that they can feel any change in the webbing. Allowing them to feel when something is caught and will react accordingly.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Alexander Sobol/Shutterstock.com]

Basilisk

The infamous Basilisk is known quite well in mythology by now. This is said to be a reptile claimed to be the “Serpent King” that can cause death with just a single glance. At one point, the Basilisk of Cyrene was said to be so deadly that it left a wide trail of deadly venom in its wake and its gaze was just as lethal, in spite of its small stature. Pliny the Elder’s description differs from how others chose to describe it over the years. Pliny claimed it was essentially a giant snake with a reptilian tail, plumage, and sometimes scaly wings. Others claimed it had the legs of a rooster. Interestingly, it is claimed the weakness of the basilisk is the odor of a weasel.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Vova Shevchuk/Shutterstock.com]
These mysterious animals or mythical beasts were often seen a lot throughout the world known at the time. Many now believe that people who spotted a basilisk were seeing a King Cobra. Not only is it a snake with a reptilian tale, but its flaps resemble scaly wings. This cobra is also quite large and is well known for its rise before striking. In places like India, the cobra had a hypnotic connection where it could be put under a spell by musical sounds and had a stare that could be hypnotizing on its own. That said, the King Cobra’s weasel weakness likely relates to the cobra’s known enemy in the wild, the mongoose.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Animal Planet]

Beast of Bodmin Moor

The Beast of Bodmin Moor is well known to British people, as it has become a huge part of their folklore for years now. Apparently, this “beast” became a major figure after people claim to have spotted it quite a few times in the 1970s. Each person claims to have seen “a phantom-like cat.” This large cat reportedly killed a lot of livestock across Cornwall. However, it should be noted that the climate in Cornwall along with food supply and territory size makes large cats nearly impossible. It would be too difficult for one to survive there long-term. These cats have been the answer to many myths about mysterious animals before though.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Westend61]
Lions, Panthers, Cheetahs, and Tigers are all part of the Panthera family of large cats. You’ll likely notice that these cats live in very specific environments, and Cornwall does not fit that at all. This information from scientists hasn’t stopped theories nor has it stopped the worries that Bodmin Moor farmers have for their livestock. In October 2016, a man captured photos of large paw prints in the mud, potentially confirming the myth. Yet a small look at them could potentially refer to a Puma or Lynx, both of which could be native to the region. Even an escaped leopard could fit this, but people are still convinced some monster cat is on the loose.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via SvetlanaSF/Shutterstock.com]

The Thunderbird

The Thunderbird is one of the most infamous and legendary creatures in Native American mythology. It is so heavily connected to the history and culture, you’ve likely seen multiple poles of sorts with them. Usually, they are depicted in a “totem pole” that can be seen across many Native American territories to this very day. There are many versions of the Thunderbird. It is supernatural in origin, known for its power and strength. In the Native American community, Thunderbirds have been used in artwork, songs, and in many stories for centuries. Plus, you’ll likely hear of different versions of these Thunderbirds based on the tribe.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Julio the Artist – Twitter]
For example, a tribe in the Southwest will have a different Thunderbird story or version than a tribe in the Northeast. Due to their legendary status, Thunderbirds are now believed to be similar to mythological creatures like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Yet this might not be entirely true. Thunderbirds have a lot of similarities to an animal that once existed. Thunderbirds are known for being very large birds, known for power and strength, right? The Haast’s Eagle checks off every box. This is the largest eagle to have ever existed and was native to New Zealand. The Māori hunted them to extinction by 1400, but it is possible some of these Eagles were in the Americas at one point.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Global Guardian/Shutterstock.com]

Rhinoceros

While one would think that a rhinoceros isn’t really among the mysterious animals of our time, you’d be surprised how many people were surprised they existed. All throughout Africa, tribes knew of the rhino and it was never a big deal. Rhinos do not navigate much outside of the mid to lower African and South Asian regions, and you won’t find many in the wild outside of these areas today. Yet they never really seemed to be present in places like Egypt. Thus, most humans that did live in Africa’s biggest region centuries ago were unaware of their existence for a long time. Pliny the Elder eventually described one that he heard about.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via National Geographic]
He claimed: “[It] has the head of a stag, the feet of an elephant, and the tail of a boar…it makes a deep sound in lowing and has a single black horn which projects from the middle of its forehead.” This was his description in the 1st century AD, but he never once saw a rhino and only gave this description based on what he was told. He was likely given this description by people from Ethiopia or India. Both were in a trade partnership with Rome at the time, so that would have made sense. Pliny also believed Rhinos were natural enemies with the elephant. This was later tested in Portugal in the 1500s, and the elephant ran off immediately.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via NOAA]

Bigfin Squid

There are several squid species in the world, and it is very likely we have not come across them all yet. That could be because many are at depths most people will never explore. This was proven in early 2022 when a team from the Caladan Oceanic completed the deepest ever dive to a shipwreck, where they found the USS Johnston. It sank in 1944 after a naval battle but this ship ended up being the least interesting part of the team’s adventure. Deep sea researcher from the University of West Australia, Alan Jamieson, was watching the expedition in his office when a very mysterious frame popped up.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Timothy S. Allen/Shutterstock.com]
He rewound the video and saw a squid. It was moving just above the seabed, which is 1.5 kilometers or a little less than a mile below the lowest sea level that squids were believed to be. Keep in mind that the team initially started this expedition at the Philippine Trench, which is around 6,200 meters below the surface. Yet footage found this squid 6,212 meters below the surface. Squids are mysterious animals, but this new version of the Bigfin Squid was incredible to see. Since squids are major predators, it suggests that there are other species around that this squid hunts, which have not been discovered yet.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Daniel Eskridge/Shutterstock.com]

Ozark Howler

The Ozark Howler is part of Arkansas folklore, and most AK residents know all about it. This creature is said to be as large as a bear and even shaped like one. It is usually gray in its coloring, with a shaggy coat. Many people have tried to keep the myth alive through hoaxes, such as when a person sent photos to the local AK 40/29 TV affiliate in December 2015. The station had to get in touch with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, who claimed the images were fake. Yet there have been several calls about the howler for years.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Monterey County Weekly]
A year before this, a person nearly collided with an “unidentified mammal” and was recorded on an emergency call claiming this. In 2016, a recorded phone call with armed state wildlife officers found that they were sent to investigate a suspicious report. Someone told them a bear-sized, gray, fast-running animal was spotted in Springdale, Arkansas. Nothing came from this, but mysterious animals like the Ozark Howler could be completely mythological only. The howler may just be based on a bear or local wolf in the region. However, if anyone saw just this then there wouldn’t be a story worth telling.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via maryquiZe – Deviant Art]

Snallygaster

We know this is quite the name to remember. Yet it is crucial that you do, for the Snallygaster could be seen by anytime by us and even you. This dragon-like creature is said to have been a huge problem in the South Mountain region of Maryland. It’s half-reptile, half-bird, equipped with a beak lined with razor-sharp teeth. The creature is known for coming down from the sky to pluck unsuspecting farm animals, pets, and even small children from the ground and take them back to their horrific homes. Of course, some describe it as an octopus with wings, with tentacles coming out of its mouth to seize its prey.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via appalachianhistory.net]
Stories about the Snallygaster date back to the 1700s when German immigrants spotted one somewhere in the Maryland or Pennsylvania area. The story ramped up when the Maryland Valley Register wrote a story about a man being carried off and drained of his blood by one. It was such a big deal, President Teddy Roosevelt wanted to hunt it down personally. However, it is more likely that the immigrants brought their own superstitions with them from overseas and the mythology took off from there. It helps that there have been large birds in those regions for years, which have actually carried off small pets and farm animals before.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Chonlasub Woravichan/Shutterstock.com]

Leafy Seadragon

Speaking of dragon-like, we come to the mysterious Leafy Seadragon. Found mostly near the waters of Australia and New Zealand, these creatures are incredibly unique for sure. You do not need to look at them for long to see why so many find them to be among the sea’s most mysterious animals. The name comes directly from its appearance too. It has long leaf-like protrusions all over its body. While some might assume the protrusions are used for movement or speed, it is actually used mostly for camouflage. The creature moves using its pectoral fin on the ridge of its neck, and dorsal fin located on its back near the end of the tail.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Michael Warwick/Shutterstock.com]
Of course, the small fins are almost entirely transparent and nearly impossible to spot as they move. The Leafy seadragon essentially moves through the water in what seems like a sedated state. This, of course, gives predators the illusion that they are seeing seaweed. The creature also has an interesting reproductive system, where the females lay around 250 bright eggs that the males care for. Once the eggs are preparing to hatch, the male will pump his tail until they pop out. Yet this creature lives independently from the moment they hatch, only really coming together for breeding purposes.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Cassidy Scott/Shutterstock.com]

The Silver Eel Controversy

Eels are unique creatures, but perhaps one of the worst things about them is how hard it is to track as well as keep them captive. At one point, 700 silver eels were being tracked by scientists using GPS tracking hardware. However, every single eel somehow disappeared. It is widely assumed some died or were eaten but every single eel couldn’t have disappeared like that. In another scientific study, 100 male and female eels were taken for a breeding project. Somehow, 95 of the eels died on the trip there and it’s really uncertain how this happened. The scientists then scrambled to make sure the remaining eels were taken care of.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Denbighshire Countryside Service]
These silver eels were then put in underwater cages in the Sargasso Sea. Somehow all of those eels also escaped and disappeared entirely. One of the biggest reasons scientists wanted to track silver eels or watch the breeding process was that each silver eel starts out as a yellow eel. It is uncertain what makes them want to go further into the sea and become “silver eels.” Some believe the mud they cover themselves in for a period of time does this, others believe a long-term hibernation is how they do it. Yet no one is sure, and it seems scientists are struggling to find out.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution]

Black Swallower

If you look up something like the Goblin Shark or even the chimera, you’ll come across some pretty freaky-looking, mysterious animals. Many sea species do look a little odd, especially those found in the deep ocean. However, there is perhaps no other species odder than the Black Swallower. While the name sounds like some sort of XXX film title, the pictures you’re seeing right now will show why the name makes sense. As weird as it might seem, this is a pretty small fish. The species only grows from 6 to 8 inches. The largest ever known only grew to around 9.8 inches, which was very abnormal.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via All Thats Interesting]
The body is elongated but also compressed and without scales. The head is long with a blunt snout, eyes of moderate size, and a very large mouth. Interestingly, the lower jaw protrudes past the upper, with the jaws aligning with a single row of very sharp teeth that are depressible. The teeth also interlock as well. Of course, the stomach is the real eye-catcher here. Both the teeth and stomach allow the Black Swallower to eat fish 10 times larger than it. This species is rarely seen in its normal habitat, as it tends to be 3,000 to 10,000 feet below the surface. In spite of the beer belly, this species is an impressive hunter known for its stealth.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via The Bubble]

Immortal Jellyfish

Known as the Turritopsis dohrnii species by scientists, the species is commonly referred to by everyone else as the “Immortal Jellyfish.” However, it should be known that they are not technically immortal based on what one would normally associate with the term. Rather, they are “biologically” immortal. This means that from a physical standpoint, they will not die from “natural causes” essentially. Therefore, they can die if perhaps a predator decides to eat them. They can also die from severe injuries, yet this is not as common. Biologically, they are able to be immortal in some really interesting ways.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via National Geographic]
If they are exposed to anything such as environmental stress, sickness, old age, or even physical assault…they can revert back to the polyp stage of life. In fact, the species even forms an entirely new polyp colony. All of this is thanks to transdifferentiation, which alters the differentiated state of cells and effectively transforms them into new cell types. From a theoretical standpoint, this can go on forever. Due to the species changing so well, scientists have no idea how to age any of these jellyfish for certain. Making them some of the most mysterious animals in the wild today.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via FromTheGrapevine.com]

Vampire Deer

Often referred to as the “Vampire Deer” due to some mythology surrounding the species, there are some deer species that contain teeth that appear like fangs. One species known for this interesting look is the Tufted Deer. Most of these fanged deer live in Asia, but all four types of this particular species are native only to Myanmar and China. Similar to antlers on deer, only the males have the infamous fangs the species is known for. Therefore, one could come across a female Tufted Deer and see very little difference between it and other deer species.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via M Rose/Shutterstock.com]
However, the “Water Deer” species is most known for the Vampire Deer moniker as its fangs as a little larger. Also native to China, the species also has been seen throughout North and South Korea. They were found in Britain, but that species is now extinct. Of course, the large canines are actually not fangs but tusks that the deer grow. None contain antlers, so this is likely to help make up for that evolutionarily. Unlike in the Tufted Deer species, both males and females grow tusks. However, the bucks (males) grow larger tusks than the does (females). Both of these species are in a vulnerable state right now due to overpopulation and even overhunting.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Sayaka Mitoh]

Sacoglossan Sea Slugs

Limb regeneration might not be something humans can do at this point, but there are many animal species that can. It is so common that most of the animals that can do it are not considered “mysterious animals” at all. Lizards, worms, and even animals as large as alligators have done this in the past. However, losing a tail or even foot only to grow it back isn’t really that impressive anymore. Now, you have to do a lot more to be considered special. One particular sea slug species understood that assignment and went for the A++ score. Two species of the Sacoglossan Sea Slug shocked the world when they dropped their heads, literally.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Sayaka Mitoh]
This discovery was made by researchers at the Nara Women’s University in Japan in March 2021. The team discovered the slugs are also able to drop their heads and regenerate an entirely new body from that discarded head. This even comes complete with all-new vital organs such as a new heart. Most of the time, when something is dropped by a species, that limb just dies off. Yet this is the first case of that body part regenerating an entirely new body around the discarded body part! Deadpool is going to be upset when we tell him.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Michael Plewka]

The Frosty Bdelloid Rotifers

In June 2021, something was discovered that rocked scientists and even surprised Captain America. Scientists were doing a study on Bdelloid Rotifers, also known as “wheel animals” that were taken from frozen Siberian permafrost where they had been for around 24,000 years. The species was somehow revived, which was pretty crazy to hear. It is not exactly new for microscopic species like this to go into some sort of hibernated sleep when trapped in ice. Yet it is odd to see it happen in a species that was frozen for 24,000 years. If that was not enough, the species is still able to reproduce through their asexual process.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Damián H. Zanette]
A lot of species are damaged by the formation of ice crystals, even if they were able to survive a long time on ice. However, these rotifers somehow protected their cells and organs from being damaged at all. No one knows how exactly they were able to avoid damage at all nor how they could both survive and still reproduce. Making them mysterious animals scientists will be studying long-term. Some may wonder if this could be done with one species, can it be done with humans? The quick answer is no, and that comes down to our bodies being so complex by comparison. The rotifers are so uncomplex, they are able to do this much easier.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via Rosamar/Shutterstock.com]

Chupacabra

For years, many assumed the Chupacabra was completely mythological. It could never be real, right? Mostly part of folklore throughout the Americas, it was heavily connected to vampirism, where it would attack livestock and drink their blood. It is hard to give a perfect description as they vary heavily depending on who spotted the thing. While it has been mostly part of the Americas, people have referenced it in places like Russia and the Philippines in the past. Some claim it is alien-like, with reptilian skin as large as a small bear. Even a rose of spines from its neck to the base of the tail. Others claim it fits more of a large dog appearance. Both are likely somewhat correct too.

These Mysterious Animals Still Baffle Scientists
[Image via The Spruce Pets]
In fact, this urban legend from the log of mysterious animals is real. However, people should know that this is not a solo creature but perhaps hundreds have existed. What people were likely seeing is a member of the canine family with something known as “the mange.” This is a skin disease caused by parasitic mites that cause creatures to lose their hair. It mostly affects canines compared to any other species, and they more than likely contract sarcoptic mange as well. Due to this, it is possible one can see their spine since the hair normally covers it. Coyotes and wolves likely had it and attacked livestock just like others from their species. However, people were unaware of the mange disease for centuries, so the legend took off effectively making them mysterious animals.

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