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9 mythical-looking animals that actually exist in the wild

Business Insider logo Business Insider 2015/05/12 BEN KERNS, THE DODO

© Provided by Business Insider Most of the world's animals are fairly normal-looking, but every once in a while we come across something that looks like he jumped straight out of a fantasy movie. Check out these amazingly unique animals who seem almost mythical in nature.

1. Okapi

It might be difficult to determine exactly what this guy is just by looking at him, as many of his features are reminiscent of other animals. Those features each play a unique role in his life, from helping him blend in with his surroundings and hide from prey to allowing him to reach berries at greater heights. He's about the size of a horse, with the long neck of a giraffe, and is considered a national symbol of pride for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

2. Saiga antelope

© Provided by Business Insider The saiga antelope has a proboscis-like mouth, giving the impression of an anteater, that actually works as a sort of air filtration system. These hardy guys have been around since the Ice Age but are on the brink of extinction. Thankfully, recent conservation efforts have helped them begin a bit of a comeback.

3. Narwhal

© Provided by Business Insider If these guys kind of remind you of dolphins with pointy horns, you're not far off. The narwhal is actually a porpoise with an ivory tusk tooth sticking prominently out of his upper lip, which ends up resembling a horn. The tooth can grow close to 9 feet in the males and is thought to be used for mating rituals and fighting off potential rivals. Narwhals are extremely rare and only an estimated 45,000 to 50,000 exist in the wild.

4. Streaked tenrec

© Provided by Business Insider The tiny, hedgehog-like tenrec not only looks unique with his yellow and black quill-covered body, but he's also the only known mammal to communicate through stridulation. The tenrecs of Madagascar have a special, second set of quills they rub together to communicate in the dark. The little mammals also communicate constantly in a such a high pitch that human ears aren't capable of hearing it.

5. Superb bird of paradise

© Provided by Business Insider Not to be confused with the regular birds of paradise with the long tail feathers, the superb variety comes equipped with a bright blue breast shield and nape feathers that double as a cape. At least the males do. When the male bird is seeking a companion he'll fan out his nape feathers, creating a disc-shaped appearance that looks similar to a neon blue and black smiley face.

6. Thorny devil

© Provided by Business Insider A micro-version of something you might expect to see in "Jurassic Park," the thorny devil is a lizard native to Australia. They survive entirely on ants and are covered in thick, thorny spikes that protect them from prey. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about these guys is their ability to change color with the weather — they stay yellow and red when it's warm and switch to darker colors when it's chilly.

7. Vampire deer

© Provided by Business Insider The vampire deer is actually a nickname for different varieties of the musk deer, but you can see how he got his supernatural moniker. Only the male deer in this family have fangs and they're used to compete for mates. Once thought extinct, researchers recently found a lone Kashmir musk deer in northeastern Afghanistan last November for the first time in 60 years.

8. Glaucus atlanticus

© Provided by Business Insider Not only does the name allude to visions of the lost city of Atlantis, but this little sea creature looks like he might have come from the city itself. The glaucus atlanticus is actually a slug that floats upside down in the ocean and feeds on the Portuguese man-of-war. After eating, the glaucus stores the stingers of his prey in his own finger-like appendages and uses them to fend off attackers.

9. Red uakari

© Provided by Business Insider Would you believe the bright red, bald face of the uakari primate is a sign of a good mate? It's true. Pale faces in these primates indicate poor health, so the red uakari's unique appearance makes him highly appealing to potential partners. Though they lack long tails, these monkeys are just as agile as others other their species and hop nimbly from tree to tree without problem. They also gather in large packs of up to 100 other uakari for social activities.

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