Whether they look funny, act weird, adapted awkwardly, sound strange, or just seem out of place (or from the pages of a science-fiction novel), these bizarre creatures earned their state’s spot on the unusual list.
1. Alabama: Red Hills salamander
Regarded as a relict from cooler, moister prehistoric times, the Red Hills salamander, Phaeognathus hubrichti, is considered large, attaining a maximum total length of 9 in (22.5 cm). The elongated body has 20-22 costal grooves, with 12 or more intercostal folds between adpressed limbs (front limbs bent backward, hindlimbs forward). The limbs are noticeably short. Adults lack gills. The color of the body and prehensile tail is uniform dark brown to dark gray, although irregular fading in preserved animals may produce a bi-colored effect.
2. Alaska: Ice worm
Ice worms belong to the genus Mesenchytraeus, the same genus as earthworms. Ice worms are the only annelid worms known to spend their entire lives on glacier ice. Ice worms can be up to an inch long, and can be black or blue in color. The ice worms come to the surface of the glaciers in the evening and morning to feed on snow algae.
3. Arizona: Javelina
Javelina (Tayassu tajacu) also known as collared peccary, are medium-sized animals that look similar to a wild boar. They have mainly short coarse salt and pepper colored hair, short legs, and a pig-like nose. The hair around the neck/shoulder area is lighter in color giving it the look of a collar. Javelina have long, sharp canine teeth which protrude from the jaws about an inch.
4. Arkansas: Ozark cavefish
The Ozark cavefish is small, colorless, and blind, with a flattened head and slightly protruding lower jaw; the tail fin is rounded. Cavefish live most or all of their lives in total darkness and typically lack eyes.
5. California: Banana slug
The banana slug is named for its resemblance to a ripe (or overripe, in the case of spotted individuals) banana. It’s one of the slowest creatures on Earth, moving at a maximum speed of six and a half inches per minute. The gastropod has one lung, one foot, and no spine.
6. Colorado: Sage grouse
The largest grouse in North America, the Greater Sage-Grouse, is brownish-gray with white patterning. It has a long, spiky, pointed tail and a black belly. The male has a white breast and prominent yellow eyebrows. During the ʙʀᴇᴇᴅing season, groups of males do their courtship display together, puffing out air sacs in their chest and spreading their tails.
7. Connecticut: Star-nosed mole
Thr Star Nosed Mole is one of the most uniquely specialized noses in the animal kingdom. They are small, stout, streamlined mammal with 22 pink, fleshy tentacles radiating from the nose in a star-like pattern. The soft, short fur is brownish-black or black and lighter on the belly. They have concealed ears, tiny eyes, and a long, scaly tail with coarse hairs. The heavy-built forelimbs support enlarged, broad feet and large claws that point outward to aid in digging underground tunnels.
8. Deleware: Common grackle
Common Grackles are recognized by their long, keel-shaped tails, fairly heavy and sharp bills, yellow eyes, and (in males) glossy black plumage with an iridescent sheen. The word “grackle” derives from the Latin word for Europe’s jackdaw, a somewhat similar-looking but unrelated bird.
The Common Grackle belongs to the Icteridae family, so is related to the Rusty Blackbird, Tricolored Blackbird, and Baltimore Oriole. These birds have an interesting trait that helps them use the earth’s geomagnetic fields to navigate.
9. Florida: Manatee
The manatee is a large marine mammal with an egg-shaped head, flippers and a flat tail. Manatees are also known as sea cows. This name is apt, due to their large stature; slow, lolling nature; and propensity to be eaten by other animals. However, despite the name, they are more closely related to elephants. Though they may seem like cumbersome creatures, manatees can swim quickly and gracefully.
Manatees range in size from 8 to 13 feet (2.4 to 4 meters) and can weigh 440 to 1,300 lbs. (200 to 590 kilograms). They have large, strong tails that power their swimming. Manatees usually swim about 5 mph (8 km/h), but they can swim up to 15 mph (24 km/h) in short bursts when they feel a need for speed.
10. Georgia: One-toed amphiuma
an elongate (up to 30 cm [12 in.] long), slender salamander, slightly more than width of a pencil in diameter. Unique among salamanders in possessing tiny, single-toed legs, one pair just behind the small gill opening at each side of neck and another pair just ahead of the longitudinal ᴀ.ɴ.ᴀ.ʟ sʟɪᴛ. Coloration uniformly dark brown dorsally and ventrally. Tail length about 22 percent of total length. Existence of larval stage unknown. Eggs and hatchlings undescribed. One of three species constituting an entire family whose fossil history extends back into the Cretaceous (more than 65 million years ago).