Remember the first time you saw a platypus as a kid and for a moment refused to believe that nature would really create an animal that looks like a duck had sex with a beaver? Well guess what, the world is actually full of bizarre mashup creatures like that, some of them hilarious and some of them terrifying, all of them looking like the result of a very drunken night of interspecies animal sex.
#9. Deer + Mouse = Chevrotain
This picture is almost like some sort of visual illusion: Cover the lower half of the photo with your hand and it looks like a perfectly normal squirrel-size rodent, but focus on its hoofed legs instead and it's hard not to imagine it being the size of a deer.
The truth is somewhere in between: The chevrotain, or mouse deer, is the world's smallest hoofed mammal. If they wanted to recreate the plot of Bambi with these things, the hunter could save himself a few bullets by just stepping on Bambi's mom.
Stanley Kaisa Breeden / Getty
Hunting season probably doesn't concern you too much when a stiff breeze can shatter your legs.
One might suspect that a creature that's the size of a rabbit and looks like a mashup of the two most timid animals on earth would be a pushover. Well, it just so happens that chevrotain males come equipped with, for no immediately apparent reason other than wild incongruity, a set of elongated, saber-like canine teeth. The males actually use these outsized fangs to fight with one another over territory and mouse deer ladies.
University of Aberdeen
"You know what this could use? More cobra." -Mother Nature, apparently.
#8. Prairie Dog + Armadillo = Pichiciego
Shit, we had no idea that animals did cosplay, too. Because this is clearly just a prairie dog that found the carcass of an armadillo and decided to try on the carapace and the claws, right?
Nope, but the real explanation is almost as silly: This is a pichiciego, or pink fairy armadillo, from Argentina. This nocturnal animal (would you come out during the day if your mother named you that?) is the smallest of all armadillos, and it's currently endangered due to human destruction of its habitat, domestic dogs and possibly homophobia. Pichiciegos tend to be pretty sluggish when they're wobbling around aboveground, but as you may have guessed from the size of those backhoes they call front feet, it's below ground where they really shine.
Although those nails make us think that they'd fit in well at the DMV.
Those gigantic claws, combined with the peculiar formation of its carapace, allow it to completely bury itself in seconds when it feels threatened. Pichiciegos use this ability to maneuver themselves next to ant colonies, where they can attack the ants (their primary food source) from an unexpected direction. Wait, it has armor plating on its back and it hunts ants?
National Education Network
"Keep in mind, I'm extremely lazy."
#7. Pig + Squid = Piglet Squid
Depending on the orientation of this picture when you look at it, this seems like either some cartoony pig without legs or a tiny squid with an inverted snout growing on its forehead. Either way, the creators of Pokemon have clearly run out of ideas by now.
The truth, of course, is that it's a type of squid, just a really freaking weird one. The piglet squid, as it's commonly known, is rarely photographed, since it prefers to lurk far below the surface, and as a result little is known of its behavior, other than its penchant for looking huggable. For reasons inexplicable to all but a sarcastic god, its tentacles approximate a child's curly head of hair, and its skin patterns resemble an innocent smiling face, best seen on its semi-transparent younger form:
Like if Casper the Friendly Ghost had an awkward adolescence.
Also, those large anime-inspired eyes actually twinkle, since they possess light-emitting organs called photophores. Its cute appearance is nothing but an unfortunate cosmic coincidence, because these things actually swim upside down: That photo up there may look like a smiley face to you, but turn it around and suddenly it's Cthulhu as a baby.
Caters, The Telegraph
So this is what happened when you flushed away those Sea Monkeys.
#6. Monkey + Bat = Colugo
Holy shit, that Wizard of Oz reboot looks terrifying. This looks like a vampire monkey in mid-transformation, but it can't possibly be a real thing, can it? Maybe it's some sort of kite made out of monkey flesh, or an ape in a trench coat flashing us in free fall. Because otherwise, if this is a thing that exists and there's the remotest possibility of it ever swooping down on us, then we're never setting foot in a forest ever again.
Unfortunately for our peace of mind, it's real. It's called the colugo, also known as the flying lemur of Southeast Asia, which is an inaccurate name because its closest relative isn't the lemur, or even the bat -- it's YOU. That's right -- it has recently been established that flying lemurs are our closest non-primate relatives.
National University of Singapore, via MSNBC
"Let's hug, cousin."
While colugos are very agile gliders, they're really too heavy to fly efficiently. Flying can take up nearly twice as much energy as simply running and jumping from tree to tree, especially since they can glide 230 feet at a time anyway. Scientists suspect that they glide simply to save time, and to creep us out.
Norman Lin, National University of Singapore
Gotta admit, this would make a pretty badass bathroom rug.
#5. Goat + Elephant = Saiga
Quick, somebody hustle this thing out of the cantina before Boba Fett shows up. Seriously, that's some sci-fi shit right there. Whichever concept artist came up with this elephant/goat fusion probably got paid in illegal mushrooms.
But no, this is a real animal known as a saiga that lives in the Mongolian and Russian steppes. Its pink-ribbed, waxy horns have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, but not in the way the word "horn" suggests. A trunk similar to an elephant's takes in grass and leaves, and highlights another weird thing about it: The saiga can eat plants that are poisonous to other animals.
But oddly enough, it's allergic to crucifixes.
Believe it or not, this thing used to be pretty common. Hundreds of years ago, saiga herds covered most of Europe and North America, but with a short lifespan of only six to 10 years, the herds thinned and were quickly headed the way of the buffalo/dodo hybrid, the buffalodo. For a while, the USSR made it illegal to hunt the saiga and their numbers surged ... but then the Soviet Union collapsed and they became endangered again. Perhaps its stalky bug eyes are due to their flabbergastedness at their hard-luck, see-sawing existence.
Or they've just looked at themselves in the mirror recently.