Genetic drift is an element of natural evolution which occurs when the frequency of an existing gene is altered and begins to act upon mutation or recombination in creating different, rare or special characteristics. Among the bizarre examples in our “naturally selected” list below, “genetic drift” may be an understatement.
The Tarsier is a small, tree-going primate with enormous eyes that in some instances outsize its brain. Belonging to a "clade", or family, of primates that made the split from our own branch (including monkeys and apes) over 55 million years ago, they are now only found in Southeast Asia.
9. Proboscis monkey
Part of the Old-World Monkey family (the largest branch of primates in existence), this arboreal creature is known as the “long-nosed” or Proboscis Monkey due to its exceptionally large nose. Among other purposes, it uses this elongated snout to emit reassuring honks to its babies and angry snarls when piqued.
8. Dumbo octopus
Included in the pelagic umbrella genus, the Gimpoteuthis (or Dumbo Octopus) is remarkable for its uncanny resemblance to the Disney character “Dumbo”, from the 1941 major motion picture of the same name. Found in oceans worldwide they are nonetheless a rare Octopoda species, and utilize fins for steering and balance.
Found year-round in waters surrounding Russia, Canada, and Greenland, this toothed whale is endowed with a massive tusk. The Narwal and its famous cousin, the Beluga, are the only two species included in the Monodontidae family, which are notable for their smallish snouts and absence of a true dorsal fin.
6. Basket star
Nicknamed the “Shetland Argus”, this brittle star, cousin of better-known starfish, possesses gloriously branched arms and loves to hang around the deep sea. Weighing up to five kilograms, these echinoderms can live to be 35 years old. They lack blood, however, enabling a gas exchange in a water vascular configuration.
5. Christmas tree worm
Bearing a striking resemblance to an illuminated Christmas tree, especially when found in groups, this underwater worm of the polychaete variety is known in college textbooks as the Spirobranchus giganteus. The “spiral gills” of this fascinating creature’s unique crown make it a common favourite of deep-sea divers and marine photographers.
4. Hooded seal
White or silver-grey with black spots of varying shape and size, these “phocids”, officially named the Cystophora cristata, wear a silver-bellied coat of blue-grey when pups. Typically found in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, the adult male of this peculiar species wears an inflatable bladder sac on its head.
3. Planthopper nymph
Not unlike their well-known grasshopper brethren, the Planthopper nymph (named for its resemblance to leaves and seeds) makes an easy transit through its environment by hopping from branch to branch. Part of the Fulgoromorpha order of insects, it tends to take its time when walking to avoid unwanted predator attention.
2. Pigbutt worm
These “flying buttocks” or Chaetopterus pugaporcinus, are new to the known world of living things, having been classified by scientists in 2007. They are generally the size of an acorn and resemble, oddly enough, a pig’s rear end. To top it all off, they glow in the dark when stimulated!
1. Roughback batfish
Ah, the Ogcocephalus parvus! This aptly named little critter of the deep tends to stay near the coast of the western Atlantic, scuttling along the ocean floor from Rio to Myrtle Beach. Attracting prey with a “lure” extended from its snout, some may grow to be 20 inches in length.