The Weirdest Animals of 2008

From a sea-slug that runs on solar power, to a bug that lives in total isolation; from the world's smallest snake to a one-tonne rodent - here are the 10 oddest species from 2008.

Bone-breaking horror frog

"Amphibian horror" isn't a movie genre, but on this evidence perhaps it should be. In May, biologists described a hairy frog that actively breaks its own bones to produce claws that puncture their way out of the frog's toe pads, probably when it is threatened.

Solar-Powered Sea Slug

This little guy leads the eco-movement by example. Elysia chlorotica is a lurid-green sea slug with a gelatinous leaf-shaped body that lives along the Atlantic seaboard of the US. When it feeds on algae it absorbs chlorophyll and steals some plant genes that let it live for up to a year on sunlight alone.

World's Smallest Snake

You wouldn't get many luxury handbags out of the world's smallest snake, Leptotyphlops carlae. Barely the girth of a strand of spaghetti, it was discovered by Blair Hedges, of Pennsylvania State University, who also discovered the world's smallest gecko and helped find the world's smallest frog.

Sex-Pest Guppies

They may look innocent, but male guppies are the ultimate bullies. Having invaded the territory of another fish species, they have taken to sexually harassing and possibly even maiming resident females. Researchers believe the guppies are using sex as a way of suppressing the native fish population.

Zombie caterpillars

Technically, this story gives you a pair of odd animals: a parasitoid wasp that specialises in manipulative behaviour and a zombie caterpillar. Having partially developed inside them, the wasp larvae chemically manipulate the caterpillars into acting as zombie bodyguards, with some impressive moves to boot.

Self-Sufficient Goldmine Bug

Nicknamed "the bold traveller", Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator lives 2.8 kilometres down inside a goldmine, in 60 °C water, completely isolated from the rest of the world. And with neither light nor oxygen. The discovery that it has all the genes it needs to survive on its own, completely isolated from any other form of life, set the world of astrobiologists abuzz: could this be what alien life will look like?

One-Tonne Guinea Pig

Jumping on a chair would not have helped escape Josephoartigasia monesi - then again, when this one-tonne rodent roamed South America 2 million years ago there weren't any chairs to be had.

World's Only Lungless Frog

You would be forgiven for not even seeing Barbourula kalimantanensis as it sat perfectly camouflaged on a rock. But you would be missing something extraordinary. The little frog with big eyes has no lungs and gets all the oxygen it needs through its skin.

Electric Fish That Loves a Shock

Male elephant nose fish are known to lure females with the help of an electric field. This year, experiments showed that females fancy the electric aura of males of their own kind over the spark of closely related species.

Newly Discovered Monkey Already Endangered

A species of monkey living in north-western Amazonia was named earlier this year - and scientists immediately called for it to be placed on the endangered species list. No wonder new species of primate are so rarely discovered.

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