Sometimes scientists really love to show their sense of humor. Whether it's a common name or a Latin name, certain species are bestowed with names that are simply silly. Sometimes they're descriptive, which just shows how strangely interesting the animal is in and of itself. And sometimes the name sounds like it's straight from a children's fiction story. Here are some of our favorites.

Wunderpus photogenicus: Yep, that's right. Try saying that without a circus announcer's voice. Actually, the spots of this rare octopus species (pictured above and below) are unique to each animal, which means photos help researchers identify individuals. But still ... Wuuuuunderpuuus phoootogennnicusssssss!

wunderpus photogenicus on seafloor - strange animal names

Photo: Ethan Daniels/Shutterstock


Spiny lumpsucker: And a lumpy-looking sucker it is. The lumpsucker uses modified pelvic fins that have evolved into adhesive discs to stick itself onto a surface like a rock, or as the second photo below, onto fingers.

spiny lumpsucker - strange animal names

Photo: madcow/Shutterstock

spiny lumpsuckers on fingers

Photo: NOAA/wikipedia


Pleasing fungus beetle: There's not just one, but about 1,800 known species of this (relatively) pleasing-looking beetle that is indeed usually found feeding on the fruits of fungi.

pleasing fungus beetle

Photo: Dr. Morley Read/Shutterstock


Pink fairy armadillo: It exists! And it's cute!! Forget about unicorns; we don't need any when we have pink fairy armadillos. And they are literally pink. It's impossible to look at this and not think it is straight from a fantasy novel.

pink fairy armadillo - strange animal

Photo: cliff1066/wikipedia


Raspberry crazy ant: Not sweet. And not cute. But definitely crazy. This invasive species is originally from South Africa, but it's slowly spreading across Texas and the Southeast. It's named for the exterminator, Tom Raspberry, who first noticed them in 2002.

raspberry crazy ant

Photo: Brberrys/Shutterstock


Satanic leaf-tailed gecko: OK, maybe this name isn't so ridiculous. One look at this guy and yes, one might agree he seems a bit on the evil-possessed side.

satanic leaf tailed gecko - strange animal

Photo: Ryan M Bolton/Shutterstock

satanic leaf tailed gecko sticks out tongue

Photo: Ryan M Bolton/Shutterstock


Tasseled wobbegong: Need we say more? Well maybe just this: it's a species of carpet shark. (Not that being a carpet shark helps matters much...)

tassled wobbegong

Photo: Ethan Daniels/Shutterstock

tassled wobbegong

Photo: Ethan Daniels/Shutterstock


Hellbender: Nothing says fierce quite like a gigantic slippery salamander, right? Well, maybe not so much. That's why it needs a name like "Hellbender."

hellbender salamander

Photo: Brian Gratwicke/Flickr

hellbender in hand

Photo: USFWSmidwest/Flickr


Chicken turtle: No joke, it's because that's how it tastes.

chicken turtle

Photo: ajmexico/Flickr


Star-nosed mole: A practical name, to be sure, based on the shape of the schnoz. But still.

star-nosed mole

Photo: gordonramsaysubmissions/Flickr


Blobfish: Yep. Blobfish. Zero points for creativity on this one but, well, it's a fish and it's a blob so why not.


Photo: s i b e r/Flickr


Red-lipped batfish: Now we're talking! A fish that's painted up like a tartlet and has fins that kinda look like bat wings. Descriptive name, but ridiculous nonetheless.

red-lipped batfish

Photo: Rein Ketelaars/wikipedia


Goblin shark: Because goblins.

goblin shark

Photo: Dianne Bray/Museum Victoria/wikipedia


Hummingbird hawk-moth: Not one but two types of bird species go in to naming this moth species.

hummingbird hawkmoth

Photo: Mircea BEZERGHEANU/Shutterstock


Leafy seadragon: A dragon that looks like a leafy branch and lives under the sea. Why not?

leafy seadragon

Photo: Michael Warwick/Shutterstock

leafy seadragon swimming

Photo: Jason Mintzer/Shutterstock


Frill-necked lizard: This guy looks like he deserves a name with more ferocity. But nope. He's just frilly.

frill-necked lizard

Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

frill necked lizard

Photo: Teguh Tirtaputra/Shutterstock


Mustached puffbird: Nope, not an Angry Birds character. Just a puffy bird with a 'stache.

moustached puffbird

Photo: Julian Londono/wikipedia


Ice cream cone worm: Not nearly as appetizing as the name implies. Ice cream cone? Seriously?

ice cream cone worm

Photo: Hans Hillewaert/wikipedia


Strange-tailed tyrant: Not that strange — just a couple of giant rogue feathers. It's more that this little guy is considered a tyrant that makes the name so ridiculous. 


Fried egg jellyfish: Breakfast, anyone? All that's needed is a slice of sourdough toast.

fried egg jellyfish

Photo: Vilainecrevette/Shutterstock

fried egg jellyfish from above

Photo: T.Friedrich/wikipedia


Screaming hairy armadillo: Armadillo? Check. Hairy? Check. Screaming? And, check!

screaming hairy armadillo

Photo: Arnaud Boucher/wikipedia

And don't think the list ends here! There are plenty more oddball names we'd love to have included, from the whimsical monkeyface prickleback and bone-eating snot-flower worm, to the more formal-sounding Ittibittium and Ytu brutus, to the just plain silly Venezuelan poodle moth, Gelae baen and slightly musical conehead. If you'd like to discover more of science's humorous side, start out with Encyclopedia of Life's list of species with funny English names and go from there.

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