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

wunderpus photogenicus on seafloor - funny animal names Photo: Ethan Daniels/Shutterstock

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!

Spiny lumpsucker

spiny lumpsucker - strange animal names Photo: madcow/Shutterstock

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 lumpsuckers and toad lumpsuckers Toad lumpsuckers (middle two) and Pacific spiny lumpsuckers (top and bottom two), demonstrate their adhesive abilities. (Photo: NOAA's Alaska Fisheries Science Center/Wikimedia Commons)

Pleasing fungus beetle

pleasing fungus beetle Photo: Dr. Morley Read/Shutterstock

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.

Pink fairy armadillo

Pink fairy armadillo, Chlamyphorus truncatus Pink fairy armadillos or pichiciegos are found in the warm sandy plains of Argentina. (Photo: Cliff [CC BY 2.0]/Wikimedia Commons)

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.

Raspberry crazy ant

raspberry crazy ant Photo: Brberrys/Shutterstock

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.

Satanic leaf-tailed gecko

satanic leaf tailed gecko - strange animalPhoto: Ryan M Bolton/Shutterstock

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 sticks out tongue Photo: Ryan M Bolton/Shutterstock

Tasseled wobbegong

tassled wobbegong Photo: Ethan Daniels/Shutterstock

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


hellbender salamander Photo: Brian Gratwicke [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr

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 in hand The Ozark hellbender is one of the largest salamanders in the world. (Photo: Jill Utrup/USFWS [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

Chicken turtle

chicken turtle A chicken turtle seen in a backyard in Florida. (Photo: ajmexico [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

No joke, it's because that's how it tastes.

Star-nosed mole

star-nosed mole The star-nosed mole is easily recognized by the unique 'star' of tentacles on its face. (Photo: Agnieszka Bacal/Shutterstock)

A practical name, to be sure, based on the shape of the schnoz. But still.


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

Red-lipped batfish

red-lipped batfish A red-lipped bat fish seen in the Galapagos. (Photo: Rein Ketelaars [CC BY-SA 2.0]/Wikimedia Commons)

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.

Goblin shark

goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni) with jaws extended A goblin shark with its jaws extended. (Photo: Dianne J. Bray / Museums Victoria [CC BY 3.0 AU]/Wikimedia Commons)

Because goblins.

Hummingbird hawk-moth

hummingbird hawkmoth Photo: Mircea BEZERGHEANU/Shutterstock

Not one but two types of bird species go in to naming this moth species.

Leafy seadragon

leafy seadragon Photo: Michael Warwick/Shutterstock

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

leafy seadragon swimming Photo: Jason Mintzer/Shutterstock

Frill-necked lizard

frill-necked lizard Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

This guy looks like he deserves a name with more ferocity. But nope. He's just frilly.

frill necked lizard Photo: Teguh Tirtaputra/Shutterstock

Mustached puffbird

Moustached puffbird, Malacoptila mystacalis, Manizales, Colombia A moustached puffbird seen in Manizales, Colombia. (Photo: Julian Londono [CC BY-SA 2.0]/Wikimedia Commons)

Nope, not an "Angry Birds" character. Just a puffy bird with a 'stache.

Ice cream cone worm

ice cream cone worm This is an ice cream cone worm or trumpet worm from the Oostendebank in the Southern North Sea, Belgium. (Photo: © Hans Hillewaert [CC BY-SA 4.0]/Wikimedia Commons)

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

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

fried egg jellyfish Photo: Vilainecrevette/Shutterstock

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

fried egg jellyfish from above

Spiegeleiqualle, otherwise known as the fried egg jellyfish. (Photo: T.Friedrich [CC BY-SA 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons)

Screaming hairy armadillo

Chaetophractus vellerosus Chaetophractus vellerosus or screaming hairy armadillo seen in Patagonia, where it's also called Peludo in Spanish. (Photo: Arnaud Boucher [Public domain]/Wikimedia Commons)=

Armadillo? Check. Hairy? Check. Screaming? And, check!

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.

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

21 animals with completely ridiculous names
Here are some descriptive, and downright funny animal names. When it comes to naming interesting animals, scientists really love to show their sense of humor.