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Which Animal Is the Weirdest in the World?


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Grades 2-up

News Content

Learn about five very weird-looking animals. Vote for the one you think is weirdest.

Anticipation Guide

  • Write the word weird on a whiteboard/blackboard or a sheet of chart paper. Ask students to tell you what the word means to them. (Students might offer synonyms such as bizarre, unusual, abnormal, odd, peculiar, or strange.)
  • Next, ask them to think of the weirdest-looking animal they know. Write down their responses.
  • Then you might share a few more pictures of some weird-looking animals. (You will find a handful of pictures at the links below.) Ask students to share their thoughts about/identify the weird features or characteristics of the animals.
    Frill-Necked Lizard
    Komondor (dog breed)
    Star-Nosed Mole
  • Finally, share with students that this weeks News for Kids story is about five more weird animals. These are animals they probably have never seen or heard of before. Ask students to try to imagine how the animals look as they read the descriptions in the news story.

    News Words

    Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: salamander, feature, unique, wrinkly, vibrations, and bizarre. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • The _____ from the guitar were so loud that I could feel them a few blocks away. (vibrations)
  • When Toma?s lifted the log, a _____ scurried out from underneath. (salamander)
  • Mrs. Adamss dress was so _____ I thought she must have slept in it. (wrinkly)
  • My favorite _____ in dads new car is the video monitors that are built into the headrests. (feature)
  • Did you know that everybodys fingerprints are different? Our ____ fingerprints can help the police solve crimes. (unique)
  • That was one of the most _____ tricks I have ever seen a magician perform! (bizarre or unique)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Which Animal Is the Weirdest in the World?.

    Vote for the

    Read this weeks News for Kids story about five of the worlds weirdest animals.

    Have students choose one of the five animals and draw a picture of it based on the description of that animal in the news story.

    Then share with students pictures of the five animals. How close were their drawings to the real thing?

    Print out the pictures of the five animals. Have each student vote for the animal s/he thinks is the weirdest one. Use the pictures to create a graph that displays the students votes aside each picture.

    Finally, click here to report the results of your students votes. We will report the final results of readers voting on our News for Kids article archive page in early December.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts about the five animals after students have read this weeks news story.

    Chinese Giant Salamander

  • The Chinese giant salamander is an endangered species; its numbers have declined due to habitat loss, pollution, and over-collecting, as it is considered a delicacy and used in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • The similar Japanese giant salamander is slightly smaller than the Chinese giant salamander.
  • Nodes that line the back of the salamander are capable of sensing the slightest vibrations.
  • The female salamander lays about 500 eggs in an underwater breeding area. The male guards the eggs until they hatch in about 50 days.
  • The average Chinese giant salamander is about 4 feet in length and 55 pounds.

    Yeti Crab

  • The yeti crab was discovered in 2005 by a group from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Monterey, California. The group was operating aboard the research submarine DSV Alvin.
  • The species was found about 900 miles south of Easter Island in the South Pacific, at a depth of 7,200 feet. It lives on hydrothermal vents along the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge.
  • It has tiny eyes that lack pigment; scientist think the crab must be blind.
  • Although it is often called the "furry lobster," the yeti crab is not a true lobster. It is more closely related to hermit crabs.


  • The almiqui is unique among mammals in that its saliva is poisonous.
  • The almiqui was discovered in Cuba in 1871.
  • By 1970, scientists assumed the almiqui was extinct, since none had been found since 1890. But then, three were captured in 1974 and 1975. Today, the species remains very rare. The most recent sightings were made in 1999 and 2003. Altogether, only 37 of the species have ever been spotted.
  • The almiqui is sometimes compared to a shrew, although it is not closely related.


  • The saltwater blobfish is found at extreme depths off of the coasts of Tasmania and Australia. It can withstand the high pressure of these depths because its body is a mostly gelatinous mass that has a density just less than water.
  • The blobfish is not an active predator. For the most part, it simply feeds off what floats right by it.
  • Blobfish are sometimes caught by fishermen who use nets to bottom trawl.
  • A blobfish sits on its eggs until they hatch.

    Coconut Crab

  • While there have been coconut crabs that are 6 feet across and weigh 30 pounds, the average one is about 3 feet across and weighs 9 pounds. Males are generally a bit larger than females.
  • A coconut crab can live for more than 30 years.
  • Coconut crabs eat mostly fleshy fruits and nuts and seeds.
  • A coconut crab might climb trees to eat coconuts or fruit, escape the heat, or escape from predators.
  • Coconut crabs live alone in underground burrows and rock crevices. They generally stay in their burrows all day, but they will sometimes come out during the day, especially if it is raining.
  • Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean has the largest population of coconut crabs in the world.

    Use the News

    Print out this weeks Use the News printable activity page for students. Or use the questions on that page to check student comprehension.

    Use the News: Answer Key
    Comprehension Check
    1. yeti crab; 2. coconut crab; 3. almiqui (alternative response: coconut crab); 4. Chinese giant salamander; 5. blobfish; 6. almiqui; 7. almiqui; 8. coconut crab; 9. yeti crab; 10. blobfish.
    Main Idea
    Earth is home to lots of interesting -- and unusual -- species.
    Vocabulary Builder
    1.b, 2.d, 3.a, 4.c.


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News drawing activity on the news story page.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    MATHEMATICS: Representation
    GRADES Pre-K - 12
    NM-REP.PK-12.1 Create and Use Representations to Organize, Record, and Communicate Mathematical Ideas

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.3 Life Science
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.3 Life Science
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.3 Life Science

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
    NSS-G.K-12.5 Environment and Society

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.
    Article by Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2009 Education World