The animal kingdom is filled with many strange characteristics and behaviors. Some peculiar attributes, like the hippopotamus' 'blood sweat,' can be explained by adaption, while the causes of other bizarre animal traits remain more of a mystery.
Check out the gallery below to see 9 creatures with some of the most bizarre animal traits on the planet.
Leafy Sea Dragon
This sea dragon lives up to its name. Closely related to the seahorse, the leafy sea dragon is similar in shape and size to the sea-dwelling creature with one exception -- the <a href="http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/sea-dragon/">sea dragon is covered in leafy appendages</a> that act as camouflage. With these yellow and brown leaf-shaped limbs, the sea dragon can effectively blend into its natural habitat of seaweed and kelp formations off the coast of Australia.
Also called a <a href="http://www.desertusa.com/april96/du_hliz.html">horned toad</a>, this reptile has an unusual defense mechanism -- it squirts blood from its eyes. When the lizard encounters a predator, a duct in the corner of the eye produces blood, which swells up until it reaches maximum pressure and streams from the eye. Although the stream of blood -- which can hit a target <a href="http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/horned-toad/">up to three feet away</a> -- is meant to confuse predators, it is also poisonous to certain animals, such as coyotes.
This domestic sheep has the ability to <a href="http://www.karakulsheep.com/about.html">store fat in its tail</a> when food is scarce. Known for its ability to adapt and survive through tough conditions, the sheep contains a sack in the upper half of its tail that <a href="http://www.karakulsheep.com/about.html">begins filling up with fat shortly after birth</a>. The Karakul is thought to be one of the <a href="http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/sheep/karakul/index.htm">oldest types of domestic sheep</a>, though it is rarely found in the U.S. and Canada. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dianaprichard/8110342913/">Image via Flickr</a>)
A shrimp in the <em>Alpheidae</em> family, also called pistol shrimp or snapping shrimp, has a large claw that it uses to shock its prey. Unlike a traditional crab claw, the shrimp's appendage contains two interlocking parts instead of pinchers. When the parts snap shut, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/26/science/sleuths-solve-case-of-bubble-mistaken-for-a-snapping-shrimp.html">pressure buildup results in a blast of bubbles</a> that can heat the trapped air roughly to the temperature of the sun. Locked and loaded, the pistol shrimp has the ability to instantly knock out other marine life.
Diving Bell Spider
Also called <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/nature-blows-my-mind-strange-scuba-diving-spider.html">the water spider</a>, <em>Argyroneta aquatica</em> is the only spider in the world that can effectively live underwater. The arachnids use a <a href="http://news.discovery.com/animals/diving-bell-spider-bubble-110609.html">bubble-like web</a> that traps oxygen so they can survive underwater for long periods of time; researchers say the diving bell spider only needs to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/13614742">come up for air once a day</a>. The spiders reside in ponds and streams in Europe and Asia, but are becoming increasingly more difficult to find.
The hagfish has an unusual defense mechanism. The eel-like marine animal has the ability to <a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/10/27/hagfish-filmed-choking-sharks-with-slime-and-actively-hunting-fish/#.UMezFtPjk7Q">choke its predators</a> with a hazardous slime. In an underwater video captured last year, the hagfish releases this slime in another fish's mouth, allowing the hagfish to safely swim away while the predator is distracted.
Dubbed the '<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/18/jesus-lizard-basilisk-run_n_760036.html">Jesus lizard</a>' for its ability to walk on water, the Plumed basilisk can run across the surface of water on its hind legs. Although it can only run for a short distance, the lizard is also <a href="http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/plumed-basilisk">an excellent swimmer</a> and has the ability to stay underwater for up to 30 minutes.
<em>Thaumoctopus mimicus</em>, commonly known as <a href="http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=260#.UL53mpOLxmA">the mimic octopus</a>, is a master of disguise. The species, discovered off the coast of Indonesia in 1998, can take on the characteristics of more than 15 different types of marine life. The special ability enables the octopus to act like another species in order to <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/behold-amazing-shapeshifting-mimic-octopus-video.html">camouflage itself or ward off dangerous predators</a> that would otherwise see the octopus as prey.
<a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2009/01/22/fish-that-climb-new-catfish-scales-rocks-with-pelvic-fins/#.UMet2NPjk7Q">Lithogenes wahari</a> may look like any other catfish, except for its giant mouth and pelvic fins. But what makes this species special is how it uses its fins -- they're not just for swimming. In fact, Lithogenes are quite <a href="http://www.amnh.org/science/papers/catfish.php">skilled at rock climbing</a>. Using their appendages, the catfish can maneuver through the water over slippery rocks and can even <a href="http://www.livescience.com/3262-catfish-species-climbs-rocks.html">climb vertical surfaces</a> like a fish out of water.
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