04/09/2013 08:24 am ET Updated Jun 09, 2013

11 Weirdest Animals of all Time

We've all got our eccentricities, but most of us can be comforted in the knowledge that there will always be someone weirder than us. Things in the animal kingdom, however, are not so simple. We don't know where the next strange creature will emerge from, whether thick forest, the deepest ocean depths or the anal cavity of some gentle, unwitting host, but when they do, it's a good bet that they'll teach us something new about the way animals look, behave, or yes, reproduce.

Zombie Birds, Astronaut Fish, and Other Weird Animals is a collection of 50 of the world's weirdest animals; a compilation of new research that helps to explain why the slender, translucent pearlfish spends its days in the anus of a sea cucumber and why there's a marine worm that looks nothing like its relatives but uncannily like a plump, pink rear-end of a pig.

Things aren't any less weird on land either. In the past few years, teams of scientists have been discovering why great tit birds have suddenly developed a taste for bat brains, how rabbits used to weigh a whopping 12 kg, and why a little African jumping spider's favourite things are blood and your sweaty socks. They've been contributing to our knowledge of just how extensive and varied the arsenal of animal weapons is, from the Texas horned lizard's toxic jets of blood tears and the Spanish ribbed newt's bone spears to the poisonous feathers of the strikingly beautiful songbird, the hooded pitohui, that are coated in the same poison as the infamous poison arrow frog.

While bone spears and pig's butts might seem pretty alien to us, there's also something just a little bit human about some of nature's most bizarre creations. While we might call the little killifish that learned how to swim in zero gravity and reproduce in outer space pretty brave, it'd be hard to argue that the green-banded broodsac, a parasite that spends its life moving from bird droppings to the digestive systems of snails and birds, is anything more than a coward. Or perhaps just an incredible opportunist. And what about the Australian jewel beetle, known for its tendency to "mate" with a beer bottle until ants eat it alive? We all know somebody who loves beer almost as much as that.

Zombie Birds, Astronaut Fish, and Other Weird Animals will introduce you to all of these animals and more, whilst celebrating the scientific research that has gone into explaining how they got to be so remarkable.

11 Weirdest Animals
11 Weirdest Animals