10 Real Animals That Seem Make-believe

Golden Lion Tamarin
This golden baby tamarin clings tightly to her equally flame-haired mother. iStock/Thinkstock

You probably won't see one as a guest judge on "American Idol" any time soon, but golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia)are the rock stars of the Amazonian rain forest. The diminutive creatures, whose bodies can stretch to nearly 9 inches (22 centimeters) in length plus a tail of up to 13.5 inches (34 centimeters), have a striking mane of lush, golden fur, which frames a gray-black face with startlingly anthropomorphic features.

These primates, which spend most of their lives in the trees, use their long fingers to climb and swing from branch to branch, and to snare insects, fruit, lizards and birds for food. Both genders split responsibility for raising their young, with males sometimes carrying babies on their backs between feedings, as if they were human yuppie dads. (Their young are usually twins.) Unfortunately, these magnificent creatures are critically endangered due to logging and agricultural expansion that are destroying their habitat [source: National Geographic].