10 Real Animals That Seem Make-believe

Giant Oarfish
Giant oarfish live at very low depths within the ocean and suck up small fish and shrimp for food. iStock/Thinkstock

Slithery giant sea serpents have inhabited the nightmares of sailors since ancient times. It turns out, however, that the real-life creature that resembles them most closely, the giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne), actually isn't a snake but rather the largest bony fish in the sea. The rare creatures, which are found in tropical and temperate waters at depths as low as 3,000 feet (914 meters), have shiny, silvery bodies, bright red crests on their heads, and toothless mouths, which they use to suck up and filter small fish, shrimp and other invertebrates. Relatively little is known about the fish, which probably only come to the surface when they are injured or dying [source: NOAA].

Therefore, marine scientists were excited when, in October 2013, the bodies of two oarfish — including a 14-foot (4.6 meter)- long female with ovaries full of eggs — were found off the coast of Southern California. This provided a precious opportunity to study the elusive animals [source: Quenqua].