Earth is full of strange, shimmering creatures that look like they’d be right at home in the deepest parts of space. From birds, to antelopes, to deep-sea fish, these animals aren’t literally out of our world, but artists and writers get their inspiration from somewhere.
Here’s a list of real-life creatures that belong in a fantasy novel or a sci-fi movie.
1. The Lamprey
Want to get a basic idea of where Alien drew its inspiration for the facehuggers? Look no further than the underwater parasite known as the Lamprey. With a snake-like body and rows of teeth, Lampreys are carnivorous creatures that feed on other fish by sucking their blood.
2. The Saiga Antelope
Saiga Antelope have one of the weirdest faces you’ll ever see on a deer, and they would be right at home in the Star Wars universe.
As a critically endangered species, the Saiga are only found in small areas of Russia and Kazakstan due to overhunting. They’re notable for the “folded” noses on their faces.
3. The Komodo Dragon
The Komodo Dragon is as close as we’ll ever get to dragons in our current era. To be honest you’d never want to meet one beyond the glass cage of a zoo.
With bragging rights as the world’s largest species of lizard, Komodo Dragons are carnivorous and can grow up to three meters long. They live on a series of pacific islands, and like to eat Timor deer.
4. The Frilled Shark
Few things look weirder than a Frilled Shark. Found at the bottom of the continental shelf in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, this species has been around for so long they’ve been designated as a “living fossil”.
5. The Cassowary
Have you ever wondered what a dinosaur looks like? Well here’s your answer.
Cassowaries have the unenviable reputation as the world’s most dangerous bird due to their giant size, huge claws, and bad temperament. They look like a fringed reptile that stepped straight out of Jurassic Park.
Originally from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and northeastern Australia, Cassowaries feed on fruit and bugs and are very wary of humans. When provoked, they can cause horrible injuries with their feet.
6. The Japanese Spider Crab
Want to go swimming with a giant crab that looks like a spider? No thanks on my end—I’m slightly terrified of anything that has six to eight legs.
The Japanese Spider Crab is the biggest arthropod species alive, and can span up to 5.5 meters. To blend into the ocean, they usually cover their shells with sea detritus.
7. The Mantis Shrimp
The Mantis Shrimp is one of the most alien creatures on this list. It’s also one of the coolest in terms of design.
An aggressive, carnivorous creature with hues like the rainbow, the Mantis Shrimp lives in warm waters. It has extremely powerful claws that it uses to stun its food. Their eyes are the most advanced part about them, as they have been twelve and sixteen different types of photoreceptor cells.
Photoreceptors are a type of cell that convert light into electrical signals. These signals then travel to the brain.
8. The Goblin Shark
Last but not least, a deep sea fish with a face that only a mother could love: the Goblin Shark.
The Goblin Shark has been around for 125 million years and grows up to four meters long. It has pinkish skin that looks like a human’s, and its name is pretty apt. Take a glance at any of the goblins that you see in Lord of the Rings, and you’ll notice the resemblance.
If there are any other creatures that you think deserve a mention, let us know in the comment section below! Are you looking for more factoids about our world that would fit into a movie? Here are some of the most sci-fi places you can find on our planet.