Apr 1

Happy April Fools’ Day eveyone! Have you already tied your parents’ shoes together? Swapped the signs on the men’s and women’s toilet doors at work? Put talcum powder in your girlfriend’s hairdryer? If not, you’d better think of something quick as you’ve only got until midday today to perform such cruel but hilarious stunts!

To celebrate this day of practical jokes and general all-round silliness, I’ve put together ARKive’s Top 10 species-which-sound-like-we’ve-made-them-up-but-do-actually-exist!

Whirligig beetle

Although rather ridiculous, this species’ name is at least rooted in some sort of logic – whirligig beetles have earned their name due to their habit of quickly swimming in circles on the surface of the water. Surely this leaves them feeling permanently dizzy?!

Photo of whirligig beetles

Confusing toad

What’s so confusing about this species? Looks like a regular old toad to me…

Photo of a confusing toad

Fuzzy pigtoe

I promise we’re not making these up, although I wish I could take credit for this one. Unfortunately the appearance of the fuzzy pigtoe doesn’t really live up to its hilarious name. But who knows, what it lacks in looks it might make up for in personality.

Fuzzy pigtoe image

Spotted wobbegong

The spotted part I can understand, but wobbegong? Apparently the name is believed to derive from the Australian Aboriginal term for “shaggy beard”, used to describe the whisker appendages this shark possesses.

Photo of a spotted wobbegong lying on sandy seabed

King Alfred’s cakes

I don’t know about you, but if I ordered a slice of cake and the waiter brought me this fungus I think I would be severely disappointed!

King Alfred's cakes photo

Keith’s striped frog

Who is this Keith anyway? And why does he get to have a frog named after him?

Keith's striped frog photo

Greasy grouper

Perhaps a good name for a rock band groupie? No, indeed it is the name of a fish! The word “grouper” comes from the Portuguese word for the fish, garoupa.

Photo of a greasy grouper

No-eyed big-eyed wolf spider

Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction? The most distinguishing feature of wolf spiders are their eyes – two large eyes surrounded by six smaller eyes, hence their names as ‘big-eyed’ spiders. However, the no-eyed big-eyed wolf spider lives in caves where it uses chemical-sensing organs to track prey instead of vision. So, the no-eyed big-eyed wolf spider is in a group of spiders that has big eyes, but it doesn’t have eyes itself because it doesn’t need them. Clear? Good.

No-eyed big-eyed wolf spider photo

Silky sifaka

This tongue twister of a species actually has a remarkably logical name. First, the ‘angel of the forest’ as it is sometimes called, gets its silky name from its creamy white fur. Second, sifakas get their name from the shee-fak call they make to maintain contact within their group.

Silky sifaka photo


This beautiful little bird doesn’t get it’s name from it’s banana-yellow breast, but because it is normally found near banana trees. And everyone knows that bananas are the funniest fruit….don’t they?!

Bananaquit photo

What pranks did you play this April Fools’ Day? Have you got any other suggestions for our April Fool’s species?

One of my favourite hoaxes is the BBC’s flying penguins – if only it were true!

Bonnie Metherell, ARKive Media Researcher