Striking photos of 15 animal species you might not know exist.

1. The emperor tamarin

Two words: HOLY MUSTACHE.


Image by Kevin Barrett/Flickr.

Need more 'stache in your life? Emperor tamarins can be found in the Amazon rainforest throughout parts of Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. The mustachioed primates live in troops (usually consisting of two to eight members) that are led by the eldest female.

It's been said that in captivity, emperor tamarins are highly needy and love to petted by their human caretakers. I'm not sure about you, but I feel like I could be awesome at that job.

Image by Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr.

2. The spirit bear

You already know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but did you know you shouldn't judge a bear by its color, either?

This isn't a polar bear happily lost in the woods, folks. It's the ever-elusive Kermode bear, otherwise known as the spirit bear.

It's a unique (and rare) subspecies of American black bear that lives in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada.

Image by Maximilian Helm/Flickr.

Only 1 in 10 Kermode bears have cream-colored coats. Beyond just looking cool, the coats act as a kind of camouflage in rivers, allowing the blonde bears to catch more salmon than their darker-furred counterparts.

3. The quokka

For years, Disney has claimed that its over-commercialized theme parks (rife with sweat, screaming children, and mouse hats) are the "happiest place on earth." Nice try, Disney.

The happiest place on earth is actually anywhere within a five-foot radius of a quokka.

A post shared by @instaquokka on

Seriously. Could these mini-marsupials be any more smiley? They primarily live on Rottnest Island, Australia (which was named after "rat nest" from the guy who initially discovered the island and thought the quokkas were big rats). But if you go to visit them, be chill and don't feed them. They're already a vulnerable species, and messing with their diets is not a way to help.

A post shared by @instaquokka on

You might remember that the quokka briefly found Internet fame when this quokka selfie went viral a few months ago. Yet there are still millions of people outside of Australia that have no idea these cheery little furballs exist.

Pixar, I'm looking at you to fix this. Give us our quokka movie.

4. The bat-eared fox

If the quokka is the happiest, most jovial-looking animal on the planet, the bat-eared fox appears to be, uh ... on the opposite end of the spectrum. Just look at this sinister grin:

A photo posted by Charlotté Rita Higton (@charlieanimates) on

Despite their perpetually sneering expressions, they're not the evil assholes of the animal kingdom. Bat-eared foxes are a highly social species. Also, male bat-eared foxes are basically stay-at-home dads, taking on at least half of the pup-rearing duties, including grooming, chaperoning, and defending. #LeanInTogether

A photo posted by Sean Crane (@seancranephoto) on

Fact time! Their big ears not only help them hear potential prey, but they also help them stay cool in the grassy plains of Africa.

5. The sand cat

Ready to meet the only cat species that lives in sandy deserts?

Image by Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr.

Meet the adorable sand cat. This small but fierce feline lives in the deserts of North Africa and Asia and can weigh up to seven pounds. Its large ears help it detect prey underground before quickly digging it up with its tiny paws.

Speaking of paws, its footpads are completely covered with thick, wiry hair to help protect against extreme temperature.

Image by kellinahandbasket/Flickr.

6. The sloth bear

It's time to introduce a fluffier animal to this list. And there's no better animal to do the honors than the sloth bear.

Image via Thinkstock.

These big, messy balls of bear-fluff primarily live in the forests of South Asia and are considered a vulnerable species because of habitat loss and, in some cases, human capture.

Image by Jane Perez/Flickr.

Despite the name, they're not related to sloths, nor are they slow-moving. They don't even hibernate like most other bears.

7. The Bengal slow loris

If the sloth bear wasn't fluffy enough for you ... challenge accepted.

This is a baby Bengal slow loris:

A photo posted by National Geographic (@natgeo) on

Slow lorises are also a vulnerable species, so plucking them out of the wild to become your pet is not recommended.

Image by Helena Snyder/Wikimedia Commons

Out in the wild, you'll find the same sweet face across tropical and subtropical areas of South Asia.

8. The rock hyrax

Now this little furball is full of surprises.

Image via Thinkstock.

Looks like a rodent, right? But it's not.

The rock hyrax is actually most closely related to the elephant and the manatee. If you think that's crazy talk, you can read even more about it here on Psychology Today.

Image via Thinkstock.

More fun facts? They've got a huge range of vocalizations, they have sweaty feet that work like suction cups on rocks, and they enjoy group sunbathing sessions. If that sounds right up your alley and you'd like to meet these delightful little elephant cousins, they can be found in parts of East Africa and the Middle East.

9. The cotton-top tamarin

If the animal kingdom ever decided to form an '80s rock band, the cotton-top tamarin and its long, white head of hair would totally be the lead singer.

Image by Airwolfhound/Flickr.

Striking, right?

Unfortunately, the cotton-top tamarin is considered critically endangered by the IUCN. An estimated 80% of their population has been destroyed in the past two decades due to $!#%ing deforestation.

Image by russellstreet/Flickr.

To learn more about how you can support conservation efforts, check out the Wildlife Conservation Network.

10. The Patagonian mara

Ever wonder what the offspring of a horse and a rabbit would look like? Yeah, I never really considered it either ... until I saw the Patagonian mara.

A photo posted by uni_san (@uni_san) on

So weird? So cool. So weird and cool!

Image by orestART/Flickr.

OK, the Patagonian mara is not actually the product of some torrid horse-rabbit love affair, but it is a member of the rodent family, even though it has hoof-like front claws.

Interesting fact: They're one of the few mammals that are strictly monogamous.

11. The jerboa

Now try to imagine what the love-child of a mouse and rabbit would look like. Does it share any resemblance to the jerboa?

These cute little rodents live in North Africa and Asia, and they come in all sorts of varieties — there are 33 different species, according to National Geographic. And? Six of these species are PYGMIES.

Image by Bell Pletsch/Wikimedia Commons.

As you might guess by their long feet, these tiny creatures don't walk — they hop (or leap, if it's to escape a predator).

12. The dhole

Let's keep playing the animal mashup game: What would happen if a German Shepherd and a fox decided to procreate? Maybe something that looks exactly like the dhole.

A photo posted by Ashwin Gokhale (@ashwin_gokhale) on

The dhole is an endangered dog species native to Eastern and Southern Asia. Like many other animals on this list, habitation loss is primarily to blame, but disease transfer from domestic and feral dogs might be playing a role, as well.

Image by Neil McIntosh/Flickr.

13. The golden snub-nosed monkey

Ever seen a blue-faced monkey with orange fur?

A photo posted by National Geographic (@natgeo) on

If so, you've met the distinctive golden snub-nosed monkey, resident of central China. And sorry, but it's on a totally different level than you. No, seriously: It spends over 97% of its time in trees.

Image by Su Neko.

One of my favorite facts about this strange beauty is that many of its vocalizations are made without facial movement, just like a ventriloquist.

14. Pallas's Cat

ALL HAIL THE KING OF FLUFF: PALLAS'S CAT.

Image via Thinkstock.

It really does have the longest and densest fur of any cat species in the world, which plays a key role in keeping it well-insulated during the winter months in central Asia. Unfortunately, it's this same fluffy coat that has made Pallas's cats a target for poachers, which in turn has contributed to population decline.

Image by Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr.

Because of its expressive face, this funny feline often pops up in image lists and memes around the Internet. Keep 'em coming, Internet. I love it.

15. The sun bear

I've obviously left the best for last, friends. I'd like to introduce you to ... [drum roll] the sun bear. The sun bear lives in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia and is the smallest of all living bear species (about half the size of your good ol' American black bear). They're also a total delight.

Beautiful markings? Check. It's said that the name comes from the gold crescent-shaped patch of fur on its chest.

A photo posted by Abe Snider (@abesniderphoto) on

Comically long tongue? Check. It helps them extract and eat their favorite foods: termites and honey. It also lends itself to some spectacular "blargh" memes, as you might imagine.

A photo posted by R Mylie (@digitalneverages) on
A photo posted by @arawlings16 on

You're drunk, sun bear. Get out of that tree and go home.

Ability to make hilarious facial expressions? A million times, check.

A photo posted by @hammsuke on

There's still a lot that's unknown about this animal relative to other bear species, but we do know some things!

We know they've got a lot of loose skin around their necks, which acts as a form of protection. We know they're able to make clucking noises like a hen. And, of course, we know they're awkwardly adorable.

A photo posted by HoneyandYogurt (@honeyandyogurt) on

Sadly, we also know they're a vulnerable species, as defined by the IUCN — yet another consequence of deforestation. But! If you're interested, you can directly support sun bears through the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (which also has 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor, in case you like to travel).

Did you know there are several success stories of humans saving endangered animals from extinction?

In the late 1960s, only 400 American bald eagles could be found soaring around our skies — the American symbol on the brink of extinction. However, thanks to the collective efforts of U.S. citizens and the government, the species has rebounded over the past several decades, with almost 10,000 breeding pairs identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2006. Today? It's considered "least concern" by the IUCN.

Other species we've saved? The gray wolf. The Florida panther. The grizzly bear. The brown pelican. The black-footed ferret. The list goes on!

Here's the thing, though: Laws only change, conservation programs only get funded, and destructive human behaviors only stop when enough people care.

And people can't care if they're unaware that species like the golden snub-nosed monkey or Pallas's cat or the sun bear are in danger of extinction — let alone that these animals even exist. #RealTalk

Awareness matters. Awareness begets action. Which is why I'll keep making animal lists like this one if it means people will share with their friends and families. Together, we can increase awareness (even if it's only 15 funny-faced animals at a time).

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less