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Animal characters in fiction run the gamut. Just a look at the listing in Animal Stereotypes shows that there are plenty of common enough animals that are used for their distinctive traits (presumed or real).

Then there's the Seldom Seen Species — that is, a species that, once you see it, makes you think, "Hey, you don't usually see that animal!" In some cases, this may be a forced attempt to avoid the countless existing Animal Stereotypes.

Many of the older examples of this trope hardly look and act (if not, look and act nothing) like their Real Life equivalents.

Contrast Small Taxonomy Pools.

Examples of Seldom-Seen Species include:


Anime and Manga


Comic Books

  • The Archie Sonic the Hedgehog universe is full of this. Not the least of which are echidnas (most famously Knuckles), lynx (Nicole, Lightning Lynx, et al.) and mongooses (Mina and Ash).This continued with the reboot of the series in 2013. It included creatures such as yeti crabs near the end of its run.


Film

  • How many fictional meerkats can you name outside Timon?
    • Well there is Alexandr and Sergei.
    • The sequel prominently featured okapi, a close relative to the giraffe.
    • Zazu, another character from The Lion King, is actually a Red-Billed Hornbill. Who looks nothing like an actual hornbill and more like a toucan instead.
    • The rodent Scar was tormenting during his introductory scene is actually a jerboa, judging by the tuft on its tail.
  • The Madagascar film franchise has three different types of lemur (ring-tailed lemur, mouse lemur and aye-aye). All three also carried over to The Penguins of Madagascar.
    • Also from Madagascar are the antagonists, the little known fossa preying on the lemurs.
    • Besides the three named lemur characters belonging to the above species, the lemurs appearing in the background belong to various other species. A tenrec also appears in one scene.
    • In the sequel, aside from the typical African fauna, there are some dik-dik antelopes.
  • The background animals from the "Noah's Ark" segment from Fantasia 2000.
  • Dinosaur not only featured obscure dinosaurs (such as Iguanodon for the hero and Carnotaurus for the villain), but also modern Sifaka lemurs.
  • Disney's Atlantis the Lost Empire featured coelacanths.
  • Finding Nemo featured clownfish, regal tangs, moorish idols, yellow tangs, royal grammas, four-striped damselfish, cleaner shrimp, makos, anglers, moonfish, kelp gulls, eagle rays, longnose butterfly fish, flapjack octopi, and flounders.
  • This part of the song "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid:

 Oh, the newt plays the flute, the carp plays the harp

The plaice plays the bass, now that's sounding sharp

The bass plays the brass, the chub plays the tub

The fluke is the Duke of soul (yeah!)

Oh, the ray he can play, the lings on the strings

The trout's rocking out, the blackfish he sings

The smelt and the sprat are all where it's at

And, oh hear that blowfish blow!

  • Although not exactly cute in the ordinary sense (think Ugly Cute), the animals in Rango are not the typical animals you find in an animated movie about desert animals. Cases include Priscilla the oddly adorable, big-eyed cactus mouse, Beans the Love Interest and desert iguana, and the burrowing owl mariachi band.
  • The different species of owls from Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of ga Hoole. You have Gylfie the timid yet intelligent tiny Elf Owl, Twilight the street-smart Great Grey Owl, and Digger the fast talking Burrowing Owl. In fact, the movie's plot is kick-started by the barn owls called the 'Pure Ones' (in a not-so very subtle call to Nazi Aryanism) starting a race war against the other owls.
    • An echidna and a Tasmanian devil also show up.
  • In Happy Feet, one can count several different types of penguins beyond the generic black and white ones seen in typical media. Mumble and Gloria are emperor penguins, the Latino-accented Plucky Comic Reliefs are Adelie penguins, and the guru voiced by Robin Williams is a Rockhopper penguin. Chinstrap Penguins and African Jackass Penguins are also seen briefly during Mumble's imprisonment in the marine animal exhibit. In addition to the penguins, there's the Nightmare Fuel-laden leopard seal, a herd of elephant seals, and a gang of skuas.
    • The sequel features two krill, one named Bill and one named Will.
  • Other than the main heroes (mammoth, sloth, and saber-toothed cat or Smilodon), Ice Age and its two sequels were filled to the brim with prehistoric animals that went beyond the stock animals that is so nauseatingly typical in any other movie. You had glyptodonts (salesman Sid's sidekick who got eaten by the marine reptiles, Cretaceous the Metriorhynchus and Maelstrom the Globidens), the sad and farting chalicothere, gray trunked Palaeotherium, the rhino-looking Brontops brothers who were harassing Sid in the first movie, a long necked and trunked exasperated Macrauchenia, and giant Gastornis birds. In the third movie, 'Dawn of the Dinosaurs', it went beyond Stock Dinosaurs to include a family of Triceratops-looking Chasmosaurus, small stegosaurid Kentrosaurus, a giant pterodactyloid Quetzalcoatlus, ravenous wolfish Guanlong, and a white Baryonyx named Rudy - Buck's eternal enemy and threat to the T. rex family.
  • Bedknobs and Broomsticks prominently featured secretary birds.
  • The Princess and the Frog featured spoonbills.
  • Tarzan showed ring tailed lemurs in mainland Africa.
  • The Three Caballeros featured Galapagos penguins, umbrellabirds, boat-billed herons, fork-tailed flycatchers, straight-billed woodcreepers, yellow-chinned spinetails, horneros, and Andean condors.
    • And yes Disney fans, the Aracua or Speckled Chachalaca (called the Aracuan Bird in the film) is real... though like many of the older examples on this page, the real bird looks and acts nothing like it's more famous animated equivalent.
  • In the most recent film of The Time Machine, one of the Eloi men is seen carrying a live black-furred animal over his shoulder, which appears to be a binturong.
  • Shifu the Red Panda and Tai Lung the snow leopard from Kung Fu Panda
  • Besides the usual chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, Rise of the Planet of the Apes featured a bonobo named Koba too.
  • Zootopia has several. There are some animals that while often seen, are not usually given much attention (Gazelle), animals usually only found in the furry fandom (Finnick, the snow leopard reporter), as well as some straight cases (like the Oryx-Antlertons, an oryx and a kudu)


Literature

  • The owls in Harry Potter include some commonly-mentioned species, but also the lesser-known eagle owl and Scops owl. Similarly, lesser-known mythological creatures such as basilisks and Hippogriffs appear.
  • Redwall is known for focusing on the seldom used ends of the mustelid spectrum, such as stoats.
  • Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the Rudyard Kipling book about a mongoose. The story also features such seldom-seen Indian fauna as the krait, the muskrat [1], and the tailorbird.
    • A "sea cow" -- either a manatee or dugong -- appears in Kipling's "The White Seal" (and the Chuck Jones Animated Adaptation).
      • Most likely referring to the Steller's Sea Cow. which was hunted to extinction 27 years after its discovery in 1741.
  • A mongoose also appears in the Sherlock Holmes story, "The Adventure of the Crooked Man."
  • Andre Norton's Beast Master novels included meerkats: Hing in The Beast Master and Lord of Thunder, and Ho in The Beast Master.
  • The lammergeier in Iain M Banks's Feersum Endjinn.
  • Bears are common enough in fiction, but how many times have you seen a sloth bear? Probably just in Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, and the Disney cartoons it inspired.
  • Velociraptors (along with a few other genre) were obscure back when Jurassic Park was written. But then the book and movie popularized them so that they are inescapable in dinosaur media these days. Dilophosaurus is an example that never caught on quite as much.
    • Spinosaurus is a case similar to Velociraptor.
  • The Immortals quartet (Tortall) featured pygmy marmosets in the third book.
  • The Spellsinger series includes increasingly-exotic species among its Funny Animal cast in its later books, including the likes of the pangolin, javelina, silky anteater, viscacha, and aye-aye.


Live Action Television

  • Little Maya's maternal grandmother on Six Feet Under gives her a stuffed okapi, to prove how much more sophisticated she is compared to her paternal grandmother, who gave her a monkey.
  • The titular character of the PBS children's show Zoboomafoo is a Sifaka lemur, who for some reason is actually anthropomorphosized by being fed.
  • Sesame Street's South African co-production, Takalani Sesame has a giant meerkat named Moshe.
  • When Super Sentai and Power Rangers does an animal theme (which is often), usually have some stock badass animals they like to use - but then there's usually also an oddball choice. Some of these aren't obscure in general, but they evoke a similar reaction in the show's action-superhero context; for instance, one common reaction to late Mighty Morphin Power Rangers stuff was "WTF Frog?"
    • Kakuranger/Mighty Morphin Season 3 infamously had the aforementioned frog, as well as a crane. Both are a case of something being Lost in Translation; both creatures are signifigant to ninja. The frog is a reference to The Legend of the Gallant Jiraya.
    • Gingaman/Lost Galaxy had its bird of prey zord be a condor, alongside a wildcat zord.
    • Gaoranger/Wild Force included a giraffe, a deer, an armadillo, a hammerhead shark, a panda (CD Drama only), and a sawshark.
    • Gekiranger/Jungle Fury had an antelope (specifically a gazelle in Gekiranger) and a penguin. The mentor in the former is an anthropomorphic caracal. Several of the kaijin fought in the series also qualify.
    • Engine Sentai Go-onger included an orca-bike and a chicken-copter; counterpart Power Rangers RPM never defined what sea creature the bike was (beyond just a "fish", which is possibly even weirder) and referred to the copter as a falcon.
    • Shinkenger/Samurai has a marlin/swordfish, lobster, and squid/octopus.
    • Tensou Sentai Goseiger gives the Black Ranger a snake motif - not uncommon on its own, but so associated with villainous characters that a heroic use is worth mentioning. There's also an ostrich or some other flightless bird (which didn't appear in Megaforce). Many of its kaijin also qualify, with a leaf insect, a tick, a daddy long-legs, a silverfish, and more. Heck, some of them also go into mythological examples of this, such as a skyfish.
    • Even the dinosaur-themed Abaranger/Dino Thunder got in on the act with the Sixth Ranger having a Tupuxuara zord (ie, a pterosaur that isn't a pteranodon), along with Carnotaurus and Chasmosaurus. There was also a swordfish kaijin.
      • Dino Charge takes it further, with a number of secondary powerups based on various lesser-known creatures, that sometimes even got toy-only zords, such as Archeleon.
    • Ninja Steel has an eclectic collection of Zords to begin with, amongst their number being a husky and a panda.
  • Geo Kids had Bobby the Bushbaby and Sunny the honey possum.
  • David Attenborough's The Life of Mammals prominently featured echidnas, possums, yapoks, shrews, pangolins, pika, marmots, ground squirrels, mole rats, maras, fennec foxes, african wild dogs, harbour seals, right whales, sun bears, fruit bats, lorises, gibbons, uakaris, tamarins, guenons, macaques, and geladas.
    • This trope goes for all of Attenborough's Life on Earth series.


Music

  • The Schoolhouse Rock song "Four-Legged Zoo" prominently mentioned ibex (a type of goat with large, curved horns) and kudu (a large antelope with corkscrew-shaped horns).


Newspaper Comics

  • B.C. has the Apteryx, a "wingless bird with hairy feathers," as he invariably introduces himself.
    • Apteryx is the generic name for kiwis.


Video Games

Web Comics

  • Roland le Fay, the pangolin from Concession.
  • Nature of Nature's Art, full stop. Featuring jerboas, degus, tamanduas, kinkajous, several species of spiders and many more.
  • In Off White, the pack is shown hunting a chamois. This might be the one and only time you'll ever see one in any fiction whatsoever.
  • Femmegasm has a tamarin monkey and axolotl as its lead characters.


Web Original

  • The Happy Tree Friends universe includes a marmot (Cro-Marmot). Note that the ice encased Cro-Marmot isn't shown engaging in any marmot-esque activity. Or any activity, period.
  • The middle portion of the song "In the Ocean Blue" from Charlie the Unicorn, which sounds an awful lot like the Pokerap:

 Lungfish, Blackfish, Alligator, Icefish

Armorhead, Hammerhead, Anaconda, Flathead

Manta ray, Stingray, Fangtooth Moray

Goblin shark, Grass carp, Round River Bat Ray

Noodlefish, Hagfish, Man o' War, Ladyfish

Black eel, baby seal, Sprat, Koi, Electric eel

Lamprey, Pejerey, Yellow-edged Moray

Salmon shark, Sleeper shark, Leatherback, and Eagle ray!

    • Much like with the previous example from The Little Mermaid, the anaconda, koi, electric eel, alligator, lungfish, and grass carp are especially Seldom-Seen Species under the circumstances, as they're freshwater creatures only.


Western Animation


Other

  • Walking with Dinosaurs and its continuations have several hundred tons of these.
    • The original WWD featured coelophysis, postosuchus, placerias, thrinaxodon, peteinosaurus, ornitholestes, anurognathus, dryosaurus, ophthalmosaurus, liopleurodon, eustreptospondylus, cryptoclidus, hybodus, perisphinctes, ornithocheirus, iguanodon, utahraptor, tupandactylus, polacanthus, iberomesornis, leallynasaura, muttaburasaurus, koolasuchus, coatimundis, torosaurus, anatotitan, dromeosaurus, didelphodon, quetzalcoatlus, deinosuchus, and dinilysia.
    • The Ballad of Big Al had dryosaurus, ornitholestes, anurognathus, and othnielia.
    • Walking with Beasts has leptictidium, gastornis, ambulocetus, propalaeotherium, godinotia, titanomyrmia, basilosaurus, andrewsarchus, embolotherium, dorudon, moeritherium, apidium, physogaleus, paraceratherium, hyaenodon, chalicotherium, cynodictis, australopithecus, dinofelis, ancylotherium, deinotherium, macrauchenia, megatherium, terror birds, glyptodonts, irish elk, wooly rhinos, and european lions.
    • The Lost World has epanterias, iguanodon, hypsilophodon, entelodonts, and java man.
    • Chased by Dinosaurs has argentinosaurus, sarcosuchus, giganotosaurus, ornithocheirus, macrogryphosaurus, saurolophus, protoceratops, mononykus, tarbosaurus, therizinosaurus, and azdarcho.
    • Sea Monsters has cameroceras, megalograspis, astraspis, isotelus, peteinosaurus, nothosaurus, tanystropheus, cymbospondylus, liliensternus, bothriolepis, stethacanthus, dunkleosteus, arsinotherium, dorudon, basilosaurus, odobenocetops, megalodon, cetotherium, leedsichthys, metriorhynchus, hybodus, liopleurodon, hesperornis, squalicorax, xiphactinus, halisaurus, archelon, and tylosaurus.
    • Walking with Cavemen has australopithecus, ancylotherium, deinotherium, paranthropus, homo habilis, dinofelis, deinotherium, ancylotherium, homo rudolfensis, homo ergaster, homo erectus, gigantopithecus, homo heidelbergensis, and irish elk.
    • Walking with Monsters has trilobites, anomalocaris, haikouichthys, cephalaspis, brontoscorpio, pterygotus, cameroceras, sponges, sea urchins, hynerpeton, hyneria, stethacanthus, mesothelae, petrolacosaurus, meganeura, arthropleura, proterogyrinus, edaphosaurus, seymouria, gorgonops, diictodon, rhinesuchus, scutosaurus, lystrosaurus, euparkeria, proterosuchus, and euchambersia.
    • The Arena Spectacular has iguanodon, liliensternus, ornithocheirus, plateosaurus, torosaurus, and utahraptor.
    • Prehistoric Park has nyctosaurus, ornithomimus, cave bears, elasmotherium, cave hyenas, borealosaurus, eosipterus, incisivosaurus, mei, microraptor, terror birds, toxodon, arthropleura, crassigyrinus, meganeura, pulmonoscorpius, albertosaurus, deinosuchus, nyctosaurus, and troodon.
  • A common way to get yourself noticed in the Furry Fandom is to have a fursona of an unusual species, to counteract the countless animal stereotypes in the fandom.

Notes

  1. oddly, as the muskrat is not native to India--Kipling may have been referring to some other, vaguely similar animal, such as the bandicoot rat
  2. the Sandshrew line
  3. the Dwebble line
  4. the Drowzee and Munna lines
  5. the Seel line
  6. Zangoose
  7. Kingdra
  8. the Chinchou line
  9. Qwilfish
  10. so i herd u liek Mudkipz
  11. the Paras and Nincada lines
  12. the Pineco and Burmy lines
  13. the Shellos line, Manaphy and Phione
  14. Watchog
  15. the Sewaddle line
  16. the Minccino line
  17. the Tynamo line
  18. If you care, there’s Raffelsia (Vileplume), pitcher plants (bellsprout line), euryptids (Kabutops), alomancaris (Anorith Line), Moschops (Machop line, notable as not even being fossil Pokémon), crinoids (Liliep line), stilt owl (Decidueye, which is again, not a fossil Pokémon) slime mold (Shuckle), Amargasaurus (Amaura Line)...
  19. Bronzor and Bronzong, for instance
  20. Tuna-Roa from Polynesian mythology
  21. A combination of Nanook and Sedna from Inuit Mythology
  22. a mandrake
  23. Camazotz, a Mayan god
  24. An ouboros
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