Funny Animal Names that Really Exist - Invertebrates

You can hardly believe that some of these are animals at all!

1. Corals

Think coral is pretty but boring? Not with these names!

Brain Coral

If you didn’t know better, you might think that a human brain was growing on the sea floor - but it’s actually a coral!

2. Crabs

Can you arrest a palm thief? And should you be scared of a pistol shrimp?

Fiddler Crab

Male fiddler crabs have one unusually huge claw. To get the attention of female crabs, they stand outside their homes and wave their big claw around - this makes it look like they’re playing a fiddle! As these crabs live in large colonies, lots of them wave their claws around at the same time. It can be a very funny sight!

Fish Lice

Headlice annoy us humans, fish lice annoy fish. They use their mouthpieces to hold tight onto fish, and suck blood and tissue fluid from their victims.

Goose Barnacles

These small crustaceans were believed to be barnacle goose eggs, as they were never seen nesting (because they’re migratory birds).

Harlequin Shrimp

Harlequin shrimp are bright white with pink dots, making them look a little like a harlequin’s painted face.

Palm Thief

Also known as the coconut crab, there are two theories about its nickname: 1. The crabs were seen stealing shiny metal objects. 2. The crabs climb palm trees to eat coconuts.

Pistol Shrimp

The pistol shrimp uses its large claws to make extremely loud noises that sound like pistols. Find out more in our Pistol Shrimp Facts

Rock Barnacles

You can’t tell that rock barnacles are actually animals at first glance, as they really do look like rocks: like thick, round, nodular pieces of limestone. Their “shell” is made of six plates that protect them from enemies.

Water Flea

Water fleas are tiny mini crabs that grow to just 0.2-0.3 inch (0.5-1 mm) long. They get their names from their favorite way to move about. They throw their antenna down and let the recoil catapult them forwards. It looks like they’re jumping.

3. Snails and Slugs

Would you want to meet a warty slug? Or eat an apple snail?

Apple Snail

The apple snail’s shell does actually look like an apple: it is round and yellow, which makes it look like a delicious yellow-green Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apple.

Ear Shell

Am I hearing that right? Ear shells are big sea snails. They have shells that looks like ears.

Fighting Conch

The fighting conch has super sharp edges along its shell. When they feel threatened, they “fight” wildly and can even give humans deep wounds.

Pustulose Wart Slug

The wart slug is a slug that lives in the sea. It gets its name from the large, thick warts on its body that are bright colors such as yellow, orange or white.

Slipper Shell

“Hey honey, could you please bring me my slippers?” When you look at them from underneath, these snails look like slippers. There are even more funny snails and slugs, like the moon snail, checkerhead bonnet and pyramid snail.

Spanish Shawl

Huh? What’s a shawl got to do with animals? Even if it is Spanish? The Spanish shawl is a sea slug. It’s purple and has lots of orange “cerata”. These look like fringing on a shawl. You’ll find a photo in our article on the most colorful animals in the world.

Umbilical Egg Shell

Not to be confused with eggs! This sea snail looks very similar to a hen’s egg.

Apple Snail Apple Snail - Illustration: Silke/tierchenwelt.de

4. Echinoderms

You can hardly believe that some of these echinoderms are animals at all!

Comet Sea Star

The comet sea star is a starfish that often has arms of different lengths. They are mostly created by separation (find out more in the starfish factsheet).

Cushion Sea Star

This sea star’s arms grow together to create a plump pentagon, which has earned it the name cushion sea star.

Sea Apple

The sea apple is a sea cucumber, but has a round, thick body rather than a long one.

Sea Cucumber

Sea cucumbers have long bodies like salad cucumbers.