Evolution helps every species carve out its own niche within our planet’s huge range of diverse and adverse habitats. And sometimes the features they evolve are truly bizarre.
But the physiologies that we find absurd are only odd because we see them from a human point-of-view.
Here are just a few of the most ogle-worthy creatures with very long legs—and the reasons they have them.
1. The maned wolf
Compared to the foxes, coyotes and retrievers many folks are used to, The maned wolf’s body plan seems exotic and extreme. Not only is this the largest canid found in South America, but it’s also unusually tall, standing almost 3.2 feet (1 meter) high at the shoulder.
It bestrides the continent on legs so long and so slender you’d swear the creature is part gazelle (or werewolf!).
The Maned Wolf’s long, thin legs are an adaptation that allows the animal to see above tall grass when hunting.
2. Giant sea spider
The Southern Ocean giant sea spider is the stuff of nightmares – its leg span of 25 centimeters more or less equals that of the world’s largest land spiders like the Goliath Bird-Eating tarantula of South America.
Curiously, though, their bodies don’t appear to have much else apart from their long legs and proboscis. They don’t really have a body, they have their organs in their legs.
3. Black-winged stilt
Black winged stilts are said to have the longest legs relative to their body and they are aquatic insects feeding birds.
Black wings and white head, neck and breast. In flight, its extremely long legs can exceed the tail up to 20 cm.
The bird is called a “stilt” for a reason: its long pink legs resemble wooden stilts. As a result of adaptation, they allow the wading bird to forage in deeper water.
4. Jerboa hopping desert rodent
Jerboas – long-legged hopping desert rodent, bounce their way around in the desert night hunting for snacks.
These able leapers, which live in North Africa and Asia, are aided by hind limbs that are at least four times as long as their forelimbs designed for prodigious leaps and long tails that add balance.
Jerboas have the ability to hop huge distances relative to its size, an ability that evolved as an adaptation to help them escape from predators and to aid with long journeys and foraging in its desert environment.
5. Great dane: Zeus
The Great Dane is a German breed of domestic dog known for its large size.
Great Danes are very tall, lanky dogs with very long legs and a deep, muscled chest. They can grow over 40 inches tall at the shoulder and can weigh well over 150 lbs.
The tallest Great Dane ever was named Zeus (right picture), who stood 44 inches tall at the shoulder.
6. Serval wild cat
The Serval is a medium-sized African wild cat. It is closely related to the African Golden Cat and the Caracal.
It is a slender animal, with long legs and a fairly short tail
Servals have the longest legs of any cat, relative to their body size due to which it is relatively one of the tallest cats.
As part of its adaptations for hunting in savannas, serval’s long legs and neck help it in seeing over tall grass, jumping over the prey and achieving speed while pursuing the prey.
7. Zebra-tailed lizard
The Zebra-tailed lizard is a pale thin lizard with very long legs and a long flat tail with black crossbars.
They live in open desert with fairly hard-packed soil, scattered vegetation, and scattered rocks, typically flats, washes, and plains.
The zebra-tailed lizard has long slender legs that are well suited for running at high speeds. And of course, when the ground surface gets way over 100 degrees, it’s surely helpful to have those kind of legs.