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Seldom-Seen Species

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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!"note  In some cases, this may be a forced attempt to avoid the countless existing Animal Stereotypes.

Some animals, such as monkeys, songbirds, and frogs, are usually represented by a generic or nondescript variant of the type of animal as opposed to an actual species of that type of animal. In that case, portraying an actual species of that type of animal would count if that actual species isn't commonly used in fiction.

This trope is a Cyclic Trope because some species are more seldom seen in the media of some cultures, in certain forms of media, and in some time periods than others. For example, red pandas are common in Furry Fandom artwork, but are seldom seen in other fictional works and media. Likewise, platypuses have been used as a "seldom-seen animal".

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

Examples of this trope should be species that are still seldom seen in media these days. Examples of older works that show species that were rare in media at the time of the work's release but not that obscure now are also allowed.

Contrast Small Taxonomy Pools.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • There are the two meerkats from Compare the Meerkat, Alexandr and Sergei. Meerkats are related to mongooses, which have enjoyed moderate fame in Western culture over the past century and a half thanks to Rudyard Kipling's short story "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"; The Lion King and Meerkat Manor introduced meerkats to the public consciousness. Mongooses are, of course, famous for killing snakes, while meerkats lack this distinction.
  • The GEICO Gecko, though thanks to him, geckos are not as seldom-seen as they used to be.

    Arts 
  • This is another reason why William Wegman's works leave a strong impression on their viewers: they may have not even seen or heard of the Weimaraner breed beforehand.
  • Ursula Vernon is especially fond of illustrating animals that are not usually given focus, especially in a fantasy context, i.e. as an anthropomorphic warrior or sage. And she tends to use a wombat for self-insert works. See also Digger under Webcomics.

    Comic Books 
  • The Archie Comics' 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). And with the reboot we can add pikas (Relic), bettas (Coral), water buffaloes (Axel), and pistol shrimp (as-yet unnamed character).
  • In Cerebus the Aardvark, aardvarks are not at all common, but have appeared enough times throughout Estarcion's history that it's not a cause for public wonder. That three aardvarks are running around at one time, on the other hand, is exceedingly rare.
  • The Belch Dimension Comics has Jason T. Gibbon (although slightly subverted in an "Untold Tales" segment when it's revealed he was once a boy turned into an ape by an evil spell). One story also featured a villain named The Cassowary, which series creator Jonathan M. Sweet was surprised wasn't used more, as this large flightless bird, with its bony skull-crest and large clawed foot,seemed "fairly made for supervillainy". Although naturally stylized to appear cartoonish, the series actually has fairly recognizable renderings of specific dog breeds, such as the beagle and the pit bull, unlike most comics and cartoons.
  • Batman: The Joker and Harley Quinn are sometimes accompanied by Bud and Lou, who are either laughing or spotted hyenas.
  • Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! would occasionally reference or show a few less often seen animal species, as part of making its World of Funny Animals animal-based puns work. Examples include Gnu York City and the "Wombat Communications" conglomerate there (the owners of Earth-C's version of DC Comics). Celebrities seen included Bob Hoopoe, while a fictional cowboy named "Hopalong Cassowary" (Hopalong Cassidy) is referenced. A few countries/cities on Earth-C include Aukstralia and Loondon.

    Comic Strips 
  • B.C. has the Apteryx, a "wingless bird with hairy feathers," as he invariably introduces himself. Apteryx is the generic name for kiwis.
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin has a fairly encyclopedic knowledge of animals, primarily dinosaurs and pterosaurs. Among the genera featured in the strips are Corythosaurus, Troodon, Centrosaurus, Chasmosaurus, "Ultrasauros" (now Supersaurus), Dimorphodon, and Pterodactylus.
    • He once asked if Hobbes could draw anything other than tigers, to which Hobbes replied, yes, he could also draw ocelots (slender, spotted wild cats from the jungles of Central and South America).
  • Pogo was the only ever possum leading man in an American comic.
  • Sherman's Lagoon has all sorts of obscure aquatic life.
  • Arctic Circle has an Arctic tern named Hector.
  • One Sunday strip of Phoebe and Her Unicorn featured a goldfinch, a pair of black-necked stilts, a Townsend's warbler, a spotted towhee, a chestnut-backed chickadee, a pileated woodpecker, a Steller's jay, and a red-breasted nuthatch.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Jungle Book (2016) was full of (mostly Indian) species not often seen in cinema, such as nilgai, blackbuck, Indian rhinoceros, Indian pangolin, pygmy hog, Indian giant squirrel, jerboas, small Indian civet, red and white giant flying squirrel, Indian cobra, mugger crocodile, Indian cuckoo, hoopoe, Asian fairy-bluebird, and green bee-eater. King Louie's monkey underlings include some relatively obscure species, such as western hoolock gibbon, lion-tailed macaque, pig-tailed macaque, golden langur, and Nilgiri langur. King Louie himself is the extinct orangutan-like ape Gigantopithecus.
  • Bedknobs and Broomsticks prominently featured a secretarybird.
  • 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.
  • Besides the usual chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, Rise of the Planet of the Apes featured a bonobo named Koba as the Token Evil Teammate. He is promoted to Big Bad in the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
  • The Syfy Channel's Malibu Shark Attack features goblin sharks, presumably because they look so bizarre.
  • Deep Blue Sea features mutant mako sharks, rather than the usual Great Whites.
  • Jurassic Park
    • Jurassic Park III features a Spinosaurus as the main antagonist. Much like with Velociraptor, Spinosaurus was obscure when the film was made and became one of the best-known dinosaurs after the release, although it is almost always based on the film's now outdated portrayal.note 
    • Indominus rex, the main antagonist of Jurassic World, is stated to be made from the DNA of cuttlefish and tree frogs. All There in the Manual states it also contains the genes of Therizinosaurus, Giganotosaurus, Carnotaurus, Rugops, and Majungasaurus.
    • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom features Stygimoloch and Sinoceratops. Concavenator, Mononykus, and Dracorex make cameos as models, the skeletons of Kosmoceratops, Peloroplites, and Teratophoneus also make appearances, and DNA vials for Dreadnoughtus is seen as a Freeze-Frame Bonus.
  • The Big Year is a film (based on a nonfiction book of the same title, but fictionalised somewhat for the screen) about competitive birders trying to set a record for the most species seen in North America (north of Mexico, i.e. the continental United States and Canada) during one calendar year. Seldom-seen species are therefore the driving force of the whole plot: Nutting's Flycatcher, Xantus' Hummingbird, Pink-footed Goose, the list goes on and on...
  • Snakes on a Plane: One of the more distinctive motherfuckin' snakes on this motherfuckin' plane is a Gaboon viper.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction showed a Psittacosaurus and a herd of heterodontosaurids in the opening scene.
  • T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous featured a pair of Dryptosaurus to associate with early 20th Century artist Charles R. Knight. For bonus points, they adopt the same pose as in his famous "Leaping Laelaps" painting.
  • Sandy from Annie (1982) is played by an Otterhound named Bingo. It's such an unknown breed that they can easily be mistaken for mutts, which is what Sandy is supposed to be.
  • Goodbye, My Lady is about a boy in rural Mississippi who finds a stray Basenji. Basenji are a rare breed in modern day media, nevermind in the 1950s.
  • The Mission features a tiny marmoset monkey instead of your typical South American monkey like capuchin or squirrel monkeys and a collared peccary which could easily be mistaken as a wild pig. Also, it features a three-toed sloth, who weren't as popular back in 1986, before the Internet days.
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula features a ring-tailed lemur at the London Zoo when a wolf escapes.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey features tapirs in the prehistoric sequence, despite it taking place in Africa.
  • Tino's "girlfriend" Roxy in A Dog's Purpose is a Landseer.

    Live-Action TV 

    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).
  • Frank Zappa's piece "The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary" from Studio Tan and ''Läther, correctly describes him as "the nocturnal gregarious wild swine".

    Radio 

    Theme Parks 

    Toys 
  • The Trash Pack has featured rarely-mentioned bugs in their Bin-sects team, including tapeworms, earwigs, and silverfish.
  • Some of the higher-end animal toy manufacturers such as Safari Ltd., Schleich, and CollectA will feature obscure animal species in addition to well-known ones. Examples are too numerous to list.
  • The Grossery Gang has Slob Fish, who is a blobfish, a type of fish rarely seen in fiction.
  • Beanie Babies have included many rare species over the years, including anteater, kiwi bird, Komodo dragon, Shar-pei, hornbill, lemur, and inchworm, to name just a few.

    Web Comics 
  • Concession features Roland, a pangolin, Franz/Zoe, a bilby, Kate and Rick, ringtail lemurs, and Clive, an okapi.
  • Dinosaur Comics, in addition to the not-that-unusual T. rex, includes a Utahraptor and a Dromiceiomimus among the main cast.
  • Mocheril from The Meek, who is an olm (rarely seen outside of slovenian heraldy).
  • 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.
  • The main characters in Yuck Heads are mongooses, specifically Yellow Mongooses.
  • Femmegasm has a tamarin monkey and axolotl as its lead characters.
  • Dawn of Time tends to feature lesser-known dinosaurs like Pachyrhinosaurus and Sauropelta.
  • Commander Kitty features Nin Wah, a red panda. The first version of the comic also had part of the plot set on a planet of pangolins.
  • Raptormaniacs has Zahavi the Jinfengopteryx, Remex the Caudipteryx, and Ebeff the Therizinosaurus. Also Skull, who is a skull cast of Tsaagan.
  • Stephan in Ozy and Millie is an aardvark.
  • The protagonist of Digger is a wombat, and several of the supporting cast come from a tribe of hyenas.
  • The Bug Pond features a lot of obscure bug species, such as silverfish, earwigs, and assassin bugs.
  • Liz Climo often features these in her comic series, such as tamanduas, honey badgers, and fennec foxes.
  • Question Duck has a great potoo in this strip. An earlier one showed a toco toucan and leafcutter ants. This guest strip by Coelasquid (creator of Manly Guys Doing Manly Things) had a shoebill.

    Web Original 
  • 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!
  • The Happy Tree Friends universe includes a marmot and an anteater (Cro-Marmot and Sniffles, respectively). While Sniffles has been known to hunt ants on occasion, the ice-encased Cro-Marmot never engages in any marmot-esque activity. Or any activity, period.
  • The Tyrannosaur Chronicles includes a handful of dinosaur species that are rarely used in media like the Einiosaurus or the Stegoceras.
  • Cracked loves this trope.
  • Dreamscape: The local hospital is run by a Megalania.

    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, Tropeognathus (referred to as Ornithocheirus), Utahraptor, Tapejara (referred to as Tupandactylus), Polacanthus, Iberomesornis, Leaellynasaura, Muttaburasaurus, Koolasuchus, coatimundis, Torosaurus, Dromaeosaurus, Didelphodon, Deinosuchus, and Dinilysia. Of all these, Coelophysis became a Stock Dinosaur thanks to its appeareance, being something of a spokesman for the Triassic period and the quintessential Triassic animal in nearly every work of mesozoic fiction.
    • 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, Phorusrhacos, Doedicurus, Megaloceros, woolly rhinos, and European lions.
    • The Lost World has Epanterias, Hypsilophodon, entelodonts, and Java man.
    • Chased by Dinosaurs has Argentinosaurus, Sarcosuchus, Giganotosaurus, Ornithocheirus, Macrogryphosaurus, Saurolophus, Mononykus, Tarbosaurus, Therizinosaurus, and Azdarcho.
    • Sea Monsters has Cameroceras, Megalograspis, Astraspis, Isotelus, Peteinosaurus, Nothosaurus, Tanystropheus, Cymbospondylus, Liliensternus, Bothriolepis, Stethacanthus, Dunkleosteus, Arsinoitherium, Dorudon, Basilosaurus, Odobenocetops, 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 Megaloceros.
    • 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 Liliensternus, Ornithocheirus, Plateosaurus, Torosaurus, and Utahraptor.
    • Prehistoric Park has Nyctosaurus, cave bears, Elasmotherium, cave hyenas, Borealosaurus, Eosipterus, Incisivosaurus, Mei long, Phorusrhacos, Toxodon, Arthropleura, Crassigyrinus, Meganeura, Pulmonoscorpius, Albertosaurus, and Deinosuchus.
    • The 3D film has Pachyrhinosaurus, Alexornis, Gorgosaurus, Edmontonia, Chirostenotes, Parksosaurus, Hesperonychus, and Alphadon.
  • Weird n' Wild Creatures, a series of children's fact & trading cards that originally ran from 2003-2006, loved this trope. Gigantophis, Dapedium, Budgett's frogs, genets, hooded pitohuis, hellbenders, predatory tunicates, stoplight loosejaws, toe-biters, red-backed shrikes, pichiciegos, Javan wart snakes… and that's not even scratching the surface. This even extended to the series' coverage of mythical creatures; while not species in the literal sense, it included several beasts (Baital, Gargantua, Mngwa, the Thetis Lake monster, etc.) that are rarely acknowledged in fiction.
  • The mascots for the Sydney 2000 Olympics were a kookaburra, echidna and platypus — chosen in part to provide a Land, Sea, Sky combination and in part because Australian organisers thought kangaroos and koalas were overused.
  • The mascot for the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights is Chance, a gila monster.


Alternative Title(s): Lesser Seen Species

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