Have you ever seen an animal that made you do a double take? Some creatures seem so bizarre that it’s hard to believe they’re real. In this post, we’ll check out some of the ugliest animals on the planet. Remember – they might look weird to us, but every animal has evolved perfectly for its environment. Let’s look at what makes these animals so ugly yet amazing.
Let’s start with one of the strangest primates around – the aye-aye. This creepy creature lives only on the island of Madagascar and has a face only its mother could love. When scientists first described the aye-aye in 1788, they were convinced it was a prank.
With eyes like a vampire bat, huge ears, and dagger-like claws, the aye-aye could easily star in a horror movie. Its long, skeletal middle finger is used to tap on trees and listen for insects inside. Once it hears them, it chews right through the bark with its rat-like teeth. Weird, right?
Local people used to think the aye-aye was an evil omen and would kill them on sight. Luckily, they’re protected now, but their population is still endangered. Even though their appearance is bizarre, aye-ayes are clever primates who fill an important role in their forest home.
This next creature has a nose you won’t forget. The proboscis monkey lives only on the island of Borneo and is named for its massive nose. The male’s nose can grow up to seven inches long! They use it to attract females and intimidate rivals.
When the nose gets too big, it starts to hang down over the mouth like a floppy moustache. It gets so full of blood that it has to be relieved of pressure. The monkey will actually pinch its nose and wiggle it to get some blood out!
Aside from the huge honker, proboscis monkeys have pot bellies and reddish-brown fur. They live along rivers and swim well, using their webbed feet for paddling. Those big noses also help them hold their breath underwater. Sadly, their habitats are being destroyed, and they’re now endangered. Let’s hope this ugly monkey doesn’t go it extinct.
The appropriately named elephant seal is sliding onto the beach like a gigantic blob. These marine mammals live along South Africa, New Zealand, Mexico and California coasts. When males reach full size, they can weigh over 8,800 pounds (4 tons)!
Elephant seals certainly don’t win any beauty contests. Their immense bodies are topped with a little round head and floppy trunk-like snout. Male elephant seals battle viciously for mates by rearing up on their flippers and chest-butting each other. This gives them bloody cuts along with droopy elephant-like faces.
On land, elephant seals are slow and clumsy, dragging their blubbery bodies along the sand. But in the water, they transform into agile predators, diving up to a mile deep to hunt fish and squid. Don’t let those bloated bodies fool you – these are amazing athletes of the ocean.
Could this be the ugliest animal in the world? The blobfish lives off the coast of Australia at depths of up to 4,000 feet. Its jelly-like flesh is less dense than water, so it floats lazily above the sea floor. They never develop swim bladders, so their dense gelatinous tissue helps them maintain buoyancy.
Blobfish don’t have muscles to move much, just a large mouth to suck in any food that drifts by. This leaves them with a permanent frown on their blobby faces. Their grumpy expressions landed them the title of the world’s ugliest animal in 2013.
But in their natural deep-sea habitat, blobfish look like normal fish. Only when they’re brought to the surface does their flesh spread out and give them that melted look. Don’t judge a blobfish by its miserable mug – it’s uniquely adapted to its extreme environment.
Naked Mole Rat
Get ready for one of the weirdest rodents ever – the naked mole rat. These little weirdos live in underground colonies in East Africa. As their name suggests, they’re hairless, wrinkly rats.
Naked mole rats live like ants or bees, with a breeding queen and many non-breeding workers. They lack pain sensation in their skin and can live without oxygen for 18 minutes. Weirdest of all, they rarely get cancer. Scientists think this could lead to breakthroughs in cancer research.
Their constant tunnel digging has left them with protruding teeth and tiny eyes. Naked mole rats mate only with the queen and can live up to 30 years, nearly unheard of for such a small mammal. So don’t judge the naked mole rat on its looks alone – it has superpowers you never expected!
With its pig-like snout and elaborate nose leaf, the horseshoe bat could win a prize for weirdness. This strange-looking bat is found throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. Its name comes from the horseshoe-shaped flap of skin on its nose.
This flap acts as a radar dish, emitting high-pitched calls that bounce off insects. It can fly and hunt with incredible precision by interpreting the echoes, even in complete darkness. This sonar system is so advanced that it inspired the invention of radar technology.
Horseshoe bats roost in caves and old buildings, venturing at night to feast on moths and mosquitoes. While hanging upside down, they wrap their wings around their bodies like a cloak. Despite their alien-like faces, horseshoe bats are sophisticated fliers with super-powered senses. Not bad for an ugly mammal!
The marabou stork of Africa stands over 5 feet tall with an 8-foot wingspan. But this scavenging bird is best known for its bald head and scruffy neck feathers. When threatened, it will spread its massive wings to appear more intimidating.
This ugliest part of the marabou stork is its naked head and neck, often caked with blood from its messy eating habits. It uses its massive bill to tear open carcasses and gobble up decaying flesh. Cute, right?
But the marabou stork plays a critical role as nature’s cleanup crew. It picks apart rotting carcasses and prevents disease from spreading, which earns it the nickname “undertaker bird.” So next time you see its ugly face, remember it’s just doing its job to keep things clean!
Adding to our list of strange wildlife is the hammerhead bat. It lives in swampy rainforests throughout much of Africa. As you probably guessed, it gets its name from its unique hammer-shaped head. These bats have eyes, nostrils and ears spaced far apart to give them better vision, smell and hearing.
The hammerhead’s wide-set eyes allow it to scan for flying insects and frogs on the ground. Its flattened head may also make it more agile in flight. While most hammerhead bats are brown, some have unusual white or golden fur. No matter their colour, there’s no denying these bats have bizarre-looking heads!
But their weird skulls serve an important purpose, from catching bugs to communing with other bats. Next time you see a funny-looking animal, remember – there’s always a reason behind it!
Giant Chinese Salamander
Lurking in the rocky streams of China lives one of the world’s largest amphibians – the giant Chinese salamander. These creepy creatures can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh over 100 pounds. Their brown, slimy skin is blotched with white or black spots.
Giant salamanders have almost no predators because of their large size and venomous skin. They’ll eat almost anything they can fit in their huge mouths, including fish, frogs, insects, and even small mammals. Usually, they float motionlessly and wait for prey to come to them.
The Chinese consider them a delicacy and supposedly an aphrodisiac. Unfortunately, this animal trafficking has depleted their numbers. However, it seems more like a movie monster. The giant Chinese salamander’s strange looks help it thrive in the mountain streams of China. Respect the salamander!
Found inhabiting slow-moving rivers in South America, the mata mata turtle looks like it came straight out of prehistory. It has a triangular, flattened head and an expansive shell covered in horned tubercles and notches. Even weirder, its long neck is topped with flaps of skin and a hornlike scale.
The mata mata blends perfectly into its watery home, looking like fallen leaves and rocks. You’d have no idea a living creature was there when it remains still! It ambushes any animal that swims by, sucking prey into its huge mouth with powerful suction. That’s not what you’d expect from this bizarre bag of flaps and horns!
Yet every part of the mata mata’s body helps it catch food and avoid predation. Sometimes, the ugliest animals are actually the most perfectly adapted of all.