The Ugliest Animals

What constitutes ugliness is a matter of opinion, although to a momma batfish a baby batfish must be adorable. The animals mentioned here are notably unattractive. There are tens of thousands of scientifically identified animals and fish, so other peoples’ lists might vary.

Perhaps the ugliest mammal is the Naked mole rat, Heterocephalus glaber. These are not really rats, but they are naked, almost hairless. They live their lives underground, so they have tiny eyes. Unique among mammals, they live in hive-like colonies of several dozen animals, replete with a queen. Their beady eyes, hairlessness and spindly limbs make them look like a plush toy to scare children. But there’s something interesting about them: they have amazing resistance to cancer, so medical science is taking a close look. They live a robust 30 years, very long for a small mammal. They inhabit parts of East Africa.

Another remarkably ugly animal is the Mexican salamander called the Axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum. These creatures inhabit Lake Xochimilco, not far from Mexico City. They are critically endangered because of habitat destruction and pollution, and also because of the pet trade. They are so ugly that many collectors find them sort of cute. Axolotls reach adulthood without going through any kind of metamorphosis, so their infant stage is permanent. They have a look that can be described as a permanently unshaved surprise. They also have a trait of great interest to medical science: it can regenerate spinal cord tissue, retinal tissue and completely replace legs. The genome is huge, 32 billion base pairs. It has been sequenced so researchers interested in regenerative tissue worldwide have access.

The Blobfish, Psychrolutes marcidus, lives at depths of 2,000 to 4,000 feet off the Australian coast. The fish is about a foot long. They are hard to describe, but imagine a pink drunk uncle without a skull. They have what looks like a huge nose and a look of an oily, flat face. They lack the swim bladder characteristic of most fish, and they do not have much of a skeleton. They really are something of blobs. They are not edible, but are caught as bycatch by fishers looking for other fish. They are critically endangered, with one estimate that there are only a few hundred of the fish left. Videos show them to be more graceful and far better looking in their natural habitat. Discovered only in 2003, the Blobfish is thought to live perhaps 130 years.

The Proboscis monkey, Nasilis larvatus, is a large monkey native to Borneo. The monkey has a sort of neatly trimmed look overall but has a remarkable nose. The nose—the ‘proboscis’ for which the monkey is named—is predominant on the animal’s face. The bulbous nose looks something like a huge collapsed carrot. These monkeys frequent mangrove forests and riverbanks. They wade in water standing up, a bipedal posture uncommon in monkeys. They are good swimmers. They are fairly large, the males reaching about 50 pounds. They live to about 20 years. Habitat destruction has reduced their number to an estimated 7,000. The purpose of the unusual nose is thought to help the males make loud honking calls.

The Lake Titicaca Scrotum Frog, Telmatobius culeus, is the largest totally aquatic frog, and is native to the Lake Titicaca system. Titicaca is a large lake on the border between Bolivia and Peru, high up in the Andes. This frog may weigh up to two pounds. It has a remarkable system of folded skin, which helps it absorb oxygen. The frog has a sort of permanent giddy smile. It is long-lived for a frog, up to about twenty years. Its nickname comes from its unfortunate resemblance to a human male’s scrotum. That’s not amusing for the frog, because it is hunted and served, eaten as a supposed aphrodisiac. That’s not the frog’s only problem Introduced rainbow trout relish the frog’s tadpoles, and pollution is affecting the waters it lives in. The frog is endangered…

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1 comment

  1. I think the Salamander is pretty cool!

    Liked by 1 person

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