The 14 Ugliest Animals on Earth: A Fascinating Look at Nature’s Most Unconventional Beauties

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As in many areas of life, it is also true when it comes to the animal kingdom: beauty is often in the eye of the beholder. However, there are certain creatures many people would unanimously agree fall on the "ugly" side of the spectrum. But what makes an animal ugly? Is it their appearance, unique features, or perhaps just the general public opinion?
 
Today, we want to find out what makes an animal – or a whole species of animal – ugly. We will do this by looking at some of the ugliest animals on earth and exploring why they look the way they do - and why they're still absolutely fascinating. Here you have it: the 14 ugliest animals on earth. Enjoy these interesting creatures and the variety of their looks.

1. Blobfish

Blobfish

A Blobfish/Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

We're starting strong with a candidate that most people have heard of and would probably agree on not being a very attractive little guy – the blobfish. The blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) is a deep-sea creature that has gained notoriety for its gelatinous, droopy appearance. It resides in the ocean's depths (and we're kind of glad that it does). This fish has a body less dense than water, which allows it to float above the sea floor without expending energy on swimming – smart. Its lack of muscle is not a disadvantage but an adaptation to its environment.

So why is it considered one of the ugliest animals on earth? Well, take a look at it for yourself. Its face resembles a grumpy old man, and its gelatinous body is far from what we consider "cute" or "beautiful." As Treehugger mentions, the blobfish was even voted the "World's Ugliest Animal" in an online poll, cementing its status as an iconic ugly animal. 

2. Naked Mole-Rat

Naked model rat

With its unattractive teeth sticking out the naked mole rate easily earned a spot on our list.

Naked mole rats (Heterocephalus glaber) are subterranean (underground) rodents native to East Africa. Living in complex, underground tunnel systems, this mammal is hairless, with loose, wrinkled skin and large protruding teeth used for digging. Its appearance is often described as "alien-like" or "unfinished," contributing to its reputation as one of the ugliest animals. Naked mole rats lack of fur and odd facial features make it a standout in the realm of unattractive animals.

Despite their appearance, they're fascinating creatures, capable of living in low-oxygen environments and showing resistance to cancer. That is something worth studying – and worth being ugly for.

3. Aye-Aye

Aye-aye, nocturnal lemur of Madagascar

Aye-aye, rare squirrel-like primate of Madagascar.

The aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a nocturnal primate found in the rainforests of Madagascar. It has large, bulging eyes, bushy fur, and an extremely long, skeletal middle finger. This finger is used to tap on tree trunks to find and extract grubs. This is a unique form of foraging that is known as percussive foraging.

These specialized features make it an efficient hunter, but they also contribute to its classification as an animal with, let's say, "unique" qualities. The aye-aye's eyes are also pretty frightening and seem to have an intense orange glow. We wouldn't want to be surprised by the aye-aye at night - how about you?

And, their unsettling appearance has led to various superstitions and myths in the cultures of people who live close to it. There even is a belief that it's a harbinger of evil. Pretty scary stuff!

4. Star-Nosed Mole

Star nosed mole

Star-nosed Mole in the wet lowlands of Minnesota.

Star-nosed moles (Condylura cristata) are small mammals primarily found in wet lowland areas of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It's most famous for its unique, star-shaped nose, comprising 22 pink, fleshy tentacles. This peculiar nose serves as an ultra-sensitive organ for detecting food.

While the nose is a marvel of natural engineering, it also gives the star-nosed mole an appearance that many consider unsettling. This fuzzy carnivore is an unusual animal whose appearance is as fascinating as unpleasant.

5. Proboscis Monkey

Proboscis monkey at sandakan sanctuary

Proboscis monkey at Sandakan sanctuary in Malaysia.

Proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) are primates native to the island of Borneo. One of its most striking features is its unusually large, drooping nose, which can grow up to 7 inches in males. This exaggerated nose is believed to amplify their vocalizations, helping them attract mates. While the nose serves a functional purpose, it also earns the proboscis monkey a spot on the list of the world's ugliest animals.

According to Safarisafricana, the proboscis monkey's nose is so distinct that it's hard to look away, which makes it a prime candidate for the title of the "World Ugliest Animal." A fun fact about these monkeys is that females have smaller noses, and babies have upturned ones. 

6. Warthog

African Warthog

Warthog in natural habitat, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) are wild pigs native to the grasslands and savannas of Sub-Saharan Africa. It's most recognizable for its large, upward-curving tusks and the wart-like growths on both sides of its head and face. These "warts" serve as a form of protection during fights. While these features are functional and suit the animal well in its natural habitat, they also contribute to its less-than-appealing appearance.

As you might have noticed, this is the case for most of these animals. Well, sometimes you have to put functionality above beauty. Nevertheless, the warthog's unique features make it one of the less aesthetically pleasing animals on the planet. That's why it's part of our list!

7. Marabou Stork

Marabou Stork

Marabou stork in Kenya

The marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer) is a large wading bird found in Africa. It stands out for its bald head, skinny legs, and a pendulous pink air sac hanging below its neck. The bird's bald head is actually an adaptation that helps it keep clean while feeding on carrion – a handy feature.

Despite its ecological importance as a scavenger, its appearance is often described as grotesque or unsettling. Their bald head and other unique features earn them a spot on the list of the world's ugliest animals. Do you agree?

8. Horseshoe Bat

Flying horseshoe bat

Horseshoe Bat ,that live in caves is a nocturnal mammal. 

Horseshoe bats (Rhinolophidae) are nocturnal creatures known for their unique nose shape, which resembles a horseshoe. This peculiar feature aids in echolocation and allows the bat to navigate and hunt in the dark. It's beneficial since the vision of the horseshoe bat – and bats in general- isn't all that good.

While the nose serves a functional purpose, it contributes to the bat's unconventional appearance. The Conservation Institute includes the horseshoe bat in its list of the world's "Ugliest Animals," highlighting its distinct nose as a key factor. We must agree that it is uncommon looking, but it's a fascinating animal, and learning about it is worthwhile. 

9. Elephant Seal

Elephant seal on the beach

Elephant deals develop a large unpleasant inflatable nose.

Elephant seals (Mirounga) are marine mammals that have captivated attention primarily for their elongated, trunk-like nose. It's a feature that is especially prominent in males. This unique nose serves multiple purposes, which include acting as a resonating chamber to amplify vocalizations during mating calls.

They can be pretty loud! But it's not just for show; the nose also plays a role in establishing dominance among males during mating season. It's a strong fighting weapon. Despite these functional advantages, the elongated nose gives the elephant seal an appearance that many people consider unattractive. 

10. Hyena

Spotted hyena

Spotted hyena in the wild.

The hyena (Hyaenidae) is a carnivorous mammal known for its unique features, such as hunched back and powerful jaws capable of crushing bones. These characteristics are not just for intimidation; they are advantageous for survival, aiding the hyena in hunting and scavenging activities.

Despite these survival benefits, they often contribute to the hyena's reputation as one of the more 'unusual' animals. Hyenas can definitely be counted to the group of animals that defy conventional beauty standards but are marvels of evolutionary adaptation.

11. Titicaca Frog

Titicaca frogs in nature habitat

Rare Titicaca water frog is only found in the Lake Titicaca basin located on border between Peru and Bolivia.

Titicaca frogs (Telmatobius culeus) are freshwater amphibians native to the high-altitude Lake Titicaca in South America. One of its most distinctive features is its baggy, loose skin, which serves a critical function: it aids in respiration, allowing the frog to 'breathe' through its skin.

While this feature serves a functional purpose, it also gives the frog an appearance that many find unappealing or even grotesque. This is an unusual animal, primarily due to its baggy skin, which sets it apart from other amphibians and makes it a subject of scientific interest and public curiosity.

12. Roti Island Snake-Necked Turtle

Closeup of Roti Island snake-necked turtle

The Roti Island turtle is an endangered turtle species from Rote Island Indonesia.

Roti island snake-necked turtles (Chelodina mccordi) are freshwater reptiles native to Roti Island in Indonesia. Its most striking feature is its unusually long neck, which can be almost as long as its shell. This long neck isn't just for show; it serves a functional purpose, aiding the turtle in catching prey by extending quickly to snatch small fish and insects.

While the long neck is a marvel of natural engineering, it also earns the turtle a spot on many lists of the world's 'ugliest' animals. Its long, snake-like neck is a defining feature that challenges conventional beauty standards in the animal kingdom.

13. Giant Chinese Salamander

Chinese giant salamander

Chinese giant salamander the biggest amphibian on Earth.

The giant Chinese salamander (Andrias davidianus) is the world's largest amphibian. It can reach lengths of up to 1.8 meters. It has a wrinkled appearance and a flat, broad head, features many find less than appealing.

Despite its unique attributes, which are well-suited for its aquatic habitat, the Giant Chinese Salamander often finds itself on lists of "Ugly Animals." Its appearance may not win any beauty contests, but it's a fascinating creature worth studying.

14. Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture closeup head shot

Turkey vulture bird of South America.

Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) are scavenging birds of prey, and they are often associated with death and decay. You have probably seen it in movies and may have encountered these scary-looking creatures in real life, too. They have bald heads adapted for hygiene as they feed on carcasses. Their hunched posture and beady eyes often make them subjects of disdain and have led many to label them as some of "The World's Ugliest Animals."

However, their role in the ecosystem as nature's clean-up crew is invaluable. But we can't deny that they do look pretty scary. Meeting one face to face can make you uneasy and therefore, they deserve their place on the list of the ugliest animals.

Which One Is Your Favorite “Ugly” Animal?

From the blobfish to the vulture, we've looked at some of the "Ugliest Animals on Earth." While they may not win any beauty contests, each animal plays a crucial role in their ecosystems. Their unique features, often deemed "ugly," are usually evolutionary adaptations that help them survive and thrive in their natural habitats.

So, the next time you find yourself recoiling at the sight of one of these creatures, always remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that each animal is beautiful in its own right. They each have their purposes and features that can be seen as adorable or even beautiful if you look closely enough. In nature, survival in your environment is often more important than looking beautiful or cute – especially not to us humans.