In the animal world, appearances can mean the difference between life and death. Sure, it’s nice to look up into the sky and see a pretty bird, but have you ever asked yourself why that bird looks exactly as it does? It’s not something most of us consider very often, but there’s a lot more to colorful plumage and prehensile tails than you might think!
These 20 animals might not seem conventionally attractive, but they’ve all won the genetic lottery. Believe it or not, their weird looks actually help them stay alive! You’ll might never to look at “ugly” animals the same way again…
1. Baird’s tapir: These odd-looking animals can live to be over 30 years old. They use their long noses to help them grab leaves to eat. Their snouts also double as a snorkel when the time comes to go for a swim!
2. Sneezing elephant shrew: While they might be exceptionally small, these shrews are actually more closely related to elephants than rodents! They can jump up to three feet in the air, earning them their other nickname: the jumping shrew.
3. Pied tamarin: This unique creature doesn’t just have its one-of-a-kind looks to distinguish it from the pack. Pied tamarins operate in matriarchal societies, which means their communities are run by the females of the species!
4. Cuban solenodon: This cool species is one of the only venomous mammals in existence, so you’ll want to give it a wide berth. Cuban solenodons also have a flexible snout, which helps them navigate tight spaces.
5. Saiga antelope: The most distinctive feature of the Saiga antelope is its humped snout. While they look odd, these humps serve a purpose. During dry months they filter out dust, while in cold months, they allow cool air to warm up before being fully inhaled.
6. Uakari: This monkey really stands out from the crowd! Healthy uakaris all have bright red faces, while a pale face is associated with ill health, making the monkey less appealing as a reproductive partner.
7. Goblin shark: If this deep-sea shark looks like an alien to you, that’s because it’s practically from another world—the prehistoric world, that is. It’s the last remaining family member of a species that otherwise died out 125 million years ago during the age of the dinosaurs.
8. Aye-aye: This furry animal is the largest nocturnal primate in the world. It uses its tail to store fat during the colder months to make sure that it doesn’t go hungry when food is scarce.
9. Celestial eye goldfish: The Chinese call this goldfish the “stargazer” because of its unique eyes, which are permanently fixed in an upward gaze. This actually gives it an advantage over the competition when it comes to finding its next meal.
10. Star-nosed mole: This mole is almost completely blind, but it still makes its way around just fine thanks to the dozens of appendages on its face! These moles also happen to be fabulous swimmers.
11. Gerenuk: When this type of antelope feeds, it stands on its hind legs and uses its incredibly long neck to pluck leaves from trees. In fact, the work “gerenuk” is a Somali term that means “giraffe-necked.”
12. Blobfish: This fish doesn’t have bones or teeth. In fact, it can’t even hunt. In order to survive, it just floats along and inhales whatever small creatures it can pull into its mouth. Now that’s the life!
13. Proboscis monkey: Male proboscis monkeys have large noses that led people to call them “Dutch monkeys” (the joke being that the large noses resembled those of Dutch sailors). In nature, however, the bigger the nose, the more desirable the partner!
14. Aardvark: Literally translated, the word “aardvark” means “earth pig.” One aardvark alone can consume up to 50,000 ants in just one day! The animal’s entire body is built to make this task as easy as possible.
15. Dumbo octopus: While these little bottom-dwellers might look adorable and harmless, that’s not the case! Their arms are covered in sharp barbs to help them snag (and hold onto) unsuspecting prey.
16. Silkie chicken: These chickens are a little bit different from other members of their family. Silkies each have an extra toe to help them move with greater speed. They’re also the most maternal of all chicken breeds.
17. Axolotl: This special type of salamander never loses the ability to live under water. It also has the gift of being able to regenerate its limbs should they ever become severed. On top of that, it’s pretty adorable!
18. California condor (adult): This bird is an obligate scavenger, meaning it doesn’t hunt for food. Rather, it eats the remains of dead animals that it happens to find. Talk about being a survivor!
19. California condor (baby): Even when they’re first born, condors don’t have feathers on their heads. This is meant to help stop the spread of disease, since they’re usually pecking at rotten remains to get a meal and they don’t want their feathers covered in bacteria.
20. Naked mole-rat: Mole-rats spend their entire lives in total darkness. Similar to bees, their colonies consist of soldiers; workers, which remain celibate their entire lives; and a queen. Rather than inheriting the throne, the queen is always a mole-rat who’s clawed her way up to the top!
While these animals might like pretty strange, the truth is that they’ve all evolved in a unique way to help them survive. This might make you appreciate their odd qualities even more!
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