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What’s the World’s Ugliest Animal?

The votes are in—and the public has chosen the deep-sea blobfish to represent endangered ugly animals everywhere.

The sagging, gelatinous creature is the new mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, which draws attention to the need to conserve animals of all shapes and sizes.

blobfish picture
The blobfish, officially the ugliest animal. Photograph by Kerryn Parkinson, Caters/Zuma

Simon Watt, biologist and President for Life of the England-based society, organized the contest to raise awareness of endangered animals whose untraditional looks don’t garner as much attention as cuddly pandas and majestic tigers. (Also see World’s Ugliest Dog: The Evolution of Mugly’s Frightful Features.”)

Watt asked a group of 11 celebrities and comedians to film short videos promoting one creature as the world’s ugliest. Working in partnership with the U.K.’s National Science + Engineering Competition, the Society’s videos were viewed nearly a hundred thousand times, and thousands of people voted for their favorite ugly animal.

A proboscis monkey eats leaves in Borneo, Malaysia. Photograph by Thomas Marent, Minden Pictures/Corbis
A proboscis monkey eats leaves in Borneo, Malaysia. Photograph by Thomas Marent, Minden Pictures/Corbis

With 795 votes, the blobfish was declared the winner at the British Science Festival in Newcastle. Said Watt, “We’ve needed an ugly face for endangered animals for a long time, and I’ve been amazed by the public’s reaction. For too long the cute and fluffy animals have taken the limelight, but now the blobfish will be a voice for the mingers who always get forgotten.”

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

Blobfish, which live at depths of 2,000 to 4,000 feet (600 to 1,200 meters) off the coast of Australia, are threatened by fishing trawlers that accidentally capture the fish in their nets.

They can grow up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) long and have no muscle, giving them a squishy appearance. But their buoyant, jelly-like flesh is perfect for their hunting strategy of  bobbing around in the deep sea and patiently waiting for something edible to swim by.

Rounding out the top five ugly creatures are:

  • The kakapo, a giant flightless parrot from New Zealand. The kakapo evolved on the isolated island with no predators. When people colonized New Zealand, they brought predators such as cats and rats with them. The slow, heavy birds were easy targets because of their lack of fearfulness, and now they are critically endangered. (Also see “Kakapo Coprolite Yields Conservation Clues.”)
  • The axolotl, a salamander that remains in its adolescent, aquatic form its entire life. It’s also known for its ability to regenerate lost limbs. Axolotls live in central Mexico, where they face threats from urbanization and water pollution.
The axolotl lives in Mexico. Photograph by John Cancalosi, Oxford Scientific/Getty Images
The axolotl lives in Mexico. Photograph by John Cancalosi, Oxford Scientific/Getty Images
  • The Titicaca water frog, found only in South America’s Lake Titicaca. Its folded, wrinkly skin allows it to take in oxygen underwater without needing to surface to breathe, and also inspired its nickname: the aquatic scrotum frog.
  • The proboscis monkey, named for its impressively protuberant nose. These primates also possess large pot bellies and are known to be bloated and flatulent due to their diet of unripe fruit and leaves.

They might not be classically attractive, but they’re all wondrous creatures in their own way. And every animal deserves attention and conservation, ugly or not.

Follow Mary Bates on Twitter and Facebook

Comments

  1. Mr. Tie
    Phillipnes
    April 10, 8:41 pm

    That Blob Fish Is UGLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. kaylynn holladay-garcia
    oxford, alabama
    February 7, 2:10 pm

    omg! These things are just like pugs! so ugly they’re cute!!!

  3. Akila
    January 21, 6:24 pm

    Who said that the blobfish is ugly? I could vote the panda to be the world’s ugliest creature. Yes, I know, the pandas are endangered, and I really wouldn’t do that. But that really doesn’t mean that blobfishes have to be ignored just because they’re ugly. Also, axolotls are beautiful in their own way, too. Some people think that the pandas need all the attention, and the sand cats, etc. But the other more “ugly” animals need to be acknowledged, too!

  4. lidia
    lv,nv
    January 3, 10:25 pm

    not that ugly

  5. jomi
    croatia
    January 3, 9:26 am

    there is no living creature that could be ugly in my opinion,,
    only stupit shortseeing human as dominate spices could create such a stupid category as “the ugliest animals”.
    who says that we are the one to judge. all of those animals are much nicer and good looking than the most human i know:)

  6. Audrey
    November 12, 2013, 6:28 pm

    Why is the kakapo voted the second-ugliest animal? It is adorable, with fluffy green plumage and innocent dark eyes. In fact, I would vote for it as one of the world’s cutest animals.

  7. agravat shailesh d
    jamnagar (gujrat,india )
    October 8, 2013, 1:18 pm

    oh,my god,wonderful,its a magic of god

  8. Nouhaila
    Morocco
    October 6, 2013, 4:26 pm

    Oh , I really think that The axolotl is very cute and looks extremely adorable ! wow

  9. Antreiz Richardson
    Hallandale, FL
    October 6, 2013, 2:36 am

    Eww……

  10. Wayne
    October 3, 2013, 10:15 pm

    I love those animals!!They do look strange,but also special and individual!!We should treat them as friends.
    1120102212

  11. krystal
    port angles
    September 26, 2013, 4:09 pm

    i don’t belive in blob fish he was on a moive

  12. brenda
    wayland michigan
    September 19, 2013, 8:51 pm

    I think the blob fish is the cutest thing he looks sad all the animals are cute to me..

  13. francisco
    tucson az .United states
    September 19, 2013, 8:40 pm

    he [blob fish] looks like the main character from up

  14. Sergio Reynaldo Vasquez --
    Guatemala
    September 18, 2013, 12:17 am

    eN VERDAD ASI SE VE EL ANIMAL, BIEN A PARTE DE FEO ES BIEN RARO Y EXOTICO, ME ENCANTA LA VIDA SALVAJE, EN VERDAD AUN EXISTEN TANTOS ANIMALES, ESO SI CREO QUE CADA QUIEN TIENE SU BELLEZA PROPIA, Y ESTE SER FUE SACADO DE SU HABITA, Y QUIZA SE DEFORMO EN LA SUPERFICIE, YA QUE NO SE ENCUENTRA EN SU AMBIENTE.

  15. STRETCH
    New York
    September 17, 2013, 1:17 pm

    The first picture (Blob fish) look like the old actor Jimmy Durante.

  16. mina
    melbourne
    September 16, 2013, 8:51 pm

    I think they all look cute…

  17. Peter
    Melbourne, Aust
    September 16, 2013, 7:11 pm

    What about the Aye Aye Lemur? This link from your own fine website:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/04/0419_050419_ayeaye.html

  18. Nora
    Wisconsin
    September 16, 2013, 2:44 pm

    I guess I’m getting old, after all I’ve seen in my over 70 years, I personally find all of them really quite adorable. My personal favorite is the proboscis…

  19. ayoub
    tunis
    September 16, 2013, 10:10 am

    thank you national for all informations about all over the world

  20. Brenda
    Australia
    September 15, 2013, 7:52 pm

    you’d look like that to if you had been drug out of your home 1000 below the sea and then sat on a table!

  21. Michael
    Radcliff, Kentucky, USA
    September 15, 2013, 7:12 pm

    The proboscis monkey probably is the greatest oddity listed here and probably ought to already be ex-stink-t. Consider that the large proboscis is probably indicative of a sensitive olfactory system and that the animal is said to be quite flatulent. Unless farting is a part of their mating ritual, and they find the odor not only tolerable but actually attractive, it becomes a mystery as to how they manage to copulate that rivals the question as to how porcupines mate safely.

    We must all consider the ecological ramifications of saving this creature from the brink of extinction. The global warming studies and ozone depletion studies have both indicted bovine animals as destructive due to the content of their flatulence, and they are not credited with being particularly flatulent, whereas the proboscis monkey is. Do we want to condemn ourselves to extinction by preserving them?

    I believe that there are grounds here for initiating research into the nature and concentration of dangerous elements in the proboscis monkey’s flatulence as well as a comparison study of the relative production of flatulence by the male and female of the species. Perhaps they are not unlike humans; where only the males produce flatulence. We may be able to reduce the risk to our environment, save them from extinction, and aid the economy of the United States by simply making “Beano” a part of their diet. It’s a win-win-win solution.

  22. Patricia Kovacevich
    September 15, 2013, 3:39 pm

    I see a human face in the blobfish and think I have seen folks that look like it. Definitely have seen the no muscle blob person.

  23. Christian Gonzalez
    September 15, 2013, 2:54 pm

    I would own a blobfish as a pet. As well as cuddle with it.

  24. Solgel
    India
    September 15, 2013, 2:05 pm

    Homo sapiens

  25. Gaurang Panchal
    gujarat anand
    September 15, 2013, 7:29 am

    I like a wild life

  26. enrico p. yumul
    manila,philippines
    September 15, 2013, 12:00 am

    very educational, did’nt know these creatures exist…hope they will not become extinct.

  27. larry
    mi
    September 14, 2013, 11:44 pm

    The monkey reminded me of Jimmy Durante’s face. The first one of these I thought it was human DNA research gone bad.

  28. Alfred Ramirez
    United States
    September 14, 2013, 10:24 pm

    I have to call out the Animal Preservation Society, they got this all wrong….. I’ve been around all kinds of animals below sea & on land, & The Worlds Ugliest Animal is by far, hands down, no questions about it has got to be Humans!

  29. JOSE
    guatemala city
    September 14, 2013, 9:43 pm

    THIS IS AMAZING

  30. Alidad Aghlara
    Boston, MA
    September 14, 2013, 9:32 pm

    Ugly is the one calling these animals “ugly” !
    we are all ugly in these creatures eyes as well.

  31. Dwayne LaGrou
    Lapeer, Michigan
    September 14, 2013, 6:44 pm

    Is it just me or does it look just like “Ziggy” from the comic strip character!? I think we have a winner!

  32. http://stanito.com
    September 14, 2013, 4:16 pm

    Amazing creatures, really, they look unique. The monkey though looks freakishly human, don’t you think? his eyes, his expression.

  33. KayCee
    Philippines
    September 14, 2013, 3:34 pm

    It must be the noses. Yep. It has to be

  34. Ken
    September 14, 2013, 2:21 pm

    haha the Blobfish looks like mr saturn!!

  35. sally
    September 14, 2013, 2:14 pm

    Kakapos are cute, and axolotls are pretty awesome as well.

  36. Woody Tremendous
    September 14, 2013, 2:14 pm

    Put a human in a vacuum and see how ugly they are. These things don’t look anything like that 3000ft below the surface. The Blobfish should be disqualified for this unfair advantage. The big nosed monkey gets my vote.

  37. linda
    Oregon
    September 14, 2013, 1:34 pm

    I’ve only seen it on men in black 3…when j and k visit the Chinese restaurant…it’s on a cutting board :-P

  38. Eileen
    So.El Monte, California
    September 14, 2013, 12:59 pm

    “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I think it looks cute!

  39. Eileen
    So.El monte,California
    September 14, 2013, 12:57 pm

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think its cute!

  40. Talha Khatri
    India
    September 14, 2013, 11:49 am

    You are seriously sick. To judge anyone like that.

  41. Chris Reid
    Oak Ridge,Tn
    September 14, 2013, 11:35 am

    They are all God’s creatures so they have a purpose! I agree some are more pleasing to the eye!

  42. salah
    siidox
    September 14, 2013, 11:16 am

    wadheelll diiss byouteffaal

  43. ALICIA
    argentina
    September 14, 2013, 10:40 am

    en realidad hay que cuidar a los feos y lindos pero los feos dan ternura

  44. Tammy
    Harrisburg, PA
    September 14, 2013, 9:21 am

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

  45. Trish
    Chicago
    September 14, 2013, 8:36 am

    Wow! Im so close to Malaysia!!

  46. mhmd sfa slah
    Egypt
    September 14, 2013, 8:31 am

    i think the ugliest animal is the humans they burn kill and destroy every thing in their way

  47. Faisal
    Lahore pakistan
    September 14, 2013, 8:22 am

    This chanal is very beautiful and i like it

  48. Naomi Sok
    Canada
    September 14, 2013, 8:16 am

    actually, there are a bunch of axolotl in local pet stores around here lol. they’re like real life mudkips!

  49. David H
    London
    September 14, 2013, 6:55 am

    If I went down to 4000 feet I would look like that too!!

  50. George
    Germany
    September 14, 2013, 6:12 am

    The Kakapo is on the second place for the ugliest animal?? This must be a joke! Why the hell is this birdy ugly? The voters must be dumb or blind… http://mammals-of-the-world.wikispaces.com/file/view/kakapo-parrot.jpg/341642388/700×510/kakapo-parrot.jpg

  51. Tika
    Southern Tangerang, Indonesia
    September 14, 2013, 4:14 am

    Borneo not Malaysia, it’s Indonesia, please note…

  52. JM
    Philippines
    September 14, 2013, 3:07 am

    there is no ugly animals, only humans…

  53. Dianna Jesso
    Calgary Canada
    September 14, 2013, 2:00 am

    Everything, everybeing in and on this earth is beautiful…..sad this ignorance is still a part of life its so annoying and asinine!

  54. Ann Nagtalon
    Philippines
    September 14, 2013, 1:32 am

    What really is “ugly”? Each creation of the Creator is unique, all is beautiful, all is perfect. Let’s stop calling them ugly anymore.

    We should get excited and to be inspired of them to discover more about them.

  55. Tamela B. aka unconditionaloveandperceptions
    Madison, Wisconsin
    September 14, 2013, 1:13 am

    To me, the blobfish seems more slimy and gross than ugly. The angler fish may have caught my eye as more ugly ( if any animal CAN be ugly).I find them all so fascinating!!!!!!!!!!! The word, um…….WOW! Comes to mind.

  56. Daniel
    Mexico city
    September 14, 2013, 1:09 am

    Oh no, the axolotls are beautiful and my fauvorite animals, they´re not ugly.

  57. John Henry
    United States
    September 14, 2013, 1:08 am

    By the data to date and using an artistic interpretation of the word “ugly,” the answer to the question in your headline is “homo sapiens.”

  58. Alexis
    New York, New York
    September 14, 2013, 12:40 am

    I personally think the blobfish is so adorable! <3

  59. Matt
    September 14, 2013, 12:30 am

    The first “fish” looks pretty Jewish

  60. lovelina khan
    kashmir
    September 14, 2013, 12:29 am

    who the hell are you to declare someone ugly. . . Pathatic. . . . .GOD created every one so sphosticatedly . . . . . And He never create anything ugly. . .

  61. Mariam
    Somalia
    September 14, 2013, 12:26 am

    Aaaawn they’re kinda cute… The blobfish is my new favorite! Kinda looks like a melted man.

  62. Sakana
    September 14, 2013, 12:20 am

    Cockroaches are uglier.

  63. Damian
    September 14, 2013, 12:19 am

    They are not ugly. It’s just that “uncanny valley” syndrome at work.

  64. Olivia
    Ottawa
    September 14, 2013, 12:11 am

    I actually think they’re kind of cute.

  65. Dwayne LaGrou
    Lapeer, Michigan
    September 13, 2013, 11:29 pm

    I think the fish looks a lot like the comic strip character Ziggy.
    Does anyone else see the resemblance?

  66. Marilyn Terrell
    Washington, DC
    September 13, 2013, 11:09 pm

    The blobfish only appears to be misshapen because it was dragged up from 4,000 feet, where the pressure is much greater than at sea level.. If you saw it at its normal depth it would look much more attractive:
    http://boingboing.net/2013/09/13/the-myth-of-the-ugly-blobfish.html#more-255609

  67. james dejados
    philippines, cebu
    September 13, 2013, 10:52 pm

    what kind of animal that —==>>

  68. cleopatra ingles
    tronto
    September 13, 2013, 9:10 pm

    euw!!!!!!!!!!!!! i think that 2nd pic iz groosem.
    nose monster

  69. ms
    india
    September 13, 2013, 6:41 pm

    wow

  70. ms
    us
    September 13, 2013, 6:41 pm

    wow…….

  71. Shiva Kumar
    India
    September 13, 2013, 5:32 pm

    None are ugly except our and selectors mind

  72. yvette
    compton
    September 13, 2013, 12:27 pm

    the blodfish is just ugly omg!! who created that!!

  73. leo
    September 13, 2013, 7:01 am

    common now thats just a bad photo of ‘it’

  74. Haroon Iqbal
    Pakistan
    September 13, 2013, 12:22 am

    I think the blodfish is the ugliest animal,,,,,,,,,

  75. malvinder kaur
    "wohnzimmer"
    September 12, 2013, 11:49 pm

    i love all fuglies, muglies…:) somebody has to show some LOVISH!

  76. Marjorie
    Chicago, IL
    September 12, 2013, 4:17 pm

    Yikes! That first picture look like something from Men in Black 3. I didn’t know that was an actual fish.