We tend to make assumptions about certain kinds of animals -- dolphins are smart, cows are dopey, spiders are secretly amassing in our walls to liquefy our organs while we sleep, etc. But some species just aren't living up to the impressive reputation that all the others of their kind have spent millennia trying to accrue. Like a gangster rapper caught taking a class at the Yarn Barn, these are the creatures who bring naught but shame unto themselves and all who came before them.
Catfish by their very nature spend the majority of their lives sucking, but there's one in particular that can't even get the most basic of all fish skills, fucking swimming, down correctly. Like some smart-mouth punk who refuses to play by society's rules, the upside-down catfish (Synodontis nigriventris) has evolved to a life inverted, positioned in a way that other fish only find themselves when they're ready to be scooped out of the tank after their owner forgot to buy them food for a month.
When they were "discovered" in 1936, polite society was aflutter at the audaciousness of a creature that so directly flew in the face of convention and God's plan for the uprightness of all living things. But, as it turns out, the ancient Egyptians knew about them long before Western science, and even included them among their hieroglyphics, possibly as a symbol for the phrase "LOL WTF?" They subsequently gained a measure of popularity in the aquarium trade, although it's been found thatthey should never share a tank with aggressive fish, since bullies naturally tend to pick on scraggly whiskered, eyeliner-wearing misfits.
Jason Wilson/Flickr You can often hear them complain about the lack of waterproof Fall Out Boy hoodies available at Hot Topic.
The reason these fish swim around like nature decided they weren't worth the hassle of installing an inner ear is, unlike most catfish, they're surface feeders. They still slurp things up with their suckery mouths like one would expect; it's just that doing so upside-down simply makes the process easier and swimming more efficient. They eat just about anything and are pretty easy to take care of, just in case you feel like buying one to confuse the shit out of all the other fish in your home aquarium. Just watch your pH levels, give them plenty of places to hide, and always be on alert in case they decide to start cutting themselves to express their nihilistic sorrow.
K J Payne/Flickr Plus, when they do eventually die, it's much easier to pull off the "It's OK kids -- he's just going back home to the sewers" toilet-flushing gambit.
The main thing that parrots have going for them, aside from their propensity for loudly repeating obscenities around the elderly, is the fact that they're pretty to look at. Sure, their faces can be a little messed-up, but at least there are usually plenty of feathers to cover up any unsightliness. But this isn't the case for all parrot species, and a few of them look less like a pet your spinster aunt would want to have bawking it up in her living room and more like what would happen if Richard Simmons got involved in vulture breeding.
The bald parrot (Pyrilia aurantiocephala) was only recently declared a new species, and why they look like they feast solely on pride-march carrion is basically the same reason vultures look the way they do. While vultures don't have any feathers on their head in order to keep all the putrefied gore from sticking to their faces (which would make them even more disgustingly unsanitary creatures than they already are), researchers believe that bald parrots are follically challenged because it makes it easier for them to eat a particularly sticky type of berries.
And it gets worse. Transitioning from slightly dopey-looking to fricken terrifying, there's also Pesquet's parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus), which does an even better "hurry up and die already so I can peck your face off" impression and goes by the fitting nickname The Devil's parrot.
This species doesn't do much in the way of repeating human phrases like some uppity cockatoo -- they prefer to growl and scream. And their faces are unsettling to the point that only the most hardcore of pirate captains would likely be willing to keep one around as a shoulder pal. But don't worry, they only eat figs, allegedly. And the fact that "figs" is Australian slang for "testicles" shouldn't even enter into the conversation.
Ltshears/Wiki Commons If you ever have to pee while hiking in New Guinea, wait until you get back to the hotel. It's just not worth the gamble.
Aside from sharks, no fish has more terrifying street cred than the ravenous piranha. Known fordeboning cows in the Amazon basin and occasionally flying through the air to murder sexy teens in the Caribbean, they are likely the main reason why nude freshwater hot dog eating contests are practically nonexistent in Brazil. Not to mention they're one of only a few select aquatic creatures to enjoy a prominent place in classic horror cinema.
A new species of this toothy menace was just discovered a couple years ago, but if the researchers who found it were worried about being ripped apart before they even got a chance to give it a confusing Latin word salad of a name, they needn't have been. Because this particular piranha is astrict vegetarian.
via scielo.br Note the sickly pallor, vacant stare, and slack jaw -- all typical of vegans.
When explorers of the rarely visited depths of the Amazon came across Tometes camunani, they found that, though it has a mouthful of horrible-looking teeth, it turns out that they're more suited to shredding vegetation than manflesh. Like some sort of ridiculous underwater jungle hippie, they prefer to exist solely on "aquatic herbs."
via scielo.br There aren't many photos of this fish available yet, so for reference, here is the most recent dental X-ray taken of the Duchess of Cornwall.
And, go figure, for once we find a species in the Amazon that isn't absolutely lethal and horrifying, and it turns out they might be going extinct as we speak, thanks to dam projects and mining operations threatening their habitats. But maybe it's for the best, since just like how your mother eventually was forced to leave that commune in Northern Vermont after being impregnated by God-knows-who in the back of that shag-upholstered van, perhaps it's high time that Tometes camunaniput its Bohemian lifestyle in the rear-view mirror, moved to more productive waters, and started supporting itself like a proper carnivore.
via scielo.br Or maybe check to see if their parents haven't rented out their old rooms to strangers.
#2. A Whale That's The Size Of An Inflatable Canoe
The very word "whale" conjures up images of astoundingly massive leviathans gliding through the hoary depths and fearing nothing except for the Japanese and maybe the occasional one-legged maniac from Nantucket. But while you likely know what a sperm whale is, with their embarrassing name and supporting roles in Herman Melville novels, did you know there's a dwarf version? And that at its largest it's barely longer than the average NBA center?
The dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) is hardly ever seen out in the open sea, similar to the way underdeveloped teenagers avoid the shower at all costs during gym class. Pretty much all we know about them comes from when they wind up stranded on the beach (something they do constantly), which may be the result of bullying-inspired suicide attempts.
These seagoing wieners look a little bit like sharks, but that's sure as shit not what they are. You know how awesome those great white jaws you might see at museums or the Amity Beach Marina are? Now witness the total terror that is the dwarf sperm whale skull:
skullsunlimited.com "This thing's been here in the gift shop since 1972. We think it might be a goat."
At least if you ever came across one of these things in the wild, you could wrestle it into submission and legitimately brag to all your friends that you bested a whale. Just make sure you don't show them any pictures, unless you want to reveal that this feat is almost as impressive as swimming up to a manatee and punching it in the dick.
Since they actually do have teeth, coming in close contact with Kogia sima isn't recommended, even if local statutes don't specifically prohibit whale hazing. However, you'll probably be safe if you do, since their primary defense against attack is to shit themselves and run away.
#1. The Cutest Widdle Bats In The Whole Wide World
Bats scare the bejeezus out of most reasonable people, and some of them look so bad you can hardly believe they're real and not a detox nightmare. And then you have Ectophylla alba, which instead of living up to the accepted bat reputation of being voracious, swooping predators of the night, look more like something Japanese schoolgirls would wear as a backpack. Behold, the cuddlebat.
Actually it's called a Honduran white bat, and as its name suggests, they are neither dingy black nor mottled brown like the majority of their flittering ilk. Their particular look appears to have evolved not in order to become one with the darkness but rather to emulate the poofy balls found on tennis socks. These aren't snow bats or anything -- their cheerily white fur doesn't help them blend in with anything whatsoever in the jungles where they live. But it's definitely a selling point for the people who make a living offering plush novelty bat brooches for sale on Etsy.
CreturFetur/etsy.com Convince passersby to "give him a sniff," and then depress the bulb that sprays their face with guano.
Bats can be terrifying even when they're asleep. Most of them dangle upside-down in dank caverns, probably gnashing and screeching at one another constantly so they can secure enough real estate to shake the nightly harvest of human viscera off their leathery monster wings. Honduran white bats, on the other hand, prefer to sleep outdoors, building adorable little tents out of leaves where bunches of them all squeeze together to snuggle. For that extra dash of whimsy, they'll chew on the veins of the leaves and pull the sides together so the whole thing looks like an upside-down boat.
Leyo/Wiki Commons They instinctively wake every day at 11 a.m. to watch Bubble Guppies.
Even a weird, overly fleshy nose seems somehow charming on Ectophylla alba, where on any other kind of bat it would send us scurrying for a lighter, some kerosene, and a wide method of dispersal. And no, they aren't just being cute to lull you into a false sense of security. There are no toxic, razor-sharp raptorial dewclaws or Ebola-spraying fangs underneath all the cuteness. They are absolutely harmless, and quite frankly a complete and total embarrassment to the entire Halloween animal community.
But maybe you find that nose somewhat off-putting and still feel the Honduran white bat is a little intimidating. Well, pull yourself together there, Sweet Susie, because there's exactly one other white bat in the world, and he may be even less threatening than the Honduran version. The northern ghost bat is also tiny, looks arguably cuter, and probably wants nothing more than to nuzzle your face before sinking his tiny teeth into your cheek to fill it up with rabies.
ou.edu Science should probably file them separately under "buttergerbils" or something, just to spare all the other bats from the mockery of their peers.