Life on Earth began about 3.4 billion years ago.
Since then, evolution has crafted organisms of all shapes and sizes that fill ecosystems from one extreme to another. However, the physical forms needed to live, eat and reproduce in these niches isn't always attractive. Some of them even look like evolution just sort of gave up, or made things hilariously unfortunate-looking on purpose. But hey, they can't all be butterflies, right?
Let's take a look at some of the oddest animals Mother Nature has produced:
The red-lipped batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini) lives in waters around the Galapagos Islands. Unlike most fish, it doesn't swim through the water in order to catch its prey. Instead, it walks along the bottom of the ocean using its pectoral fins. Because it doesn't need its dorsal fin to balance while it swims, it has converted to that fuzzy-looking projection called a illicium. This feature attracts prey, which are then eaten by the batfish when they come too close.
Male proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) have a profile only a mother could love. These herbivorous monkeys hail from Borneo and live in harems consisting of one male and several females. Biologists believe that the trademark schnoz of the proboscis monkey assists in amplifying the mating calls of the male, allowing them to be more successful when starting their own harems.
What digs in the ground and looks like it has two octopuses on its face, ready to attack? It's the star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata)! These moles are found in Canada and eat insects for the bulk of their diet. The tentacle-like feature on the mole's face actually doesn't help the animal smell at all. These protrusions are packed with receptors that help the mole experience a sense of touch. They are used to help the mole navigate through its damp environment as it searches for food.
The blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) lives in deep ocean waters off the coast of Australia. As we see it on the surface, the blobfish is a pretty fitting name. After all, it just kind of sits there and looks like a sad, deflated old man. However, in its actual environment where the pressure is much greater, the fish regains a more normal shape and doesn't look quite so nightmare-inducing, as The Smithsonian explains.
If you think that the aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) looks like evil with fur, you're not alone. Its odd mix of bugged out eyes, and long, thin digits aren't a welcome sight for residents living in the primate's native Madagascar, who view the nocturnal animal as a sign of bad luck. This has led to extensive over-hunting and destruction of the aye-aye's habitat. Though they are now protected by law, they are still critically endangered and face an uphill battle for their species' survival.
The purple pig-nosed frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) lives the life of a recluse. Native to the mountains of southern India, these amphibians live several feet underground for the majority of the year, dining primarily on termites. During a two-week-long period in Monsoon Season, they burrow to the surface and look for a mate. Because of the elusive nature of these animals, they weren't even known to scientists until 2003.
The red uakari (Cacajao calvus rubicundus) is a primate that lives in the trees of South America. Though its bright red face is reminiscent of the episode of Sex and the City when Samantha had a chemical peel that went wrong, the vibrant color is actually good for these monkeys and shows potential mates that they are in good health and would be a good choice of mate.
Anglerfish (Lophius piscatorius) are found in deep waters off the coast of northern Africa and Europe, and the females are totally scary. A protrusion that hangs in front of their faces is bioluminescent, meaning that it lights up. This attracts smaller fish down in the deep, dark waters, who then become eaten by the anglerfish's pointed, sharp teeth. The males are much smaller, and actually fuse into the females, sharing the food she ingests. In return, the female has an on-demand sperm factory for when she wants to reproduce. Females often carry multiple males.
The coconut crab (Birgus latro) is related to the hermit crab, but is much, much larger. The largest land arthropod on the planet, coconut crabs can grow up to 3 feet long, and their long pincers are strong enough to break open coconut seeds, which are plentiful on the tropical islands where they live. The crabs have also been known to feed on rats which have been introduced through human travel.
The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) lives in the Western United States and looks like a fairly unassuming bird, until mating season hits. Birds arrive at an area known as a lek where the males really try to strut their stuff and impress the ladies. Two air sacs in the breast inflate and deflate, while the male dances, showing off his manly prowess.