Despite their close association with the coolest superhero of all time, bats tend to end up at the bottom of the barrel whenever lists of awesome animals are gathered. This might be because of their traditional association with witchcraft and night terrors, or because they occasionally swarm in never-ending leathery horror-clouds just for the hell of it.
But the only reason you're not more afraid of bats than you are now is because you've never seen one up close. Here:
6Griffin's Leaf-Nosed Bat (Hipposideros griffini)
Via Vu Dinh Thong
That animal has not suffered from a crippling facial injury, and it is not deformed. That's its actual face. Meet Griffin's leaf-nosed bat, the reigning champion of the animal kingdom's "Predator without his helmet" look-alike contest:
Via Vu Dinh Thong
Fear is the sustenance that need not be chewed.
Griffin's leaf-nosed bat was only just discovered by startled researchers in Vietnam, where it haunts the jungles like its Schwarzenegger-stalking face-buddy. The mandibular meat-explosion that passes for the creature's face is actually a radar tool that helps the bat to focus its echolocation calls. Experts were able to determine that it had a unique frequency to its calls that differentiated it enough from the other bats in its genus to make it a distinct species.
For the aspiring Vietnam camping vacationer, the important thing to take away from that last sentence is this: There are plenty of other bats that look just as bad or worse, just flapping around the area and searching for a nice face to land on.
5Spotted Bat (Euderma maculatum)
Hey, why is that bunny wearing a hat made of human lungs? Oh, wait, that's just the spotted bat. Let's try to find a clearer picture:
Via Bruce D Taubert
Tell us at least some of those parts aren't glued on.
The spotted bat lives in Texas, where everything is bigger -- up to and including vile, membranous rodent ears. It can also be found in the arid regions of other states in the western U.S. and northern Mexico. The outrageous size of those ears is great for better hearing, sure, but their presentation guarantees that the spotted bat won't be getting phone calls from Disney executives any time soon.
The Histoplasmosis Adventure Cave never got past the lawyers.
Luckily, the bat doesn't appear to be particularly deadly to humans (or at least prefers us to think so), opting to exist on a steady diet of moths. Whether or not it's a coincidence that their ears happen to look like a particularly creepy sort of moth is open to conjecture.
The eerie similarity to moths doesn't end there, though: The pattern of the spots on its back closely resembles the "death's head" pattern found on the moth made famous in The Silence of the Lambs. That's right -- this bastard actually has a death's head plastered on its body.
Via Dick Dede, Jr.
"What do you see, Clarice?"
Note to aspiring biologists: If an animal looks like it's got a natural brain control device stapled on its head and it has a freaking skull pattern on its back, please put all the effort into making sure it doesn't pose any sort of danger to us. Right now, we're having a hard time believing it's not just practicing on those moths before moving on to bigger things.
Such as body modification.