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:
#6. Griffin'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.
#5. Spotted 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.
#4. Visored Bat (Sphaeronycteris toxophyllum)
Know that trend of drawing famous cartoon characters in a realistic way that surfaces on the Web every now and then? Tell us this bat doesn't look like one of those.
That's the visored bat, and there's so much wrong with that face, we don't even know where to begin. Those huge, weird alien eyes aren't even the worst part -- here it is chilling with its eyes closed:
Via J Rios, Scielo.org
It looks like its head was squashed in a vise that was coated in acid.
A member of the long list of horrors that flit and slither around the Amazon basin, the visored bat is thankfully frugivore by nature. It's also relatively rare, which may or may not be because it prefers to have as little sexual contact with its kind as is absolutely necessary.
Via H. Stephan
Don't give me that look, woman. This is no picnic for me either.
Science still doesn't know much about the visored bat. This may have something to do with the fact that it's a relatively recent find, or the whole "being an extremely rare animal that lives in a dangerous jungle" thing. However, it is not outside the realm of possibility that researchers just don't find the idea of studying them to be all that attractive. Hey, how closely would you like to interact with something that looks like a cross between an orc and Steve Buscemi in the middle of an allergic shellfish reaction?
Via Lizette Siles
"Why do I have to be Mr. Pink? Why can't I be- Actually, Pink is fine. Softens the horror."