15 Animals You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped
At Cracked, we're no strangers to the weird and terrifying creations Mother Nature's animal development team comes up with. We consider it our scientific duty to keep the world informed about the continuing freak show that is the animal (and sometimes plant and fungus) kingdom.
Sometimes the results of evolution look like Mother Nature sat down with Salvador Dali and sketched out whatever Hunter S. Thompson was screaming about, things like ...
The Snub-Nosed Monkey
Quick: What looks like someone mixed a skull monster with a clown and gave it hair? If you said La Toya Jackson ... well, OK, we'll give you that.
Not all of the monsters in the world come from the deep sea.
But thanks to photographs of the snub-nosed monkeys, we now have evidence that evolution occasionally looks like botched plastic surgery.
"Why doesn't anyone respect me?"
Snub-nosed monkeys, native to China, are what happens when God runs out of ideas. Their eyes are sunken in, their noses are skeletal and their mouths are what we imagine a doughnut's butt looks like. The monkeys can live in groups of up to 600, mostly dudes, forming some of the most gigantic, ridiculous-looking monkey colonies on earth. They are known for their colorful fur, and for the fact that they look like a species that got into mom's makeup drawer and went to town.
This one looks like that girl in the yearbook who only wore lipstick for school photos but always wore a sweater with horses on it.
And this one looks like AH! Holy shit!
On second thought, we'll quit picking on the painted terror monkey.
If you think of the deep sea as some sort of earth-bound gallery of horrors ... well, this will do nothing to change that opinion.
Gulper eels live as far down as 10,000 feet below the surface, where they terrify even larger fish, because gulper eels can swallow them whole. They lack many parts that normal fish enjoy, like many major bones, a swim bladder, scales and possibly whatever fish have in place of souls, sacrificing all those things for the ability to consume anything that swims by them. They also have a bioluminescent organ on their tails to attract prey, making them nature's version of an anglerfish mixed with an umbrella dipped in fear sprinkles.
Ten thousand feet of water might be an acceptable buffer, but there's no harm in moving to Denver to put another 5,000 feet between you and them.
Related: Science Doesn't Know How Eels Bone
Hey, nature, we have a request -- could you create something that looks like Van Gogh painted a feather duster made out of slugs?
Thank you, that'll do.
Nudibranchs, also called sea slugs, are some of the most brightly colored, bizarre-looking creatures ever to spawn from the ocean. Unlike the eel, they don't live where the sun never reaches, and they aren't armed with tentacles or giant teeth. As far as sea creatures go, they are downright pleasant, and it's a wonder Pixar hasn't tried to make a touching, weep-inducing movie about them yet.
Except they are hermaphodites. But don't worry -- they aren't able to fertilize themselves.
Yeah, good luck selling The Mighty Hermaphroditey, Disney.
On the other hand, looking at nudibranchs is about as close as you can get to doing powerful hallucinogens without murdering yourself.
Speaking of nature's whimsical fairy creatures, this is a real butterfly from Central America:
He's got his own built-in bubble wand!
Glasswing butterflies look even more delicate than regular butterflies, lacking the scales that usually give their wings color, resulting in insects that look like they were handcrafted by tiny artistic fingers.
"You think you hate hail ...".
Proving that nature always has an awful-card hidden up her sleeve, these fairylike bundles of shimmer are poisonous as caterpillars because they exclusively eat poisonous plants. But don't worry, once they metamorphose into butterflies, they are pure sparkles. Except the males, who are also poisonous, because they eat murder nectar.
Grab four of these guys and you've got the makings of a butterfly cathedral.
While we're on the subject of insects, we recently told you about scorpionflies and their dickish cross-dressing shenanigans during breeding season. They, too, have transparent wings, and in this photograph taken of a live scorpionfly under a microscope we see that they OH FUCK!
So when you mix a fly, a dragon and a scorpion, you get a Stan Winston creature effect that is terrifying, but completely harmless.
As long as you consider shitting yourself "harmless."
Texas may boast about their longhorn steer, and we're inclined to agree that the Lone Star State has some impressive cows with impressive horns. On the other hand, the only things those cows have to contend with are lonely cowboys and an industrial mincer at the end of their days. Now, put good ole' American steer in a land filled with ebola and lions, and the stakes get higher.
That's the smile of a boy who will never, ever be fucked with again.
In Africa, Ankole-Watusi cows need to carry a pair of Conan's swords on their heads just to make sure they don't wind up as hyena food. Their horns can be anywhere from 8 to 12 feet between the tips and are the result of several different breeds of cattle being mixed across Africa.
And a couple of pikes thrown in for good measure.
They are considered "medium" in size as far as cattle are concerned, probably by a bull with smaller horns and a bigger truck.
Giant Softshell Turtle
Let's play a game. We describe an animal and you picture it in your head, then we show you what it looks like and you shriek in horror, OK? OK, here we go. It's a reptilian predator, it only has to breathe twice every 24 hours and it's 6 feet across, sucking in any animal that comes too close. What are you picturing? An alligator? Maybe some giant hideous snake?
How about a cow patty squished and formed into a turtle? Cantor's giant softshell turtles live in Asia and Indonesia, where they spend 95 percent of their lives lying in the mud with just their faces sticking out, eating whatever unfortunate fish happens by. It's like a giant alligator/snapping turtle.
Only really retarded looking.
Imagine a world where My Little Pony is real, where tiny, adorable horses can be kept in the house like dogs. But that's a fantasy world, nothing in real life could --
We're only a few tubes of dye and glitter short of making My Little Pony a reality.
Holy shit. It's only a matter of time before they start breeding those with pink fur and ice cream cone tattoos on their ass. Miniature horses aren't just bred to make little girls squeal with delight; they also serve as companion animals (translated: little horsey dogs) and even service animals, helping out disabled people who find golden retrievers boring and don't mind road apples in their kitchen.
"Oh, yeah. They're all definitely jealous."
Finally, something from the abyss that does not make us want to fire nukes into the deep blue, "just in case." Dumbo octopi are the deepest-living octopus known, showing that after miles of vertical water and untold horrors, deep sea creatures start turning into Disney cartoons.
Thank God, because we were beginning to believe nothing but fright could live in the deep dark ... oh, there it is.
His favorite foods include small fish, shrimp and your face.
As with all things that appear sweet, hiding under the cuddly exterior is a vampire squid.
Stalk-eyed flies are what happens when logic takes a back seat to boners.
Imagine if only men like Ron Jeremy got to reproduce. On second thought, don't.
Because females are more likely to mate with dudes with long stalks, the male eye stalks keep getting longer and longer. And sex is the only reason, by the way -- the stalks are not beneficial tools against predators and are in fact detrimental to the fly's ability to fly, because its eyes are located so far away from its body.
It's the only bug built to clothesline its fellow insects.
It's evolutionarily idiotic. It would be like if male humans found a way to make their dicks bigger, but every additional inch makes the guy slower, and fatter, and generally more terrible. Like greasier, and just useless, evolutionarily speaking.
On the subject of retardedly long body parts, these things look like you could pick them up in a dollar store. Instead of toys that look like Stretch Armstrong mixed with a Transformer, in this case, it looks like someone threaded an eel through a turtle.
It's like a dick joke mated with a sea monster.
Their necks are so long that they are unable to pull their heads inside their shells like every other turtle on earth, which, yes, is the only good thing about being a turtle. They are forced to fold their giant freak necks alongside their bodies, the turtle equivalent of standing next to a guy wearing armor when something bad happens. On the other hand, they have skunk superpowers and can ooze horrible-smelling musk if agitated. So we guess it's more like standing next to a guy wearing armor who farts nerve gas.
And the rest of their personal hygiene leaves something to be desired.
When humans mix up two animals names to name another animal, the results are usually disappointing: dragonflies are uglier than regular flies and nowhere near as cool as dragons, spider crabs can't spin webs and aren't delicious and the sharktopus isn't even a thing. So it's pretty surprising to see that frogfish are actually more interesting than the sum of their namesakes' parts.
Frogfish are shallow-water anglerfish that swapped hideousness for leg fins and kick-ass fashion. They are so varied in appearance that sometimes two of the same species appear to be completely different types, because fashion fish would not be caught dead at the reef social wearing the same outfit as another frogfish.
"Oh shit! We both came dressed as the rest of the ocean."
If you think we're exaggerating, run a Google image search on "frogfish." Just make sure you wear sunglasses.
Sadly, rhino mice do not have tiny nose horns that they use to shank Tonka trucks. Rather, they're mutated mice afflicted with a range of skin and nail disorders and glandular problems. Their condition leaves them looking like a mouse bred with a raisin. Or if Master Splinter had a baby with Krang. Here's a picture of either two rhino mice from a scientific study or Edward James Olmos hanging out with Keith Richards.
Just one more: Rhino mice look like God said, "Sure, mice are OK, but what if I made them out of scrotum?"
Wait, you didn't think we would make a list of freak-ass animals and not include one exclusive to Australia, did you? Filling our Australia quota is the marsupial mole. They spend almost all of their time digging though the dirt, to the point that they no longer have ears and their eyes are reduced to lenses that serve no purpose. They also dig no permanent tunnels, allowing them to fill in behind them as they dig.
They resemble a mink-covered sock with claws, showing that nature went back to the same dealer she was seeing when she designed the platypus. We'd make a joke about this remarkable photograph of a marsupial mole eating a centipede, but we don't even know for sure that's what we're looking at. That could just as well be its butt. Does it poop or eat lobsters?
Along with "shotgun battleaxe" and "tyrannosaurus lion," "assassin spider" is one of the most kick-ass and terrifying combination of nouns on earth. The reality is appropriately freaky looking, and it's called "assassin" because it feeds exclusively on other spiders. Also it looks like a haunted staircase made of spiders.
No, you aren't seeing things -- that spider has jaws as long as its freaking neck. Oh, right, and it has a neck. That is a completely bizarre ancillary body part, much like having an extra eyebrow, but it apparently helps the little bastards murder other arachnids, and it successfully elevates them to the level of "more disturbing-looking than usual for a spider." And here is a piece of amber showing that they have been terrorizing other spiders since about 40 million years ago:
They live in Madagascar and Australia, which should come as a surprise to absolutely no one who has ever heard of either place.
David is a sometime editor and full time webmaster and contributor over at WordPlague.
For more things that look fake but aren't, check out 18 Old-Timey Photos You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped and 15 Images You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped.