6 Terrifying Bats You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped
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:
Griffin's Leaf-Nosed Bat (Hipposideros griffini)
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:
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.
And possibly a cousin of Mickey Rourke.
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.
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:
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.
"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.
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:
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.
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?
"Why do I have to be Mr. Pink? Why can't I be- Actually, Pink is fine. Softens the horror."
Maclaud's Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus maclaudi)
What the fuck are we even looking at there? Can you even tell? That's not a face. That's not even an animal. If you saw it out in the wild, you'd say, that there is a goddamn mushroom, and an extremely poisonous-looking one at that. Intrigued, you'd lean forward for a closer look. And that's when the Maclaud's horseshoe bat would unfold its wings and calmly, calculatedly pee on you.
This particular breed of horseshoe bat, discovered in 2007, resides in remote regions of eastern Guinea. Its neglected floral arrangement of a face is actually rather typical among the various different species of horseshoe bat in the Rhinolophus genus. All horseshoe bats have these leaf-like protuberances on their faces, in varying sizes and shapes. The effect can sometimes be relatively innocuous, but usually results in Lovecraftian absurdity.
OK, who gave the Thing mushrooms?
If you're lucky, you might even catch a female Maclaud offering its children the ugliest transportation of all time: Maclaud girl-bats come equipped with two crotch-nipples where the baby bats cling for their first few days of life. So, if one day you're hanging in Guinea, avoid LSD at all costs. Seeing a fungus-snouted bat monster fly by, boob-towing two smaller versions of itself that go "Whee!" is a difficult enough experience with a clear head.
She didn't say yes. You're just making her head bob up and down with your fingers.
Tube-Nosed Fruit Bat (Nyctimene rabori)
If there's ever been an animal that screams "Photoshop!" it's this smug-looking bastard right here. There's no way that thing is anything but a photo-op construction -- right away, we can spot bits of squirrel, seal and goat, to name but a few. Hell, someone's even thrown in a Santa beard for good measure. That Shrek-ear nose is a tough one, mind you. Maybe someone played with filters? Hell, we give up. Let's zoom the camera out a bit, and see what the whole animal looks like:
The satisfied smile is because your soul just tasted delicious.
Once you get past the self-satisfied, unnerving stare, the main thing that stands out on the tube-nosed fruit bat is the feature for which it's named. There's no solid information as to why these bats' noses took this particularly cocaine-friendly form, but it is assumed they use them more or less as face-grafted echolocation vuvuzelas.
This particular species, discovered in 1984, is endemic to the Philippines and critically endangered. Hunting isn't a problem for them, as they are so covert that it was found that not even the locals were aware that it existed. So we're forced to assume that the reason for their dwindling numbers is that their sex face looks like this:
And its orgasm sounds like that noise Jim Carrey made in Dumb and Dumber.
Hammer-Headed Bat (Hypsignathus monstrosus)
There's a multitude of things that spring to mind upon seeing the hammer-headed bat, and all of them are variations of "WHAT THE SHIT IS THAT?" That animal is to the generally accepted natural order of things like fingernails are to chalkboards. It scoffs at everything you hold dear and beautiful with its never-ending face that looks like it was designed by a toddler who ransacked his mom's medicine cabinet.
Of course, the absurdity of a face that just begs for a special-needs helmet becomes horror incarnate when you see the body it's attached to:
Suddenly it's a bat-winged horse.
Holy shit, that's the spitting image of a devil in at least half of the world's belief systems. You could show a picture of that bastard to us in a cryptozoology book between "photos" of Nessie and Bigfoot, and we'd think it was the worst designed of the three.
Thank goodness, then, that the hammer-headed bat is just a tiny, goofy herbivore. Right? Please?
"It's a trap!"
But of course not! The hammer-headed bat is a bona fide, grade-A bloodsucker of the worst kind. What's more, it just so happens to be easily the largest bat in its native continent of Africa. With a wingspan that reaches over three feet, they meet the qualification of "megabats." These guys are scientifically supersized.
Of course, these giant satan-bats are also aggressive enough to attack livestock in order to drink their blood, and yes, they're also prime suspects for initiating hideous Ebola virus outbreaks.
"How's about a kissssss?"
And while we're on the subject of hideous things, let's discuss the creature's sex life.
The whole elongated snout thing is because of sexual dimorphism -- only the males sport a devil face, formally known as a rostrum, and it's totally a sex thing. The long face allows their mating calls a much greater volume and resonance -- the racket they can produce using this "instrument" during mating season rivals a car alarm in both loudness and repetitiveness. Because what a giant, Ebola-spewing, blood-sucking, devil-looking bat monster really needs is the ability to shriek like a dive bomber as it swoops at you.
But that's not what you really need to know about the hammer-headed bat. What you really need to know is what one looks like with its mouth open:
For more animals you should probably be scared of, check out 6 Animals That Just Don't Give A F#@k and 13 Real Animals Lifted Directly Out of Your Nightmares.