Sure, the panda is cute and cuddly, but what about the endangered species who are "aesthetically challenged"? This is the question posed by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society in their recent global search for a mascot.
Comedians rallied in support of their favorite ugly but endangered species, and The National Science + Engineering Competition conducted a public vote. Here, check out the not-so-pretty winner and the unattractive runners up.
All text adapted from and courtesy of the British Science Association.
Blobfish live at depths of between 600 and 1,200 meters where the pressure is several dozen times higher than at sea level, and they can grow up to 12 inches in length. The fish spend their lives gently bobbing around the deep sea, where their gelatinous appearance aids their buoyancy.
The blobfish however suffers a significant threat from fishing trawlers — although it is inedible itself, it gets caught up in the nets.
Actor Paul Foot supported the blobfish in the Ugly Animal Preservation Society contest. In his campaign video, he explained why he has a soft spot for this gelatinous blob:
“Some would describe it as a bit ugly, but I think the sad face of the blobfish belies a kind and very wise little brain in there.”
A critically endangered giant parrot, the kakapo is a classic example of evolution on an isolated island. The only flightless parrot in the world, it is also the heaviest. Its muscular thighs mean it is better suited to walking and climbing, than taking to the air — although it probably evolved from parrots that could fly.
Television scientist Steve Mould explained why the kakapo deserves more support:
“The kakapo encapsulates the fragility of life that evolved in a bubble — in this case, the bubble is New Zealand… but that bubble burst and New Zealand is full of predatory mammals, but the kakapo hasn’t evolved a fear response. Often its response is curiosity — ‘who’s this?’ the kakapo would say — ‘oh, I’m in its mouth…’”
Axolotls, a type of salamander that remains aquatic for its entire life, have the amazing ability to regenerate lost limbs. This freaky cross between Peter Pan and the X-Men is endangered because of urbanization in Mexico City and polluted waters.
Science presenter and comedian Helen Arney supported this little critter, saying:
“Beauty is only skin deep, and the axolotl has a dark secret… it never truly grows up. It’s like Peter Pan, Justin Bieber, or any character Zooey Deschanel ever plays in a film.”
The largest truly aquatic frog, the Titicaca water frog is found only in Lake Titicaca in South America. Its Latin name literally translates as "aquatic scrotum" — the multiple folds in its skin enable it to breathe underwater without needing to surface for air.
Comedian Iszi Lawrence highlighted the critter's inherent comedy value. "Scrotum frog, you heard me right, scrotum frog. Even better than being called scrotum frog, it lives in Lake Titicaca!"
The proboscis monkey is named after its impressive nose, which it uses as a resonating chamber to increase the volume of its mating calls. The bigger the nose, the more attractive the mate. Its diet of unripe fruit makes it a pretty gassy primate and this gives it a fairly rotund appearance.
Television presenter Ellie Taylor was the supporter for this big-nosed critter, explaining:
“These guys need our help! They can’t compete with the orangutans, who are really cute, these guys are really hideous…They’ve got massive noses, really ugly willies, and they’re full of farts. I mean come on, that thing needs our help!”