What is the ugliest animal in the world?

Some animals are incredibly ugly, but one little fish really takes the prize. What is the ugliest animal in the world, and what other creatures are giving it a run for its money?

Some animals can change, going from pretty normal to the ugliest in the world.
Some animals can change, going from pretty normal to the ugliest in the world.  © IMAGO / Kyodo News

Certain animals shock with their looks in both good and bad ways. Some of the beasts that prowl the depths of our seas or scout the surface of our planet are unmistakably hideous. Which animal truly takes the ugliest of all-time award, though?

It's time to find out which species take the animal record for ugliness. What is the ugliest animal in the world, and what other critters are getting close?

What is the ugliest animal on Earth?

The ugliest animal in the world is, undoubtedly, the blobfish. That's not just an opinion, either, as it was actually awarded this most-coveted of awards by the British Science Society in 2013.

Residing in the depths of the ocean, they have a not-so hidden secret: in-water they look normal, but out-of-water they look horrifying. Blobfish are exposed to extreme water pressure, and at depths of 600 meters, the pressure somewhat holds the form of the fish together.

On top of that, they live in complete darkness. As a result, blobfish are highly sensitive to light. However, it is unlikely that you'll ever come face-to-face with blobfish, considering the nature of its habitat.

What's there to know about the blobfish?

Blobfish are hunters, drifting around hidden in the sand at the bottom of the sea. They are not active swimmers and instead wait out their prey. Sadly, these little fish are endangered animals, having been threatened by fishing and often accidentally end up in nets.

As the 2013 winner of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society campaign, attention was brought to the blobfish, with the goal to better protect them in the future. Whether this will be reflected in their population numbers, though, is yet to be seen.

Let's take a look at some basic features of the blobfish, AKA the world's ugliest animal...

  • Name: Blobfish| Psychrolutes marcidus
  • Size: Up to 12 inches
  • Weight: Around 20 pounds
  • Habitat: Southwest Pacific | Deep Sea
  • Food: They feed primarily on crustaceans and other mollusks
  • Behavior: They have been pretty perfectly adapted to their environment, barely moving and waiting for prey on the seafloor
  • Endangerment status: Critically endangered

It's important that we talk about the blobfish. After all, no one wants to see such a bizarre animal become extinct, right?

Some of the other ugliest creatures in the world

In addition to the beloved blobfish, there are a vast assortment of ugly monstrosities across this great green globe. As we previously discussed, the 2013 competition for ugliest animal on Earth was voted on by users.

Here were the top five ugliest animals in the world, according to the British Science Society:

1st place: Blobfish

2nd place: Kākāpō

3rd place: Axolotl

4th place: Titicaca giant frog

5th place: Proboscis monkey

Now this interesting! All the five animals in the list are also classified as critically endangered. As a result, it is important to draw attention to them and make sure that we protect their habitats into the future.

Ugliest sea animal

The blobfish changes its form above water, becoming the ugliest animal in the world.
The blobfish changes its form above water, becoming the ugliest animal in the world.  © Instagram / Screenshot / Nationalgeographicwild

Several of the ugliest animals in the world live in the ocean. We've already talked about the blobfish, but we also need to give a shout-out to the humble axolotl, the yeti crab, and the monkfish. Each of these underwater animals are incredibly weird-looking.

While we would personally argue that the Axolotl is actually not that ugly, the monkfish is certainly challenging the Blobfish in the looks department. After all, blobfish only get ugly when they come out of the depths of the ocean, but monkfish are always ugly.

Ugliest land animal

The proboscis monkey is certainly an ugly beast!
The proboscis monkey is certainly an ugly beast!  © Charge The Globe / Unsplash

The proboscis monkey is long believed to be the ugliest land animal on Earth. These large-nosed monkeys have reddish fur and tiny eyes. Their bodies seem to be totally disproportionate, and their noses look bizarre. It's no surprise that these fellows don't get much love!

Originating from Borneo, an island in Southeast Asia, and generally lives in mangrove forests and coastal areas. They are endangered, and are known for their elongated noses that adorn their face.

Ugliest bird in the world

Some say that the kākāpō is ugly, but to be honest, they are kind of pretty!
Some say that the kākāpō is ugly, but to be honest, they are kind of pretty!  © IMAGO / Nature Picture Library

The kākāpō is considered the ugliest bird in the world. These large, round parrots are absolutely bizarre. They look strange, they can't fly, they're nocturnal, and they live on the ground.

Native to New Zealand, these large, flightless birds are generally a strange yellow-green color, and have incredibly short wings and a tiny tail. They are critically endangered near extinction, and have to be looked after by humans on two predator-free islands just to keep them safe.

The world's ugliest animal is a real survivor!

While the blobfish is, indeed, critically endangered, it is also a real trooper. These ugly little fish survive at extraordinary depths in the long dark of the deep sea. They have no natural enemies and have evolved perfectly for their habitat, with most of their danger coming from human nets and deep-sea fishermen.

Luckily, organizations like the British Science Association have been drawing attention to these little fish. This helps to drive campaigns and action to keep the species alive and well, so they can continue to delight with their unbelievable ugliness and avoid extinction.

Cover photo: IMAGO / Kyodo News

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