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Test on Ugly, bizarre, misshapen Animals

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The Proboscis Monkey hides his face behind a formidable nose.

Why do you think this primate has a nose the size of a pickle?


So that he can smell predators and competition from miles away.

Proboscis Monkeys actually use their nose as a drinking device. It allows them to suck the water out of flowers and leaves.

The huge nose is an excellent resonator. The monkey can use it as an amplifier for warning calls.

The Shaggy Anglerfish looks weird. Nevertheless, his disheveled exterior does provide a first-rate camouflage in the shallow waters of the tropical and subtropical seas.

He also has a fishing rod hanging over his mouth -- what does he use it for?


That's easy - for fishing, of course!

Anglerfish are lousy swimmers. Moreover they can only see a few centimeters ahead. But with this appendage, which dangles directly in front of his eyes, he can distinguish between what is above and below him.

Unlike the Deep-Sea Anglerfish, on whose rod dangles an illuminated organ to attract prey, these shallow water relatives only use theirs for decorative purposes: The longer it is, the easier it is to attract a mate.

The star-nosed mole lives underground most of the time. Vision is not the star-nosed mole's strong point.

He got his name due to the remarkable fleshy tentacles on his head. What is their function?


The tentacles are used for touch. By using them, the star-nosed mole can track down its prey in a split second, recognize it as a tasty morsel and swallow it up -- all in less than half a second!

The star-nosed mole has the most powerful voice of all moles: In their long tunnels, they communicate by a kind of whistling. The tentacles serve to direct the sound.

Thanks to its highly sensitive nose, the star-nosed mole can catch the scent of its prey from a good distance and can also use its sense of smell to get its bearings. Biologists think that it can perceive the slightest of changes in the composition of the soil. The tentacles fan air molecules to the nose -- similar to the way in which snakes use their tongues.

Sloths are extremely staid in their movement and enjoy having a long sleep. But they don't just look lazy -- most of the time they smell that way too:

Their fur is a veritable eco-system for algae, mites, moths and much more. Why?


It's the smell. It drives the females crazy. And it has to because sloths are loners and will usually gather to mate, with females usually only bearing one offspring per year.

The sloth is not particularly quick on foot and therefore he must camouflage himself from his enemies. The more he resembles a putrid plant, the less he stands out against the backdrop of the forest.

The sloth is also lazy when it comes to personal hygiene. His many visitors eat the tough dirt off his body -- just like the suckerfish that live on large marine animals. It's a perfect win-win situation.

The hammerhead shark has possibly the strangest head of any marine animal -- and that's saying something. Almost no other species is able to carry off such a head shape so elegantly.

What advantages does this give the shark?


The wide head is a signal to the females: The wider it is, the stronger the male is and therefore the better mate he will be. The hammer therefore fulfils a similar function to a bird's grand plumage.

Unlike other sharks, the hammerhead only has a small mouth with a relatively weak bite musculature. Therefore he likes to attack his prey with forceful head butts.

It has to do with three-dimensionality. Thanks to the shape of the head, the hammerhead's eyes and electro-receptors, the so-called ampullae of Lorenzini, are positioned further apart from each other and are therefore more effective.

Beautifully awful or awfully beautiful? The aardvark looks like a cross between a hare, a domestic pig and a rat.

What else is special about this four-legged force of nature?


It is the first viable animal to emerge from genetic experiments, cross-breeding different species of mammal, and yet able to procreate.

The aardvark doesn't just look like it's from out of this world, in fact it also seems to have fallen from Heaven somehow. To date, biologists are still unable to classify it within the mammalian genealogy.

It is the only mammal of its size that could survive against a fully-grown lion. The trick: the aardvark lies on its back to defend itself and hits out with his claws.

A terrifying predator? No, what we have here is a relatively harmless hagfish.

However, he has developed an extremely creative way of attacking his prey -- what would that be?


The hagfish secretes huge amounts of slime and rubs itself on other fish. Their fins get glued together and the fish sink to the sea bed as defenseless victims.

Hagfish bury themselves in the sea bed, with only the tentacle on their heads poking out above the sediment. They look like worms and attract small fish. Should one come too close, the hagfish will snap it up and eat it.

The hagfish ties a knot in itself. By making a noose out of its body, it can drop its head down and chip away at its prey. For, as you can see in the photograph, the hagfish only has teeth on its bottom jaw.

The blobfish is fittingly named. No wonder, that he doesn't look particularly happy.

But even a wobbly body mass like this has its advantages. What could they be?


It allows the blobfish to significantly alter its body shape. The pressure in the depths of the ocean compresses the blobfish, giving him a sleek exterior. This allows him to be all the more nimble in hunting down his prey.

The blobfish is so puffed-up that he appears to float. His density is only slightly higher than that of the water. Therefore, he doesn't need a swim bladder, which keeps most of the other fish afloat. It is a good thing, too, because the compression of gas in the bladder can be painful at great depths.

The blobfish is slow and is therefore easy prey for ocean predators -- but it is able to inflate its body to a huge size to scare away its enemies.

It's the unicorn of the sea: the narwhal. Its tusk, which can grow to up to three meters in length, makes it one of the most curious ocean phenomena.

What could the extraordinary instrument possibly be used for?


As so often is the case in the animal kingdom, the male with the thickest mane, the biggest antlers or -- like here -- the longest tusk is the boss. And obviously he also has the most sex, because a long tusk indicates strong genes.

The tusk is like a meter long antenna -- it allows the narwhal to measure the temperature, water pressure and salt content.

The tusk is an effective and dangerous weapon. The narwhal can use his tusk to spear fish or to break through ice to gain air in the Arctic winter.

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