14 Utterly Strange Animals That Are The Result Of Selective Breeding

Science has done a lot of things for humanity, but when you use science for selective breeding, it can create some seriously horrifying examples of genetic engineering. When people talk about "genetically modified" things, most think of genetically modified foods, not animals. But there are animals that exist because of selective breeding, making them unique creations of our own, no matter how bizarre or ugly they may be.

Selective breeding is a process that usually takes time. A simple crossbreed is just two animals mating together to create a new breed, such as two different types of dogs that create a mutt. Artificial selection and selective breeding, on the other hand, are a deliberate attempt to breed animals for particular characteristics, such as a certain color of fur or a particular skin pattern. Sometimes that makes for beautiful hybrids, but in the case of some of these animals, it makes for some rather uncanny creations.

  • Lykoi Cats Look Like Lycanthropes

    Lykoi Cats Look Like Lycanthropes
    Photo: Christine Auverdin Boulanger / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    The origin of lykoi cats is a bit of a mystery. These cats are popular because they look like mini werewolves, which is how it got its nickname the "Werewolf Cat." The gene responsible for the werewolf-like appearance of lykoi cats appears to have developed on its own. The particular pattern of baldness is a genetic mutation unrelated to that of a sphynx cat. Now, breeders are actively trying to popularize the mutation and as of May 2017, Lykoi cats can be shown in The International Cat Association shows under Championship status.

  • The Emoji Python Is Always Smiling

    Why have a normal snake pattern when you could have a snake covered in smiley faces? Justin Kobylka, a snake breeder, spent eight years breeding this snake to have its unique smiley-face pattern. The snake's coloring is normal for an albino ball python, but breeding it to have three complete smiley faces on its back took time and effort. The pattern is a mere cosmetic difference and confers no benefit or harm, other than that all of Kobylka's hard work in breeding the snake means it's worth over $4,000. 

  • The Budapest Short-Faced Tumbler Certainly Earns Its Name

    The Budapest short-faced tumbler has an apt name. Its face, especially in comparison to its large eyes, is quite small. Its beak is also considerably smaller, which can lead to feeding and hatching problems for young birds. Initially bred to fly higher than the average pigeon, the Budapest short-faced tumbler has since become a fancy breed usually reserved for showing. Raising them is a tough gig for breeders, as they often require hand feeding and may experience a variety of health problems due to generations of breeding with small populations.

  • This Bird Is Bred To Look Like The Number Seven

    This Bird Is Bred To Look Like The Number Seven
    Photo: Freegiampi / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

    The gibber italicus canary looks more like a cartoon vulture than its cute yellow origin. Deliberately bred for its bizarre posture, which ideally makes it look like the number seven, this canary breed has sparse feathers and a nervous disposition that makes it ill-suited as a pet for anybody but expert breeders. This canary variant was produced after years of inbreeding to create its strange shape and feathers. While some selective breeding experiments can be cute, this one is more than a little bit creepy. What's even creepier is that its unclear why canary enthusiasts wanted to make this bird in the first place. 

  • A Scaleless Chicken Is Convenient For Poultry Industry, Creepy For Everyone Else

    Ever wanted a chicken without all those pesky feathers? You're in luck, because the scaleless chicken exists. Scaleless chickens look like a regular chicken that's already been plucked and boiled, which is actually beneficial to the poultry industry. Featherless birds are easier to climate control and don't require plucking. The downside? They easily catch parasites and are more difficult to breed because of an inability to flap their wings. Their creepy appearance is just a side effect.

  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks Are Bred To Hunt Lions

    The Rhodesian ridgeback is impressive on first glance, and for good reason - the breed was developed to help hunt animals in Africa, including large animals like lions and bears. Hunters noticed that dogs with the characteristic ridge of hair along their back were typically better hunters, and selective breeding with good hunting dogs led to the breed we have today. Unfortunately, as with many purebred dogs, the Ridgeback is prone to a slew of medical issues like hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as certain disorders of the spine.