Animals that are "ugly" attract little scientific funding and investigation compared to more attractive creatures in Australia, resulting to poor conservation, a new study has found.

Researchers from Murdoch University found that animals in Australia that scientists think are ugly, received little scientific attention compared to those that are more pleasing. Kangaroos and koalas, which are deemed aesthetically pleasing animals, are subjected to more scientific studies than bats and rodents.

Published in Mammal Review, the study shows how "ugly" animals are not being studied enough, that could help preserve and protect them, especially that most are now considered threatened species. The last Christmas Island pipistrelle (Pipistrellus murrayi) died about six years ago, because funding to conduct studies to help these animals was scarce.

There are at least 70 native rodent species and bats in the country; however, there are limited studies conducted on most of these species. In fact, there is barely about these species than a catalogue of their existence.

"Australia has witnessed more mammal extinctions than anywhere else in the world over the last two centuries. More than half of the world's now extinct animals were once Australian residents," said Trish Fleming, a wildlife biologist at Western Australia's Murdoch University and study author.

"Animals, weird and wonderful, some that were recorded as super-abundant by early European settlers, have now disappeared forever," she added.

Ugly Animals Need Attention Too

There is little information known about these animals and this bias has a potential impact on conservation. As a result, it is hard to manage their environment because there is little information about their biology and habitat.

These animals are also important that if one becomes extinct, it could greatly impact the environment. For example, bats help in keeping mosquito numbers under control, and losing them could spell less control over the disease-carrying insects.

Fleming urges everyone to work together through communication, interaction and integration to save these animals that are being overlooked.

"We could lose the animals that pollinate our plants, recycle nutrients into the soil, help plants become established," she said.

Photo: Curtis Foreman | Flickr

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