So, you’d like to take your knowledge of animal facts to the next level?
Well, learning about big-lipped animals is a great starting point.
And after knowing them, you might be wondering; what role do these lips play in each animal?
Wonder no more. We’ve dug deep to unearth not only the big-lipped animals the jungle has to offer but also what you need to know about these unusual features of each animal.
And we’ve compiled the list of 13 big-lipped animals in this article, so let’s read on to find out.
13 Big-lipped Animals and How The Big Lips are Assets
Hippos are the third living land mammal, and their lips are directly proportional to their sizes.
About four feet long, the lips are not only big but also thick and tough for the purpose.
The ferocious beasts use their lips for different purposes. During feeding, they double up as teeth, grasping and pulling vegetation and tough plants from the ground to their mouths.
The lips also act as communication devices, pulling off different vocalizations to denote various things. For instance, when the hippos grunt, it’s a sign of satisfaction, and when the animals are aggressive, the lips produce a low-pitched sound.
What’s more, the gigantic lips on hippos help in defense, pulling chunks of meat from their opponents when fighting, especially in males.
Orangutans are great apes that live in the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia. They’re known for their intelligence and also their big bottom lips.
The primates are the closest relatives to humans. That’s why they use their lips much the same way as humans. For instance, when annoyed, orangutans produce a squeaking sound by sucking air through the lips.
And to signal predators, the human cousins cup their lips to make kiss queks alarm calls.
Furthermore, the animals use their lips when feeding, detecting food textures before bringing them to their mouths.
And interestingly, orangutans can use their lips to make facial expressions – the way humans use lips to smile.
3. Napoleon Fish
Napoleon fish is an edible, large species of wrasse native to the Indo-Pacific region.
Among the distinctive features of the fish are the protruding forehead carrying a nuchal hump on males and the big, thick lips on both sexes.
Napoleons are carnivores that feed on mollusks and smaller fish, and they use their big lips to suck up the prey into their mouths. So, while there’s little research on the role of the big lips on the fish, you’d be right to assume they help make the fish an excellent hunter.
Napoleon fish are endangered, but you can find them in aquariums as they’re peaceful and can coexist with other kinds. Their ability to change colors also make them an aquarium favorite.
Flowerhorn is a large, freshwater ornamental fish found in aquariums worldwide.
The Flowerhorns are noted for bright colors and distinctive large foreheads – hence why they’re aquarium favorites, like napoleon fish. That said, you can’t describe the fish without mentioning the gigantic lips, which are directly proportional to their heads.
Other than feeding, there’s no extra documented role of the flowerhorn lips.
The lips of camels are not only large but also thick and leathery. And interestingly, they are so advanced to appear as three, as the upper one is split into two.
The big lips of camels come in handy, enabling the animals to survive in harsh environments in two ways.
Firstly, they allow the animals to graze on every type of vegetation, including the thorniest shrubs, without getting injured.
And secondly, the lips seal in moisture to help the animals conserve water, a vital mechanism in the dry and water-depleted regions where the camels live.
6. Proboscis Monkeys
Another primate on our list, proboscis monkeys are social mammals you can find on the islands of Borneo.
Of all monkeys, proboscis are the easiest to identify, thanks to their characteristic big noses and gigantic lips.
Unlike other animals that use their lips to attract mates, the Proboscis monkeys subordinate that task to the big nose.
Meanwhile, the lips function much the same as in humans – mainly for feeding and communication. These monkeys shape the lips in different styles to produce different sounds to convey various messages. For example, a mature male Proboscis monkey will roar to claim the group status, while immature individuals and females make female sound calls.
However, the population of these monkeys is decreasing due to deforestation in their habitats.
Triggerfish is a shallow-marine water fish native to tropical waters worldwide. You can also find it in aquariums, as fish enthusiasts like it for its beautiful coloration, ability to inflate themselves, and because they can also be trained to perform tricks.
The fish has a pair of big, pouty lips that can challenge humans for the most fabulous lips in the animal kingdom.
Not only for feeding, but the lips also facilitate a human-like smile on triggerfish, making the fish among the most adorable creatures you can find. Once on the internet, there was a trending image of triggerfish smiling that people mistakenly thought was photoshopped!
8. Star Sapphires
Endemic to Tanzania’s Lake Malawi, star Sapphires are some of the world’s most fascinating creatures. Not just because of their beautiful coloration but because of their enormous, luscious lips.
Star Sapphires exhibit a rather strange phenomenon for non-humans. Juveniles have thin unnoticeable lips, but as they mature, the lips start becoming prominent in males. Guess why? To attract mates.
You can liken this phenomenon to humans when boys are born beardless, and upon maturity, the beard starts showing up.
9. Beluga Whales
Beluga Whales are migratory, social mammals that inhabit arctic and sub-arctic waters.
The massive sea mammals are fascinating to watch due to their big, flexible lips, usually about 15 inches long.
But the lips are not just decorative features. They make the whales efficient hunters, enabling them to capture prey effortlessly and filter food from the water.
And, incredibly, the lips enable the Whales to make human-like facial expressions and sounds when communicating with others.
10. Big-lip Damselfish
Big-lip damselfish is a small tropical fish found in the indo-pacific region.
The damselfish fish lives up to its name with its characteristic big, protruding lips, which the crustacean has to thank for its hunting prowess. The lips act as tools for filtering prey, such as crabs and worms, out of water when feeding.
Gourami is a group of freshwater fish native to Asia. You can also find them in most aquariums as they’re popular because of their bright colors and intelligence – they can recognize their owners!
Gouramis have big, protruding lips, which the fish use to filter out food from water when feeding.
For males, the lips come in handy, especially when mating. Interestingly, male gouramis use their big lips to kiss each other mouth to mouth, the way humans do. However, they do this not for affection but as a sign of aggressiveness when fighting.
12. White Rhino
White rhinos are the second largest land mammals, and inhabit African grass plains.
White rhinos have robust, broad, squared lips, which serve the same purpose as those of camels, helping the animals survive in the African savannas. Because the white rhino is a grazer that feeds on low-lying vegetation, the big lips come in handy, grabbing and pulling grass from the ground when the animals are browsing.
Alongside the mouth, the lips are the distinctive features of the animals. In fact, the broad lip of the white rhino is a key feature used to distinguish the animal from its counterpart, the black rhino, which instead has a pointed one.
13. Red-lipped Batfish
The Red-lipped batfish is a weird-shaped fish that lives only in the Galapagos Islands.
The distinctive features of these batfish are the big, bright red lips that constitute their unusual morphology. But despite being weird, the fish are harmless to humans.
According to marine biologists, the Red-lipped batfish uses its lips during mating, helping the fish to identify individuals from the same species. Also, the fish exposes their lips to trigger sexual tension.
Big-lipped animals exist, and contrary to the common belief, they are not rare. If you travel to the African Sahara desert and also some countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, camels are a common sight.
White rhinos? Very common in African savanna and nature documentaries.
And many of the fish we’ve included here can be found in many aquariums.