Oct 31, 2006

From the Netherworld

Both Peer and Miss Cellania submitted this lump of a fish, and I thought it a fitting photo for Halloween. It does look ghost-like, or at least like some denizen of the Netherworld. I can't tell if it is more lump-of-lard or dough-dumpling in appearance. What ever it is, it doesn't look too happy.

Ioan helped me identify it as a Blob Sculpin. This fish is lumped (pardon the pun) in with other bathyal and abyssal fish. Abyssal - from the Netherworld indeed.

Oct 30, 2006

Pig PR

I know they say that pigs are very intelligent - even smarter than dogs and rats. But this pig sure isn't helping in the swine public relations department.

Thanks for the photo, Mat. I don't want to know where you encountered this particular specimen. I would rather enjoy my BLT in ignorance.

Oct 29, 2006

Cottonwoods Beware

"Hey, that's a huge bug! What is it?"
"That's a cottonwood borer beetle."
"Oh. What do they do?"
"That's a cottonwood borer beetle."
"Hmmm. What do they eat?"
"That's a cottonwood borer beetle."

I love it when animals are appropriately named. In case you didn't know, this is the cottonwood borer beetle. It is known for its large size and bold coloring. It's also very fuzzy (click on the image for detail), which isn't common among beetles.

Cottonwood trees beware! This bug will munch (check out those mandibles) on your leaf stems and new twigs. Then, the female will bore into your base and lay eggs inside you. Once those eggs hatch, the larvae are going to burrow even deeper into you, and take as long as two years to mature. They'll spend that first year eating your roots, and the second chewing their way to your heartwood. You'll have about a three-week respite while they pupate, but then they'll munch their way back out. It's hard being a kinda cottonwood tree.

Thanks for the photo, wolfdaddy74701. You found this in your backyard? I fear for your trees.

Oct 28, 2006

Ugly and Easy

The extatosoma tiaratum is also known as the spiny leaf insect, or Macleay's Spectre. You may call this one Pablo, since that is what his owner, Gregor, named him. If I encountered one of these, I'd probably scream and reach for the nearest can of Raid. Others, however, have found that these enormous bugs make for great pets. All they need is a terrarium, something to climb on, eucalyptus leaves, and some water.

I wish my kids were that low maintenance. That's the trade-off, though: ugly and easy, or cute and difficult.

Oct 27, 2006

Unique Technique

I can't get enough of the matamata turtle. This particular shot shows the grin, the tube nose, and those scaly danglies of this reptile so well.

These nocturnal hunters have a technique that is unique from other turtles. When they find something tasty - a crustacean, fish, frog, small mammal, or even a bird - they strike while opening their mouths and expanding their throats. This motion creates a vacuum which literally sucks their prey into their mouths.

Those snouts are flexible, like real snorkels. I almost wich I had one, too. It seems so handy. But I'll stick with the whole walking upright and opposable thumbs thing instead.

Thanks for the photo, Fons.

Oct 26, 2006

Too Delicious

Now look at this prize turkey! I should have saved this photo for my Thanksgiving post, but it is too delicious not to pass along now. This bird's head is so covered with wrinkles and waddles that you can't even catch a glimpse of the eyes or beak. I can't believe I'm looking forward to eating one of these.

Thanks for the photo, Steve. You just might have ruined poultry for me.

Oct 25, 2006

Parasites, Bloodletting, and Lawyers

When you think of leeches you think of blood sucking parasites, bloodletting, and some lawyers. But the truth is that most leeches aren't haemophagic - that is, most don't specialize in sucking blood. All leeches are carnivorous, and most of them are predacious. They dine on such delectables as worms, snails, insect larvae, and crustaceans.

I can't imagine being a young crawdad (for a number of reasons, but ...) cruising along the bottom of a creek, minding my own business when suddenly one of these looms overhead and starts knawing its way through my now-inadequate exoskeleton.
I'll stick with the bloodletting, thanks.

Thanks for the photo,

Oct 24, 2006

Wallowing in Hideousness

Given some of the comments lately, it would seem that many of you are fans of the naked mole rat, and rightfully so. This poor creature was whacked with several ugly sticks: it's a rodent, it's hairless, and it's subterranean.

Nicholas has blessed us with this shot of an entire tribe of them. These creatures spend their entire lives in darkness, yet here they are being forced to sleep in artificial light. Look at them, wallowing in shame at their own hideousness.

Or perhaps they are basking in it.

Oct 23, 2006

On the Road

Carl found this snapping turtle on the side of the road. I'll admit that the turtle has a certain charm about him, so I wonder what drove him from his watery home. Perhaps he was on a journey of self discovery.

More than likely, though, he was on some ugly duckling adventure. Having been ostracized by all the pretty red-eared slider turtles, he was out to find his own pond to lurk in. Unlike misery, ugly doesn't always like company.

Thanks for the photo, Carl.

Oct 22, 2006

Disillusionment and Fraud

Every once and a while I like to put this blog to good use - to serve the public interest. Today is such a day. DJ Dates saw a post I had done earlier on a nasty-faced white tiger and forwarded to me this photo and the story of a fraud.

Click the link above for the whole story, but let me give you a brief summary. White tigers are portrayed as rare, endangered beasts to be conserved and cherished. The reality is that they almost only occur in captivity and are the result of generations of inbreeding. Most white tiger cubs are so deformed that either they don't survive cubhood, or are too mangled to be displayed to the public. It is estimated that only 1 in 30 such cubs will ever grow to adulthood to be put on display.

The photo below is of one such individual - malformed from excessive inbreeding. Thanks, DJ Dates and www.bigcatrescue.org, for the info and the disillusionment.

Oct 21, 2006

Stay in Hiding

This one is a brain twister. When I first saw it, even though I knew what I was looking for, it took a moment to pick out the face of the frogfish - kind of like those pictures where you have to look at the negative space to see the image.

Frogfish are ambush hunters. This particular chap does his lurking while drifting amidst seaweed. I wish more ugly creatures would camouflage themselves and stay in hiding. The world would be a prettier place.

Thanks for the photo, Erik.

Oct 20, 2006

This One Is for You

I understand there is disgruntlement among some of you regarding the presence of the Sphynx cat on this blog. This one is for you.

Look past the bat ears and the wrinkled, oily, hairless flesh and behold true evil in those dark eyes.

(end spooky Halloween music)

Photo from: Yahoo! News

Oct 19, 2006

Don't Be Shy

Don't be shy, my readers. I read much of what you have to say about this blog, and I appreciate the comments. But don't make me steal images from you. Send them to me. Some of my best photos are reader-submitted.

Here are two gems I ripped from the i-am-bored.com thread on this blog. Y'all have some good stuff and it is your duty to share with the world. I also want to thank all of you who have sent in your photos, or forwarded me links to caches of ugliness on the web. Your participation makes the effort I put into this worthwhile.

BTW, does anyone have a clue what these two fish are? They make me want to become a vegetarian. Or an orthodontist.

Oct 18, 2006

Hairy Glisteningness

One of our readers, Brigette, has not only helped identify this bug and corrected a case of mistaken identity on this tarantula, but she has also sent me a stash of ugly critter photos.

Here is a scorpion named spike. Click on the image for greater detail - you will be rewarded with his hairy glisteningness. The quaint tablecloth makes for a disconcerting contrast with the beast that is creeping over it.

Thanks for the photo (and more to come), Brigette.

Oct 17, 2006

Mucus Cavities & Serrated Edges

Behold the fangtooth. This article describes the fish in this manner: "The head is large with a huge maw and appears haggard, riddled with mucus cavities delineated by serrated edges and covered by a thin skin." Not the most glowing endorsement.

But then, these small fish have nothing to prove. They live at depths reaching 5,000 meters. It's pitch black down there - no reason to hide in shame.

Photo courtesy: www.pbs.org

Oct 16, 2006

Simple Equation

Nancy sent in this photo of the Red Uakari, from the Amazon River basin. According to the good folks at National Geographic, these endangered primates possibly developed this red face to display their robust health. You see, animals infected with malaria typically have pale faces. It's a simple equation: red face = no malaria = open for business.

Again, I just can't account for monkey taste. They are supposedly such close cousins to us, but blue butts, swollen butts, large noses, red faces, and fangs tend to
drive away our prospective mates, not make them swoon with delight. Also, there's that whole feces eating thing some of them do ... Photo courtesy: monkeyland.co.uk

Oct 15, 2006

Pugnacious Snake

To take a photo like this involves a combination of photography skill, a good camera, and a will to search out prairie rattlesnakes (I lack all three). One site describes thes rattlers as "pugnacious; coiling and striking with little provocation." Looking at those eyes, I can see that it's true.

One 54" specimen weighed in at 4 1/2 lbs. That's quite a few snake burgers.

Thanks for the photo, Jack.

Oct 14, 2006

Let Sleeping Beasts Lie

No, I haven't begun posting on big game hunting. Neil just has a flair for photographing animals while they're sleeping. He found these two at the Singapore Zoo.

The saying goes that you should let sleeping dogs lie. I would extend that advice to include camels and rhinos. Even when awake and alert they are grumpy beasts, prone to spitting and ramming.

Just imagine their dispositions if woken up by you as you sauntered past - be prepared to be covered in camel mucus and gored on a rhino horn.

Oct 13, 2006

UK Abomination

Mick sent this photo in, straight from his yard to his camera to you. I take some comfort in knowing that abominable garden spiders (click on the photo for a closer look) don't only reside on my property. No, these creepies are also found in the UK. How does one say 'heebie-jeebies' in British?

Oct 12, 2006

No Accounting for Taste

Spluch posted on this photo and dug up some interesting factoids about the proboscis monkey. For instance: both sexes have prominent noses, with the male's being larger. Females seek out males with larger schnozes, and the sentiment is returned. Small nosed she-monkeys need not climb this boy's tree.

What evolutionary advantage does the large nose offer these primates? I have no idea. Then again, what does a desire to eat dirt offer my toddler? Who knows. There is just no accounting for taste.

Thanks for the photo, Spluch.

Oct 11, 2006

Macro of the Mundane

Few creatures are as mundane, and annoying, as the fly. But when a masterful photographer like Brian takes a macro of one, it makes one stop and consider this insect in a whole new light.

Don't get me wrong, I still dismiss them as mundane and annoying (and usually at the receiving end of a fly swatter), but those eyes are amazing. I wonder what the world looks like to them ...

... actually I don't. Their world consists of feces and rotting things. I'll pass.

Oct 10, 2006


I don't know if alligator snapping turtles ever suffer from existential angst, but this one has good cause to. One can only wonder what is going through his pea-sized brain as he considers his own reflection.

Does he know that he is unusually skeletal looking? Maybe that's just something he has planned for Halloween this year.

Thanks for the photo, Emily.

Oct 9, 2006

System Failure

Ah! AHHH! Where do I start? The mohawk, the tongue, the bat ears, the heart collar, the hairlessness, the overall gremlin appearance ...

... unable to compute ... data overload ... system failure ...

... reboot ...

If I owned this dog I would display it with pride. Well done, owner.

Photo courtesy: www.ueba.com

Oct 8, 2006

So Sad

This gal, named Dumplin, looks so sad. Really, I feel depressed just looking at her. I want to go tell her that everything's going to be okay. Maybe she needs some comfort food. Let's see, I know they like plant bulbs, tree bark, flowers, and birds. I'll stick with bananas.

Thanks for the photo, Kim.

Oct 7, 2006

Something Is Amiss

Something is amiss. A worm with eyes and scales? What you are looking at is the Plains Blind Snake. They say everything is big in Texas. Well, not these guys.

Those eyes are pretty well non-functioning, since they creep through the dirt to dine upon ants and termites. I might recruit a few of these little reptiles to live beneath my house. I can promise them a life time supply of ants and I offer a great retirement package.

Thanks for the photo, Jack.

Oct 6, 2006

Big Surprise

Did you know that baby baboons are called cubs? Why not simply call them ugly? This little one was abandoned by its mother. Big surprise - ugly is as ugly does. This cub is being force-fed by zoo keepers. Haven't they considered that maybe it has lost the will to live, possibly after a cursory glance in a mirror?

Photo courtesy: Yahoo!

Oct 5, 2006


Shudder ... shudder ... shudder ...

Below is the brown widow spider, a native to Florida. They are similar to the black widow, though their venom is twice as strong. Thankfully, they inject less venom when they bite, which isn't often. One sure-fire way to differentiate this lady from her cousins is to locate her egg sac. Hers will be tufted or spikey. This particular girl has three egg sacs to tend to. That must mean that she has been sleeping around. Tramp spider.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo!

Oct 4, 2006

So Common Place

Little mosquito. So common place. So ugly. So smashable.

Behold the mundane, but up-close glory of culex nigripalpus. This particular pest is the bane of birds, horses, and humans alike, as it is the primary carrier of many a virus to these species. I would recommend unleashing hordes of mosquito hawks (crane flies) across the Southern U.S. to help erradicate them, but crane flies freak me out, so I'll keep my advice to myself.

Thanks for the photo, Sean.

Oct 3, 2006

Vultures and Lovers

Here is the lappet-faced, or nubian vulture. Now here's an association you wouldn't expect: in Southern Africa, the name for these carrion eaters is synonomous with the word for lovers, since these birds are always seen in pairs.

Last night, in an effort to woo my wife, I called her my 'little lappet-faced vulture.' As I tried to fall asleep on the couch I wondered where I went wrong.

Photo courtesy: www.gamereserve.com

Oct 2, 2006

Gloating Fly

Take a close look at this robber fly's mandibles and see why it is called the robber fly. The pose on this one reminds me of a victorious gargantuan, ala Godzilla or King Kong, standing atop a sky scraper with an airplane in its mouth. I didn't know insects could gloat.

Thanks for the photo, Photo_Freak.

Oct 1, 2006

Sense of Justice

Admit it, this looks like an ROUS (Rodent Of Unusual Size) from The Princess Bride. Admit it!

But, alas, it is not. It's a baby panda. An ugly baby panda. Serves them right, since they turn into such adorable adults. Nature does sometimes have a sense of justice, or at least balance.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo!