Mar 31, 2007

Never Mind

This elephant seal's many double chins make it look as though it is smiling ear to ear! Oh wait, I don't see any ears. I...uh. Hmm, there's a trunk. Um.

I'm very confused right about now. All I know is that bull elephant seals can get to be three times larger than cows. No, I mean, than elephant seal cows.

Ugh. Never mind.

Photo source:

Mar 30, 2007

You Are What You Eat

Jen went on a quest at the Memphis Zoo: to capture an image of an animal worthy of Ugly Overload. And she succeeded.

Behold her Abyssinian Ground Hornbill. These birds are native to Subsaharan Africa, and dine on lizards, snakes, spiders, amphibians, and insects. Well, birdy, what do you expect to look like with a diet like that. Come on!

Thanks for the photo, Jen. May your future quests be as fruitful.

Wanna see some cooky eyeball action and a Abyssinian Ground Hornbill sneeze? Then check it out...

Mar 29, 2007

Turtle Wisdom

Now this is a snapping turtle in all her glory (even if in captivity). I've heard stories about people getting digits chomped off by these reptiles, and now I believe.

Snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtles. Their shells aren't big enough to retreat into for protection, so she relies on her long neck and strong jaws to protect herself. But, usually, she'll choose discretion and just slink away silently if she's approached. There is wisdom in this - wisdom that I want to instill in my daughters. I'll have to find a suitable shell for them, though.

Photo source: Tim Curtis

Mar 28, 2007

Useful Pest

Wowsies. banno8, Julia, Aaron, Andrea, and Sarah all emailed me this news story. Thanks, all, for keeping us informed!

It seems that a monster cane toad, "w
ith a body the size of a football and weighing nearly 2 pounds," was just discovered in Darwin, Australia. It is among the largest specimens every captured.

Cane toads were imported from South America during the 1930s in a failed attempt to control beetles on Australia's northern sugar cane plantations. The poisonous toads have proven fatal to Australia's delicate ecosystems, killing millions of native animals from snakes to the small crocodiles that eat them.
But there is a silver lining to this amphibious and pesty cloud. The "Toad Buster" project, in which the Frogwatch conducts regular raids on local water holes, blinds the toads with bright lights then scoops them up by the dozen. "We kill them with carbon dioxide gas, stockpile them in a big freezer and then put them through a liquid fertilizer process" that renders the toads nontoxic. "It turns out to be sensational fertilizer."

I guess even pests can be useful.

Photo source: Yahoo!

Mar 27, 2007

It's Time for...

... more idolomantis diabolica.

If you want to keep one as a pet, check out this link. Here's the real kicker, though: they only eat flying insects. You can't feed them the usual mealworms or crickets. So unless you are willing to catch flies and skeeters yourself, don't bother. You'll soon have a dead idolomantis on your hands.

Photos from: Igor Siwanowicz

Mar 26, 2007

Respect & Tenacity

Here is an interesting commment on amphisbaenians that has made me respect them a bit more (not that I didn't before, mind you...):

Amphisbaenians are small but fierce predators capable of biting off pieces from any small animal that crosses their path, and then swallowing them with the help of their short and muscular tongues. They occasionally eat carrion, as well. Many don't hesitate to bite when handled and, although indeed their teeth are very sharp and their jaw muscles are enormously strong for their size, none except the largest species can inflict any serious pain on a human hand. All the same, even rather small species can draw some blood, delivering quite a pinch by fastening to a finger with bulldog-like tenacity, and then twisting their bodies around, seemingly with every intention of ripping off as big a chunk of flesh as possible.
I'll never mock another worm snake as long as I live.

Photos courtesy:

Mar 25, 2007

Addition to the Pantheon

Robin requested that I revisit the camel spider (sun spider, solpugid), since her cat once dragged one into her Tucson, AZ, house. It was still alive and a little larger than a mouse.

I'm never visiting the Southwest US again.

The picture below is of an Egyptian variety, known as the Egyptian Giant Solpugid. What amazes me is that, to the best of my knowledge, a solpugid-headed god never made it into the ancient Egyptian pantheon. I don't see why not, given their appearance and the fact that they can outrun some people (10 mph!). I can see some god called Solpugek among the ranks of Amen, Anubis, Set, and Sobek. Man, I would have made the best vizier!

Photo source: National Geographic

Mar 24, 2007

My Esteem

I think nearly every photo I've posted on the Aye Aye is of the same creature, just in different poses. I may have to travel to Madagascar myself to get some new images. But based upon what I've seen on this blog, I'm afraid to go there.

I'm willing to pay someone to go there for me. But I don't pay in 'money', only 'esteem'. And that's priceless.

Thanks for the photo, Kelly

Mar 23, 2007

Weta Write a Post

Sarah asked that I do a post on the weta. I've done one before, but this beast requires more attention. Sarah made this post easy. Her email was so discriptive, I'm just going to cut and paste...

The weta is ... "a wonderfully unattractive relative of crickets and grasshoppers from New Zealand in the South Pacific. Its full name in the native language, Maori, is Wetapunga, which means 'the god of ugly things.' Its Latin name means 'demon grasshopper.' The New Zealand visual effects and creature construction company which created monsters for the Hercules and Xena TV series, not to mention the Lord of the Rings movies and King Kong, is named Weta in its honour. The largest species can grow to the size of a mouse, an unsettling trait in any insect. Some species have tusks."

I just might make Wetapunga the mascot for this sight. I wouldn't want to offend the god of ugly things. Not little old me.

Thanks for the write up, Sarah!

Photo source: Brenda Anderson

Mar 22, 2007


We've had a streak of cephalopods here, haven't we? That just speaks very well of our head-foot friends.

Abigail sent me this article from Pharyngula. It speaks of the tremoctopus. The tremoctopus, also known as the blanket octopus, has an amazing defense mechanism. If attacked, the octopus spreads its webbing behind it. This webbing breaks apart rather easily, which then gets entangled with the would-be predator. The webbing grows back much like some lizards' tails.

I could use some webbing like that myself. Then I could be a blanket wombat. All muggers, pickpockets, and bullies would end up with a faceful of my webbing instead.

Thanks for the link, Abigail. I would never have known of this beastie if it weren't for you!

Photo source:

Or watch this video to see the defense mechanism in action.

Mar 21, 2007

Viva Las Llamas!

Ivy sent me this lovely beast. My only notable encounter with a llama was on a backpacking expedition (well, a seven day trip at least). I was heading down some switchbacks in the Trinity Alps (N. Cal.) when I turned a bend in the trail and saw one of these standing in front of me. He was alone, though he still carried gear strapped to his back.

I assumed he was lost so I tried to grab his lead line to take him to his owners. He no likey. I almost got trampled. They have spookey eyes, especially when you know they don't like you.

Thanks for the photo, Ivy

Mar 20, 2007

Proud Cat Owners

I normally make it a point not to post on deformed animals. However, the two kitties below are beloved pets, and it was their owners who shared the photos with me, so enjoy.

First, meet Sticky, owned by Pol. This feline with born with a hare lip. Above is him as an adult, with his tongue proudly highlighting his uniqueness. Below is him as a kitten. The close-up of his nose gives you some insight as to what a hairlip is.

And last we have Sebastian. Ricardo found him already blind in both eyes - he was apparently born that way. When Ricardo first laid eyes on him, Sebastien was trying to scavenge food from his trash bin. Ricardo took him to the vet, who determined that the right eye was permanently blind, while the left eye could regain some vision.

You'll be happy to know that after two surgeries and five months, Sebastian can now see out of his left eye, even if only in blurs and shadows.

I've got to hand it to you, Pol and Ricardo. Your cats won't win any beauty competitions, and you're just fine with that. I respect you for being such good, and proud, pet owners. The world needs more people like you.

Mar 19, 2007

Vamp Squid

Are you prepared for one of the coolest creatures ever? You know of my love for the name idolomantis diabolica. Well, Heather supplied me with a wealth of information on yet another perfectly named creature: vampyroteuthis infernalis, which literally means 'vampire squid from hell.' How about them beans?

The vampire squid is a small, deep-sea cephalopod with a variety of adaptations that have allowed it to survive in pitch blackness and in low oxygen zones. To pick just a few: instead of spraying ink, it sprays globs of glowing goo (sounds like a band name...), instead of changing colors, it can light up its entire body, in place of strength, it moves with amazing speed. Ah, so much to share about this monster. Read up on them! You'll be treated with such vocabulary as hemocyanin, photophores, stratocysts, and bioluminescence.

Also, watch this video of one in action.

Thanks for the new monster, Heather. You're performing a great service for 'head-foot' mollusks the world over!

Photo source: Brad Seibel, via

Mar 18, 2007

Gratuitous Ugly

Here is a bonus post of simply gratuitous ugly, via Nothing terribly enlightening here.

None of these photos are fair. Take any critter, soak it in water and they aren't going to look too nice. Take this penguin, for instance. Normally cute, but this one's got his bedraggle on.

Same goes for this kitten. If you want to see even more soaked kitties, check out this link. There are quite a few good ones.

And last but not least, we have something abominable under a microscope. I'll admit that I, too, would look awful under a microscope, but I hope not this bad. But...only one way to find out...

Mar 17, 2007

Colossal VS. Giant

I've done a few posts on squids. Occasionally, I am afraid to say, I have misidentified a colossal squid as a giant squid. I apologize to all cephalopods and their friends. I shall refrain from eating calamari for a month as penance.

Heather was the one to bring this matter up. She forwarded to me a couple of links to help us all know the difference:

Below is a picture of a colossal squid being caught (I got it right this time) and brought on board. Not the most pleasant of images (Ugly Overload), but we really don't have many photos of these leviathans in the wild. They are rather elusive.

Photo source: Zapato Productions

Mar 16, 2007

Serenity NOW!

Jeff sent me this photo of a spider he found in Kumano Hongu. Kumano Hongu is the sight of several shrines in Japan, but I can't imagine finding any tranquility there with these creepy crawlies cruising around.

However, some entertainment is to be had with these spiders, even if serenity is sacrificed. The local kids like to catch them and make them fight. Are children the same everywhere? I've tried the same thing, but, alas, pill bugs don't fight.

BTW, is there an arachnophile (ahem...) who can identify this? And no, it isn't called a Japanese Fighting Spider.

Thanks for the photo, Jeff. May all of your travels bring you such lovely encounters.

Mar 15, 2007

Have the ID, Now Need the Info

Geoffrey sent me this link. But for the life of me, I can't find out any info about this critter. Are there any biologists or uglophiles out there that can enlighten me as to what the phyllodoce lineata is? If you can hook me up with the 411, then that will be your good deed for the day.

Also, don't forget Dagon the Fish God. He'll open the watery depths and send a shoal of bluefin tuna your way. That is wealth, baby!

Photo source:

Mar 14, 2007

Thanks, Mother Nature

Check out the Amazonian Horned Frog (ceratophrys cornuta). These hunters are nocturnal, coming out only at night so it can bury itself in the leaves and wait to strike out at any tasty, unfortunate morsels that may come across its path.

I find it to be a particular kindness that mother nature has shown us humans in making frogs like this nice and diminutive. Can you imagine if they were elephant-sized and willing to feast on people? Yes, count your blessings, my friends.

Thanks for the link, Rasmus. Our amphibication is becoming ever more complete.

Photo courtesy:

Mar 13, 2007

Ambitious Appetite

Tyrel sent me the video below of the African Egg Eating Snake. I dug around a bit and found this photo to give you a nice still to look at.

These snakes require ambition to feed their prodigious appetites. They feed exclusively on eggs, and often times the ovoids are several times larger than their heads. Once swallowed, spiny protrusions in the throat slice the egg shell, allowing the innards to be eaten and leaving the shell to be regurgitated in one piece.

Impressive. I find myself jealous of this snake's eating habits. I love the idea of eating one huge meal (dramatically, even) and then going without another meal for a couple weeks. Now that is efficiency! And eggs are so cheap these days...

Photo source: Paula

Now on to the video. Click only if you want to watch a snake swallow a massive egg. Who wouldn't?

Thanks for the snake, Tyrel.

Mar 12, 2007

Rest and Play

Some of you may remember my post on kohona cats. These are a very rare breed, native (in a sense, at least) to Hawaii. Well, Tiffany saw this post, an wanted to send along a photo of her kitty. You've gotta love pet owner pride.

This sequence shows him at rest and at play. Tiffany, does he ever open his eyes? And what is he doing in the second photo? Is he really flipping us all off? Bad cat!

Thanks for the photos, Tiffany.

Mar 11, 2007

Oversized Snail

Phlimm sent in this screenshot of a giant snail he came across on YouTube (see video below).

This mollusk can get to almost 8 inches in size. I know for a lot of you boys out there, your first thought was "how much salt?... how much bubbling?..." You're sick, I say. Sick. But I understand.

My first thought centered around placing it on my sisters' pillows. But that was years ago. I'll have to let out my bullying impulses on my daughters.

Thanks for the abomination, Phlimm.

Mar 10, 2007

Better Than Being Vomited On

It's been far too long since my last vulture post. These are among my favorite birds, so I am ashamed of myself (cue cyber tears...).

Ivy sent in this photo of a turkey vulture. Unlike so many of its cousins, this bird is thankfully far from endangered. In fact, I see these all the time in Northern California.

But I've never seen one look at me like this.

Then again, a glare to warn me off is better than being vomited on (as they are wont to do). That would make my life in California far less pleasant. There's nothing like the threat of being vomited on to put a damper on your day.

Thanks for the photo, Ivy.

Mar 9, 2007

The Antartic Gives Up Her Uglies

Andrea forwarded to me links to several articles (1, 2, & 3) about recent exploration in Antarctic waters that have yielded about 30 new species of marine life. This study, which was led by researcher Julian Gutt, has discovered animals such as: "deep sea lilies, gelatinous sea squirts, glass sponges, amphipod crustaceans, and orange starfish." That's an impressive list!

But, of course, for our purposes here I am presenting you with some of the uglier critters.

This first one is an Antarctic octopus. It looks like an over-done photoshop project, like someone super-imposed a Hubble telescope image over a drawing. The makers of The Abyss would be so proud.

Photo source: E. Jorgensen, NOAA

This one is a new species of
Shackletonia, an amphipod crustacean sampled near Elephant Island. That pink eye that's staring back at the camera is more than a little disconcerting. But I love that name, 'Shackletonia'. It rolls off the tongue.

Photo source: E. Jorgensen, NOAA

This last one is my favorite. It's a high-finned ice fish. But it looks like a dragon got grafted to a fish. Are there such things as merdragons?

Photo source: Reuters

A Quick Big Fish Bonus

Check out this post for some amazing photos of big fish caught by bewildered fishermen. You might rethink your hobbies.

Mar 8, 2007

A Bit of Sad News

For my frequent readers, you've no doubt come to enjoy the various photos that Jade Walker has sent along - think roaches, centipedes, and tarantulas. He emailed me to let me know that his female Goliath Birdeating Spider, featured in my post from a couple of weeks ago, just died yesterday. The cause of death is unknown, but it was certainly premature.

This particular arachnid, named Gion, was very special to Jade. So if you have enjoyed his photos, please feel free to leave some comments for him. He needs some cheering up!

To see Gion in action, check out this video.

Mar 7, 2007

Holy Mola

Jared sent me this blog post, by Antonio Martínez Ron. I've heard of the ocean sunfish before, but Antonio's post does it some real justice. I suggest you read his write-up, but here are some highlights:

Photo from: Jens Kuhfs

The ocean sunfish (mola mola) is the largest bony fish in the world. It is a unique pelagic fish, and specimens of ocean sunfish have been observed up to 3.3 m (11 ft) in length and weighing up to 2,300 kg (5,100 lb).
Curiously, the Ocean Sunfish has a very small brain compared to its size: A 200 kg specimen may have a brain the size of a nut weighing only 4 g. It would explain their quiet behaviour and how often they get trapped into fisher nets.

...Giant sunfishes are an important menace for little ships. A collision at high speed can cause both injury to sailors and damage to yachts.

Photo from: via Hiroto Kitagawa

Finally, the flesh of the ocean sunfish contains neurotoxins similar to those of other poisonous tetraodontiformes, but it is considered a delicacy by some people.
Photo from:

Mar 6, 2007

The Roaches That Bind Us

You want to see true love? You're looking at it. This is a photo of Jade's fiancee with one of his roaches climbing on her face - and dangerously close to her mouth.
Marriage always results in both spouses taking on some of the hobbies and interests of their mate. Evidently, Jade and Rachel's relationship is off to a head start (unless, of course, Rachel was already an invertophile before meeing Jade...). I wish you two the best of with your soon-to-be marriage. I just hope your wedding isn't officiated over by someone dressed in a tarantula costume. But hey, to each his own.
For a video of some of his roaches in action, check out this video.
Thanks for the roaches, Jade and Rachel.

Mar 5, 2007


Ugly can be endearing, even elegant, as this cat proves. Though you won't find her on your cute animal sites, she is welcome here. Aja was born blind in her left eye, but she has been dutifully cared for by Paul. Paul, you make pet owners proud, especially when you capture and share a shot like this!

Photo courtesy: Paul Lewis

Mar 4, 2007

Humbling Art

This is a bit of a deviation from my normal post. What you see below isn't ugly or animal. This art was formed using maggots dipped in paint and then let loose on a canvas. I'll let you stew on that for a while.

I'll admit that I am very disheartened that maggots are more accomplished artists than myself. This blog can be very humbling.

For a video of how it's done, click this.

Thanks for the link, Joe.

UPDATE: Denita TwoDragons has found out that this process does no harm to the maggot, aside from a bit of humiliation.

Photos from

Mar 3, 2007


Amphisbaenians have become one of my favorite guests on Ugly Overload. This two-legged variety is known as the baja worm lizard (bipes biporus) They are known as ajolote in their native Baja California, Mexico.

There is a legend among some of the locals that if a person sits on the ground, one of these may burrow up from the ground and enter his/her digestive tract via the...well, you get the idea. That puts kind of a dark spin on the family picnic. Stay on the benches kids. You wouldn't want an ajolote climbing up your culo.

Photo courtesy: Blue Chameleon Ventures

Mar 2, 2007

Urticating Hairs and Pedipalps

Behold another of Jade's babies. This one is a skeleton tarantula (Ephebopus murinus). They're a bit on the agressive side, but are very pretty. Unlike other new-world tarantulas, who have urticating (itchy) hairs on their abdomen, tarantulas of this genus have urticating hairs on their pedipalps. I don't know about you, but I'm sure glad I don't have urticating hairs or pedipalps. That would have made courting my wife a lot more difficult than it already was.

Thanks for the photo, Jade.

Mar 1, 2007

Idolomantis Diabolica

Idolomantis Diabolica. Isn't that one of the coolest names ever? I like it so much I might name my next child that. I'll just have to have my wife buy into the whole latin thing. No one tell her what it means, though. That would kill the deal.

I can't find much out about this mantid except that people like it a lot. I wonder how often they assume this menacing pose. If they do it a lot, then I'm going to have to get my hands on one. Are there any entomologists out there that can give us some more info?

Thanks for the link, Anthony.

Photo by: Blepharopsis