Aug 31, 2007

Enough to go on

Is this photo enough to go on to identify this creature? I'm assuming its a mollusk of some sort - snail? All I know is that its eyestalks have antennae. That's a handy upgrade.

UPDATE: Booge has discovered that this is a conch. Well done, booge.

Photo source:

Aug 30, 2007

Vultur Gryphus

Here's one of my favorite vultures: the Andean Condor (vultur gryphus). These New World carrion-eaters nearly became extinct due to aggressive hunting. But they are making a dramatic comeback due to equally aggressive conservation and captive-breeding efforts.

They can have a wingspan of ten feet and live for fifty years. This particular bird looks to be a male, given the waddle and fine-looking flesh crest above his beak. The folds and ridges on his head make me wonder if there is any Klingon in his ancestry. I wouldn't put breeding with a carrion-eater past a Klingon.

Photo source: Frank Wouters

Aug 29, 2007

Camelid Transport

What do you do when you have a pair of camels to move and all you've got is a small truck? I'm not sure, but at least check the suspension on your Peugeot.

Photo source: Knuttz

Or, what if you have a well-groomed alpaca to take down the road, and all you have is a economy sedan? Do the right thing and roll down the windows.

I guess different parts of the world have different standards when it comes to moving livestock.

Aug 28, 2007

Fruit and Feet

Here's a pair of elderly chimpanzees eating their fruit with abandon. What a nice, healthy diet. High in fiber, beta-carotene, your vitamins and minerals.

But, I have to admit, if I could use my feet to assist in my eating, like this apple-toting chimp can do, then I would be even pudgier than I am. I would have twinkie filler and burger grease between my toes, along with a pizza cheese trail following me wherever I went.

Photo source: Knuttz

Aug 27, 2007

Coffee Fiends

It's a little known fact that banana slugs are coffee fiends. Rick encountered them trying to sneak drinks from his thermos three days in a row. Here is culprit # 3, who was satisfied with licking the dried coffee on the lip of the lid.

I can only assume that once Starbucks catches wind of this they'll begin an intensive study of the banana slug to see exactly what causes such cravings, and then have that chemical added to our drinking water. If in a few months you find yourself upping your coffee consumption and secreting a protective slime coat, then you'll know I'm right.

Thanks, Rick. Not everyone has the presence of mind to take a picture of the slugs drinking their coffee.

Aug 26, 2007

Running the Gauntlet

I have a particularly strong phobia when it comes to garden spiders, or any of your orb weavers. So when Heather sent me this photo of one she found in her doorway the other morning, I had to pass it along to you.

Right now these spiders are running rampant all over my property. Not only do they show up in my car, but I have to walk down the walk way from my house with my hands in front of me to ensure that I don't get a mouthful of unseen web (I leave for work before the sun comes up). Yes, every morning is a 'running-the-gauntlet' moment for me. It wakes me up.

Thanks for the photo, Heather.

Aug 25, 2007

On a Chain

Hmm. Well. So, I've got this hyena on a leash. Yep. Now I guess I'll just...well. My options are limited, cuz I've got a hyena leash in my hand. I'll just go ahead and, er--

What's that saying about catching a tiger by its tail?

Photo source: Knuttz

Aug 24, 2007

For Dinner

Check out dermatonotus muelleri, better known as Mueller's Termite Frog. I'm having a hard time finding anything out about this amphibian aside from the fact that it probably eats termites. That's a good thing (unless you're a termite). But that bottom photo looks disturbingly like a trio of frogs set in 9x13 pan. I hope there's no casserole planned for dinner.

Thanks for the links, Rasmus.

Photo from:

Photo from: Theta

Aug 23, 2007

Doomed Hornworm

Janice, of Rosalita-demon-dog fame, has encountered yet another unholy beast. She found this tomato hornworm (lepidoptera sphingidae) on her tomatoes in New Jersey, US. I've encountered these critters before, and they are huge - up to 4"! And the moth they become is truly monstrous - my cat won't even touch them. The caterpillars wreak havoc on tomato plants.

But some of you more astute pest experts or entomologists may see this photo and cry, "Nay! That cannot be a tomato hornworm, despite that horn on its head. Look at those white rice-looking things on its side!" Aha, but we have you. Janice has more to relate: those white protuberances are pupae.

What? Pupae? But the caterpillar hasn't...what? See, those are the pupae of a small parasitic braconid wasp (cotesia congregatus). The eggs have already hatched, the larvae have eaten away at the insides of the hornworm, and then formed these pupae. When the new wasplings emerge the caterpillar will be killed, and the new wasps will seek out still other hornworms in which to lay their eggs. See? Even wasps can be a useful means of pest control.

Isn't that a cheery tale?

Thanks for the photo and the info, Janice.

Aug 22, 2007

Googly eyes

Some of you are going to love having another squid to add to the Ugly Repository. Behold the glass squid, also known as the cranch squid. There are 60 speices of glass squid, and I have no idea which one this is, or even whether or not it is an adult. Those eyes should give a clue, though. It was found in an undersea mountain range in the North Atlantic. But I think I may have encountered one of these on Super Mario Brothers.

Thanks for the photo,
Miss Cellania.

Photo source: Neatorama

Aug 21, 2007

French Bug

Imagine: you are lounging in a hammock, enjoying the sweet environs of Southern France. All is well--until you glance at the support line for your hammock and see this beetle watching you.

All right, I know that's not very dramatic. But still, Lee Ann, who endured this very event, would like to know what kind of bug this is. Please note the whacky antennae (click on the image for a bigger size). Anyone care to ID this French insect? Anyone care to rule ou the possibility that she was being monitored by the latest Interpol camera bot?

Thanks for the photo, Lee Ann.

Aug 20, 2007

Adoptive Mollusk

I know a lot of you have or have had some unusual pets. But do any of you have an adoptive pet slug like Angela? Not many, I'd bet. This guy keeps coming around looking for cat food. Very charming. If you truly cherish your new friend, Angela, I recommend feeding the cats a low-salt diet.
Thanks for the photo, Angela.

Aug 19, 2007


My readers never cease to impress me. I always thought myself something of an animal afficionado before I began this blog, but I have since been humbled. You are the experts.

Marty sent me this new creature. It's a vinegaroon (I'm not sure exactly what species--I'm guessing the Texas variety), which is a type of whipscorpion. They are a popular pet since they can't sting. In place of a stinger they have the ability to spray acetic acid, which is 85% vinegar, hence their clever name. Don't mess with these unless you want to smell like salad dressing for a while.

As Marty put it, they are ugly--but wouldn't you rather find one of these in your boots than a true scorpion?

Thanks for the link, Marty.

Photo source: Georgia Reptile Rescue

Aug 18, 2007

Chihuahua Connection

Meet Rosalita, known as Rosalita-demon to her owner, Janice. Her proud owner relates that her dog's cute moments are few and far between, and that, in fact, she is a 'raging ball of evil incarnate'. Now that is a glowing endorsement.

I did some research on the history of the Chihuaha. I recommend you do the same--it's pretty interesting. It looks like the consensus is that this small breed is most likely descended from an Egyptian/Sudanese fox-like canine called the fennec, and not a hairless New World canine. Some of you may know that Chihuahua's, especially those that are hair-challenged, tend to lose their teeth early in life. This has been ascribed to the 'toy dog' effect of over breeding. But the fennec is known for having poor dentition. So, in the Chihuahua's case, the tooth loss may be a defect that predates its domestication.

Wow, I never thought that a conversation about dog teeth could be so thrilling. Come back for more, people!

UPDATE: Bats, in her wisdom and expertise, has pointed out that dogs are descended from wolves. However, I suggest you click the link above. It does give some pretty convincing arguments for the ancestry of the Chihuahua. In the end it is only a theory and one on which I am not qualified to pass judgment. An interesting sidenote is this: according to this article, wolves (and therefore dogs) can successfully breed and produce fertile offspring with coyotes, dingoes, and golden jackals.

Thanks for the photo, Janice.

Aug 17, 2007

Spidery Admonition

The ornate golden baboon spider has been in the news lately. It seems that a bloke in Suffolk County, NY, got tired of having this spider as a pet and did the right thing and turned it in to the local chapter of the SPCA.

Now, folks, let this be an admonition to all would-be pet owners. If you think that maybe, just maybe, having a hyper-aggressive, poisonous, 5" spider might not be the best pet for you, then don't buy one. Err on the side of safety if you must. The same goes for fuzzy kittens and fad-sized puppies. But I know I'm preaching to the choir here.

UPDATE: according to one of our resident spider experts, the spider below is a togo starburst baboon, not an ornate golden baboon. Shame on you, Associated Press, if you fed me a bad photo!

Photo source: Miami University Tropical Ecosystems

Aug 16, 2007

You Can't Expect Much

Behold the South American lungfish (lepidosiren paradoxa). These eel-like fish can get to be about 4' long and inhabit the swamplands of the Amazon basin. They sure know how to survive, doing everything from breathing air, to digging holes in the mud during the dry season, and eating snails and algae and what not.

This is one of those cases where ugly and functional go hand in hand (or fin in fin). You can't expect much in terms of looks from a creature that has to eek out an existence in an equatorial swamp that dries out each year.

Thanks for the link, Teresa.

Photo source:

Aug 15, 2007


Peer came across this creep-crawly in his doorway. Its called a weberknecht in German, a harvestman or 'daddy-long-legs' in English, or 'shoe fodder' to those of us who deal with rampant infestations of them.

Contrary to their appearance, these arachnids are not spiders. In fact, it is thought that their closest cousin is the mite. That makes them even less attractive. There are over 6,400 species of harvestmen on the planet. Why, oh why, are there so many? Why? Can they actually be such a successful creature that nature has decided to propogate their kind contrary to the eyesores they make under the eaves of my roof?

Thanks for the photo, Peer. It comforts me to know that though you and I live an ocean apart, we still have to contend with the same creepies.

Aug 14, 2007

Spice of Life

Who would have thought that the frogfish comes in so many colors? If variety is the spice of life, then ugly has just got a bit more kick to it.

Speaking of kick, these little ambush hunters scuttle about by walking on their fins. I guess that's not much different from me using my legs to swim. Another interesting bit of information is that their lures (frogfish dangle lures in front of their mouths as bait--think 'anglerfish') often take on the appearance of worms, shrimp, or even small fish.

Wouldn't that be devious trap? You think you're walking into a restaurant that looks vaguely like a McDonald's, and the instant you walk in, wham, the doors shut and you get eaten.

Thanks for the photos, Booge. I hope seeing the photos here expunges some of the vitriol you feel towards these little guys.

Aug 13, 2007

Name Calling

This baby ring-tailed lemur has been nick-named Gollum. Please, people, let's give this little one the benefit of the doubt. I really don't see how a baby primate from Madagascar could get its hands on any Ring of Power, much less the One Ring. Let's not resort to speculative name calling.

Thanks for the link, Rachel.

Photo source: Didgey

Aug 12, 2007

Facing My Fears

I think somewhere deep inside, real deep, I fear that I will look like a proboscis monkey when I grow old: hairy, gangly, round-bellied, thick-browed, and with an obtrusive nose. I post this picture with the intent of facing my fears. It's not very cathartic.

Thanks for the link, anonymous commenter.

Photo source: Tata & Emma

Aug 11, 2007

Broomstick Chomper

I love scuba diving. It's one of my favorite hobbies. But I'll tell you what--coming across this face while perusing a sea wall might be enough to keep me out of the water for a long time.

Though the wolf eel is more or less harmless unless provoked, they can chomp a broomstick in half. Combine that with my natural propensity for provoking, and I don't think the wolf eel and I would get along. Thankfully, I don't bring my broomstick with me when I dive, so that's a none issue.

Photo source: Carmyarmyofme

Aug 10, 2007

Bait & Blog

Zeda helped identify one of the bugs in an earlier post as a stonefly. Here is a closer look at what this beast looks like. These particular specimens were photographed in Montana, US.

These insects are of interest to fishermen when in their larval stage. They make for great bait, while the adults make for decent blog material. The main difference is that I don't intend to cook and eat my readers, unlike the fishermen. Not that fishermen intend to eat you--they want to eat fish. I don't mean to disparage fishermen. I also don't mean to imply that I intend to eat fishermen, or that fishermen are interested in stoneflies when fishermen are in a larval stage, because fishermen don't have larvae, and I'm not saying that adult fishermen make for great blog material. They can, but...ugh. I'm not so good with pronouns.

Photo source: Lynette Schimming via


Aug 9, 2007

Gesticulating and Clicking

Bats sent in this video. It's of a jumping spider mating ritual. My favorite part is how indifferent the female appears to be in the face of the male's gesticulating and clicking. I know how the male feels.

Thanks for the video, Bats.

Aug 8, 2007

Ol' Grim

I don't run into many uglies in Northern California. But I'm proud to say I see these birdies nearly every day. You're staring into the deathly gaze of the Turkey Vulture.

Here are a few quick factoids I learned about one of my favorite birds: 1) They have no vocal organs--they can only hiss or grunt, 2) They have an amazing sense of smell--they can detect ethyl mercaptan gassing off of decaying animals, and 3) They don't feed exclusively on dead animals--they can also eat decaying plant matter, such as pumpkins and seaweed.

There now, isn't your life all the richer for having attended today's episode of Turkey Vulture Talk?

Thanks for the photo, K. You brought ol' Grim to life.

Aug 7, 2007

Rare Cuban

This one comes from our friends over at Zooillogix (I recommend checking out their site, people!). You're looking at a creature thought to be extinct. The Cuban Solenodon is a rare Cuban indeed. Only 36 have ever been captured in over 140 years. Let's see ... that works out to about, hmm ... an average of ... not many at all.

Though very rare, this mammal (which resembles a shrew, but is more closely related to the Tenrecidae of Madagascar) keeps out of sight by being a nocturnal burrower. It's usually for the best when rare animals maintain a low profilet: they're less likely to be wiped out.

Thanks for the photo, Andrew. I'm going to cancel my vacation to Havannah now. The US State Department will be so disappointed.

Aug 6, 2007

Babies on the Brain

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. My wife just gave birth to our son, so I've been away from the ol' computer. But have no fear, I'll get all caught up on my daily entries.

Since I have babies on the brain, I thought I'd share a photo from this Reuters article. You're looking at a set of panda twins, fresh from a research center in southwest China. You may not know this, but panda breeding is very difficult. Females only ovulate once a year, within about a 24 - 48 hour window. Combine that with encroachment into their territory, and you have a recipe for extinction.

Thanks for the link, Jared.

Aug 5, 2007

Disparate Uglies

Here are two completely unrelated photos from Yahoo! Photos. The first one is of a king vulture, a previous guest to UgO. Just imagine that beak buried in a carcass. Lovely.

But the second one is a bit of a cheap shot. It's the rear end of an elephant. Rear ends are rarely good looking in the animal kingdom. But this one deserves particular mention.

Thanks for the photos, Banno.

Aug 4, 2007

Unkown Bug Revisited

A bunch of you were pitching in to help identify Matt's bug. Here's a top-down view of that same insect. I'll bet that bug never thought to get so much attention...
Does this help?

Thanks for the photo, Matt.

Aug 3, 2007

What Wonder...

There aren't many, if any, cicadas where I live. I, therefore, can only imagine what it must be like to watch one of the hulking larvae dig its way out of the earth and take root on a wall, fence, or tree trunk. Then, as if by magic, it begins to crack open, and slowly, oh so slowly, an ethereal, translucent creature emerges from it. What wonder.

Then that winged creature begins to harden, get all crunchy, and in no time is chirping up such a racket that you find yourself reaching for the flyswatter. What disillusionment.

Thanks for the photos, Elizabeth.

Aug 2, 2007


For some reason this whole story of giant squids washing up on the California coast line is freaking me out. I've seen enough movies to know that things floating up from the deep or falling from the sky are rarely harbingers of good tidings. In fact, I can only assume that we will look back on the appearance of the squids as the first sign of The Alien Invasion.

Photo via: Yahoo!

Aug 1, 2007

Poor Temperament

I know camels have a reputation for being the surliest of the Camelidae family, but I fear they have unduly overshadowed the llama. I've had enough encounters with the New World camelid to know that they can be cantankerous. And I think this guy's face proves it.

Did you know that scientists have successfully crossbred camels with llamas a couple of times? It only works when the male is a Dromedary (artificial insemination is required), but since both species have 74 chromosomes, there is potential for the Cama (as the hybrid is known) to be fertile, thus spawning a new work animal (they already have half Dromedary / half Bactrians called Bukhts). But, alas, the cama inherited the 'poor temperament' of both parents. Lovely.

Thanks for the photo, Jared.