Nov 30, 2007

Ugly Means Ugly

This is one of those days when ugly means ugly. You know, we're taught by our institutions to respect every culture. We're all equal and all that. But that's just not so. This photo is proof. I've got a hard time respecting the culture/people that sponsor something like this.

UPDATE: Here's what Bambi slayer has to say about this:

This is a Louisiana Catahoula Curr, They are taditionally used to hunt Feral hogs and bay them up until the catch dog, that is usually a Pitbull or Pit Mix, catches up with the pack. He will charge head on and catch the boar or pig by the ears or snout. He will hold on until ordered off when the hunters catch up. The catch dog usually wears a collar that can be up to 12" wide to protect him from being cut by the tusks that are razor sharp. This picture was not taken in the woods but at a Hog dog trials, which is a truly barbaric form of entertainment but legal in Louisiana still.

Photo source:

Nov 29, 2007

Blondi Model

Igor Siwanowicz sent me some more beauties. You tarantula lovers (you know who you are!) are gonna squeal.

Igor assuaged my arachnophpobia-induced reaction to the fangs by letting me know that they are harmless (except to juicy crickets...). But he did caution me about the awful little hairs this Blondi spider was tossing at him from its rear end throughout the photo shoot. Now, I've heard that models can be irritating, but that's ridiculous...

Thanks a million for the spider shots, Igor. I bow to your supremacy in all things photographic.

Nov 28, 2007

Dark Corner of My Heart

Come on. You know me. You know what the dark corner of my heart is wishing for in these photos. I'm not proud of it--just being honest.

Nov 27, 2007



(for those of you who haven't read Stephen King's Dark Tower series, those questions will mean nothing to you)

You are looking at a spiny lobster (they are technically crayfish). But not just any spiny lobster--one that is five times larger than he should be (see the bottom photo).

Meet Poseidon. He was caught in a fisherman's net, but is now destined for retirement in a display aquarium. He is two feet long, and more than nine pounds in weight. That's a lot of garlic butter, my friends.

I'm going to try to hook my brother up with this woman. I'm impressed by anyone who can heft an oversized lobster and stare it down (and smile while doing so).

Article source: Daily Mail

Nov 26, 2007

Some Discretion

The face below comes with two names. The first one is kind of pretty and picturesque: lattice-wing bat. The second one is ugly, and suits are purposes far better: wrinkle-faced bat (Centureo senex).

This endangered bat is a nocturnal denizen of Central America. Where most echo-locating bats are equipped with a dainty (but still repulsive) leaf-shaped nasal appendage with which to collect their sensory data, this fellow has elected to grow fleshy folds and lumps all over his face for the same purposes.

But this bat can display some discretion. During the day, while roosting, he covers his face with a flap of skin that he pulls up from below his chin and hooks to an appendage at the top of his skull. I wish a neighbor of mine had that same ability.

For those of you who fear bats, vampires, and demons, you needn't fear this creature. It dines on fruits.

Thanks for the photo, Booge.


Offered to you, in the holiday spirit, courtesy Eugene, via Sherry.

Ugly Overload Holiday Song Fest

Sherry has recommended that I sponsor an Ugly Overload Holiday Song Fest, wherein you, the readers, send in your mock-ups of holiday song classics, with the lyrics modified to reflect the focus of this blog: ugly animals, creepy crawlies, heeby-jeebies, etc.

To get us started, Sherry offers us her own creation:

Silver Fish (to the tune of Silver Bells)

City cellars
Moldy cellars
We have just ventured down
To the basement to get things for Christmas
Lots of boxes, stacks of boxes
I think this one's the tree
As we move them we're likely to see...

Silver fish, Silver fish
Its Christmas time in the cellar
Centipedes, race with ease
Soon it will be Christmas Day

Strings of webbing
Spider webbing
We're disturbing their lairs
As we track down our holiday treasures
Its disgusting
These need dusting
'fore we take them upstairs
And along for the ride there will be

Silver fish, Silver fish
Its Christmas time in the cellar
Centipedes, race with ease
Soon it will be Christmas Day

I love the idea. Please feel free to offer your submissions.

Nov 25, 2007

Return to the Coast

Pink Tentacle is reporting on the annual return of the giant Nomura jellyfish to the coastline of Japan's Fukui prefecture.

These beasts can get up to 6 - 7 feet in diameter, and reach a weight of 440 lbs. Scuba divers and purveyors of oddities (like myself) love these creatures, but the fishermen do not. The jellies are so large that they destroy fishing nets and lines.

Thanks for the link, Mer.

Nov 24, 2007


I would like to introduce to you the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithicus bieti). It is a very endangered monkey, found in China (this particular specimen abides in a zoo in Beijing). It gets its name from its utter lack of a nasal bone and from the up-turned nostrils.

Reminds me of some rhinoplasty jobs I've seen on Homo sapiens.

Thanks for the photos, Nils.

Nov 23, 2007

Both Ways

Nemo Ramjet came across this Typhlops vermicularis at Olympos, a "campers' and stoners' paradise near Antalya," Turkey.

The second shot is of a Blanus strauchi, which belongs to one of my favorite classifications of reptiles: amphisbaenians. As Nemo points out, this word comes from the Greek. Amphisbaena, means something like "both ways." (meaning, their scales allows them to slide forward and backward.

I love creatures that are so simple, they never have to change. That's my ultimate goal for myself.

Thanks for the photos, Nemo.

Photo soure: Nemo Ramjet

Nov 22, 2007

Obligatory Bird Shot

Here's the obligatory Turkey Day turkey photo. To all of those celebrating Thanksgiving by partaking of the traditional menu, look into the face of the beast you're carving.

Here's a small bit of trivia with which to wow your dinner guests: according to the US Census Bureau, there were 256 million turkeys raised in 2003 in the US alone. That makes me wonder: how many hours of American worker productivity were lost due to napping after consuming those birds?

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Photo source: Scott Moulaison

Nov 21, 2007

Eat Plankton

Check out the looming mouth of the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus). This behemoth is the world's second largest fish (second only to the whale shark). Despite its endangered status, it is found in all of the world's temperate oceans.

That mouth balloons open so that it might dine on whatever floats into it, which is typically a wide variety of plankton.

There are a lot of athletes out there who try to bulk up using steroids, HCG, etc. I have a tip for you who are so inclined to cheat: take a hint from the animal world, especially from the largest pelagics and marine mammals. Eat plankton. Try cruising the blue waters of the ocean with your mouth wide open for a few months and see what happens.

Photo source: Knuttz

Nov 20, 2007

How Does a Bat Fly?

The obvious answer to this question is that they flap their wings. But the more complete answer is intriguing. Here's a video from illustrating how bats fly differently from birds. I'm looking forward to the industrial applications of this new finding; I could really use a bat-shaped flying car.

Thanks for the link, Ida.

Only One Way

Scarab beetles are one of those creatures that produce comely adults from abhorent larvae. This is very much the case with the white grub.

These grubs (from a variety of scarab beetles) are a plague found in many lawns in the northeastern US (and no doubt many other places on the planet). If you get patchy dead spots on your lawn, then you know what I mean. Unfortunately, they are very resistant to pesticides. The only way to get rid of them is to dig through the topsoil of your entire lawn by hand, extract each grub as you find it, and eat it. The gastric juices of the human digestive system are the only way to kill them.

Thanks for the photos, Holly.

Photo source: University of Connecticut

Nov 19, 2007

Insects and Spiders Galore

Jack sent me this link to an amazing Dark Roasted Blend post on Glamorous Insects. And wouldn't you know it, the bulk of the photos belong to our very own Igor Siwanowicz.

Here are but a few of the photos. I strongly recommend, especially if you are an insectophile, that you click the links above and look at all the others. Food for the eyes, my friends.

Nov 18, 2007

Tell Me It Isn't True

I am no photoshop expert. But I'm hoping that this is doctored. I don't know if I can live in a world in which butterfly sandwiches are served and eaten. Photo source:

Nov 17, 2007

Prepare to Feast

Below is a photo of what a splash of seawater looks like under the microscope, magnified 25 times. You're looking at a group of plankton. Now, plankton is a catch-all term for a variety of animal and plant life. Plankton is defined by its size, and by the fact that they are unable to swim against ocean currents. Plankton includes:

Marine viruses (the femtoplankton), microscopic algae and bacteria, tiny worms and crustaceans, as well as the egg, juvenile and larval forms of larger animals and plants such as seaweeds, crabs, lobsters, fish and urchins. Because they drift with ocean currents, even large jellyfish are classed as plankton.

Plankton, both plant and animal in nature, are the bread-and-butter of the oceanic food chain. And there's plenty of it. So, the next time you're in the ocean, strap on your bib, open wide, and prepare to feast.

Thanks for the link, Ida. Photo source: DailyMail

Nov 16, 2007

Yak Riding

I have no idea where this photo was taken, or what festival/holy day/cultural event sponsored it. All I know is that the foot in the lower right-hand corner fleeing the duo is what makes this photo. I love the idea of a monkey riding a yak and chasing people down. Once again, I root for the monkey/yak team. Photo source:

Nov 15, 2007


I believe this is a male sockeye salmon (aka red salmon, blueback salmon, and kokanee) preparing to spawn. These fish have an interesting life cycle. They hatch typically in a lake or river, spend a few years there, and some either make their way to the ocean, where they range from Japan to Siberia, to Alaska, to Canada, or remain in their freshwater homes all over northwestern North America.

When breeding time approaches, the ocean-living salmon return to their lake of birth, following their nose and the sun. Once they hit fresh water, their scales turn red and the males grow some gnarly fangs (see below).

I, for one, am really, really glad that I don't have to turn red, grow fangs, and return to my birth hospital to spawn. My wife would have a hard time with that.

Photo credit: Jeremy Sarrow © California Academy of Sciences

Nov 14, 2007

Ugly Photo Competition

PBS Nature is hosting a competition on Flickr. They are searching for the ugliest animal photo. Click on this link for more details. There's still quite a bit of room for submissions (which must be received by 11/22). Join the group and submit your photos, people!

Cute as Its Going to Get

Theodosia recommended that I dig up a good photo of a baby vulture. I did do some digging, and came up with this one. I don't believe it is a chick, it might even be full grown, but this might be about as cute as a vulture is ever going to get. Unless I am wrong, and I am never wrong, this looks like it is a hooded vulture.

Photo source:

Twitching Kitty

Kittens often twitch in their sleep. But that same endearing tick takes on a new...flavor...when done by a naked Sphynx.

Thanks for the link, Peer.

Freakish kitten Video

Nov 13, 2007

Reflectins on a Squid

My buddy Alan sent me this one. We're big fans of the cephalopods of the world, having encountered them on dives in Mexico.

Now, I hesitate to call this ugly. In fact, given its polka-dots and diminutive tentacles, I daresay its cute. But its a mollusk, so it belongs here.

You're looking into the eye of a Hawaiian bobtail squid. Chemical and Engineering News recently reported on them, highlighting the fact that they use unusual proteins to disguise itself from nocturnal predators:

The squid has a light-producing organ on its underside that is powered by luminescent bacteria. The light emitted by these bacteria is reflected downward by stacks of silvery platelets located behind the bacteria-containing tissue.

By beaming this light downward, scientists think the squid avoids casting a shadow and forming a silhouette in the moonlit waters, thus camouflaging itself against predators at lower depths that are looking upward for prey.

The proteins used in this function are a new discovery, and have been dubbed "reflectins". But these proteins might have a value to more than just the bobtail squid. They might be usable in optical nanodevices. I'm not sure if I should root for an industrial application of these squid proteins, or if I should drop Michael Crichton an email so he can write us another best-selling novel warning us against their use.

In the meantime, Beanie Babies should really consider making a Hawaiian bobtail squid plush toy.

Thanks for the link, Alan.

Photo source: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Nov 12, 2007

Giving Ugly Its Day in the Sun

You've waited for them for almost two years now -- Ugly Overload T-shirts! And...what's this...just in time for the holiday wonderful is that? This logo was created by the masterful Brian Swisher, graphics-designer and brother-in-law extraordinaire.

I've got them in round neck tees, and v-necks for the ladies. Just click on the link in my sidebar. Here's what the logo looks like (the black background is transparent on the shirt):

Enjoy, people.

The Beauty of Ugly

This Sunday evening (11/18), PBS is airing the next installment of its Nature series: The Beauty of Ugly. The good folks at PBS have asked me to participate in their Remotely Connected program, and have invited me to be their guest blogger for next week.

I suggest you all tune in to the show. I've watched the review screening, and it is amazing. If you like what you see here, you absolutely love this show. I sat with my mouth agape for most of it. Also, feel free to read my post on it, at, following the airing. It's bound to entertain.

An August Stroll

Simone saw my Hapless Bicycle post and wrote me about this phenomenon, as encountered in Germany (and other northern European countries).

Behold a larval mass of the
Eichenprozessionsspinner (that's Oak Processionary Moth to us English speakers, and Thaumetopoea processionea to you fancy-pantsy Latin speakers). These caterpillars, known as setae, are considered a plague from July to September, when they are in web-spinning mode. Not only are they a threat to the trees they infest, but if you look close enough to the photo below, you'll see that the little grubs are covered with fine hair. These hairs break off with little provocation and become airborne--and each one is covered with a poisonous irritant. As Simone puts it, a stroll through the woods Southwest Germany in August might result in:

Severe rashes of the skin known as "caterpillar dermatitis" and somtimes also quite persduring wheals. As the little hairs also float in the air, you breathe them in, which irritates the respiratory system, causing painful coughs, asthma and bronchitis.

Lovely. This caterpillar might beat out the Tomato Hornworm as my least favorite grub, and I haven't even encountered one.

Thanks for all the info,

Photo source: Wikipedia

Nov 11, 2007


Wow, this has turned into quite the spidery weekend.

Jade took this macro of a jumping spider. I never thought to see it, but this spider somehow pulls off a good puppy-eyed look. Even his pedipalps are tucked in and angled in an endearing, pleading sort of way. The white fuzziness only adds to the effect.

If this spidey were begging at my feet while I ate at the dinner table, I'd be inclined to toss him a few scraps. Of course, that would assume that I'm dining on ants and flies.

Thanks, Jade. And yes, spider, you may have a cookie.

Nov 10, 2007

Wet Web

According to National Geographic, there are over 38,000 known species of spiders on the planet. All of them spin silk, though only half of them use it to weave webs. The rest of them use their silk to wrap their prey or eggs, create safety lines for jumping, etc.
I know a lot of you are going to marvel at this beautiful, dew-draped web. But all I can do is stare at the beast at its center and shudder. I need help, people

Photo source:

Nov 9, 2007

Camping Outside LA

I've got another spider ID for y'all. I know it can be very difficult to narrow down the species without a full dissection, but this info might help: Jenni found this on her tent while camping just outside LA in California. When it spied Jenni taking a photo of it, it posed for the camera. It's eight feet tall, it can fly, it's fluent in most of the classical languages, and it can grant wishes (but only if rubbed the right way). I hope that helps.

Cross your fingers, Jenni. There are some pretty talented people out there who might be able to identify it for us.

Nov 8, 2007


Here's a bit of trivia: the word 'bat' comes from the old Norse ledhrblaka, meaning 'leather flapper' (the word got reduced to bakka, then to bat). It would seem that the Vikings were very practical in their nomenclature.

This particular species of leather flapper is known as the fisherman bat, found from Central America down to Argentina. They collect their food by swimming across the surface of the water and gaffing small fish with their curved claws.

This particular photo triggered an 'aw' from me do to the baby clinging to mommy's fur. But I'll tell you what, these bats can swim, using their wings as oars. And I can't think of a worse final moment for a fish than to be swimming just beneath the surface of the water, only to see one of these rowing its way over to you, baby or no baby.

Thanks for the link, G Felis. Thanks also to the good folks at the Manzanita Project for allowing me to post this photo.

Photo source: Glenn and Martha Vargas © California Academy of Sciences

Nov 7, 2007

My Inspiration

I'm fast approaching the time when I have a sit-down with my wife for the sole purpose of convincing her that we need to set up a spacious terrarium to house the mantids I want to keep (see photo below for my inspiration).

There are 20 mantis species native to the US. But did you know that the common green mantis is not one of them? According to Bug Girl's Blog, they were imported from China in the 1890s. We have two additional imported species, both from Europe.

She goes on to write that contrary to popular belief, it isn't necessarily illegal to keep mantids as pets in the states. So long as they are one of the 20 native species, or one of the three imports mentioned above, you'll do just fine, and steer clear of the slammer (most exotic mantids come from Asia, many of which are endangered).

In case you wanted some light reading, here is a list of creepies you can keep as pets in the US. I was disappointed to find that my little brother isn't on it.

Photo source:


I love photoshop, and I envy y'all with this sort of skill.

Photo source:

Nov 6, 2007

My Kind of Creepy-Crawly

Judy of Butter Side Down, has some of the best eyes around. She was able to capture this tiny critter not only with her eyes, but also with her camera--and with a metric ruler to boot!

As Judy's friend, Phil, put it:

Pseudoscorpions are common but rarely seen. They are harmless, small (1/16-1/8 inch), tick-shaped critters with a large pair of pincers and lack the long tail and stinger of a true scorpion. Pseudocorpions are really beneficial because they feed on carpet beetles, ants, mites, small flies and other critters in the home. They are usually found in small numbers and spend most of their time hunting in closets and other quiet places. They cannot bite. …Pseudoscorpions can live for 2 years or more.
Now, this is my kind of creepy-crawly. It stays out of sight, and quietly does its business of killing pests in my house. I hereby open my doors and roll out the red carpet for any psuedoscorpion looking for a new home.

...and it's just a little cute...

Thanks for the photos and the info, Judy.

Nov 5, 2007

I Don't Recommend This

I don't recommend this. But I had to watch it about fifty times.

Thanks for the link, Jared. I never knew that counting coup with an elephant seal could be so entertaining.

Nov 4, 2007

A Very Interesting Life

You're looking into the face of the ribbon eel. This subset of the moray eel clan leads a very interesting life. For one, they are known to be the most sociable and peaceful of the morays (not that that's saying much...). But get this: they start out blue and male. But as they mature, they become yellow and female.

I know there is some witty parallel I can make between this eel and humankind, but it escapes me. Maybe one of you can help.

Thanks for the links, Peer.

Photo source: Tulamben Wreck Divers

Photo source: dkimages

Nov 3, 2007

Frog Hunting Frog

What's not to love about a creature named the Helmeted Water Toad (Caudiverbera caudiverbera)? These amphibians feed primarily on other toads and frogs...

...trying so hard not to say it...will power fading...

You are what you eat. There. I said it.

They are huge, as far as toads go. They reach an SVL of about 12" (32 cm for you metric folk).

Thanks for the link, Rasmus. This critter only further proves my point that amphibians have the best names around.

Photo source: Tetrapod Zoology

Nov 2, 2007

Hapless Bicycle

What one day is a quaint set of trees can quickly turn...ugly.

Watch this progression of photos (or click
here for a more detailed set of shots). When you get closer to one of the tree trees you see that it is covered in webbing at its roots.

Then you walk to the next tree and see that some hapless bicyclist's mode of transportation has fallen victim to said webbing.

And then you look under the bicycle's seat...and you know you'll never ride again without first looking under your seat.

Anyone know what this phenomenon is?

Thanks for the link, Katie.
Photo source: laverna

Nov 1, 2007

Beak and Eyes and Fluff

Have you ever noticed that an ostrich face looks a lot like a chick's face: all beak and eyes and fluff? But given their enormity and will-to-peck, I'm always glad to have a fence between me and them.

Thanks for the photo, Sherry. May your next foray to a hobby farm in Wisonsin yield another post-worthy photo. And may you always find a fence between you and your subject.