Oct 28, 2011
Oct 19, 2011
It's tough to keep up with all the ugly animal holidays this week, but we can't let Hagfish Day go without notice. At Whale Times, you can celebrate with a variety of craft activities, including (I am not making this up) a Hagfish Bouquet and Make Your Own Slime. Or if you're more the literary type, why not write your own Hagfish Haiku?
By the way, that's a photo of a whole bagfull o' hagfish dripping slime by Flickr user dirtsailor2003.
Oct 18, 2011
The naked mole rat has made many appearances on this blog, as is only proper. But there's nothing better than a news story that justifies revisiting these wrinkled, bucktoothed, grotesque creatures, and I've got two of them.
One is the announcement last week that scientists have published the entire genome of the naked mole rat. It took a team of 36 scientists on three continents, and you might wonder, why bother? But as this story from the Washington Post summarizes perfectly, their appearance is not the only thing that's unusual about these animals:
The upside is you live a ridiculously long and healthy life, can’t develop cancer, feel very little pain, never get lonely and have great skin right to the end.
The downside is you breathe stinky air, rarely go outside, tend to get cold, don’t see well, live in a monarchy and can’t count on having sex. (Also, you’re a naked mole rat.)
Scientists hope that information about how the mole rat works at a genetic level will be valuable for solving human health problems. (At least that's what they tell the newspapers; I'm willing to bet that they mostly did it because this animal is so incredibly freaking cool.)
The other bit of naked mole rat news is that today is the 20th anniversary of the arrival of naked mole rats at the National Zoo. I'm tickled to salute these particular mole rats since I have known them personally, but also because I realized that we have never posted a link to the National Zoo Naked Mole Rat Cam. I'm pleased to rectify that omission.
Check out more anniversary photos at the National Zoo's Flickr page.
-In increasingly wrinkly solidarity,
Wombat (No Relation)
Oct 16, 2011
We've met the maned sloth before, but here's another photo (via wikipedia) to announce that this coming Saturday is International Sloth Day. You can read more from the sponsoring organization (in Spanish) here or visit their Facebook page here, but really, what more do you need to know? Plan a party! You have plenty of time, even if you move reaaally sloooowly.
planning a little nap first,
-Wombat (No Relation)
Oct 10, 2011
As a lover of the ugly, I am rather fond of snails and slugs. As long as you don't mind that they are slimy, boneless, eyeless, ruin the garden and infest your fishtank, what's not to love?
Well now I know what's not to love after reading in the Wall Street Journal about the GIANT AFRICAN LAND SNAIL INVASION OF FLORIDA!!!
Not everyone sees these snails as a menace. Some keep them as pets, like Flickr user VenturaB. who took the reasonably attractive photo above. What you can't tell from that photo is exactly how HUGE they are:
They seem to have included that quarter for scale, but really, isn't the guy's arm indication enough?
Of course, just being big isn't so horrible. Here's what's so horrible: they "chew through plants, plaster and stucco, and sometimes carry a parasite that can infect humans with a nonlethal strain of meningitis," and "they eat so ravenously that they leave trails of excrement on walls and the ground."
There's an effort in progress to eradicate these enormous non-native gastropods, but it's no easy battle, since they reportedly can lay 1,200 eggs a year. Another less than encouraging fact: this isn't their first invasion. They were first introduced in the 1960s and were wiped out after a decade of effort in a campaign that cost a million dollars.
Wish the warriors luck, because innocent bystanders can't take much more. One woman quoted in the Wall Street Journal story was so disturbed at the sight of a mere five-inch specimen (they can grow to eight inches long) that she had to go lie down with a migraine, and, her husband said, "She's so panicked that she doesn't want to go out anymore."
-Wombat (No Relation)
Oct 4, 2011
Cuttlefish are totally cool. They can change the color and even the texture of their skin, using the patterns to communicate with one another and to disguise themselves.
They're obviously not conventionally attractive if you think an animal is supposed to be cute and furry, but I've never thought of them as ugly until I saw this species on a Japanese television show. It's the Flamboyant Cuttlefish, and it seems to favor clashing combinations and tasteless colors like magenta. And get a load of all the crazy bits sticking out, rather than the discreet little bumps and ridges on the skin of more familiar species:
You can check out a bunch more photos of this species and its relatives here. Just don't go there for fashion advice, OK?
Your appalled friend,
-Wombat (No Relation)