Mar 30, 2012

Baby Aardvark Overload

I guess I should have posted this on Sunday and said that we were changing the name of the blog. I've posted enough baby aardvarks that you might have believed it for a second. But I couldn't wait.

Born on Monday at Busch Gardens, via Zooborns.

Mar 26, 2012

Your ugly animal shopping advice for the week

You all need to head straight over to Topatoco and buy this brilliant turkey vulture print by Bird and Moon.

Your Monday ugdorable

Baby Malayan tapir (that's the black and white kind) at the Belfast zoo via Zooborns, for those of you who were clamoring for relief from the horror of that last post. And you can't have too many snout-on photos of tapirs as far as I'm concerned.

At your service,
-Wombat (No Relation)

Mar 21, 2012


How is it possible that it's been over three years since the last appearance on this blog of TONGUE EATING ISOPODS!

Sorry to shout, but some things just call for ALL CAPS, and this is one of them. These crustaceans are parasites on certain fish. They doen't just eat the tongue, which would be bad enough. They basically attach themselves to the tongue and replace it, living in the fish's mouth and DRINKING ITS BLOOD.

We haven't seen these TONGUE EATING MONSTERS here since July 2008, and I wrote about them on my other blog only slightly more recently. I feel this is a dereliction of duty as a bad and ugly animal blogger, but today we've got a good reason to make up for it. Because it was recently discovered that due to human activity, there are even MORE of these nightmarish creatures than there used to be. Researchers studying the Ceratothoa italica species of isopod found that in areas affected by overfishing, the percentage of fish infected by this parasite was much higher.

The scientists seem to have mixed feelings as they often do: both bemoaning its effect when the balance of nature is disturbed, and yet giving the creature an affectionate nickname: they call it "Betty:"

Betty is quite gruesome and does remind you of the Alien films, but it’s a highly adapted and specialised animal which is very successful. Unfortunately, over-fishing upsets the balance of parasite and host and interferes with the whole eco-system.

Thanks for the tip - I think - to the blog of parasite expert Carl Zimmer, which you may -or may not - want to check out here.

-Wombat (No Relation)

Mar 14, 2012

A plague of spiderwebs

I am not an arachnophobe, but when a friend sent me a link to this photo and I clicked on it, the only possible reaction was "AAAAIIEEEEE!"

It turns out that the spiders probably feel the same way. This isn't normal behavior for the wolf spider (thank goodness). They're trying to escape flooding in Wagga Wagga, Australia. As a spider expert told an Australian newspaper:

In an attempt to escape rising waters, the spiders climb blades of grass and let out hundreds of metres of silk in the hope a gust of wind will catch the web and transport them to safety, he said.

''What you are seeing is the result of all their failed attempts to get away.''

To give an idea of the extent of these webs, here's a photo with a terrier for scale:

You can check out more photos, if you can stand it, at The Telegraph. There's one of an entire field covered in webs. Don't say I didn't warn you.

-Wombat (No Relation)

Mar 11, 2012

Excuse me, there's a bug on your shoulder

Via our friends at Archie McPhee's Geyser of Awesome, here's a rhinoceros beetle out for a ride on a human being in Costa Rica.

If you're wondering if there's any chance a person could be that oblivious - no, he really does seem to be doing this on purpose, since he's smiling in this additional photo.

This guy may take second place to the zookeeper we saw a while ago with stick insects all over his face, but that's a real lover of ugly animals.

-Wombat (No Relation)

Mar 7, 2012

Not an accident

Via National Geographic, this is a new species of leaf-nosed bat discovered in Vietnam.

We've seen other leaf-nosed bats and many other bats with strange facial protuberances, but this has got to be the saddest-looking. It seems to have been involved in some kind of terrible accident, or perhaps a dramatic incident where a crazed rejected lover threw acid in its face.

In reality, all of thse strange bat face shapes assist in echolocation, helping focus and bounce sound waves off their prey. On the one had that's pretty cool, but on the other, it makes be glad that we humans have developed our advanced technology as separate machines and not part of our actual bodies.

Because it can't get by on looks, this bat apparently relies on having a nice personality. "While captured, some similar body-sized bats, i.e. [the] great leaf-nosed bat, reacts very angrily," said the scientist who discovered it. "But Griffin's leaf-nosed bat seems quite gentle."

-Wombat (No Relation)

Mar 5, 2012

Your Monday... ugdorable?

Just when I think I've seen everything nature has to offer in the way of ugly animal babies, I stumble across this photo of a baby Sumatran rhino.

This photo was posted on the Facebook page of the Asian Rhino Project, and it's a baby picture of a rhino called Andalas that was born at the Cincinatti Zoo in 2001. The Sumatran rhino is extremely endangered, with only about 200 left in the wild, and Andalas was the first one born in captivity in 112 years.

Andalas also has his own Facebook page, but he doesn't post much, possibly because the internet connection isn't as good where he lives now: in 2007 he moved to Indonesia, the home of his ancestors and natural habitat of his species. He's now part of a breeding program that you can read more about here - and donate to, if you want to support the production of more ugly babies like this one.

-Wombat (No Relation)