Dec 31, 2006

Doom Watch

This photo of a hooded vulture is aptly named 'Doom Watch'. If I woke up to this face peering at me through my bedroom window, I'd know that I wasn't meant to survive the day. My only hope would be to go on some quest to the netherworld to placate the Vulture Gods. I'd probably have to wrestle Cerberus or trick Anubis into granting me one wish. I hope that never happens.

Thanks for the link, Abigail.

Photo courtesy: Jon Lucas, via DP Challenge

Dec 30, 2006

Not So Cute

I make it a point not to post on deformed animals. This site isn't a freakshow. But, occassionally, I do like to put the spotlight on disturbing trends, such as my post on white tigers. Lorri sent these photos of a hairless palomino foal (with mom in the bottom one). This is a sad mutation, since it results in a truncated lifespan for the afflicted horse. It is, therefore, never intentionally bred into the animal.

I'm posting on this because I thought it dovetailed nicely with an article that one of my readers, Michael, sent me. It is a New York Time's article that reports on the Japanese obsession with cute and cuddly pets. The problem with this craze is that it is fed by rampant inbreeding and puppy mills, and it results in deformed, tortured, and sickly animals.

My point is this: every new breed of animal we create invariably involves some inbreeding. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is all too often abused. Let's stay away from these Hollywood fads and bear in mind that these are living critters. For every mini chihuahua Paris Hilton carts around, there is one of its littermates that was born missing its paws, nose, or eyes, or with a brain disorder. That's not so cute.

Thanks for the photos, Lorri, and thanks for the article, Michael.

Dec 29, 2006

Giant Squid Caught

You're looking at one of the only photos ever taken of a live giant squid. A team of intrepid Japanese scientists laid a lure thousands of feet down and snagged this massive specimen earlier this month.

Alas, the poor beast didn't survive the capturing process. It's for the best, though. If he had survived, and then had been released back into the wild, I'm sure the other giant squids would have roughed him up for blowing their centuries-long streak of not being seen by man. You would hate to be the first squid to blow that deal.

Thanks for the link, Banno.

Photo courtesy: Reuters

Dec 28, 2006

Score One for the Lizards

Betsy took this photo of a land iguana while visiting the Galapagos Islands. These lizards are the red-headed step child of the Galapagos; their marine relatives get all the love and attention.

Even Darwin had his hater goggles on when he commented on them: "...they are ugly animals, of a yellowish orange beneath, and of a brownish-red colour above: from their low facial angle they have a singularly stupid appearance." Sheesh, Charles. Take it easy! But the iguanas got him back. At one point, he couldn't find a place to pitch his tent because of their ubiquitous burrows. Score one for the lizards.

Thanks for the photo, Betsy.

Dec 27, 2006

Prehistoric Monster Fish

This is perhaps the most appropriately named animal on the planet. A genius named this one the 'prehistoric monster fish' (aka thallasophryne amazonica). That is its actual name. I love it! They could have gone with 'spiny fin fish', or 'ambush fish', or even 'li'l amazon'. But no, they called it as they saw it. Finally, someone with some sense.

Thanks for the link, Rasmus.

Photo courtesy: Practical Fishkeeping

Dec 26, 2006

Bad Attitude

Behold the bactrian camel (as opposed to the dromedary). Unlike their one-humped cousins, these animals are native to cold, mountainous climates in China and Tibet. They can carry up to 600 lbs, covering 40 miles a day without water for weeks at a time. That probably explains this guy's grimace.

I'd leave him out of the caravan today (or the zoo's morning line-up). Bad attitudes have a way of being infectious.

Photo courtesy: Dave Clark

Dec 25, 2006

Oxymoronic Turtle

Here is a muddy long-necked turtle. That serpentine neck puts paid to the myth that all turtles are ponderously slow beasts. It's used to strike out like a snake at passing fish and tadpoles.

No matter how much I come across it, I just can't get used to the idea of a hunting turtle. It seems oxymoronic, like jumbo shrimp or ugly babies.

Photo courtesy: Cyron Masey

Dec 24, 2006

Spider Love

The male redback spider is drawn inexorably forward, his lady a beautiful mass of abdomen and legs. Her bulk threatens to drive him into a frenzy.

He scrambles across her web to where she waits with open appendages. Her eight eyes sparkle in the evening light. He knows where his fate lies, but he cannot withstand her.

At last they meet. They revel in the closeness, and are captivated by one another's mouthparts and palps. He somersaults his abdomen towards her mouth. She bathes him in digestive juices...

...okay, enough.

That's disgusting, and you get the picture.

Just as with several other spider species, this male won't survive the mating process. In fact, it is only as he is being dissolved by her digestive juices that he is able to mate at all. His is a one shot deal. Bad break.

We non-spiders have a lot to be thankful for.

Photos (1, 2, & 3) courtesy: Curtis Morton.

Dec 23, 2006

Ugly Overload Turns One Year Old

That's right. It's been more than 365 images of ugly animals, many of them making their internet debut right here. A whole year of bats, sphynx cats, Sam, centipedes, hippos, elephant seals, matamata turtles, crocodiles, vultures, eels, deep-sea abominations, and many more.

Let me reaffirm the purpose of this blog. Cute and beautiful animals always get the spotlight. But the ugly are left in the dark, without a place to call home. This blog is devoted to them. Here the ugly critters of the world have their day in the sun, and the abominable beasts have a place to call their own. Here there is no shame, and no reason to hide.

Photo courtesy: Animal Planet

I began this site featuring Sam, the world's ugliest dog. Let me begin year two with his possible successor (according to voters on Animal Planet). Meet Ellwood. He typifies what this blog is all about. He's proud, and rightfully so.

Of course, I'm well aware that beauty and ugly are in the eye of the beholder, and in the end I must be the final arbiter - at least for this blog. Bear in mind that we are all just having fun here. No animals are being condemned.

Thanks again to all of you. You have made this labor of love worthwhile. Come back often - I'll be rolling out new features in the weeks to come.

As always, your comments, suggestions, and submissions are always welcome.

Dec 22, 2006

Adding Insult to Injury

Here is a macro of a dung fly eating a prey fly.

I can't imagine how this prey fly must feel at this moment (I've never been an insect, or been eaten by an far as I know). First of all, it would be lame to be called a prey fly: you know you're fate lies in someone else's stomach. But then to be eaten by something called a dung fly? That's adding insult to injury.

Photo courtesy: Brian

Dec 21, 2006


Dana sent this photo she took of a cinerous vulture. It's a local at the Denver Zoo. As with too many vulture species, this one is endangered. Some estimates put their wild numbers in Europe at 200 pairs.

This bird could almost pass for pretty, since it grows more head feathers than most of its cousins. Alas, it is not to be. There's no escaping the vultureness. That trumps just about anything.

Thanks for the photo, Dana.

Dec 20, 2006

Deep-sea Gigantism

Mitch prompted me to do a search for this beauty, the giant isopod. When I first saw the photo I thought is was an enormous pill bug (that's rolly-polly to some of us). But, thank goodness, these crab-cousins are only found in the deep, cold waters of the Atlantic and Pacific.

This particular species, bathynomus giganteus, is an example of deep-sea gigantism. That's a phenomenon found among many abyssal invertebrates, which results in them getting huge. I'm just glad they use the terms 'deeps-sea' or 'abyssal,' because there is no reference to 'my backyard.'

Photos courtesy: Knuttz

Dec 19, 2006

A Lively Pair

Tawnya sent me these photos of baby cockatoos - either of the rose-crested (aka salmon-crested) or galah varieties. These birds can live for over 30 years, and they have the emotional development and needs of a three-year-old human child. They make for great pets, but you had better know what you're getting into. Do you want another toddler running--that is, flying or waddling--around?

I imagine mommy has had enough of their begging, which is possibly why she isn't in the photo. That's how it is with my own toddlers. Their begging for cookies too often resembles that of baby birds. I'm just glad I don't have to regurgitate for them. Though that might be cathartic...

UPDATE: It would seem, from multiple sources, that these birds do live to be quite a bit older--as old as 80 years. I new that was true for macaws, but didn't know that for cockatoos. Thanks, all.

Dec 18, 2006

Kohona Love

Jack sent this feline family to me. They're kohona sphynx cats, and they remind us all of the Christmas spirit with their unconditional love for each other. They also remind me to add a nice winter coat to my Christmas list - they must be freezing. You try walking around with no clothes on, and completely shaved. Do it in private, though. We don't want to see that.

Photo courtesy: Belfry Sphynx

Dec 17, 2006

CNN Love

I began receiving thousands of extra hits on Friday and Saturday, and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why. All I could see was that people from all over the country were doing searches for 'ugly overload.' It wasn't until some of my beloved readers told me that Ugly Overload had been mentioned on the much prettier Cute Overload that I got my first clue.

It turns out that my blog was part of a CNN report on 'the science of cute'! Below is a screenshot from the report, and here is a link to the video. (You'll see CNN reporter Jeanne Moos doing a man-on-the-street interview to see who is cuter: a baby panda or Shiloh Jolie-Pitt).

Thanks to all of you, even Brad and Angelina (I'm sure they're huge fans of mine). I feel vindicated for devoting a site to giving ugly animals their due, for giving them some air time.

Cute animals get all the love. But not any more.

Well, at least until my traffic plummets.

Pea Soup

I wonder how long this crocodile was lurking in this pea-soup, only to have his cover blown for...what exactly? He's menacing something, but I can't see what.

Of course, I'm only guessing its a crocodile. After all, there are 23 species of crocodiles and their cousins. I'm not herpatologist enough to figure it out. For all i know, he could only be a hand puppet. Regardless, this confirms my natural aversion to swamps.

Photo Courtesy: Kevin

Dec 16, 2006

No Cucumber on My Salad, Thanks

The sea cucumber is so named because of its elongated shape, not because it belongs on your salad. In fact, there is nothing appetizing about these denizens of the sea. They are scavengers and suspension feeders, who enjoy both plankton and whatever debris comes their way. Their most endearing trait is their ability to disengorge their inner organs in a gooey mess at whatever predator might want to make a meal of it. Lovely. I'll set down my breakfast now.

Don't worry about the sea cucumber that just puked up its innards. Those organs will regrow in no time. Whoopy.

Photo courtesy: Alexander Lee

Dec 15, 2006

New Face in Town

There are a lot of pig faces to be found on the web, but you've never seen this one before. I bring you original uglies, baby.

It is believed that most pigs come from the Eurasian Wild Boar. It is also believed that while most livestock were first domesticated by nomadic peoples, the pig was domesticated by settled farmers. This is because pigs are difficult to herd and move over long distances. I think it's because Nomad Joe got a good look at one of these and thought better of it.

Photo courtesy: David Maddison

Dec 14, 2006

Potato Bugs Are Evil

You'll find everything you hate in an insect in the potato bug. You're afraid to lift that cardboard box that's been sitting outside for too long, because there might be a potato bug lurking beneath it. You're afraid to empty your pool skimmer, because there might be a potato bug bobbing in the water. They're huge and armed with spike hind legs that they thrash you with if you pick them up.

They're also known as the Jerusalem Cricket, with is a more charming name. But don't let that fool you. They're evil. Their natural predators include birds and rodents. This is one of the few times that I am truly thankful for the rats that infest the ivy in my backyard.

Photo courtesy:

Dec 13, 2006

Cow Tongue

This bovine makes me want to go vegetarian--and never eat corn again. My BBQs might never be the same.

Did you know that all of our modern cattle breeds are descended from one common ancestor: the aurochs? The last surving aurochs was killed by a poacher in Poland, in 1627. Thanks, poacher.

Photo courtesy: heydere

Dec 12, 2006

Taunting Morays

I love this photo because it really highlights the lurking power the green moray eel has. These fish can get to be over 4 1/2 feet long. That's a lot of ugly.

I know this guy (not me), who loved scuba-diving. He (not me) used to have fun taunting morays by waving my...I mean his... hands in front of them. They would recoil and open their mouths in response. Now I know that they can deliver a nasty bite. Ah, the follies of youth.

Photo courtesy: Frank Wouters

Dec 11, 2006

Oxfam Alpacas

Here is a fantastic video made by TVF for Oxfam (a wonderful charity). Enjoy.

Thanks for the video, Rob.

Ugly Chick

Some baby animals are so cute, you wish they would stay babies, like kittens and puppies. But baby birds? Don't think so. Thank goodness featherless chicks come with a promise to become something much more visually appealing.

Is it even possible to identify the species of bird from this picture? I'm thinking it's a cockatoo. They tend to have the ugliest chicks.

Thanks for the photo, Fredda.

Photo courtesy:

Dec 10, 2006

Wet Bat is Uglier Than Dry Bat

This little guy was scooped out of a swimming pool. I didn't think bats could get any uglier, but I was wrong. Wet bat is uglier than dry bat.

Hmm, I think I'll start tossing that bit of wisdom around like it's an ancient proverb and see if it catches on. See the kind of cultural gems Ugly Overload has to offer?

This looks like a southern yellow bat, but does anyone care to confirm or refute that?

Photo courtesy: Linda Thomas

Dec 9, 2006

Christmas Spirit

This is a wonderful display of the Christmas spirit. Even ugly animals should be given gifts and shown respect. Doesn't it just warm the heart?

I wonder what this baboon is hoping is inside. Maybe some sideburn trimmers, or a toothbrush, or even a pair of pants! But the problem with these monkeys is that they are more often naughty then nice. He is probably being given the primate equivalent of a lump of coal.

Photo from: Yahoo!

Dec 8, 2006

Giraffe Weevil

The giraffe weevil is so named because it is known for boring into the eyeballs of giraffes to eat, no. That's not why. It's the long neck these beetles have, silly!

These plant-eaters can grow to be three inches long, thanks to that long neck. They live on the island of Madagascar, along with many other ugly animals. If I were really serious about this blog I'd move there and collect my own specimens. But that's where fear and laziness come in handy; I'll be staying in California for the time being.

Thanks for the photo, Phlimm.

Photo courtesy:

Dec 7, 2006

Mundane Moles

These uglies look more like something from Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures class than critters you might find in your yard while gardening. But nope, they're just your average, mundane mole.

I know that most moles have fur, so I'm not sure what this pair's story is. Are they babies? Are they nudists? Are they deviants who are defying the elders of mole society? Are they genetic aberrations that should be captured and given to science for further research? So many questions.

As an interesting side note (well, as interesting as you think moles might be), they eat their own weight in food every day, and may starve to death if they go 12 hours without food. Sounds like my teenage brother.

Photo courtesy: Tracy Lee Carroll

Dec 6, 2006

Weta Minute

The tusked weta comes in three varieties. They are native to New Zealand and endangered. The tusks aren't for biting and only the males possess them. They're used for shoving and pushing their opponents around.

If I could choose a mutant power, I might choose to have some weta traits. I wouldn't mind a nice pair of tusks for pushing people around. Plus, these guys can leap over three feet. Proportionally, that would give me, as Weta Man, quite an impressive jumping ability. But it might make me unbearably ugly. But that could be a special power in and of itself...

Wait, I'm blogging, not fantasizing. Sorry people.

Photo courtesy: Terra Nature

Dec 5, 2006

Camel Drool

I can't imagine what this camel's breath must smell like, assuming camel drool has a stench. It's like watching a train wreck - you can't help but stare into his yawning mouth.

In the camel's defense, though, that saliva must come in useful when they have to go up to 2 weeks without water. Their humps can weigh as much as 80 lbs, and it's all fat, too. Kind of puts your belly in perspective, doesn't it?

Photo courtesy: Linda Thomas

Dec 4, 2006

Centipede on a Stick

I believe this is the giant red-headed centipede (please correct me if I'm wrong). These suckers get to be 8" in length and are known to be aggressive hunters. Thankfully, they aren't found in California. Rather, they inhabit Arkansas and several other nearby states in the US.

If you're looking for a way to induce vomiting, then watch some of the videos on YouTube of these centipedes eating mice. It's a great weight-loss program.

Photo courtesy: Curtis Morton

Dec 3, 2006

Personality Can Compensate

Mother nature doesn't always make sense to me. Why waste a pretty purple color on something like a wolf eel?

These fish are friendly, though. Personality can make up for looks. That explains how I got married, at least.

Photo courtesy: Kevin Baird

Dec 2, 2006

No More Fishing for Me

If I caught this while fishing I would drop my pole and abandon the sport forever. Can you imagine looking down your line and seeing one of these things looking back at you? Man am I glad these suckers stay in the deep sea.

By the way, can anyone identify it for me?

Thanks for the photo, Peer.

Dec 1, 2006

Don't Flush Them.

I wonder what these baby alligators plan on doing to this hand once they're big enough. That guy better go flush them down the toilet.

No, don't do that. That's the making of another horror film. Or a comic book series. The guy will either have five monstrous gators hunting down for a whole movie, or else he'll become the sensei of five mutant ninja gators. It's a toss up.

Photo courtesy: Knuttz

Nov 30, 2006

Circle of Life

This baby stump-tailed macaque reminds me of how similar old age is to infancy, with the white hair, wrinkled skin, and oversized hands.

Oh wait ... that would only hold true for baby macaques. There goes my attempt to be philosophical about the circle of life.

I should stop trying to be so clever. It never works out.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo!

Nov 29, 2006

Good Setup

Becca informed me that the blobfish is made mostly of jelly, which is less dense than water. This helps them maintain their pressure where they live in the deep. That explains the jelly, but not the ugliness.

When I think of fishing, I think of quaint settings, with your line hanging lazily in the water for some trout. But the scene below shatters that image. It looks more like the setup for a good horror film.

Thanks for the photos, Ioan.

Photos courtesy: NOAA

Nov 28, 2006

Arachnid Fashion?

Mother nature provides for all sorts of disguises and camouflage. But I'm not sure what this spiny orb weaver spider (or crab spider, to those of you in Florida ) is trying to pull off. Maybe those red spines are just a way of differentiating itself from all of the other spiders. Arachnid fashion?

Thanks for the
photo, Sean.

Nov 27, 2006

Sets the Mood

Mondays following a holiday weekend are always the worst. I feel like this rhino - he kind of sets the mood. I'm going to go find a dirt pit to wallow in. Then I'll get back to work.

Thanks for the photo, Clay.

Nov 26, 2006

That's Productivity

I had to smash one of these ladies in my garage the other day. I can always tell when I've stumbled across a black widow web - it is much thicker and tanglier than a daddy-long-leg's or garden spider's web.

The female (the big black ones) reaches sexual maturity in 70 - 90 days, lays 4 - 9 egg sacs per summer, with 250 - 700 eggs per sac, and they live to be 3 years old. That's a potential of 18,900 baby spiders per female! Now that's productivity, folks.

Photo courtesy: Sean McCann

Nov 25, 2006

Not a Happy Camper

Ugh. This baboon is not a happy camper. The main way that these primates bond is through grooming. I wonder how this guy's balding affects that behavior? It can't be good.

Did you know that in Africa these uglies are agricultural pests, and are therefore classified as vermin, rather than wildlife? Finally, someone is on to these monkeys.

Photo courtesy: Frank

Nov 24, 2006

Enjoy Your Leftovers

These two are egyptian vultures. They are the smallest of the vultures and they don't have a sense of smell. But what they lack in stature and olfactory ability they make up for in a 70 km flight range (that's endurance, baby) and vision that is at least twice as refined as that of a human's.

I had to follow up Thanksgiving with a vulture shot. Aren't we all a bit like vultures in the days following this holiday? We circle and circle, always returning to that carcass in the fridge for more meat. Enjoy your leftovers.

Photo courtesy: Frank

Nov 23, 2006

Had to do it

Too easy and too obvious. But I had to do it. Sorry. Happy Thanksgiving - I hope this doesn't spoil too many appetites out there.

Photo courtesy: Melanie Cook

Nov 22, 2006

High Voltage

The electric eel, which isn't a true eel (thanks, Rasmus), is almost all tail. He likes murky waters in South America, and is able to locate and communicate with others of his kind via their electric fields. He can get as big as 9 feet and weigh as much as 60 lbs. That's a lot of not-really-an-eel fish.

A single electric discharge of his can reach 600 volts - roughly 5 times the voltage coming out of your average American electrical outlet. It is powerful enough to disable a horse! I'm not sure why a horse and electric eel would be hanging out, but there it is.

I'm surprised this fish hasn't inspired some sort of super hero or X-Men character. Come on comic book makers!

Thanks for the link, Rasmus.

Photo courtesy: BWJones

Nov 21, 2006

Mohawk of Love

I think the creators of Star Trek caught sight of chapin's bat early on, and it has inspired many an alien since then. That mohawk is used in the courtship process. Nothing gets a female chapin's bat in a flutter like a well-tufted male. I guess anything that distracts from the ferengi ears is a good thing.

Photo courtesy: Mrs. Rutkowski's Class

Nov 20, 2006

Abominations in Paradise

Below is the photo of a truly hairless cat. This kitten is a kohona sphynx, one of only a few cats that bear the hairless genetic trait that has only been found on Hawaii. See folks, even paradise can produce abominations.

Thanks for the link, Phlimm.

Photo courtesy: Belfry Sphynx

Nov 19, 2006

Enough Already

Enough already, people. ENOUGH! I know cute animals are all the rage right now, but come on already. A quick glance at this photo reveals a trio of adorable baby hedgehogs, right? Look closer, though. That's right, lean in. These three are really nothing more than hairless balls-of-rat covered in spikes - and that's cute? Now, if you don't mind, I need to get going. I want to show this picture to my wife; she loves photos of cute baby animals.

As an aside, I didn't know that a baby hedgehog looked so much like a shar pei puppy.

Thanks for the photo, Melita.

Nov 18, 2006

Don't Seem to Mind

Camels won't win any beauty contests, and they don't seem to mind. This one seems to have gone out of his way to show off his looks. He's eating with his mouth full, sporting a mohawk, and is basking in the sun, for all the world to see. This could almost be a dramatic photo, except for ... well, it's a camel.

Photo courtesy: Erik.