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.

Nov 17, 2006

Camping Is Right Out

The wolf spider is one reason why I'll be avoiding Australia for the time being. I don't think I would ever be the same if I stumbled across this lady spider staring at me from her hole in the ground. It certainly makes camping under the open skies an impossibility for me. I know they are unusually dutiful parents (well, the mom at least), and that their bite isn't dangerous, but that doesn't help at all. They're big spiders, and those two front eyes look like they know too much.

Photo courtesy: Stavros Markopoulos

Nov 16, 2006

Like Some People I Know

The wolf-eel (which isn't a true eel), is like some people I know. Their size and menacing appearance give them a bad rap. But if you take the time to know them, they can be quite friendly. In fact, if you were diving off the Oregon coast and could bring yourself to hold a sea cucumber (seen being eaten below), then a wolf-eel might just slither out of its hidey-hole and eat it straight from your hands. But that would involve an encounter with two oceanic uglies, which is more than doctors recommend.

Thanks for the photo, Jared. Also, thanks to Rasmus for identifying an ealier photo of one of these. They are my new favorite not-really-an-eel fish.

Photo courtesy: Chris Wilson

Nov 15, 2006

From Egg to Ugly

I can't believe I haven't stumbled across this critter before. Behold the splendor of the surinam toad. Like many frogs and toads, it seems these amphibians make for a favored pets among those who don't make distinctions based upon appearance.

Photos courtesy: Aqua Land Pets Plus

They are active hunters, preferring live fish to any other food (the poor goldfish sticking out of this one's mouth is proof). But they are most famous for how the female cares for her eggs.

Photo courtesy: Honolulu Zoo

After the male fertilizes the 60 or so eggs, he distributes them on the female's back. They are then absorbed into the skin on her back (see above), and by ten days later, each egg has its own little home in the honeycomb-like back the mother has grown. When they emerge in 10 - 12 weeks, they are fully metamorphosed into frogs.

Usually the only cute phase of a toad involves it being a little tadpole. The surinam toad doesn't mess around with that, though. It goes straight from egg to ugly.

Thanks for the links, Leo.

Nov 14, 2006

A Fine Line

Don't tell me she's cute! Don't say it! I know you want to, and I'm bound to get some hate mail. Just laugh and enjoy the picture. I'll be vindicated when this pic starts showing up on bulletin boards.

I'm stirring the pot here; there is often a fine line between ugly and cute. I'm actually doing some social commentary here. Ya, that's what I'm all about. Uh huh.

Photo courtesy:

Nov 13, 2006

Career Choice

Elephant seals are known to be enormous and aggressive. This photo demonstrates both. While I understand the desire to want to work with marine mammals, after looking at this beast's eyes I might reconsider my choice of career. This trainer is due either for the hospital or the career counselor's office.

Do you see the little seal pup in the lower right-hand corner? He's wondering when mommy's going to finally eat the guy.

Thanks for the photo, Jared.

Photo courtesy:

Nov 12, 2006

Good Pet Frog

When looking for a good pet, you need look no further than the Budgett's Frog. Don't expect them to win any jumping contests. They have short stumpy limbs not suitable for impressive out-of-water travel, but boy can they swim. Be careful if you decide you want to own one, though; they are known to be aggressive. They bite. I doubt it is a particularly painful bite, but it would be freaky to have one of these hanging off your thumb.

Thanks for the photo, Angelyca.

Photo courtesy: Exotics and Tropics

Nov 11, 2006

Urohydrosis is the Best!

The california condor is an amazing bird. It is known for its endangered status, its appearance, and for its enormous size. But did you know that they defecate on their feet to help control their core body temperature? That's called urohydrosis.

I'll bet that's exactly the kind of factoid you were looking forward to having stuffed in your head today. You're welcome. Come again.

Photo taken by Mike Davis.

Nov 10, 2006

Motherhood is Grand

Motherhood is grand, even when demonstrated in critters you would just as soon not see procreate. It saddens me when a scorpion displays a stronger maternal instinct than some women I have seen (ala Jerry and Maury).

I want to see more of this love and attention shown to our own offspring. I'm not suggesting that we starting lugging around our eight kids on our backs (that is what minivans are for), but let's up our game a bit, okay?

To all of those that are already good mothers, maybe you can teach this scorpion a thing or two. Afterall, she may be likely to eat her own young for all I know - a behavior that is more or less absent from our species.

Thanks for the photo, Sean.

Psycho Tubbs

Ferdi sent this photo in of her dog. His name is Tubbs. He has demon eyes and fangs, and a coat of black, evil death hound hair. His is also known as Psycho Tubbs. This photo might be dismissed as one of simply another dog from the netherworld, were it not for the bubbles. The incongruity of the playful bubbles floating their way through the air and the presence of such evil is striking.

Thanks for the photo of Tubbs, Ferdi.

Nov 9, 2006

Nice Technique

Silena helped me identify this crocodile relative as a gharial. These fish eaters live in the fast moving rivers of India, and rarely leave the water. They are nearly extinct, with an estimated 200 specimens left in the wild. Thanks a lot people. I know they're ugly and all, and that those snouts probably make for a fine trophy, but enough already. Ah, but my ranting is useless. I doubt many Indian hunters read this blog.

As these reptiles age, their snouts grow longer and thinner. The males also grow a bulbous tip on their nose, which is used to make a vibrating noise and to blow bubbles in an attempt to attract a mate. That's a nice technique. I'll try it on my wife and see what she thinks.

Photo courtesy: Joanie

Nov 8, 2006

Sphynx Gone Wrong?

This photo has been floating around the internet for a while now, but it is high time I posted it here. I can't tell if this sad feline is a sphynx gone wrong (probably not), or a cat in serious need of a visit to the vets. A new shampoo may be in order.

Thanks for the photo, Jean.

Nov 7, 2006

Productive Bird

The mug of the emu never fails to please. Those big eyes, that big beak - the tiny brain. Always a winner. The female emu (a hen, of course) can lay eggs for 25 - 35 years, beginning at as early as 18 months! Each season they can produce as many as 50 eggs. An emu reaches full height, nearly six feet tall, in its first year. That is a tall, long-lived, very productive, very ugly bird.

Thanks for the photo, Ioan.

Photo courtesy:

Nov 6, 2006

Air Sac Install

This profile shows the wispy hair, scabby scalp, and muddy beak of the marabou stork. It also shows a lovely lump of flesh at the base of its neck. It looks like a melted balloon or a huge wad of gum.

That lump is actually an inflatable subcutaneous air sac. I have no idea why it sports one of those, but I can only imagine that it comes in quite handy. I'm planning on having one installed on the back of my neck, too.

Thanks for the photo, Fredda.

Photo courtesy:

Nov 5, 2006

Santa's Bane

This arctic crab was sent to me by Ilk. It's one more reason to avoid the frozen wastes of the north pole. I've seen Aliens - I know what these guys do. I don't want an ovipositor rammed down my throat, only to wake up later and have a baby alien burst out of my gut. I wonder how Santa Claus deals with these.

Actually, I don't know much at all about this crab. I know it's from the arctic and it's far too spider-like. Any students of marine life care to weigh in on this one?

Thanks for the photo, Ilk.

UPDATE: Thanks to Rasmus, we now know this to be a Sea Spider. Very aptly named. Thanks for the common sense, science.

Nov 4, 2006

Go Long

This photo gives me some insight as to why Texans are so into their football. This man isn't palming some pigskin - no, he's holding a curled-up armadillo for the camera. There are several types of armadillos - seven-banded & nine-banded, for instance - but I can't count the bands on this one, so I don't know if he's from Texas or not. Wherever this one is from, he'll most likely end up being thrown around at the next game.

They're armored for their protection, of course. Unfortunately, they haven't upgraded to kevlar recently. They are often found flattened on the roadside. Be careful out there, people!

Thanks for the photo, Patrizio.

UPDATE: A reader has identified this as a three-banded armadillo - the only armadillo that can ball itself up. Thanks.

Nov 3, 2006

Jailed Monkey

I have mixed feelings about keeping monkeys in zoos. But if they are on display for educational purposes, to rehabilitate them, or to captive breed endangered ones, then I'm OK with it.

I am also OK with keeping this guy jailed ... I mean, in the zoo. Look at that face! Have you ever seen a monkey more likely to get into trouble than this one? I doubt it. I say keep him in there and throw away the key. Just like with some people, the world is a better place with some monkeys behind bars.

Thanks for the photo, Fabrizio.

Nov 2, 2006

Gift Shop Purchase

Every gift shop within ten miles of a beach seems to have a supply of beautiful nautilus shells for sale. You'll recognize it on the creature on the left-hand side of the photo below. But the one on the right shows how abominable these guys look while still living. It's like some horrible, tentacled hell-beast that would have been conjured up for a comic book.

nautilus, which sports as many as 90 tentacles, is is the only remaining member of what once were the largest and fiercest predators of the ocean. Ya, I think even Spiderman might balk at having to take one of these on.

See? That shell you see hanging from the gift shop ceiling for $25 isn't so pretty anymore.

Oh, and by the way: some varieties of these little killers are endangered, so don't by those shells anyway, just on principle. The same goes for dried-up sea horses. In fact, don't buy any shells or dead fish at a gift shop. Stick to the lighthouse figurines and cheesy photo frames.

Thanks for the photo, Matt.

Nov 1, 2006

Bird Droppings

I've previously done a post on on a bug that was camoflaged as poop. But Linda sent me these photos and they take the cake - the stinky, gooey, guanoey, bird-poo cake.

You are looking at the caterpillar of the Orange Dog Swallowtail Butterfly, a native of the US and Mexico. The Orange Dog is so-called because it feeds upon citrus trees. Becuase of this, they are considered pests. This little squirt may turn into a beautiful adult, but it is obnoxious in more ways than one while still in its youth. Kind of like humans.

Thanks for the photo, Linda.

Photo courtesy: