Feb 29, 2008

Sloth in the Box

I've taken loads to the dumpster and encountered both racoons and possums. But never something like this.

This sloth (Bradypus sp.) looks very pleased with himelf, very content in his cardboard box.
These nocturnal creatures are native to Central and South America. They sleep 16 - 20 hours a day, and have the distinction of being the slowest moving mammal, a title I thought I held.

How slow moving are they? They're so slow moving that algae grows on them (I grow moss myself). This algae serves as camoflage as they clamber about the treetops in search of leaves. They are remarkable climbers, awful walkers, but adept swimmers. And they have one last trick up their sleeves (aside from those claws). They can turn their head 270 degrees.

Nothing in their species profile indicates a proclivity for living in boxes.

Photo source: Knuttz.net

Feb 28, 2008

Cinder the Hairless Chimp

Cinder is an eleven-year-old resident of the Saint Louis Zoo. She is a beloved member of the Chimpanzee exhibit, and is described as a real sweetheart and the center of attention by her handlers.

She suffers from a condition known as alopecia universalis--complete and utter hairlessness (this is also found among 1.7% of the human population). She was born at the zoo as a normally hairy baby. She soon, however, lost all of her hair. Aside from hairlessness, she is an otherwise healthy, happy chimp with a full life expectancy ahead of her.

I post on Cinder for a few reasons:

1) You may have noticed that I am fascinated by instances of alopecia.
2) Cinder's hairlessness shows off her spectacular musculature. There are many homo sapien males who would give much to have those arms.
3) She looks an awful lot like my little brother.

So, the next time you're in Saint Louis, be sure to say hello to Cinder for me.

Thanks for the link, Ida.

Photo source: Saint Louis Zoo

Feb 27, 2008

Hitching a Ride

Just what the world needed: a new species of tick spider (Ricinoides sp.) was found during a 2006 expedition to Ghana's Atewa Range Forest Reserve.

Thankfully, this species of tick spider (the name makes me twitch and need to scratch) is rare. And though he may be looking at the camera and holding his leg up to hitch a ride (I know what you're up to, tick spider), I can rest easy knowing that Ghana is a long, long way from me.

Thanks for the photo, Ida.

Photo source: Piotr Naskrecki via LiveScience.com via Animal Picture Archives

Feb 26, 2008

Not Much Sleep

The kids were up a lot last night, contending with coughs and fever and runny noses. When the kids don't get much sleep, mommy and daddy don't get much sleep.

This morning, when I 'woke' up, I looked a lot like this sphynx cat. The main difference being that I had a bit more stubble to shave before stumbling out the door for work. The cat no doubt got to continue luxuriating in its velvety bedding.

Thanks for the photo, Suzy.

Photo source: Alopecia Sphynx

Feb 25, 2008


The star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) has a number of fascinating characteristics, but I never knew this one: they can sniff underwater. Now, I can sniff underwater too, with the result being a lot of coughing and cursing. But the star-nosed mole can do it productively. They can smell underwater. The image below demonstrates.

Do you see it now? Two bubbles emerging from the betentacled nostrils? Don't try that at home people.

Thanks for the photo, Ida.

Photo source: LiveScience via Animal Picture Archives

Feb 24, 2008

Jubilee for Cephalopods

Senior ocean analyst Kate Wing says that global warming has caused the waters off the west coast of North America to become anoxic, which has led to massive die-offs of sea life. But there is always life in death. As Wing so beautifully put it, all this death has resulted in a "jubilee for cephalopods."

Fishermen are reporting droves of giant Humboldt squid, who have come to the edges of these anoxic zones to feast upon the dead and dying hake. If I may quote more than one of my readers: I for one welcome our squid overlords.

Thanks for the article, Ida.

Photo source: io9.com

Feb 23, 2008


Three recent expeditions to Costa Rica have uncovered 5,000 new species of life. Three of them were previously unknown species of salamander. One of those was super tiny.

This one, the dwarf salamander (Nototriton sp.) grows to little bigger than a thumbnail (about an inch). We've always known that slippery and slimy can come in itty-bitty packages, but now we know it can also come with four legs.

Thanks for the article, Jeri.

Photo source: LiveScience

Feb 22, 2008

Get Your Grub On

I really enjoy a good barbeque, especially shish kabobs. I can smell the steak, the green peppers, the mushrooms, the onion, the pineapple, and the grubs.

The UN is meeting in Thailand to discuss the nutritional possiblities of grubs, and to see what farming possibilities there might be for making them more available in third world countries. As unappetizing as giant, bulbous grubs are to my western palette, I'm all for dining on them. With any luck, they'll find that these grubs are not only a delicacy, but they are also an aphrodisiac, and they will bring you good luck. That'll help preserve a whole bunch of Asian endangered animals.

Photo source: Yahoo! News

Feb 21, 2008

British Invasion

This fish is making headlines in Britain. An angler caught it while fishing for pike, and now there are fears that this fish, the snakehead, might be invading Britain's waterways, despite importation bans.

This little monster, which reaches a length of 3 feet (44 lbs!), kills everything it comes across, and is even reported to kill people. Hailing from Southeast Asia, they can crawl across dry land and even live out of water for four days. Hopefully, this specimen represents a single fish that was released by an aquarist who lost interest in keeping it as a pet. Hopefully, it wasn't able spawn and produce more hell fish.

In the meantime, for all you Brits, keep your eyes open, swim at your own risk. Watch where you step.

Thanks for the article, Rachel, Jade, and Ida.

Photo source: The Sun

Feb 20, 2008


My dinner last night featured some amazing, thick cut bacon. But I think I'll put my pork eating on a haitus for a few days after seeing this photo. But then, you are what you eat, and I feel some kinship with this pig.

Thanks for the photo, Ida.

Feb 19, 2008

Life Lesson Learned

This photo takes me down the path of childhood memories. I was walking along my neighborhood creek when I spotted a young possum clambering about a bush. He looked to be out of sorts, so I grabbed some gardening gloves (such a wise child) and caught him. The gloves turned out to be my saving grace--he bit hard (check out those teeth!).

I took him to the university for rehabilitation, but he died of some disease (or was experimented on...). That was hard for a little tike like me to take, but I learned a good life lesson out of it: always wear gloves when handling ugly, diseased, large-toothed, and ill-tempered beasts. That knowledge has served me well in life.

Thanks for the photo, Ida.

Feb 18, 2008

Sock Puppet Goats

I need some information on these truncated-faced, sock puppet goats. Rachel, who sent me the photos, says that they are possibly an Indian breed. Are there any barnyard hobbyists out there who can identify them?

They look like someone crossed an Irish wolfhound with a goat, then curled their face like you would break in a new baseball mitt.

Thanks, Rachel.

UPDATE: They are a damascene goat.

Underwater Friends

Enjoy this one from Adult Swim. It features some of my underwater critters.

Thanks, Marty.

Feb 17, 2008

Dangling Glory

What is this? Why is Ugly Overload featuring a cute pair of...puppies...kittens...er...

Those are bats, people. Bats! Don't be fooled by those warm, brown eyes, or the fuzzy snouts. Those are, if I am not mistaken, flying foxes.

The photo below shows them in all their dangling glory (imagine the photo rotated up-side-down). Cute little heads mounted on devil bodies, complete with leathery wings and talons. It's so wrong.

Photo source: Knuttz.net

Feb 16, 2008

A New Moth in Town

You're looking at the first ever example of an insect species evolving to become resistant to a plant-borne but manmade pesticide.

There is a new strain of bollworm moth in the southern US that has become resistant to plants that have been genetically altered to produce the pesticide known as Bt. So, for all you corn and cotton farmers out there who are relying on your Bt-producing crops to thwart the bollworm moth, watch out. There's a new moth in town, and he doesn't look pleasant.

Thanks for the photo, Ida.

Photo source: io9.com

Feb 15, 2008

I Need Some Explanations

I need some explanations people. I need the backstory to the pig-on-sofa photo. Who is that man? Why does he have a massive pig in his lap? Why the photo of the boar on the wall? Why does the pig look so happy and content?

And what in the world is this? Rhino/pig? Photoshopped? A new ugly that I've never heard of? Can I own one?

UPDATE: junxkat and amandacheryl have identified this as an undoctored photo of a Sumatran rhino. Lovely.

Thanks for the photos, Ida.

Feb 14, 2008

Who Could Say No?

Sending roses on Hallmark Valentine's Day is so over done. Instead, I propose sending your sweetheart an Orbea macloughlini. True, you will have to collect it yourself in South Africa, but who could say no to a succulent flower shaped like a seastar (it even has tubercles!), and colored a deep cardiac red, complete with veins of fatty plaque? That is true love.

Thanks for the link, Ida.

Photo source: Martin Heigan

Feb 13, 2008

Clear Intentions

Christine took these photos of a spitfire caterpillar (Lepidoptera sp.? Doratifera sp.?) in Sockton, NSW, Australia.

I'm having a hard time telling up from down, topside from underbelly, and left from right on this thing. I can't orient myself. But in the end, that doesn't matter. They're called spitfires for a reason. Not because they literally spit fire (that particular talent can be found in my 2-year-old daughter), but because those spines hurt if you brush against them.

You've got to love a big juicy grub that looks a bit like guano and then zaps you if you get too close. His intentions are very clear. He doesn't want to be bothered.

Thanks for the photo, Christine.

Feb 12, 2008

Post-partum Depression

You're looking at the banded, gray, gooey goodness of the amphibian known as caecilians. These creatures have made headlines thanks to some ground-breaking footage taken by the folks over at BBC. Film crews worked with this mother and her brood for some time, noticing that the little ones were inexplicably growing, without any obvious source of food.

They soon found out why.

They have specialized teeth that allow them to eat their mother's flesh. You must watch the video to fully grasp the situation. It turns out that mom's flesh is nice and fatty, and she is able to regenerate it every three days, so as to keep the young ones satisfied. THAT, my friends, is parental devotion.

And once again, I am thankful that I belong to the mammalian order, in which the offspring are fed milk, not mommy's flesh. That would result in some serious post-partum depression.

Thanks for the article, Carol and Chris.

Photo source: BBC

Feb 11, 2008

Look Again

Naked mole-rats keep cropping up in the news these days. This photo is of the mug of a juvenile at the Bronx Zoo.

Notice anything unusual about its mouth and teeth? Look real close. See it yet? Yup, the rodent's lips are behind its teeth. (Go ahead, look again). That's so the critter can dig, dig, dig without having to open its mouth. How's that for functionality?

Photo source: Yahoo! News

Feb 10, 2008

Dewy Darter

It's photos like these that make me desperately want a macro lens for my Pentax. Alas, being poor prohibits such a purchase.

You are looking at a dew-coated red-veined darter. These dragonflies (Sympetrum fonscolombii) are of European extraction.

I would love, perhaps even pay money, to watch the slow-motion video of this bug waking up and shaking the dew loose. If only it existed. How about it, videographers?

Thanks for the photo link, Theodosia.

Photo source: Martin Amm

Feb 9, 2008

Zelda and the Thunder Storm

Everyone say hello to Zelda and to her proud owner, Susan.

Zelda, a Chinese Crested (same breed as the infamous Sam), was photographed while freaking out during a thunder storm. Don't feel bad, Zelda, I've been caught with my tongue lolling out and my hair standing on end in the midst of a thunder storm too.

The history of this breed lies in myth and a murky, hairless haze. Suffice it to say that they are an ancient breed of Chinese and/or African stock. European sailors in the 1700s commented on the presence of these dogs in Chinese ports and on Chinese sailing vessels. If only they had been equiped with digital cameras and an email account (and immunities against malaria, syphilis, and small pox, GPS devices, labor unions...).

Thanks for the photo, Susan.

Feb 8, 2008

Grumpy Old Rat

I don't think this is a true hairless rat, given the tufts of fur on the old man's face. But I'm not one to bicker about details with someone as grumpy as him.

I'm not sure what I'd do if I opened up my pantry and saw this guy scowling back at me. I would probably just shut the door, walk away, curl up in some dark corner, and pray that he would finish his morsel and find some other house to haunt.

Thanks for the photo, Ida.

Feb 7, 2008

Dramatic Tarsier

Dramatic Tarsier. Enjoy.

Thanks, Ida.

Feb 6, 2008

Amorous Habits

A complicated dance, a bite on the rump and ferocious backward kicks are all part of the wombat's lovemaking repertoire, a new study has revealed.

Ida sent me this article detailing the amorous habits of my namesake. It would seem that the mating rituals of the wombat are so vigorous and complicated that some parental guidance should be exercised before letting the children watch.

Our understanding of the love life of the wombat has increased greatly in recent years. Zoo keepers have found that the key to successful captive breeding lies in giving the wombat pair the space they need to complete their dance of figure eights, kicking, grunting, biting, and playing hard-to-get. But then again, don't we all need that?

Photo source: The Age.com.au

Feb 5, 2008

Lethal Flowers

These first two photos show the power of mantid camoflage. I pity the insect that mistakes this predator for the dead petals it pretends to be.

This last one illustrates what it would look like if a flower transformed into a mantis (hello Insecticon) and ate the fly that had been attempting to plumb it for nectar. Oh little fly, sometimes the flower bites back.

Photo source: LinkInn

Feb 4, 2008

Mean, Mean, Mean

A lot of creatures get an undeserved bad rap. This blog is, in large part, devoted to them. But make no mistake: the green moray eel is exactly what he looks like. And it's not pretty.

They are mean, mean mean, and I speak from personal experience. Once while scuba diving I came across a dead eel floating to and fro in the swells on a reef. No fish was bothering even to peck at it. They're so mean even in death they are given a wide berth.

That same diving trip also involved an encounter with a mermaid making a deal with the sea witch, and helping out a clown fish and a blue tang who were looking for someone named Nemo. But that's for another post.

Photo source: Blue Lotus

Feb 3, 2008

Giant Spitter

The photo below compares the size of the Giant Spitting Earthworm (Driloleirus americanus) to your common night crawler. These worms, once reported as 'abundant', are rarely spotted these days (2005 marked the first and only spotting of the worm in 17 years).

These beasts can get up to 3 feet long, live in permanent burrows as deep as 15 feet, and spit at attackers. Also, they smell like lilies.

I can only assume that if the average earthworm is good for your soil, then a giant, spitting, lily-scented one is even better. Though, the whole thing seems like it belongs in a Harry Potter movie, not in my backyard.

Thanks for the photo, Ida.

Photo source: Live Science

Feb 2, 2008

Coupled with Evil

Labradors have no place here, unless coupled with evil. Anastasia is very proud of her labrador/devil mix named Arbat. And it takes someone special to find a place in her heart for a spawn of Satan. Don't you love it when an otherwise attractive beast gets caught in an unflattering pose (I know you do, you tabloid readers)?

The history and pedigrees of Satan are well-known to most of us, so I thought it might be a bit more fruitful to delve into the background of the labrador retreiver. Contrary to its name, the lab doesn't come from Labrador, but from Newfoundland. Newfoundland was home to some small water dogs, and when bred with the ursine Newfie (breed name Newfoundland), you had St. John's Water Dog, the precursor to our modern-day lab. That all took place in the 18th/19th centuries.

Labs are known for the athleticism, endurance, intelligence, and companionship. My childhood dog was a black lab, named Pilot. Some of my earliest memories are of his enormous tail, which was capable of knocking down small children and clearing off coffee tables in a single swipe. That tail was also involved in some of my earliest nightmares, too.

Thanks for the photo, Anastasia (and Arbat, by extension).

Feb 1, 2008

Smooth as Velvet

The velvet mite makes its home in the leaves of woodland floors. They are the bane of all arthropods with whom they come in contact. They don't dine on us vertebrates. Rather, they feast of gnats, grasshoppers, other mites, etc (a tasty spread indeed).

In case you were wondering, they aren't edible themselves. Not even ants will touch them. Sorry to disappoint.

Thanks for the parasite, Laura.

Photo source: Wild About Britain