Recent "Ugly Animal Kingdom" Articles
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: Hybrid Vigor
*Follow up 8/21/06: experts say "it's just a dog, maybe a chow mix" Bummer. But I hear that Chows can be really scary too.
An un-identifiable Dog/Rodent hybrid was struck by a car on Rt. 4 in Maine while chasing a cat. Local residents speculate that the creature maybe the mysterious predator that has been prowling the countryside, attacking dogs, frightening adults, and producing an "otherworldly howl". For other recent "hybrids in the news" follow the jump:
Ugly Animal Kingdom presents: The galathée yéti
Apparently the Yeti does exist, it just doesn't look like we thought it did.
French zoologists have discovered a new species of crustacean, Kiwa hirsuta in the icy depths off of Easter Island. An eyeless lobster-like creature, it's appendages are covered in a fine hair-like matter. The common name, Galathee yeti, was assigned by the French scientists. (Who are obligated to assign a french word for every new discovery, lest their language become obsolete) The scientific moniker, Kiwa hirsuta loosely translates to "hairy goddess" The creature is so unlike any family of crustaceans, that it was assigned it's own family: Kiwaida, derived from Kiwa, the goddess of crustaceans in Polynesian mythology. Divers found the animal in waters 7,540 feet deep. The silky hairs were populated with species of bacterium common to deep-sea thermal vents. Unfortunately, when brought up to the surface, the creature died due to the massive change in atmospheric pressure. One step forward, two steps back-jackasses.
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: Sexual Cannibalism *Valentine Edition*
The practice of sexual cannibalism, primarily characterized in several species of insects and arachnids, is frequently misunderstood.
The Mantis religiosa species of mantis requires that the head of the male be removed for proper ejaculation to occur. In most of the other 200+ species of mantis, this behavior is very rare. In addition, cannibalistic behavior in black widow spiders is also quite rare in the wild.
It is thought that most early observations of male/female behavior occurred in laboratory conditions in harsh lighting, a jar, fishtank or other confined space following stressful handling by the observer. In several of these species, the female is much larger than the male, and under stressful conditions, is very likely to attack him.
When this behavior does occur in the wild, there are several variations:
Pre-copulatory cannibalism may occur as a mechanism for female choice. For example, several males will approach a fertile Orb Weaver spider in its web. (image above) The female may eat those males she does not find suitable mates to prevent them from mating with her.
Given that this behavior occurs in predacious species, pre-copulatory cannibalism can sometimes occur due to "mistaken identity".
In the Yemenese species of spider, Tidaren argo, the "palp" or male reproductive organ, is torn off by the female following insertion. She then consumes the male, leaving the palp in place which functions independently to continue fertilization for up to four hours.
In Ceratopogonid midges, the female eats the male during mating. These short-lived insects generally only get one opportunity to mate, and the female consumes the male as nutrition, as well as the extended fertilization that occurs after his death.
In Australian redback spiders, the male performs a "sexual suicide" by placing his abdomen in the mouth of the female during mating. This appears to prolong the copulation. In addition, a female that has eaten a male will not copulate with another male spider, ensuring the reproductive success of the sacrificed male.
In humans, there is no anthropological evidence of sexual cannibalism in even the most primitive of rituals, this behavior is reserved for those with psychosexual disorders. For examples of sexual cannibalism from these ugliest of animals: see CourtTV's crimelibrary.com
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Hellgrammite
The Hellgrammite is the larval form of the Dobsonflly, Corydalus Cornutus. They are typically about 2.5 inches long, and live in and around fast moving streams and rivers. They have 1/4 inch long mandibles that can cause a bloody pinch on a human finger, as well as hooked forelegs that they use to hold on to rocks in a current-or the aforementioned finger. How would said finger come in contact with above Hellgrammite you ask? It seems Hellgrammites are a favorite food of just about every tasty fresh water sport fish in the US. And as such, a popular bait. As a kid fishing with my dad in Maine, I believed that the Hellgrammites weren't actually bait, but that they attacked the fish and put them on the hook. We handled them with needle-nose pliers.
As adult Dobsonflies, they only live for a few days, but gain longer pincers. In the males they are used for grasping the female for mating. In the females, they are shorter, but more likely to be used to inflict a nasty bite.
Ugly Animal Kingdon: Sperm Whale Vomit
An Australian couple were walking along the beach when they stumbled across a 32lb ball of Sperm Whale vomit. While that sounds like the start of a gross out story, it actually turned out to be their lucky day. It seems sperm whale vomit, or Ambergris as it's known, is very rare and a prime component in perfumes, and the vomit has been valued at nearly $300,000. Read the full story here.
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Camel Spider
Not technically spiders, Camel Spiders make up a subcategory of Arachnids called Solifulgae, or Wind Scorpions. They grow to a legspan of about five inches, with a two inch body. They were the subject of a hoax email generated during Operation Desert Storm and reinvigorated in the last few years. Although purported to be vicious venomous feasters on human flesh, they are non-venomous and typically eat scorpions and centipedes and other large desert insects and arachnids. See video of a camel spider catching a scorpion here. Camel spiders are fond of shady spots, so soldiers tents, clothes, boots, etc. are popular hideouts. When cornered or stepped on, they will inflict a nasty bite with their oversized Chelicerae (jaws) that is prone to infection. There are around 1,100 species of camel spiders inhabiting the deserts of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. For some amazing photos taken by National Geographic photographer Mark Moffett in Iraq, check here.
To satisfy your curiosity about the unusual mating habits of Camel spiders, see after the jump.
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: Two Headed Snakes
Here's one ugly animal kingdom honoree you can have for your very own. "We", a two-headed albino rat snake is soon to be auctioned on ebay, with a starting price of $150,000. We's current owner, the World Aquarium in St. Louis is auctioning the snake to raise money for educational programs at the aquarium. We is unique in that most two headed snakes generally don't survive longer than a few months. Often, the two heads fight each other for food, and injury or starvation result. Also, often the digestive appparati are incomplete or malformed. We, however has survived for over 6 years and is healthy due to a shared stomach between the two heads. It is also believed that one of the heads is genetically male, although the reproductive apparatus of the snake is female and fertile.
See video footage of "We"
Other two-headed snakes:
And the rest...Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Vulture
There are two families of Vulture species, the Old World Vultures common to Africa and Asia, Accipitridae and the New World Vultures, Cathartidae which include the Turkey Vulture and the American Black Vulture. The Old World Vultures find their...
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Hyena
The spotted hyena, or Crocuta crocuta ("fisi" in Swahili) weighs 90-190 lbs and has been shown to live 25 years in captivity. They are born with their eyes open and a full set of teeth, although they nurse for...
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Tapeworm
Tapeworms are generally transmitted by the ingestion of infected meat (in humans and cats), or transmitted by infected fleas (in dogs). The tapeworm larvae is ingested and "hatches" in the digestive milieu. With a combination of hooks and suckers,...
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Deep Sea Angler
The category Deep Sea Angler describes the over 120 species within the sub order Ceritiodea. Their large jaws and distensible stomach allow the female angler to eat prey as large or larger than themselves. The anglers are noted for...
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Vampire Bat
The vampire bat, or Desmodus rotundus, feeds exclusively on mammalian blood. Their primary source is sleeping livestock. They will typically bite an incision and lap up the flowing blood. Their sharp teeth and their light frame allow them to...
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Norway Rat
The Norway Rat, or Rattus Norvegicus, is a ubiquitous species located in every corner of the world with human settlement. Native to Asia and Japan, the Norway rat arrived in Europe in the 1500's and traveled to North America...
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Cane Toad
The cane toad, or Bufo Marinus, was introduced to Hawaii and Australia in 1935 to control the beetle population (to protect the Sugar Cane) As it turned out, the cane toads had little interest in the beetles and more...
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Oyster Toadfish
The Oyster Toadfish, or "Opsanus tau" is a local addition to our array of celebrated creatures of the "Ugly Animal Kingdom" Ranging from Maine to the West Indies. I can personally vouch for it's ubiquitous presence in the tidal...
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Almiqui
The almiqui, or "Atopogale cubana" is as it's scientific name implies, native to Cuba. These insectivores were thought extinct until one individual was recognized and captured by a Cuban farmer in 2003. (it was nicknamed "Alejandrito" and released two...
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Naked Mole-Rat
Neither mole, nor rat, and with the social structure of an ant colony, the naked rat-moles (Heterocephalus glaber) cohabitate in large groups with a "Queen" female reproducing with a few select male minions and the rest of the colony...
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Matamata Turtle
Resident of the Orinoco and Amazon rivers of Venezuela and Brazil, the Matamata Turtle, or Chelus fimbriatus, spends most of its time on riverbottoms looking like an algae-covered rock. It is a very effective hunter, capturing its prey with...
Ugly Animal Kingdom Presents: The Star-Nose Mole
To learn more about the star-mole and the recent advances in neurobiology that have stemmed from the finger-y schnoz of this amazing creature see: Dr. Ken Catania's work at Vanderbilt University....