Entries from March 2008 ↓


I’m too tired to articulate what it is that’s so charming about this picture. Sure, I know it’s about the way its head is turned while it seems to be walking forward, the way it seems to have a concerned look on its face if you turn your head one way, and a smile if you turn it another, but there’s something more.

I remember a few years back my grandmother had turkeys that lived on the roof of her house. I’m pretty sure we never ate them, so I will have to ask someone what ever happened to them, and how they even got there to begin with.

Via Sage’s Flickr photostream

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Obscure Animal Alphabet: Axolotl to Zebu

This is my first attempt at creating an animal alphabet. I’ve tried to make sure everything on the list is somewhat obscure, but also somewhat notable! You probably know about some of these creatures, but did you know about all of them? Let me know!

Some descriptions are shorter than others because either there isn’t that much information on them, or just because I might have forgot to put more information in. I’ll probably augment some of these descriptions later. I was kind of anxious to post this!

A is for


The axolotl is a neotenic species of salamander, a salamander that does not go through metamorphosis. While it resembles the texas cave salamander that the BBC’s Planet Earth made famous, the two are not closely related, the texas cave salamander coming from a lungless family of salamanders. The axolotl does have lungs, but part of the resemblance between the two species comes from their external gills that they retain as adults.

Axolotls are critically endangered in the wild, being only native to two lakes, one of which has been drained by humans to prevent flooding. Despite their status as a critically endangered, they are kept as pets and used by scientists, largely because they are easy to breed.


B is for

bongo antelope

The bongo is a large forest antelope native to Central and Western Africa.

Pictured is an eastern bongo, an endangered species only found in Kenya, with more animals in captivity than believed to be in the wild.


C is for


The Coati is a relative of the raccoon that are native to Southern North America, Central America, and Northern South America. They are omnivores, eating mostly insects and fruit, but are noted as being one of the few animals that can eat large tarantulas.


D is for


The dik-dik are a small antelope native to eastern and southern Africa. They weigh 3 to 6 kilograms (about 6.5 to 13 pounds). Female dik-diks tend to be larger than males.

The black spots at the corners of their eyes carry a gland that produces a dark and sticky secretion that the animals use to scent-mark their territories.


E is for
Electric Catfish

electric catfish

Electric catfish appear in freshwater systems in tropical Africa.

As their name would have you to believe, electric catfish are capable of electrical shocks. The 350 volt shocks are used to incapacitate their prey.


F is for
Fiddler Crab

fiddler crab

Fiddler crabs are a small kind of crab found in mangroves and on the beaches of much of the world. The male fiddler crab is recognizable by its asymmetrical claws.


G is for
Greater Sage-grouse

greater sage grouse

The greater sage-grouse is North America’s largest grouse.

You should watch the courting ritual of the male greater sage-grouse. I’m not sure which is greater, the bizarre yellow sacs that inflate, or the sound they make. It reminds me of the hooded seal.


H is for


The hoatzin is a species of bird found in the Amazon of still debated origins. The species is unique in several ways, including the presence of two claws at the end of each wing as a chick, and a digestive system based on fermentation.

The species is also known by the name “stinkbird,” a name that I also had as a child.


I is for
Iriomote Cat

iriomote cat in japan

The Iriomote cat is a critically endangered species of cat only found on the Japanese island of Iriomote. It is one of four species of cat that can not sheath their claws, the others being the fishing cat, the flat-headed cat, and the cheetah.

An estimated 100 animals are believed to be alive, their decline due to habitat destruction and over hunting. A third of the Iriomote’s 289 square kilometers (about 111.5 square miles) of land was declared a natural reserve, but most of their preferred habitats remain outside of this region. The species is also threatened by their ability to breed with feral cats on the island.


J is for


Javelinas are the wild suinans native to the Americas. While they appear similar to Afro-Eurasian pigs and hogs, javelinas are placed in their own order. One way to tell the difference is that Afro-Eurasian hogs have curved tusks, while javelinas have straight tusks.

Javelinas can not [yet] be domesticated.


K is for


The Kanchil is the world’s smallest hoofed animal. It is native to southern Asia.


L is for

lamprey mouth

The lamprey is a jawless fish with a terrifying mouth (pictured) found in both saltwater and freshwater systems in most temperate regions of our planet. They begin their lives as toothless larvae that feed on microbes, but go through metamorphosis to become these creatures that vaguely resemble eels or hagfish.

The adult lamprey feeds by attaching itself to a fish, digging into it, and sucking its blood. JUST SHOWING YOU SHOULD NOT JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER.


M is for
Marsupial Mole

marsupial mole

The marsupial mole is a burrowing marsupial native to Western Australia.

Marsupial moles only have vestige eyes covered in skin, and lack external ears, giving it the appearance of being a bag of hair with a nose, mouth, and feet.

The golden mole, found in southern Africa, was once considered to be a relative of the marsupial mole, as it appears similar, despite it not being a marsupial.


N is for


The nautilus is the only shelled cephalopod. It’s regarded as a “living fossil” (I ordinarily do not like the term, but find it appropriate here), as hundreds of millions of years ago they were more varied and far more prosperous. Today there are only six species of nautilus, all limited to the Indo-Pacific.


O is for


The okapi is the closest living relative to the Giraffe, and is native to central Africa. It only became known to the European scientific tradition in the early 20th century.

One of our favorite features of the giraffe is their blue tongue, and okapis share this feature. It is also one of the few mammals that can lick their own ears. Zach VandeZande’s sister- in-law had the great fortunate of being licked by an okapi.


P is for

pangolin hanging by tail

While the pangolin looks like a xenarthran (the cohort of animals that include anteaters, sloths, armadillos, and everyone’s favorite semi-obscure extinct mammal, the glyptodon, all of which are only found in the new world), sharing the long tongue of the anteater and having armor like an armadillo or glyptodon, it’s closest living relatives are actually the carnivorans (dogs, cats, bears, pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, walruses), etc). This seems especially strange because pangolins lack teeth.

The behavior of the pangolin is just as great as their appearance. They use their claws to dig for insects, burrow, and to climb. Some species can hang from tree branches with their tail. When sleeping or threatened, they roll into balls. They are pretty much a grade A animal.


Q is for


A quoll is a carnivorous marsupial native to Australia and Papua New Guinea, related to the tasmanian devil.


R is for

ringtail cat

The ringtail is a relative of the coati, posted earlier, and the raccoon. They are sometimes called “ringtailed cats,” but are actually caniformians (members of the dog-like half of carnivorans).

Ringtails are nocturnal, solitary, and omnivores, much like this poster.


S is for


The shoebill is a rare, large bird found over a wide area of Central Africa.

What taxon the shoebill fits into is still not widely agreed upon. It could be a relative of the stork, or the heron, or it could be an offshoot of the pelican.


T is for


The tapir is an odd-toed ungulate native to Central and South America, and Southern Asia

Pictured is a Malayan tapir, the largest of the four tapir species, and the only old world species. It is also the only tapir with that black and white pattern. However, despite their being a large difference in the coats of adult tapirs of different species, juvenile tapirs share a very similar brown body with white spots and stripes.


U is for


Uakaris are a group of monkeys found in the upper Amazon Basin.

Pictured is a bald uakari. In this species, more red the face, the more healthy the uakari.


V is for


The vaquita is the smallest marine cetacean (the order that includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises). It is native to the Gulf of Mexico Sea of Cortez.

The vaquita is a critically endangered species. The number of surviving individuals could be as few as 100, none of which are in captivity. Only one photograph of a living vaquita has ever been taken.

One cause of decline is that vaquita have been accidently caught by humans fishing for other marine life. The damming of the Colorado River has also altered their habitat. In an effort to preserve the species, the Mexican government has created a nature preserve covering the Colorado River delta, and the upper part of the Gulf of Mexico, and a move to the use of fishing gear that will not hurt this species has been made.

Wikipedia | World Wildlife Fund profile

W is for


The woylie is a small marsupial native to Australia. It has a prehensile tail. I love prehensility.


X is for


The xenopus are frogs native to Africa. They are probably most notable as being a model organism for study, the females producing large oocytes, and having easy to manipulate embryos.

The xenopus was used in the first well-documented pregnancy test, as it was discovered that urine from pregnant women induced the production of oocytes in xenopus females. I AM COMPLETELY UNSURE AS TO HOW THEY WOULD HAVE FIGURED THIS OUT.


Y is for
Yellow-cheeked Gibbon

yellow-cheeked gibbon

The yellow-cheeked gibbon is a gibbon native to Southern Asia.


Z is for


Zebus are a line of domestic cattle mostly found in South Asia and Africa. They are more suited for dry and warm climates than non-humped cattle, and have a distinctive hump on their shoulders, and large dewlaps.



This list (and I guess the little descriptions, even though they’re essentially poorly written summaries of Wikipedia articles) is (are) being released under a Creative Commons 3.0 license. None of the pictures are mine, details on each can be found by clicking them!

If I’ve made any mistakes in this post, please let me know! It’s kind of a long post, and I am not the greatest proof-reader of my own work.

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Tamarin or tacky automobile paint job?

Perhaps this is a very beautiful animal, but after seeing a number of cars painted black with flame decals, I just can’t look at this golden-headed lion tamarin without thinking “couldn’t you have better taste?”

Via Danny Barron’s Flickr photostream.

(My next post is going to be huge. Apparently TOO huge. It broke the theme. I’m going to have to either edit the theme, or completely replace it! It will be worth it though! Hopefully!!)

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Blue Dragon Sea Slug

I’m working on a post I’m anxious to have done, so I’ll just quote the photo’s description on Flickr:

    my brother and i found one of these guys floating in a rockpool the other day, looking for all the world like a little blue chinese dragon. i’d never seen anything like it and i had absolutely no idea what it was at first. but i applied my considerable (ahem) natural history talents and came up with an answer – turns out it IS a blue dragon, a pelagic sea slug which floats about the ocean on its back (that’s it’s belly and foot you’re looking at) feeding on blue bottles. so very cool, is it not?

Via Doubtful Guest’s Flickr photostream!

(I apologize for the site’s weird behavior as of late. It’s probably not the greatest idea to play around with settings on a live site! I will perform a minor software update tonight, then post a (arguably major) project I’ve been working on.)

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I found that somebody found the site by looking up “weird lizards,” which I thought was a cute search term. Unfortunately, I don’t have a great excuse to use such a title here because, first, it doesn’t look terribly weird, and second, the tuatara isn’t a lizard. The tuatara lone survivor of the sphenodontia order, and have a skeletal different to that of lizards, and also lack external ears and external genitalia (males of the order squamata, which is composed of lizards and snakes, have hemipenes).

I’m reminded a bit of this older picture.

Via f0rbe5′s (f0rbe’5?) Flickr Photostream.

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a warthog and also a vulture

There was a short lived blog that’s still very popular on StumbleUpon called Let’s Be Friends. I like their theme, but I’m partial to ugly animal friendships.

Via Jumbo 22′s Flickr photostream!

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crazy creepy colombian caterpillar

All I know about this picture is that it was taken in Colombia, and that it is simultaneously beautiful and kind of scares me.

Via Ana Maria Rincon’s Flickr photosream.

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Pangolin Tongue

From the photo’s description:

    A sad story with a great end. This guy was rescued from the illegal animal trade. The shangomas use the parts of these animal to preare muti – “healing” medicine. One of its scales can sell for as much as R20. Luckily this sub-adult was rescued and send to Johannesburg zoo where he recuperated fully. This picture was taken while he still had pneumonia – note the froth on his nose.
    This was the first and only time in my life I was priviledged to see the “rare” creature. We have never seen one in the wild. They can walk on their haindlegs, using the tail as balancing mechanism. Their only defence is to rol into a tight ball. If picked up, they flick the tail and the scales can inflict lacerations.
    He was released back into the wild .

Via Callie de Wet’s Flickr photostream

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“Happy Easter Fish”

I was looking through my logs, and found that somebody had found the site looking for “happy easter fish.” APPARENTLY, if you type that into Microsoft Live Search, this is the first site that comes up. Unfortunately, Uglorable.com does not have any happy easter fish! That is, until today. M… maybe.

I made the mistake of asking some forum goons for some help and this was the best that they could come up with:

anthony michael lol blurs the line between a dream coming true and living a nightmare:

ABS Soul Lute Lee made this for some reason:

HarryLerman reminds us why you don’t send out easter cards:

I also found this picture of a easter island fish petroglyph taken by an Ian Sewell:

And that’s it! I’ve gone from not having any “happy easter fish” on the blog to creating the world’s first blog on blas…fin…y. Herring-tics? Sacr…gil…idge…

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My Friend, The Aardvark

So I now realized I made the “Aardvarks Are Our Friends” reference before.
But I can’t resist this girl.

I am currently at a hotel in Washington with the Fisheries & Wildlife Club, after a day at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.
We got to meet a bunch of the education animals, and this was one of them. Tilly, the aardvark, was awesome. We got to pet her, then feed her a meal worm! We had to make a tube with our hands, then she stuck her tongue in and licked us, trying to get the worm!


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