Entries from June 2008 ↓

What’s the deal with blue tongues?

Blue and blue-black tongues occur in several animals.

Blue-tongued skinks are named after them.

Via Bill Hughes’s Flickr photostream.

Some rattlesnakes have them.

Via The Horned Jack Lizard’s Flickr photostream.

The members of giraffidae, the okapi and the giraffe, have them.

Via djhinrich Flickr photostream.

Via zeandroid’s Flickr photostream.

And it’s one of the most notable features of the chow chow.

Via budak’s Flickr photostream.

I doubt there is a common explanation for all instance of blue tongues. The Wikipedia article on Northern Blue-Tongued Skinks says that they “have a bright blue tongue that is often used to warn off or startle predators.” While it’s clear they’re not closely related at all, it seems like a plausible explanation for the rattlesnake as well, as their “rattles” are also used to warn off predators.

It’s hard to imagine that’s true for the members of giraffidae and the chow chow though, giraffes being so tall it’s difficult to imagine any predators even seeing the tongue, and dogs usually being predators not prey. The page on giraffes on the San Diego Zoo’s website says “some people think the color is to keep the tongue from getting sunburned,” which I guess might be possible, but it doesn’t seem to explain its relative the okapi, which I imagine wouldn’t have too much risk of getting sunburns, as its short enough to get shade from tree cover, and lives in the rainforest, where there often isn’t too much sunlight that reaches the ground anyway. I wasn’t able to find an explanation for the okapi’s tongue color, most sources were more interested in the fact that they were able to lick their own ears.

I wasn’t able to find an explanation for the chow chow either, but I imagine that it’s due to human controlled breeding.

My favorite explanation for all of these tongues though is that they just eat blueberries.

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Tree-kangaroo and words words words

I’ve been reluctant to post because to continue, I have to expand the subject of the blog. Looking for species that are both ugly and/or adorable, I keep on finding species that are either one, the other, or neither, that I find to be very interesting. I’ve become interested in why certain animals are well known in America, and not others (I would be interested in what animals are well known in other regions as well, but having spent most of my life in the United States, I’m not familiar with it). I’ve also become interested in why we see some species as cute or beautiful or ugly. Why is the giraffe, for example, considered beautiful? I would think its proportions would seem grotesque, and its odd face and blue tongue wouldn’t appeal to too many, but somehow it just seems so perfect. I guess I will be using this blog to try to [clumsily] explore a bit more than the ugly/adorable thing is what I am saying, basically!

It seems to me there is a wealth of wonderful marsupials that I’m not terribly familiar with. To me, tree-kangaroo seems like a world-class animal. The bodies of tree-kangaroos differ a bit from their cousins who live on land, to the extant that tree-kangaroos are actually clumsy on land, but it isn’t too difficult to see the relation.

Most species of tree-kangaroos only live in New Guinea, and at what may seem like an unimpressive 45 pounds, the largest species of tree-kangaroos represent the largest native mammals on the island.

The species pictured, the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo, is endangered, like several other species in the family. This, combined with their remote habitats, and arboreal nature (animals who live in trees often seem to be not as well understood, largely because they’re more difficult for us ground-loving humans to study) are probably why we don’t see them more often. But I like them.

Wikipedia page on tree-kangaroos.
Via Tim Williams’ Flickr photostream.

(I was going to do something relating to the Spore Creature Creator, as it was released as I was writing this, but when I downloaded it, I learned that my graphics card in combination with my operating system did not work. But if you create something uglorable, send it to me at kento [at] uglorable [dot] com . I want to keep this site about animals, and don’t want to clutter it too much with computer stuff because that’s not why most people come here, but I might add them to the collection of creatures I’ve got started at my new sideproject sporepng.com. Hopefully a solution for my tragically outdated (10 months old!) hardware will be available soon, and I will be able to make some too!)

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AP Photo

A deer with a single horn has been spotted in Italy. Quote from an AP story:

    Single-horned deer are rare but not unheard of — but even more unusual is the central positioning of the horn, experts said.
    “Generally, the horn is on one side (of the head) rather than being at the center. This looks like a complex case,” said Fulvio Fraticelli, scientific director of Rome’s zoo. He said the position of the horn could also be the result of a trauma early in the animal’s life.

(Why does Yahoo! News have an “Animals and Insects” sections?)

Yahoo! News story link.
Via BoingBoing!.

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Baby Ostrich

Via Nick Lawes’ Flickr photostream.

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These Skimmers are an interesting kind of bird. They’re notable for being the only group of birds with a lower mandible that is longer than their upper one. To hunt for fish, they fly just above the water, and open their beaks to skim their lower mandible through the sea. If it hits a fish, the beak snaps shut, it’s got a meal.

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Short-Beaked Echidna

From the Flickr description page:

    face to face with the echidna. Some might say they have a face only a mother could love, but I think they are kind of cute. They are one of three remaining species of egg-laying mammals (monotremes). Taken at the Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia

I’m not sure why anybody would say it’s a face only a mother could love. It’s definitely cute!

Via Alan Wolf’s Flickr photostream.

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Screech Owl

Via Gerry’s Flickr photostream.

Thanks Kimberly!

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Dog, Cat, and Rat

This isn’t the kind of stuff I normally post, but it’s pretty :3

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