The recently formed Ugly Animal Preservation Society (UAPS) is, according to its president Simon Watt, "dedicated to raising the profile of some of Mother Nature's more aesthetically challenged children. The panda gets too much attention."
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Watt, who is also an evolutionary biologist, and his team definitely did not showcase cute and furry pandas at recent UAPS events held at the Edinburgh Science Fest and Bristol's Big Green Week. Media attention instead was paid to animals such as the appropriately named blobfish.
The southeastern Australian fish's perpetual "miserable" expression matches its present fate, as it often dies as by-catch in deep sea fishing trawlers.
The UAPS makes frequent mention of the proboscis monkey. "Proboscis" is the scientific term for certain mammals' noses. Russell Mittermeier, Anthony Rylands and Don Wilson, editors of the Handbook of the Mammals of the World, explained to Discovery News that this nose is all about function over form. They said that the "long nose is used as a resonating chamber for its loud honking calls."
Watt describes the naked mole rat matter of factly. It is, he said, "very ugly." But, he added that its resistance to cancer has furthered research that can one day help humans.
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Duncan Jackson, a researcher in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield, shared another naked mole rat perk with Discovery News: It is one of the cleanest critters, since it builds latrine chambers to keep its waste isolated from eating and sleeping areas.
"Our society needs a mascot, one to rival the cute and cuddly emblems of many charities and organizations," shares Watt. At the end of each UAPS event, the audience votes on a mascot.
One contender is the Chinese giant salamander, with a head resembling an angry block of concrete.
Watt sometimes campaigns on behalf of the UAPS while holding a sign that reads, "Save the Slug." Surely this banana slug merits a high "Ugly Animal" -- or in this case, to be more precise -- gastropod, rating. Its slippery mucus excretion and mucus-like upper body are another example of function over form. The mucus is slippery and hard for predators to grasp. Its unpleasant taste is also a deterrent for would-be slug consumers.
This frozen-in-moment event is of a dung beetle pushing a ball of poo.
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Adding to this natural slice-of-life scene are two mites, which appear to have hitchhiked a ride on the dung beetle's back.
Watt and his team have christened this distinctive marine dweller the "gob-faced squid," due to its "disturbingly" human-like mouth.
The species is rare, with this individual being the only known documented representative.
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Look closely to view the pubic lice that have infested this poor individual's eyelashes. Pediculosis ciliaris is not a rare disorder, and appears to particularly afflict adolescents, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Showcasing unappetizing images of species like this is always a bit tongue-in-cheek for the UAPS, but conservation for more desirable and endangered critters remains the focus. The society supports World Land Trust, PINKSIE the Whale, and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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