God Loves Ugly

This little cutie made a cameo in my last post, which was about beauty… which it does not possess. So let’s do a post about ugliness. Because Nature makes peacocks, and it also makes lazy, ugly puddles of fish that you want to poke with a stick.

Solo! Hay lapa no ya, Solo!

The blobfish of coastal Australia does not do much. It has very few muscles; note the tiny, useless pectoral fins. It lives in deep water with incredibly high pressure, making a swim bladder (the internal gasbag that makes most fish buoyant) ineffective. Instead, it has a body made of gelatinous flesh that is slightly more buoyant than water, which allows it to float barely above the surface, waiting for small animals to pass close enough to its mouth that it can suck them in.

It also has a cousin, the lumpfish. It is also not going to win any beauty contests.

Ugliness is considered the absence of beauty, which is itself a product of geometry, pheremones, and beer. So what function does ugliness play? Well… it’s functional. Ugly is what happens when survival is more important than making an impression, when cryptic texturing will save you or fur would hinder you. The world is lopsided, imperfect, and off-balance, full of leaf litter and jagged rocks. Ugly blends in with the world. Ugly can go places pretty can’t. Ugly works.


About quantumbiologist

Christian Drake, AKA The Quantum Biologist, is a naturalist and poet formerly of Albuquerque, NM and currently living deep in the backwoods of the Connecticut Berkshires. He has worked in aquariums and planetariums, national parks and urban forests. When not birding or turning over rocks to find weird bugs, he enjoys rockabilly music, gourmet cooking, playing harmonica and writing dirty haiku. View all posts by quantumbiologist

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