Endearing: not the most pretty but adorable

They may not be considered beautiful but despite their warts, wrinkles and outlandish ‘hairstyles’, you’ll love them

By Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Rhinoceros Frog (Limnonectes plicatellus) (2016-07-28) by Evan S. H. QuahLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Rhinoceros Frog
Limnonectes plicatellus (Stoliczka, 1873)

The Rhinoceros Frog gets its name from the ‘horn’ on the top of the head in males—which gives it a somewhat endearing appearance.

Rhinoceros Frog (Limnonectes plicatellus) (2016-07-28) by Evan S. H. QuahLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

It is a rare species found in the forests of the Malay Peninsula and was first described from the island of Penang in Peninsular Malaysia in 1873.

Rhinoceros Frog (Limnonectes plicatellus) (2016-07-28) by Evan S. H. QuahLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Males are significantly larger than females, but otherwise, scientists know little about its biology. It is not found outside ASEAN. Within ASEAN, it is found in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Eurhopalothrix heliscata (2016-10-11) by Maosheng FooLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Eurhopalothrix heliscata Wilson & Brown, 1985

Despite their exquisite monstrous demeanour and peculiar ‘hairstyles’, the behaviour exhibited by this species of ants is anything but beastly.

Eurhopalothrix heliscata (2016-10-11) by Maosheng FooLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

In addition to being mild-mannered, this species has rather slow movements. When threatened, they feign death and freeze in a crouched pupal posture for several minutes or until the threat passes.

Eurhopalothrix heliscata (2016-10-11) by Wendy Y. WangLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

The only time when they seem to exert themselves is the sudden snapping of their jaws to seize their termite prey.

Eurhopalothrix heliscata (2016-10-11) by Wendy Y. WangLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

They were first discovered amongst rotting wood and soil in Singapore and the species is not found outside ASEAN. Within ASEAN, it is found only in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.

Peninsular Copper-cheeked Frog (2012-11-14) by Somsak PanhaLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Peninsular Copper-cheeked Frog
Chalcorana eschatia Inger, Stuart & Iskandar, 2009

The specific name “eschatia” refers to this species being found at the edge of the known geographical distribution of the other species in the same group. Like other frogs in the same group, the tips of the fingers and toes have small discs. The females of this species are generally larger than males.

With its big eyes, triangular head and round pointed snout, this species is certainly endearing. This frog is only found in southern Thailand and Myanmar. It was first described from a specimen found at Ngao Falls National Park, Ranong Province, Thailand.

Cock-eye Squid (Histioteuthis pacifica) (2018-03-27) by SJADES 2018Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Cock-eye Squid
Histioteuthis pacifica Voss, 1962

This species gets its common name from having one eye significantly larger than the other. In 2016, researchers established that squids in this group orientate their larger eye pointing towards the surface and the smaller eye pointed towards the ocean depths, all while maintaining an oblique tail-up-head-down body orientation.

Cock-eye Squid (Histioteuthis pacifica) (2018-03-27) by SJADES 2018Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Living in the ‘twilight’ zone (between 200 and 1,000 metres below the ocean’s surface), these squids uses its larger eye to sense objects outlined against sunlight from above and the smaller eye to sense bioluminescence from below. Each eye is thus adapted to peering into different parts of the vast ocean. Histioteuthis pacifica is found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Within ASEAN, it is known from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Doto greenamyeri by Chay Hoon TohLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Doto greenamyeri Shipman & Gosliner, 2015

With its two pairs of antenna-like structures (called “rhinophores”) and structures on its back called “cerata”, this is a rather endearing animal. The scientists who formally described and named this species described the cerata as looking like honey-dippers or stacks of pancakes—Winnie the Pooh would be thrilled.

Doto greenamyeri by Chay Hoon TohLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

This species was first photographed in Papua New Guinea waters by John Greenmyeri, whom it is named after. It was formally described and named in 2015. It is remarkable that this relatively large species (at 15 millimetres) would escape attention for so long.

Doto greenamyeri by Chay Hoon TohLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

This species was only known from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea until an individual was observed in waters off Pulau Hantu, Singapore in 2017. Within ASEAN, it is only known from Indonesia and Singapore.

Angular-headed Newt (Tylototriton anguliceps) (2005-01-02) by Porrawee PomchoteLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Angular-headed Newt
Tylototriton anguliceps Le, Nguyen, Nishikawa, Nguyen, Pham, Matsui, Bernardes & Nguyen, 2015

Soon after it was described in 2015, newspapers reported what they labelled the “Klingon Newt” due to the structure of its head that resembles a race of aliens in ‘Star Trek’.

This and over 150 other new species had been recently found in the biologically diverse Mekong region.

Angular-headed Newt (Tylototriton anguliceps) (2006-05-11) by Porrawee PomchoteLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

The authors of the 2015 article were slightly more serious, proposing the common name of Angular-headed Newt—though the more infamous name stuck with the animal. With a black body and orange head that connects to an orange ridge running down its back, this amphibian is certainly adorable in its own way. The two rows of orange knobs running down its side and little orange feet complete the effect. This species is not found outside ASEAN. Within ASEAN, it is found in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

Yellow Candy Pill Millipede (2015-10-21) by Somsak PanhaLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Yellow Candy Pill Millipede
Hyleoglomeris aurea Likhitrakarn, Golovatch & Panha, 2015

With its alternating bright yellow or yellowish-brown wide bands and brown narrow bands, this species of pill millipede looks like a striped yellow candy ball when it rolls itself into a sphere!

Yellow Candy Pill Millipede (2015-10-21) by Somsak PanhaLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Rolling into a ball or ‘pill’ helps to protect this slow-moving species from predators. In ball ‘mode’, only its hard exoskeleton is exposed.

Yellow Candy Pill Millipede (2015-10-21) by Somsak PanhaLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

This species is only known from deciduous forest in Sukhothai Province, Thailand. Little else is known about its biology.

Durian Bent-toed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus durio) (2014-03-25) by Evan S. H. QuahLee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Durian Bent-toed Gecko
Cyrtodactylus durio Grismer, Anuar, Quah, Muin, Chan, Grismer & Ahmad, 2010

This species of bent-toed gecko was first described in 2010 and named after the durian—Southeast Asia’s favourite love-it-or-hate-it fruit. The name was given because the many spines on the gecko are reminiscent of the thorns on the ‘king of fruits’. The beige ground colour with blotches of light and dark brown enhances this appearance.

Another unique feature of this species is its prehensile tail which it can use to grasp on to tree branches in its forest habitat, an ability it shares with another species from Indonesia. The Durian Bent-toed Gecko is not found outside ASEAN. Within ASEAN, it is only found in Peninsular Malaysia (and endemic to Kedah).

Cock-eye Squid (Histioteuthis pacifica) (2018-03-27) by SJADES 2018Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Beauty pageants are overrated. With their outsized heads, asymmetrical eyes and warts, these wonderful creatures will grow on you.

Credits: Story

Text:

Angular-headed Newt
Letchumi Mani
(National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Cock-eye Squid
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
(National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Doto greenamyeri
Chay Hoon Toh
(National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Durian Bent-toed Gecko
Rhinoceros Frog
Evan S. H. Quah
(Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia)

Eurhopalothrix heliscata
Wendy Y. Wang
(National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Peninsular Copper-cheeked Frog
Yellow Candy Pill Millipede
Somsak Panha
(Chulalongkorn University, Thailand)



Images:

Angular-headed Newt
Porrawee Pomchote
(Chulalongkorn University, Thailand)

Cock-eye Squid
SJADES 2018
(Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Indonesia and National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Doto greenamyeri
Chay Hoon Toh
(National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Durian Bent-toed Gecko
Rhinoceros Frog
Evan S. H. Quah
(Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia)

Eurhopalothrix heliscata
Maosheng Foo
Wendy Y. Wang
(National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Peninsular Copper-cheeked Frog
Yellow Candy Pill Millipede
Somsak Panha
(Chulalongkorn University, Thailand)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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