Appreciating the Ugly Things

A spell back, I met up with Stormie Waters and Roland Meadows to discuss (yet again) plans for their upcoming nuptials. When I mentioned stingrays, Stormie expressed disgust and mumbled about Steve Irwin.

People seem to have been conditioned or have developed what I call the "Eww Factor," where something is labeled as repulsive. Those get interesting with familiarity. Researchers must put aside bad feelings for the sake of study.

Ever notice that conservation efforts focus on cute critters, but not things people consider unpleasant?

So many creatures that we consider ugly, such as the stingray, but we can learn to appreciate them for what they are. Many are fascinating, and some have ways to benefit us.
Honeycomb Stingray, Flickr / Arend (CC BY 2.0)
On space opera television and movies, alien races often consider humans hideous.

Put feeling aside and appreciate living things for what they are. As long as they're attractive to each other and keep the species alive, that matters more than our opinions. When researchers get into the joys of discovery, they find unique abilities of "ugly" things and even ways that humanity can benefit. Of course, they don't give credit to the ingenuity of the Master Engineer.
Many learn wrongly in childhood to hate and fear certain animals, especially ones with stingers and poison. Biologists overcome these phobias and examine organisms in their own contexts. What they find is often quite alluring. Here is a collection of news articles on the topic, ‘Why you should love ugly and nasty organisms.’

To learn more, take a gander at "Ugly Life Is Beautiful in Its Own Way."