Friday, 24 April 2015

Tritoniopsis elegans

Image: Sean Murray
Woah...

Anyone missing a lung?

Image: Sean Murray
This gorgeous nudibranch comes from the western part of the Indo-Pacific, ranging from Africa to Japan and parts of Australia.

There they cruise the ocean floor and feast on soft corals.

Image: crawl_ray
Looking down
Tritoniopsis elegans reaches just 5 cm (2 in) long so you may want to bring your magnifying glass along to take a good look at their exquisite form.

I guess the face full of tentacles wouldn't be the first thing to catch your eye. Nor the sensitive rhinophores that rise up like antennae from their head and end in yet more, tiny tentacles.

Image: Nemo's great uncle
No. The first thing to catch the eye are the rows of branching cerata that line their back. These complicated structures are not only beautiful, they're also useful. The nudibranch uses them to take in oxygen, so the branching shape increases the surface area so they breath that much easier. It's just like an actual lung, except it's on the outside and not nearly as horrible as that sounds.

T. elegans ranges in colour from pearly white to orange-red. When you look at the white ones it looks like a wintry scene of an icy lake surrounded by snow-covered trees. Gorgeous!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Pink Squat Lobster

Image: Steve Childs
Someone's fairy godmother is looking decidedly... crabby.

It's the Pink Squat Lobster! Also known as the Hairy Squat Lobster.

Image: Matthias Liffers
Or the Hairy Pink Squat Lobster.

Image: touchement
Or the Fairy Squat Lobster.

Image: Tom Demeyer
It's a Squat Lobster...

Image: prilfish
Who's pink. And hairy.

Image: uniqueless
They're teensy things less than 1 cm (0.4 in) long, but they catch the eye with their pink and purple tinges and spots, not to mention a liberal covering of fuzzy white hairs.

At least, they would catch the eye if they didn't spend so much time hiding among the crinkly recesses of barrel sponges in places like Indonesia and Australia.


Video: Eunjae Im

Now they can walk the caverns and crevices as they seek out the tasty crumbs that litter the sponge's porous surface.


Video: liquidguru

Like other Squat Lobsters, the Pink variety bears two pincers and walks around on three pairs of legs. Most Squat Lobsters keep their fourth pair hidden away most of the time, but the Pink Squat Lobster's rear legs seem to get a lot more use than normal. They're constantly at work grooming those long, fuzzy hairs, clearing out the fluff and debris.

It takes a lot of effort for a hairy, pink fairy to look this good!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

New Caledonian Giant Gecko

Image: Smithsonian's National Zoo
Rhacodactylus leachianus
Probably the biggest gecko in the world!

It's the New Caledonian Giant Gecko, a name which tells you approximately everything.

Image: Florence Ivy
They're found only in the humid forests of New Caledonia, a collection of tiny paradise islands in the Pacific Ocean.

They're giants! Not quite Godzilla giant, although those gecko-feet would've been a huge help for King Kong when he was scaling the Empire State Building. Poor guy.


Video: TheMass33

A particularly large New Caledonian Giant Gecko can reach as much as 36 cm (14 in) long, making them just about the longest geckos in the world. Despite their loose, wrinkly skin they're not slim, either. These guys are thick-bodied and stocky, and their tails are much shorter than those of most other geckos.

New Caledonian Giant Geckos live in forests at elevations of up to 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). They sport classic, sticky gecko-feet which they use to climb high up in the forest canopy.

Image: Josh More
They spend the day hidden away in tree hollows or clinging to the underside of branches, making use of their camouflage.

At night they wake up and look for something tasty to get their teeth into. During the summer months this will mostly be ripe, yielding fruit. Come the more chilly, winter months and our giant geckos must turn their attentions to crunchy, flighty insects. They can also feast on small lizards and even the occasional bird.

Image: Florence Ivy
Basically they'll try their luck on anything that looks like it'll fit in their mouth. And they're giants, so that's a lot!

Apparently, some of the locals in New Caledonia call their giant geckos "the devil in the trees". Why exactly?


Video: ciliatus

Just listen to an angry gecko! Imagine that furious, feral growl descending on you from the tops of dark, nocturnal trees. Spooooky!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Cooee!

Image: Robert Whyte
Hey! I'm over here!

Where are you going?

Haven't you seen an enormous spider before?

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Monkeyface Prickleback

Image: NOAA/MBARI
Cebidichthys violaceus
Monkeyface Prickleback.

Monkeyface.

Prickleback.

This thing is a walking insult!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sun Coral

Image: Alexander Vasenin
Wow! Look at those stars!
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