Wednesday 29 December 2010

Giant Centipede

Image: Tod Baker
Giant Centipede pretty much just means 'really big centipede'. It usually refers to the (really big) ones in the family Scolopendromorpha. When people think 'big centipede' or even just 'centipede', they usually think of a typical (or really big) member of this family. The biggest one of the lot is Scolopendra gigantea, the Amazonian Giant Centipede, which can get over a foot (30 centimetres) long, while others can be much smaller. The really big ones are mostly tropical, but sizeable ones can even eke out a living in deserts. This is interesting, since they dry out easily and like to keep themselves to moist areas and are generally nocturnal.

Sunday 26 December 2010

Water Walkers

There goes Christmas. Now it's time to look to the future, maybe even a little further than New Year's Eve. Or not. In any case, whatever your hopes and dreams, your trials and burdens, your strengths and weaknesses, walking on water would be really cool. More or less half of these miraculous creatures could have 'Jesus Christ' thrown onto their name, but for them walking on water is not a miracle, it's simply life or escape from death. They just don't know how lucky they are! But then again, who does?

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Christmas Island Red Crab

Crabe rouge de l'île ChristmasImage via Wikipedia
The time has come to really start ramping up the jolly. To help you out in that I can think of nothing better than going off to a tiny isolated island to check out a small cold blooded beast with a tough, unyielding integument that is red like Santa Claus' red bits, red like an unwrapped Ferrari and red like blood. Or maybe sorrel.

The island in question is Christmas Island, an Australian territory named after the day of it's discovery. Actually it's closer to the capital city of Indonesia than to any Australian coast, but that's history for you.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Sperm Whale

Image source
Big. Need I say more? I have no idea, but I want to and I'm going to. Still, sperm whales really are gigantic creatures, the biggest toothed animal in the world, in fact. A big male can get to some 20.5 metres (67 feet) long which is just... it's... it's... big. They can also weigh up to some 50 or 60 tonnes. Also big. Life on this scale is like imagining the day to day experience of a tree, it's so alien as to be unfathomable.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Surinam Toad

Image: Arthur Chapman via flickr
That's not a leaf, that's a Surinam Toad! These creatures are strangely geometric and look a bit like the product of some not-particularly-impressive origami. They are remarkably flat, with a rectangular body and a triangular head. They are usually about 10 centimetres (4 inches) long, but they can also double this. Actually there are 7 species of Surinam toad, but they all seem to be quite similar to each other. Also they're frogs, not toads.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Tree Tumbo

Image: calips98
Were you to come across the Tree Tumbo (Welwitschia mirabilis) you may well think it's on its way out, staggering on its last legs, wilting on its last leaves, altogether about to die. This wouldn't be surprising since it is only found in the Namib Desert along the coast of south-west Africa. Round these parts average annual rainfall is a paltry 25 millimetres (1 inch) with temperatures reaching 40°C (about 100°F). You would be wrong, though.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Pacific Barreleye Fish

Image source
The Pacific barreleye is an astonishingly peculiar creature, the kind of thing that could only come from a genius, madman or the deep sea. It comes from the deep sea. Specifically, this barreleye inhabits depths of around 600 metres (2,000 ft) to 800 metres (2,600 ft), where the darkness approaches absolute black. Clearly this provides ample explanation for that extraordinary head, yes? No? Lets take a look.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Monstrosities of the Deep Seas

Ah, the deep sea. Where it appears that to live, one simply MUST be monstrous. Life here is so horrendous and so difficult that just about everything is horrendous and difficult to look at. Marvellous. Here we look at some deep sea denizens. There are no sunlit shots or beautiful, wide vistas, just the merest glimpse through the porthole and into the darkness...

Wednesday 1 December 2010


Image source
Salps are effortlessly weird animals. They have a similarly alien appearance as jellyfish and makes one wonder "how can something that big have no FACE?" It can be difficult to imagine oddities like this really TRYING to be alive and somewhere in their genome thinking it a good thing. Nevertheless they have no face and live still. They also happen to be more closely related to humans and everything else with a backbone than they are jellyfish.