Sunday 30 January 2011

A Wonderful/Worrisome World of Worms

Image: Wikipedia
Where would your mind wander were you to hear the word "worms" wailed wildly like some roar for war? After turning round and asking "wherefore art thou weirdo?" you may well cast your thoughts toward the earthworm. And who could blame you? Earthworms are the classic worm, the one we all know, the one we most often come across. Or maybe you would go for the rather more macabre leech? Get some blood sucking and catharsis in there. And who could blame you? At least it's better than some of the other things worms can get up to.

Wednesday 26 January 2011


Image: Wikimedia
Male Eastern Dobsonfly
Oh. My. Gosh.

What on earth is this thing? It's huge! It has gigantic wings! It has massive... ANTLERS coming off its face! Has someone had a nightmare that's come to life or what?

Sunday 23 January 2011

Humboldt Squid

Image: Wikipedia
Also known as Jumbo Squid, Humboldts are large, powerful squid found in the Humboldt Current in the eastern Pacific Ocean, all along the entire west coast of South America and up to California. They can weigh 50 kilograms (100 lb) and reach about 1.75 metres (5.7 ft) in length, and that doesn't include the tentacles. They are usually found at depths of around 200 to 700 metres (660–2,300 ft), spending the day in the deep and dark, rising at night to feast. And boy do they feast!

Their incredible hunger is surely part of what has led to a reputation of aggression and danger surrounding the Humboldt Squid. Of course, the attacks and injuries don't help either. But they are also known as Diablo Rojo, Red Devil. Surely that's a bit much? Or is it...

Wednesday 19 January 2011


Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
Image via Wikipedia
Dear oh dear oh dear. What do we have here then, ay? I thought lemurs were supposed to be cute and cuddly, with bright, feisty eyes and long, fuzzy tails. Who let Freddy Krueger in?

Sunday 16 January 2011

Tadpole Shrimp

A Noodly EncounterImage by jurvetson via Flickr
The Tadpole Shrimp. Another strange, ancient creature which brings to mind times long past and life long dead. They are also known as shield shrimp and Triops, and are indeed sort of tadpole shaped, look quite a lot like a shield with a tail and are related to true shrimp. There are 16 species in all and almost everywhere in the world has at least one of them. 6 of the species are in the genus Triops, meaning three eyes, which is another feature they have, and that name has spread to all the other ones. A large tadpole shrimp might reach about 10 cm (4 inches) in length, others are smaller. They are found in freshwater ponds, pools and puddles and, like some kind of desert plant, they are geared up to take advantage of irregular rains and long periods of desiccation.

Wednesday 12 January 2011


Image: Wikipedia
A while ago we took a look at a strange jelly creature called the salp, which was, oddly enough, more closely related to humans than to jellyfish. Today we set our eyes upon the lancelet, also known as amphioxus. It is another strange invertebrate creature that is a chordate, like all vertebrates. In fact, the creature that eventually developed into everything that has a backbone on the one hand, and maybe even the salp itself on the other, may well have looked very much like the lancelet.

And what does it look like? Quite a lot like a fish. A fish without brain, bone, heart or eyes. So maybe more like a fillet of fish from the shops, just throw it in the frying pan. I guess that's why they are harvested for food in parts of Asia.

Sunday 9 January 2011

Crazy Yellow Ant

Image source
This little guy means big problems. The crazy yellow ant shows, for good or ill, the impressive power of cooperation. At less than half a centimetre long they aren't even large for ants, though their legs and antennae are unusually long. The 'crazy' part of their name comes from their madcap movements which become frenetic and frantic when they are disturbed.

There's something else they do when they're disturbed. While they can't sting, they can spray formic acid in defence. This stuff can actually cause blindness if it gets into the eyes so if you get it on your hands it's best to wash them immediately.

These are ants, so they obviously nest in colonies. I wouldn't like to stumble and tumble into a nest of these acid spewing terrors so the question arises: where are these little beasts from?

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Amoeba proteus

Image by Antonio Guillén via Flickr
I thought it would be fun to investigate a single celled organism and Amoebae seemed a good place to start, but boy, I really didn't know what I was getting into! To get around all the complexity and diversity, the Amoeba, Amoebidae and Amoebozoa, I've decided to focus primarily on one species, Amoeba proteus. They can be found at the bottom of clean ponds, anywhere in the world as far as I know, and seem like an all-round good place to start.

Sunday 2 January 2011


NautilusImage by PacificKlaus via Flickr
It looks like we're going way back in time for this one, indeed some Nautilus have barely changed for 500 million years. They look quite a lot like prehistoric ammonites, although ammonites are actually more closely related to octopus and squid than to nautilus. Nautilus are all on their own, the only living cephalopod to have an external shell - all others have their shell within their body and some have none at all. At least it's all smooth and beautiful with its stripy white and brown-orange-copper colour. Worth having on the outside I think.

Saturday 1 January 2011

New Year, New Blog

Hello all! Yep, I'm having such fun with this blog malarky that I've decided to start up a whole new similar-but-different blog which I'm calling:

I've been finding out about so many gigantic monsters and unique oddities that I decided to start a site totally devoted to giants and unique oddities. Also the fastest, oldest, smallest and whatever other '-ests' we can think of.

I'm taking much more of a whizz-bang approach with this one. I won't be going into great detail on their life and times. We will focus instead on their gold medal, marvel for a while and respectfully move on after a brief celebration.

Real Monstrosities shall of course continue, with the next post tomorrow as usual. I'm just hoping to use what I've learnt so far to try something with a different tack.

So I hope you will join me on this journey of joyous discovery. 
It could be fun!

Head on over to
It's only just begun!

Happy New Year everyone!