Friday 30 December 2011

Bristle Millipede

Image: Biopix, G Drange
In one way, the smallest porcupine in the world is the Rothschild's Porcupine from South America. In another way, it's not a porcupine at all. It's a millipede.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Lion's Mane Mushroom

Image: Wikipedia
Whoa! Er... did Santa snag his beard on something?

This here is the Lion's Mane Mushroom, also known as the Bearded Tooth Mushroom, Pom Pom Mushroom and lots of other names involving beards and hedgehogs. Also Hericium erinaceus, and according to Google Translate erinaceus means 'hedgehog'. So that's nice.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I'm saying 'Merry Christmas!' to everyone, see?

Also Boxing Day. May your cold turkey remain unusually palatable for a long time to come.

Friday 23 December 2011

Hawaiian Squirrelfish

Image: WorldFish Center - FishBase
Just some random Christmassy garb!

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Christmas Tree Worm

Image: Wikimedia
Do you have a Christmas tree? What colour is it? Blue? Yellow? A gentle cascade of white atop deep reds and mahogany extremities? I sure hope it's not green. Terribly passé...

Sunday 18 December 2011

You scratch my dorsal fin, I'll scratch yours

Image: Aleš Kocourek
Giant Moray
We last left the Moray Eel a fearsome creature of the night, his heart darkened by years of solitude, his face grimacing in the shadow of his own bitter soul. You definitely don't want to kick your football into his garden.

Friday 16 December 2011

Atolla Jellyfish

Image: NOAA
Just in time for the holiday season! Some kind of alternative dreamcatcher. Red with tentacles. Just what the world was calling for!

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Spitting Spider

Image: Michel Vuijlsteke via Flickr
This is absolutely nuts! How on earth have I managed to reach a double-digits age without hearing about this thing?! No fair!

Spitting Spiders do exactly what it sounds like they do. I remember Spider Man could squirt out a gooey mess, and he was 15 when he got bitten by that radioactive spider so... no, never mind. The point is, was Spider Man's gooey mess poisonous? I don't think it was!

Monday 12 December 2011

Himalayan Relict Dragonfly

Image: chochoensis
Now that we know all about the differences between Dragonflies and Damselflies, we can appreciate the confusion caused by the Himalayan Relict Dragonfly and its one and only related species.

Sunday 11 December 2011

What's the Difference Between Damselflies and Dragonflies?

Image: Colon Archilla, Alfredo
Red Setwing, Dythemis rufinervis
A Dragonfly

Dragonflies and Damselflies together form the order Odonata and also happen to comprise some of the objectively best, living things in the world, ever... FACT!

Being so closely related you can appreciate that they'd be pretty similar, but there are also some clear differences. It isn't that the local villagers have to offer up a Damselfly every year to stop the ferocious Dragonfly from coming into town all angry and hungry, but the Dragons are the more formidable beast.

Let's see!

Friday 9 December 2011


Image: Wikimedia
I've long been a fan of the Shoebill. They just look so... dangerous. I'm a huge fan of dangerous things that can't hurt me in any way. In fact, that's my favourite kind of dangerous!

Thursday 8 December 2011

Kitefin Shark

Oh dear.

Oh dear me, no.

It wasn't long after the Cookiecutter Shark that I discovered they have a big brother. It's in a different genus and dissimilar in many ways, but the Kitefin Shark is more closely related to the Cookiecutter than it is to any other shark. Also... TEETH!

Wednesday 7 December 2011


Broadbarred Firefish
Image: Wikipedia
The beautiful, deadly and exquisitely lethal Lionfish. Clear evidence that we can all be murderous and look good doing it!

Sunday 4 December 2011

Cookiecutter Shark

Oh No! There's a shark!


It's only 50 cm (19 inches) long.


Wait... it's a Cookiecutter!


Friday 2 December 2011

Japanese Spider Crab

Image: Wikipedia
The GIANT Japanese Spider Crab! Or Macrocheira kaempferi. Or 高脚蟹, which means "tall-footed crab"... you can say that again!

Thursday 1 December 2011

Red-footed Cannibalfly

Image: Lynette S. via Flickr

When you come across something called the Red-footed Cannibalfly, you don't keep it to yourself. You glory in his name!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Robber Fly

Image: Wikipedia
I've always sort of liked Robber Flies. I knew a bit about their predatory nature and strangely chunky legs, but I never knew much more than that.

It's a bit like being aware of a movie that was out when you were a child, you never saw it but you know you would've really loved it if you had.

Well, I'm glad to finally find out some more about this formidable, aerial predator. And I must say, I'm impressed!.

Sunday 27 November 2011


Image: Wikimedia
The Pangolin! Like a walking pinecone! Like an animate artichoke! Like an already strange looking animal fell into a barrel of gigantic fingernails and became even more strange looking!

Friday 25 November 2011

Greater Adjutant

Image: Wikipedia
The Greater Adjutant is a huge, shockingly unattractive stork from parts of India and south-east Asia. Being a close relative of Africa's Marabou Stork, it seems this particular brand of ugly has gone global!

Wednesday 23 November 2011


Image: Adrian Glover, Natural History Museum
We've seen some really weird annelid worms in our time. Ones with tentacles. Ones with powerful jaws. Even ones with gigantic floating buttocks.

It's amazing what the kin of the humble earthworm is able to get up to!

Here, however, is something a little different. Alongside the weird appendages and sticky-out bits, Boneworms, members of the genus Osedax, have also lost some stuff. Important stuff. Stuff like a mouth and stomach.

Sunday 20 November 2011


Image: Wikimedia
Monkfish! Goosefish! Headfish! Mother-in-law fish!

Whatever you call these monsters in your part of the world, it's ever apparent that we're talking about some kind of fish!

Friday 18 November 2011

Giant African Millipede

Je t'aime...
There are a number of related species that get called African Giant Millipedes. They all share a lot in common, not least being great, big millipedes from Africa. Hence!

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Red Eyed Crocodile Skink

Image: Henk Wallays
I remember mornings when I felt like how the Red Eyed Crocodile Skink looks.

Dragging myself out of bed, joints cracking with every move, my back so stiff it felt like it was made of a single plank of wood.

Monday 14 November 2011

Microscopic Worlds, a great video!

I saw this and just had to share, it's amazing!

In the original post you can find out all the labours that went into making it. There were many! Also, the galleries at Microworlds Photography have lots of incredible microscope images to gawp at.

The video features several familiar characters, like Copepods, Water Bears and the squishy, all-conquering tower of malice that is the Hydra. There are also a whole lot more we'll have to get round to!

Sunday 13 November 2011


Image: California Academy of Sciences
Sponges are some 5 or 10,000 members of the phylum Porifera, meaning "pore bearer". They really are full of holes, which I guess is why they're called Sponges, too. But we'll get to that!

Friday 11 November 2011

Microwhip Scorpion

Yet another arachnid that gets called a scorpion but isn't a scorpion at all! This time we're discovering one of the most overlooked and unknown of them all. You might need a magnifying glass for this one.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Honduran White Bat

Image: Wikimedia
BATS! What does that make you think of? A dark, creature of the night, perhaps? Wings of skin stretched across grotesquely extended fingers? Grim beasts roosting in dank caves, amassing a gigantic heap of dung so vast the very air is a defensive fortification?

For the most part you'd be right, but the Honduran White Bat is a little different.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Swamp Eel

Image: Wikimedia
Swamp Eels seem to have taken the "less is more" thing to an extraordinary degree. Apparently, great success and durability can come from simply ridding yourself of various body parts.

Friday 4 November 2011

Bobbit Worm

Image: Wikipedia
Bobbit Worms are massive, nocturnal polychaete worms whose front end is dominated by a pair of astonishingly cruel jaws. Most creatures have their implements of death hidden beneath cheeks, lips or friendly smiles, but the Bobbit Worm has them right out on show. It's like if deer used their antlers to capture and kill struggling prey.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Upside Down Jellyfish

Image: Lyndi&Jason via Flickr
OK, Cnidarians. So you got your polyps which are like the Sea Anemones. You turn it upside down and you got a medusa, which is like a jellyfish. But what happens when a medusa goes upside down again and tries out the polyp life without actually being a polyp? You just got yourself an Upside Down Jellyfish!

Sunday 30 October 2011

Natural Born Hallowe'en Horrors

It's Hallowe'en! That time of year when we celebrate death, join hands with darkness and are thankful for all the wonderful things that evil brings to our lives. Woo!

Behold Death. He's out of his coffin, handing out drinks, telling jokes and being the ironic life of the party he always knew he could be.

Here be Darkness. She's put down the razor blades and is now coaching zombies and ghouls on how to lead a full and purposeful life.

Yonder is Evil. He's dressed up in a long, white robe with a little cardboard halo fixed onto his head with a piece of wire. He does that every year but it's hilarious every time!

But there are some creatures out there that are ever so slightly ghoulish all year round. They just can't help it! Let's take a look at a few of them:

Friday 28 October 2011

Arrow-shaped Micrathena

Image: cotinis via Flick
This is Micrathena sagittata, what has got to be one of the most startlingly diabolical spiders in the world. I'm scared!

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Flapjack Devilfish

Flapjack Devilfish are 20 or so species of deep sea octopus in the genus Opisthoteuthis. They are closely related to our very own Dumbo Octopus and boy does it show!

Sunday 23 October 2011

Vampire Finch

Sharp-beaked Ground Finches are from the Galápagos Islands. They eat seeds and invertebrates. A perfectly respectable diet. But there is a subspecies of this particular finch that lives in rather dry areas. Areas where fresh water is hard to come by. They'll need to find water from somewhere. I wonder where they could possibly find it?

Friday 21 October 2011

Flatid Leaf Bug, Phromnia rosea

Image: Frank.Vassen via Flickr
Image: Wikipedia
Flatid Leaf Bug. This is a seriously unsatisfactory common name. It's as if no-one actually saw this gorgeous little beast! It's even a member of the family Flatidae, which means a whole host of relatives could have exactly the same name whilst being brown, white, green or anything else.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Tripod Fish

It must be so strange. You take a submersible or a remotely operated underwater vehicle into the deep sea. You fiddle around with the controls, the lighting and camera equipment so you can see what you're looking at. You reach the ocean floor and what do you find? Camera equipment!

Sunday 16 October 2011

A Stapeliad by any other name would smell as rotten

Stapelia variegata
Image: Aqua-Marina via Flickr
I love it when a flower stinks of carrion! It's just the perfect perversion and it's great to see plants come across interesting ways to join the Ranks of Monstrosity.

Friday 14 October 2011

Fire Ice Worm

Anyone here ever passed wind? I know, I know, once at Christmas in the early 80s but you decided not to do it ever again. Still, people have bacteria in their guts that help them digest food. Some people, though not all, have bacteria that release methane. Ruminants have loads of them, and it all helps in creating a most undesirable side-effect - an almighty stink.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Venus' Girdle

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this Venus woman most certainly adores beautiful things!

Tuesday 11 October 2011

When lizard meets groin

This video may reduce you to tears. Of laughter! I wonder if I should say 'elevate to tears'?

Anyway, I was all on my own *sniff :(* watching it and it made me cry with laughter. This is quite an accolade because I usually need other people around to get into that state.

My only regret is that this thing has been up for over 4 years and has had over 3 million views, so I'm really late to the party. Still, it really ought to have around 18 or 21 billion views minimum. That's at least 3 for each person on the planet.

Contemplating all the things the poor guy was trying to do and trying not to do is a real delight!

Sunday 9 October 2011

Skeleton Shrimp

Image: Gail Ashton
I'm really loving crustaceans! They're so much more interesting and diverse than I had ever imagined. I now realise that I knew almost nothing about them at all!

This little chap is the Skeleton Shrimp, thus named because he looks a tad skeletal. As is so often the case, it's not an actual shrimp at all, but an amphipod.

Less common is that they are an utterly wonderful blend of the sweetly delightful and the scandalously monstrous.

Friday 7 October 2011

Short-tailed Whip Scorpion

Image: Wikipedia
Oh dear. Scorpion. Whip Scorpion. Short-tailed Whip Scorpion. Once again the paucity of imagination when coming up with names for arachnids is shockingly evinced.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Sea Anemone

Image: Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory
Sea Anemones are named after the flowers due to their wonderful, vibrant colours. The fact that one is a predatory, stinging animal and the other is mainly just pretty serves as no bar to this whimsy.

Sunday 2 October 2011

It'a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a... Frog?

Image source
It's not just birds, bats and insects that can take to the air and soar, flitter or buzz to their heart's content. Powered flight is a wonderful achievement, and we humans have spent a huge amount of time and resources to be able to partake in its delights.

There are many other animals in the world who give flight a go. Most only reach gliding, allowing them to extend jumping distance and avoid the usual "plummet to your untimely death" consequence.

Friday 30 September 2011

Triton vs. Crown of Thorns Starfish

Image: Jonathan Lavan, Underwater Pressure World

We looked at the vicious Crown of Thorns Starfish and its arch nemesis the Triton snail a while ago. Here we see them in battle and to make it clear, the Triton will kill and eat the starfish. In fact, that process appears to be well under way.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Giant Gippsland Earthworm

Some things in the world are just wrong. Amiss. Askew. Perverse... BAD! I think an earthworm that can stretch to over 3 metres (10 feet) in length may well be one of those.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Venus' Flower Basket

Wow! This Venus woman sure likes beautiful things! Not for her some pot made out of brown clay - her flowers are kept in a beautiful, glass, latticework affair. They're also kept in cold, dark seawater so the flowers are probably dead, but the vase is looking great!

Friday 23 September 2011

Laetmogone violacea, A Deep Sea Sea Cucumber

Image source
I know near enough nothing at all about this creature but, somehow, I just love this gloomy picture.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Arrow Crab

Image: NOAA Photo Library via Flickr
These fellows just make me smile, I love 'em! Although I must admit that I was quite surprised at the intimidating guy on the left there! They usually remind me of Bert from Sesame Street. Then again...

Sunday 18 September 2011

Emerald Cockroach Wasp

Image: Wikipedia
Oh, wow! Look at this sexy, young thing! She's certainly gone to some effort. Look at her sparkle, catching the light and returning it to the world in a form more beautiful than she found it. Her second and third pair of legs are adorned with beautiful, orange detail, as if to draw the eye to her shapely thighs. How risqué!

It is no wonder that she is also known as the Jewel Wasp. This 'Cockroach' thing raises questions, though. Gosh, I sure hope her personality is as utterly charming as her visage! (Literary device)

Friday 16 September 2011

Platyctenid Comb Jelly

Image: Wikipedia
We've learnt a lot about all sorts of Comb Jellies, but now it's time to look at a rebel in their ranks, the black sheep of the family. Actually it's the black sheep of the entire phylum.