Wednesday 30 May 2012

Dead Horse Arum

Image: emmapatsie via Flickr
Helicodiceros muscivorus
I love flesh-mimicking flowers! Things that blur boundaries are often interesting, but one would think that the plant/animal divide would be an extremely strong one. Not so much a picket fence as a 3 foot thick, lead wall.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Ocean Sunfish

Image: Dive Concepts Bali via Flickr
It's the third biggest fish in the world! It's... wait a minute... where's the rest of it?

It's the biggest fish head in the world!

Friday 25 May 2012

Violin Beetle

Image: Dr. Arthur Anker
If it's smooth, curvy and made of wood, it's probably sexy. I'm right, aren't I? I haven't revealed some weird fetish thing about myself, have I? Nah... We all want to strip off and get into our fancy dan, wooden bathtub, feel the silky textures against our increasingly raisin-like skin... oooooh! Mmmm...

It's like tree-hugging taken to the next level. Only with more tree-corpse.

Wednesday 23 May 2012


Gorgonocephalus is Greek for "dread head". The similarity to Rastafarians pretty much ends there.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Basking Shark

Image: Greg Skomal/NOAA Fisheries Service
It's the second biggest fish in the world! It's a shark! But from the sounds of it we have absolutely nothing to fear. Is the Basking Shark really sitting around enjoying the Sun?

Friday 18 May 2012

Illacme plenipes, leggiest of them all!

Illacme plenipes has more legs than any other animal! It's a millipede, of course. What else could it possibly be?

The strange thing is how tiny it is. We're talking scarcely more than 3 cm (1.2 in) long and about half a millimetre (0.2 in) wide. In this diminutive frame they pack some 750 legs!

Isn't that amazing? You'd think they'd have legs on their back, legs on their sides and legs on their legs... just pure legs everywhere! Instead it's a skinny but otherwise perfectly normal millipede. They just happen to be unbelievably leggy.

The females are, anyway. Males are somewhat less impressive, being half the length and struggling with a mere 300 or 400 legs. I guess a gentleman should never take the limelight.

Unfortunately, they don't actually have spotlights following everywhere they go. Neither are they weighed down by a shiny, gold medal around their minute neck. There's even a distinct lack of red carpets beneath their hundreds of feet. The wear and tear would be too great.

First discovered in 1926 in central California, these record breaking celebrities immediately took to the life of a recluse. They weren't rediscovered until 2005. They refused to be interviewed but consented to a brief photo shoot. Always leave your fans wanting more, right?

Thursday 17 May 2012

The Deepstaria enigma: Addendum

The fine folks at MBARI have let us in on some more footage of that crazy Deepstaria jellyfish.

This time it looks elegant and majestic, still incredibly odd but not flailing around embarrassingly like a drunk in a really nice suit.

We also get to see our very own Big Red Jellyfish in action and another glimpse of the cascading oral arms of Stygiomedusa gigantea.

These are all big, deep sea jellyfish who lack tentacles, and so have had to find other ways of catching their food. It involves being really weird. Good!

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Sarcastic Fringehead

Image source
Sarcastic? Really? It may be "the lowest form of wit" but I certainly don't rise above a bit of sarcasm and I'm pretty sure my face is a little more deadpan when I indulge in such lowly pleasures.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Whale Shark

Image: Rob Hughes via Flickr
It's the biggest fish in the world! It's a shark! But it's not a humongous meat eater. We really must be grateful for utterly gigantic mercies!

The thing with Whale Sharks is that it seems to get worse and worse the more you know.

Friday 11 May 2012

The Deepstaria enigma

Isn't it terrible? You're fast asleep on your beautiful, satin sheets, indulging in a really scary nightmare. Perhaps it involves a guy getting bitten by a radioactive spider. The horror that ensues turns out to be quite unlike your friendly, neighbourhood Spiderman. But then the nightmare pops right out of your head, bites your beautiful, satin sheets, turns them into another nightmare and off they go together and disappear into the sea!

Those were some really nice sheets.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Red Cage Fungus

Image: key lime pie yumyum via Flickr
A Demon strides toward you. He must be 9 feet tall, his hoofed feet effortlessly landing on the small lumps of rock that float atop the broiling lava. Tendrils of flame lick his flesh almost up to his knees, blackening his skin and burning away flecks of hair.

Above his knees and up to his waist is a thick mass of brown fur, matted, clumped and variously tinged with red and black. Above the waist his leathery skin is a sickly, almost celebratory orange. His eyes are completely black, but surrounded by a painful red as if irritated by the acidic fumes.

"You? You wish to fight for your freedom?"

You stare up at him, unable to speak.

"Are you ready for the Red Cage?"

Sunday 6 May 2012

You Sexy Tiger! Beetle

Image: Ted C. MacRae, Beetle in the Bush
You can't possibly forget the Tiger Beetle! They were the fast-moving, wide-eyed, angry-faced predators who wore their cold, murderous hearts right on their sleeve. You see a Tiger Beetle and you immediately know it kills stuff. At least they're honest!

But a lot of them are remarkably attractive.

This one is so attractive it's known as the Festive Tiger Beetle. You can see why, right? It has a vibrant, emerald green head and thorax with deep ruby wing cases. Sort of like holly. And then it tops it all off with Santa's white beard!

Like most Tiger Beetles, Cicindela scutellaris is found in dry, sandy areas where they can more easily spot prey and run after it. This one in particular is found in numerous, separate parts of eastern and central United States.

Let's make this clear, I don't think these Tigers are trying to fool anyone. We all know Festive Tiger Beetle festivities will involve the death of many insects. I think on the contrary they're so proud of their vicious escapades that they want everyone to watch admiringly. Who am I to deny them their evil intent?

Friday 4 May 2012


Image: David R. Maddison
These must surely be the most humble of all Myriapods.

There are people out there with pet centipedes, feeding them mice and smiling fiendishly at the resulting carnage.

There are others with pet millipedes, watching them eat vegetables and giggling with delight as countless legs crawl across their quivering skin.

But no one has a pet Pauropod.

Wednesday 2 May 2012


Image: NOAA
Being big and strong is cool! But some things are bigger and stronger than you could ever be. Cirroteuthis shows us how to yield gracefully.