Wednesday 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

Wishing you all a chocolate covered day! And a rich, caramel filled night.

Or at least something better than dead fish in the dark.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Return of the Hallowe'en Horrors

It's Hallowe'en! That time of year when we play snakes 'n' ladders with death, peek-a-boo with darkness and rock, paper, Armageddon with evil. Fun!

Behold Death. He's stripped to the waist to show off his brand new array of internal organs. He looks great! At least 3 or 4,000 years younger! The surgeon says he can choose some skin in a few weeks, maybe even an eyeball!

Here be Darkness. Her flower arranging has really come on leaps and bounds this year. She's taken a very important step and decided not to paint all the flowers entirely black. We now have one crimson petal peeking out from the shadows. She says it's a revelation!

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

But some creatures don't need to dress up in a long, white robe to be scary. They don't need clothes at all. They're entirely NAKED! All the time! Let's go see!

Friday 26 October 2012


Three Wolbachia within an insect cell. They each have a white ring around them.
It ain't no halo.

Long before Count Dracula was stalking the night, knocking on the bedroom window and introducing young Victorians to the secret urges that emerge when you forget to take your hourly cold shower, there was Wolbachia.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Reaper Cuttlefish

Image: richard ling via Flickr
Sepia mestus
Not all reapers are grim!

Sunday 21 October 2012


Image: Ken Roblee/New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Cryptobranchus alleganiensis
Hellbender... very much NOT on the straight and narrow, then. This impression grows even clearer when you hear some of their other common names, like Devil Dog and Mud Devil. The real clincher, however, is Snot Otter. Snot Otter! This is a dark business, dear reader. Keep a tight grip on your soul. And bring a handkerchief.

Friday 19 October 2012

Melted Marshmallow Sponge

Image: neptunecanada via Flickr

Isn't it strange?

You go to the cold, dark depths of the sea
and it turns out you just missed a camp fire.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Veiled Lady

Image: Shashidhara halady
Well, now. At least one Stinkhorn is trying to preserve its dignity. Sort of.

Sunday 14 October 2012

How does a scorpion eat a lion?

With difficulty!

Oh, and by adding 'fish' at the end.

You know how it is. You're peacefully walking along a quiet road, minding your own business, the imaginary bodycount reaching apocalyptic proportions as you indulge in various fantasies... the usual thing. When you come across a gigantic rock in the street.

It barely registers as you blithely walk past. Who cares about a massive boulder in real life when you're flying around with laser eyes and that guy who stole your sweets when you were 10 years old is begging for his life in your imagination.

And then, just as your imaginary laser eyes are about to carefully remove yet another limb, the giant rock comes to life and eats you.

I have no idea how it deals with the Lionfish's poisonous spines!

"Strange", you say to yourself as you're swallowed whole. You realise that you should have paid a lot more attention to that peculiar rock in the road.

Since you are no longer able to in real life, your imaginary self slaps itself on the forehead and sighs heavily.

Friday 12 October 2012

Wrong again, Sea Cucumber

Image: neptunecanada via Flickr
Now, I love slugs, snails and puppy dog's tails as much as the next little boy, but, and I hope this doesn't sound terribly fascist, but I like my slugs to be slugs and my snails to be snails.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Image: USFWS/Southeast via Flickr
Macrochelys temminckii
SNAP! But it's the wrong kind of SNAP!

Sunday 7 October 2012

Dung Beetle

Image: Arno & Louise Wildlife via Flickr

Friday 5 October 2012


Image: Simon Richards
Oh no! Don't tell me centipedes have made it into the sea as well?

Wednesday 3 October 2012

REVIEW: The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

"Death is not the end, it's just a case of being metabolically different."
                      Caspar Henderson

Fantastic! The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is A 21st Century Bestiary that uses an A to Z of animals to explore a whole range of scientific and human issues.

If nothing else, the book is a clear demonstration that its author, Caspar Henderson, is a right, ol' clever clogs. Each chapter brings together an array of quotes, history, art, science, mythology and story to bring the subject alive. It's amazing to see how our thoughts and ideas surrounding life on earth have changed over time, let alone how much life itself has changed over significantly more time.

Each chapter focuses on a single creature, including many of our old fiends like the Axolotl, the Sea Butterfly and even Venus' Girdle! A girdle so sexy and sheer that barely anyone knows it's even there!

Each animal teaches us something about earth, life and our place within it. Where we came from and what we should do now that we have all this ridiculous world-changing power. It seems to me that this really is a time for thought; our accidents and unintended consequences are not like your grandfather's. With power comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes having an idea of what the hell it is you're doing.

Each chapter is also introduced with a beautiful illustration by an Iranian artist called Golbanou Moghaddas. His earthy, organic art sums up the chapter in a way that raises quite a few questions. What on earth does the Crown of Thorns Starfish have to do with van Gogh's Sunflowers and the Pyramids of Giza? You'll have to read it to find out!

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is out now in the UK

The rest of the world will get it a little later, so Americans can feel what it's like to have to wait for Hollywood movies.

Also check out Caspar's blog.