Friday 30 August 2013

Ocnus lacteus

Image: National Museums Northern Ireland
A central nervous system strikes out alone...

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Death Adder

Image: teejaybee
Death Adder. Death. Adder. Now there's a name you can have confidence in!

Sunday 25 August 2013


Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)
Triggerfish are already mean, violent and dressed like a clown, but are they ARMED as well?

Friday 23 August 2013


Image: Bernard DUPONT
You got your slugs, you got your snails, but don't forget your "a little from column A, a little from column B" semi-slugs!

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Parenting. Undertaker Style

You know how it is...

You run up and down, down and up looking for a nice, fresh corpse. You spend hours burying it underground, stripping off the fur and covering every inch of flesh in anti-bacterial, anti-fungal secretions from your own body. It's a tough job, but it's all to create a safe, secure place to raise your children.

On that hallowed, longed-for day when your little ones open their tiny eyes to be greeted by a dark crypt lined with fur, a mound of corpus delicious waiting at its centre, you immediately set to work. You consume lumps of grey, lifeless flesh, digest it and lovingly regurgitate the liquefied result into the desperate mouths of your defenceless young.

It's what any mother would do.

But there's a problem. Your children are boisterous and competitive. They fight for your attention by reaching out with their tiny legs, touching your mouth in the hope of receiving another mouthful of home cooking.

Worse still, one child suffers from a particularly nasty case of oral fixation. He cries and bawls and pesters you constantly, never content with what he has and jealous of every moment of attention devoted to his siblings. Even when he's well fed, the meat soup scarcely dry on the side of his mouth, still he demands more.

You WILL have discipline! So you eat him.

It's what any mother would do.

Image: Amadej Trnkoczy
Yeh... so Sexton Beetles, also known as Burying Beetles, are remarkably devoted parents who go to tremendous effort to give their offspring a great start in life. You can't take that away from them! It wouldn't surprise me if the grubs were taking piano lessons in their ghoulish nursery.

It's just that researchers at the University of Edinburgh have discovered that they sometimes eat children who beg for food too much. I totally understand! After a hard day's work don't we all just want to come home, put our feet up and eat a child?

That's what I love about nature... so many great ideas!

Sunday 18 August 2013

Spiny Lobster

Image: Valentine's Dive Center
Spiny Lobsters... more spiny than lobster!

Friday 16 August 2013

Oaten Pipe Hydroid

Image: Bernard Picton, National Museums Northern Ireland
Tubularia indivisa
Oaten Pipe? I would have called them Flesh-flowers, because that's the kind of person I am.

Wednesday 14 August 2013


Image: Valerie
Orycteropus afer
Hey! It's the rat-tailed, rabbit-eared, pig-nosed heffalump! I'd recognize it anywhere!

Sunday 11 August 2013


Image: Richard Ling
The Wobbegong may have a pretty silly sounding name, but don't say so to its toothy face.

Saturday 10 August 2013

Monstrous Heraldry!

I played a bit of Crusader Kings II, got interested in all the coats of arms and heraldic doo-dads, learnt a bit about them and then this came out:

The official, fancy-dan description of these things is called a blazon. They're all weird and old and traditional. I shall attempt one now:

Sable, a feather star Gules, armed Or. Ensigned with a squid with arms and tentacles all Gules, clubs each with four suckers Or.

And for a motto: Where My Tentacles Lead

I'm basically certain I got that wrong somewhere, but in other words it's a black shield with a red and gold Feather Star and then a red squid on top with gold suckers.

This one is based more on ecclesiastical heraldry than the usual swords 'n' Sirs stuff but I'd definitely imprint my wax seals with it!

Friday 9 August 2013

Spider-tailed Horned Viper

Image: Omid Mozaffari
Pseudocerastes urarachnoides
A snake with a spider for a tail? Wasn't ONE pair of venomous fangs enough?

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Ship-timber Beetle

Image: Michael Whitehead
Beetles don't get much weirder than this!

Sunday 4 August 2013

Gelatinous Winged Feet

Can there be any doubt that the feet of the gods are both gelatinous and winged?

Friday 2 August 2013

It's hard to keep a good cricket down!

It's not easy to keep a good cricket down but with grit, determination and plenty of practise, we can all do it!