Friday 25 July 2014

Jelly Horns of Acanthanura

Image: Andy Murray
Acanthanura sp.
This is what happens when you splice a hedgehog with a jelly bean.

Acanthanura is a small genus of Springtails containing just a handful of species all found in eastern Australia.

Image: Andy Murray
Acanthanura dendyi
You remember the Springtails, don't you? They're the tiny, six-legged arthropods who live in dark, damp places where they feast on soft, mouldy decay.

They usually live in soil and leaf litter but they're so small - just a few millimetres long - that there can be entire communities of them milling around in a single plant pot.

Image: Andy Murray
The order Poduromorpha contains all the podgy, Michelin Man Springtails. However, within that family is a subfamily called Uchidanurinae, which is chock full of spiky giants and other oddities.

Acanthanura is part of this subfamily. They can grow to over 1 cm (0.4 in) in length, which is at least twice as long as the vast majority of other Springtails. And then there are all those podgy lumps, podgy bumps, podgy spines and podgy spikes.

Image: Andy Murray
They even have a kind of podgy rhinoceros horn right between the eyes!

Turns out I simply adore the combination of podge and spikes.