Friday, 5 May 2017

I Wrote A Science Fiction Novel!


Can you believe that? I can't. And I watched myself write it.

It's called A Twinkle on Mars and it's about the first manned mission to Mars and how it all goes wrong. Aliens are involved, and giant glowing mushrooms. You've GOT to have giant glowing mushrooms.

It features Captain Cambridge, possibly the most heroic figure in the entirety of his own mind. Professor Prestwold, a delightful chap who doesn't know a life-threatening situation when it tries to bite his head off. Mr Blunderberry, a very large and very angry man. And Dr Khatagi. Not much is known about him but he's probably an assassin or something.

As you can probably imagine, this is not one of those hard sci-fi things where the author can (and sometimes does) write an essay about how every bit of technology depicted is totally possible given the current state of scientific knowledge.

It is, of course, a comedy. And a funny one, I reckon. Some people polish their every sentence to a poetic shine, I tried to make 'em all funny.

I've been working on it for a while but what really helped was when I started reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels for the first time a little over a year ago. They were the first books I ever read where I thought not only this is really good, but also I could probably do something a bit like this. And so I... did? Tried to but failed?

If you'd like to be the judge of that then head on to Amazon and give it a read. You might even consider reporting your findings in the form of a review, I hear they help.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Twospot Turkeyfish

Image: Maupin Delphine
Dendrochirus biocellatus
It's a fish! It has two spots! And... turkey. Turkey is involved.

Makes perfect sense.

Image: Jacob Mojiwat
Well, I guess it does. Sort of. I presume it means that that those glorious pectoral fins are a bit like a turkey's tail (be it mushroom or bird). I get it. But Twospot Turkeyfish are also known as Ocellated or Twinspot Lionfish, and lions are approximately the opposite of turkeys, aren't they? And they also have another name - Fu Manchu Fish. You got to give that moustache some love!

Not that they want anyone to actually see their fins or their moustache.


Video: B GIWDUL

Twospot Turkeyfish are widespread throughout the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans, from Mauritius to Japan and down to northern Australia.

They look fantastic! Those rich colours; those huge fins—the rounded ones striped and spotted, the spiky ones undulating like drumming fingers; that luscious, ginger moustache. People would pay a lot a bit of money for a collection of whiskers like that. Where's a catwalk (or turkeywalk) when you need one?

Unfortunately, Twospot Turkeyfish are almost entirely nocturnal. You might see one during the day if you're lucky, but you'd probably only watch it creep from a nook among the rocks to a cranny among the sponges.


Video: Oceanandlake

Twospot Turkeyfish belong to the subfamily Pteroinae, which is the same one those famous Lionfish belong to. That's why members of their genus, Dendrochirus, are also known as the Dwarf Lionfish.

They may be just 13 cm (5 in) long, which is about a third the size of the biggest Lionfish, but Twospot Turkeyfish are still aggressive predators who stalk small fish and shrimp before lunging at their prey with remarkable speed. Like a... turkey out of Hell.

Those poor food items...

Image: Mike Kalasnik
I know I'd be terrified.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Snot Living


Look at that beautiful house!

If you find yourself saying, "'s'not a house," then you're close. It's a snot house.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Lamb's Ear

Image: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT
Stachys byzantina
Did you ever hear of the mythical sheep-eating plant?

Well, it turns out there's one plant that's only in it for the ears...

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Fire Urchin

Image: Candace Pratt
Asthenosoma varium
The sea! The sea! The sea is on fire!

We don't need no water 'cos it evidently doesn't have the normally expected effect!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Eyelashes Onna Stick

Image: NOAA Photo Library
Actinoscyphia sp.
The Venus Flytrap Anemone is 100% pure eyelashes!

Monday, 3 April 2017

Mole Cricket

Image: Mark Yokoyama
You know how you shouldn't make a mountain out of a molehill?

Well, this might be your best opportunity to make a bonsai mountain that's even smaller than the average molehill! Just don't make a big mountain out of your little mountain.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Tangled Tubeworm

Image: John Turnbull
Filograna implexa
Worms. Lots and lots of worms. Uncountable hundreds and thousands of worms all hanging out together in a home of their own making.

What would that look like?

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Chiroteuthis

Image: NOAA
Chiroteuthis is MOSTLY tentacles. Glad to see they've got their priorities in order!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Knitting Shrimp

Image: Moorea Biocode
Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just settling down for some knitting?

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Big World


It's a very big world...


For a very small pillow.

This tiny (or normal) version of the Giant Red Velvet Mite is just 3 mm long!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Black Long-spined Sea Urchin

Image: Patrick Randall
It's the water hedgehog...

OF DOOM!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Unidentified Floating Object 2.0


Wow! Such light, such colour, such glorious delicate tentacles...


The space aliens really need to up their game if they don't want to be outdone by the UFOs of the sea!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Satanic Devil Fish


I don't know what this actual demon from Hell thinks he's playing at...

But he's fooling no-one.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Doto varaderoensis

Image: Linda Ianniello
I'm sure this sea slug is meant to avoid predators by using camouflage...

But I can't help but think that it avoids predators by looking contagious.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Fingered Dragonet

Image: Nick Hobgood
Tiny dragons can do a lot with a finger or two!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Roughty-tufty Legs

Image: Aleksey Gnilenkov
Exoskeletons are pretty great; it's one of my favourite things about insects. Who can say no to your own custom-made suit of armour, precisely moulded to every contour of your body and available in a wide range of exciting colours to suit every taste?

Friday, 17 February 2017

Chinese Lantern

Image: Isfugl
The Chinese Lantern is a hardy perennial that will provide you with all the natural, biodegradable paper lanterns you could ever want!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Strawberry Squid

Histioteuthis heteropsis
You've seen werewolves versus vampires. You've marvelled at Alien versus Predator. You've wondered what on earth is going on at zombies versus Jane Austen. Now it's time to quake in your boots at the thought of...

Terminator versus Cthulhu!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Poltys

Image: Bernard DUPONT
It's a leaf.

A perfectly honest, perfectly innocent leaf, shivering in the wind.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Fish-scale Gecko


Image: Arthur Anker
Look at those scales! It's not a mere suit of armour, it's a suit of shields!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Warty Sea Star

Image: Ratha Grimes
Echinaster callosus
Oh, no! There's been a terrible accident in the biological waste bin.
The warts are alive. Repeat: the warts are alive!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Deep Sea Dragonfish

Image: Fran Martín de la Sierra
My name is Deep Sea Dragonfish, eater of worlds.
Look on my face, ye Mighty, and despair!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Snowplant

Image: David Iliff
Sarcodes sanguinea
In the months of spring, mysterious spikes of bloody flesh point to the sky.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Red-spotted Horseshoe

Image: Alfiero Brisotto
Protula tubularia
Surely, it's a peacock?

Monday, 30 January 2017

Australian Hornet

Image: James Niland
Abispa ephippium
I get that wasps use bright colours to warn predators of their painful sting. It's a great way to ward off attacks without having to physically do anything, and everyone loves not having to physically do anything...

But surely this is just showing off?

Friday, 27 January 2017

Shovel-nosed Salamander

Image: Todd Pierson
Desmognathus marmoratus
Hmmm...

I think I would call it the People-eyed Salamander.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Striped Bubble Shell

Image: Sylke Rohrlach
Hydatina physis
What is a shell? Armour? Home? Laborious burden? How about fashion accessory?

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Edible Sea Urchin

Image: gordon.milligan
Echinus esculentus
It's the hedgehog of the sea!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Megaloremmius leo

Image: Brian Gratwicke
Megaloremmius leo
It's the world's smallest orangutan! But not, as it turns out, the world's smallest spider.

This beauty is a kind of Huntsman Spider from the rain forests of eastern Madagascar. It can reach something like 5 cm (2 in) long! And that doesn't include the legs. M. leo, like the orangutan, has a real talent for ludicrously long limbs.

Not much is known about M. leo. It's as mysterious as it is orange.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Crabs get the prettiest homes

Image: Nick Hobgood
We landlubbers really get the raw end of the deal when it comes to symbiosis. We got parasites, all right. You can hardly walk for the mites, lice and flatworms clinging to every nook and cranny.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Blues VI

Image: Bernard DUPONT
Corythaeola cristata
It's Blue Monday! Mathematically proven to be the most depressing day of the year by qualified PR professionals who believe the best way to defeat it is with a holiday package bought from their clients. But there's no defeating it. It looms. It impends. It soon comes to a dark night of the soul near YOU! And there are no holidays from one's own soul.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Lipstick Tree

Image: Joan Simon
Bixa orellana
Money doesn't grow on trees, you know. But free, all-natural lipstick does!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Stick Grasshopper

Image: Andreas Kay
What do you get when you mix a grasshopper with a stick insect?

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Handfish

Image: John Turnbull
It's already strange to see a fish who prefers to walk rather than swim...

But to walk on his hands, too? I don't even walk on my hands! And I'm supposed to have hands.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Carpet Sea Star

Image: Kris McCracken
Meridiastra calcar
Anyone want a carpet?

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Mangrove Cat Snake

Image: Rushen
Boiga dendrophila
It's an 8 foot wasp! Thank goodness it doesn't have wings.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Surgical Precision

Image: Kirkby
Crabs are extremely picky eaters.
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