Friday, September 21, 2007

On a roll

It took me ten minutes to find this link again. For broadband users only, requires Flash.

Anatomical Atlas Of Flies

With a click on the desired magnification, and a simple drag of the mouse, all things become clear, and all parts have a name. I raged at the lack of adequate representation (simply put: I wanted to see more flies), but the three examples were well chosen to show the diversity of form in diptera. It's a great way to learn about fly anatomy, particularly wing venation, which is incredibly dry and somewhat confusing at times.

I'd post screencaps if I knew how.

Warning image intensive

Click on this link to some of the most stunning examples of insect photography I've ever seen. The immensely talented photographer (Igor Siwanowicz) also takes pictures of the spined, if you're into such things.

Here's some more stunning stuff by him:

(Redirected from Zooillogix)

The Arthroplog Manifesto

This is the inverterate invertebrate speaking.

Firstly, thanks to Otterman and NUS module blogs for linking us even though we were totally aestivated for a while there (I was trying to figure out the point of this blog). And I think I've got it.

Arthropods are beautiful. The beauty in the form, colour and articulation of insects are what possessed us to work on them in the first place.

This blog will aim to showcase that, as well as the people behind them. So we're more of a primer into arthropod aesthetics instead of being overtly scientific (sorry Siva!).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No these are not toys

Japanese orthopterans (Euconocephalus thunbergi) that come in these colours. Gotta collect them all! From Boing Boing.

Incidentally, even though Boing Boing doesn't do it, please remember to italicise scientific names! Thank you!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lab in the mornings

The honours students in our lab have a history of working late into the night with no consideration for rest, sleep or recreation. It has become a tradition enforced by the fact that they have classes and other distractions caused by diurnal residents and visitors.

This means that they are usually busily crashing around the time we arrive in lab to begin our day, the debris of their nightly accomplishments strewn about the lab.

Which also means that sometimes my supervisor gets bored because there's no one around (I don't qualify as a full person in the morning). When he gets bored, and this is the only reason I can think of why he would mess around this way, he does things like this:


This morning he asked me for something that YC liked. An image or a figure of some sort. He pasted it there. I'm sure you can tell which are fly head drawings and which is his graffiti.


This is the picture of some female sepsid fly genitalia Nalini pulled out, microscoped, and drew as work for her MSc. A few days ago Supervisor (henceforth referred to as MOTU) said, "hey this looks like a gnome!" and proceeded to label the parts of the "face". (The illustration is supposed to be positioned sideways.)

The penciled labels from top down are: "Hat", "Face", "Mouth", "Stubby Arms", "Spilled Guts".

We can't wait for the day this is published so we can have people have hysterics over the picture.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Critters from Uttranchal, Himalayas!

First Post!

Alrighty, I'll throw up a few pictures from the great Himalayas.... Well the foothills at least. From a severe, yet beautiful place called Uttranchal. We were based at the Himalayan Action and Research Centre (HARC), and here are some of the critters we found.



And a might huge one at that. We found it tucked in a big big hole next to the mess hall area. Just look at the size of those pincers!


This male mantid i named goliath, being the biggest mantid i found in the course of my trip, and had the dubious honor of being my pet for the duration of my stay. One way of sexing mantids, other than the comparative (smaller) size to females, is to look at their rear segments from the bottom (called a paragote) - males usually have that last plate thin and slender, while females have it significantly fatter.


This is a spittlebug's nest - they create a foamy nest out of bubbles that keep both parasites and predators at bay.

In need of a serious de-miting:

We found this stick insect while walking along the common's path. The three brown blobs on its legs are actually phoretic mites. These guys treat insects like taxis - whenever they want to up and leave (usually due to crappy environmental conditions), they undergo limited metamorphosis and clamp on to a (specific) insect carrier, which will climb, crawl, fly around untill it reaches a place with good conditions, whereupon the mites drop off and leave, keep the change, thank you.

What a tangled web we weave:
Actually we were arguing whether these webs belonged to social spiders or just one huge bigass spider. Social is really a generalised term for spiders, and unlike insects, who have specific castes, social spiders are defined more as units who cooperate, rather than a cooperative unit. This is generally marked by their tolerance for each other. Spider sociality evolved in 2 main routes: parasocial (environmental factors, where it benefits them to function in a web together) and subsocially (maternal care takes the main route, and offspring delay their dispersal significantly). These webs are small by comparison. There are some truly HUGE webs out in the wild, like those of Anelosimus eximius.

We found this flower by the mystic Yamunatri, and peeled it open. It was choked full with dipterans (species?). I'll need to consult some experts to ID both plant and fly. But no doubt , the hapless flies must have been lured by the flower's nectar and smell to pollinate it.

Finally - double the fun - a moth inspects its own beautiful self on the mirror. And thats all for now! According to resident moth specialist Dave Lohman, this appears to be Limacodidae, better known as cup moths, due to their pupae looking like cups. They have absolutely stunning caterpillars, and here is a site dedicated to them.