Posts Tagged ‘mimesis’

Damsels in Eustress

23 December 2009

Together, by Jan Zajc - borrowed from Myrmecos

Two of my favorite blogs struck a peculiar resonance today.  Alex Wild has posted his favorite insect photos (plus a spider) of 2009.  All of them are very good and some, such as Jan Zajc’s photo of mating damsel flies shown above, are nearly as spectacular as some of Alex’s own work.  Meanwhile, BibliOdyssey has a selection of plates from August Johann Rösel von Rosenhof’s ‘Insecten-Belustigung’ (Insect Amusements) published serially from 1746 to 1761.

Insectorum aquatilium Classis II V.2

I can’t decide if I’m more impressesed with the amazing scenes captured by today’s best macro photographers or by the work of pre-photography nature artists like Rösel von Rosenhof who explored the same territory with paint, ink and paper.  I suppose it is the insects that impress me the most.

Oh yeah, and “eustress” is a real word.  Look it up.

Time’s Spiral in Arrow Canyon

6 October 2008

On an autumn afternoon, Earl Wadsworth climbed up to the top of a ledge in a remote slot canyon in Nevada.  With a knife or a nail or some other tool Earl scratched a large cursive “E” into the limestone wall.  After some consideration the graffiti-artist gave up on the formal script and printed his full name across the rock.

Just below he added the date: “November, 14th 1920.”

Eighty-six years later, to the day, I found myself on the same ledge admiring Wadsworth’s handiwork.  Read the rest of this entry »


22 October 2007

Something about the cover of Carl Zimmer’s new book looks a tad familiar…

well, I guess I didn’t invent lowercase letters and it’s kind of a logical move when working with the prefix “micro.” Still, I’m going to consider it an extremely subtle homage.  And unlike this website Carl’s book is actually about microbiology.  I look forward to reading it!

Creeks Running North, Hawks Flying South

30 September 2007

Wtf?  The best bloggers make me want to chuck my notebook into a ravine.  Good thing that here in the valley ravines are hard to come by.  I suppose I could lob my laptop into the arboretum’s purported Putah “creek.”

So, go read Helen’s “Storm” and “Breakin’ the Law” and Chris’ “Hills Ferry


Lace Crab

22 August 2007

I may be loathed by AP science reporters but I’m a favorite with the Times. Or, rather, this photo of my Marrella splendens tattoo has been marked as a flickr favorite by Times science reporter Carl Zimmer. I’m honored!

I sent him the photo as an entry for his collection of science tattoos, you can read his post about the project at his blog, the Loom. Or, check out his Flickr gallery of science tats.

Funny things, fossil inkjobs. Tattoos have an aura of permanence, but compared to its subject mine is positively ephemeral. But now, it has achieved cyber-immortality. Well at least until the next mass extinction.

Here’s a creative commons photo of the real deal from wikipedia for comparison, a google image search will turn up many more as well as the Marianne Collins drawing that inspired my badge o’ stem arthropod honor.

WMDs In My Garden.

17 July 2007


No, they aren’t the components for a uranium centrifuge. But rather, myriad mustard oil bombs, set to detonate. A new paper from Imperial College outlines how cabbage aphids (Brevicoryne brassicae) mimic the chemical defenses of their plant hosts.

The characteristic spicy tang of mustard family plants (broccoli, cabbage etc.) is, as with many of the flavorful plant compounds we humans seem to enjoy, a toxic chemical weapon. In the case of mustard oil, the toxin is actually created when several precursor chemicals are released as the cells of the plant are being destroyed by the would-be mustard eaters.

Cabbage aphids feeding on brassicas ingest plant compounds and metabolism them into the same precursor chemicals that the plants use to ward off herbivores.  And who are the aphids warding off? Why, our old friends, the ladybirds (among others)…


but, shown here actually eating a black bean aphid (Aphis fabae) less noxious fare perhaps ?

The researchers found that ladybird larva did not survive to adulthood when fed on a diet of wingless cabbage aphids who carried a high volume of sinigrin, one of the chemical precursors to mustard oil. The winged form of the aphids was apparently less toxic, perhaps suggesting a shift in defense strategy from chemical defense to flying escape.

Here’s the abstract. And here’s the Science Daily take. And here’s a nice diagram of the cabbage/turnip aphid forms.

Peace!  oh yeah, and death to aphids!

Sexual Inter Course

20 June 2007

Hmm, perhaps they’re looking for something in which to enroll?

I thought, at first, that I might have this contest locked: fully most of my search traffic involves sex whether of the human, vampire, cartoon or even the seemingly oxymoronic ‘furry reptilian’ variety.

Which says something, about the internets or my weblog, or both.

But, in fact, Matt sets the bar quite high, I don’t think even my worst sicko reader can compete with “cats as sexual partners.” Well at least not this week….

Read the rest of this entry »