Ants tending to mealybugs or some other nymph of a true bug. Ants and herbivorous true bugs often have symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships. The ants protect the bugs and even move them to better feeding grounds, while the bugs secrete a honeydew (sugary waste from the plants they eat) out their bums and the ants feed on this. In many ways, the ants are like shepherds tending to their flock.
found at the dock of Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington
Since everybody seems to agree, I’m expanding the blog to cover the occasional mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fungus (I’ll revisit the ones I’ve mentioned before over upcoming weeks).
Most of the fungi will be the macrofungi that are doing so well this very wet winter we’re having, but some will be smaller, such as this Melampsora ricini, a plant pathogen in the Pucciniales
The spore-bearing structures emerge from the underside of the leaf. Interestingly, I’ve noticed honeybees taking an interest. This could be simply due to the resemblance to pollen, but other rust fungus are known to distort their hosts into fake flowers, complete with ‘nectar’, in order to use insects as vectors to the next plant.
Fungus Diseases of Tropical Crops by Paul Holliday lists Melampsora ricini as the only known rust pathogen of Castor, but it is also known to infect various other plants in that genus as well as certain Euphorbias. It’s a pest of Castor crops in India, although I’m amazed anybody actually grows the vile stuff. Confirmed as occurring in Australia
Amsterdam-based artist Cedric Laquieze (previously featured here) recently completed a fascinating new series of his exquisite taxidermy Fairies. These delicate sculptures are primarily composed of parts from many different insect species, but if you look closely you’ll notice bones, seeds and even a few scorpion parts as well.
Visit Cedric Laquieze’s blog for many additional images and to check out some of his other enchanting creations.
[via Cedric Laquieze]
this is a baby redspotted catshark (Schroederichthys chilensis) still in its egg case. He’s not ready to hatch, is still in 4 stage of 6 stage of development.
by the way, the first layers were removed to show the embryo, this does not affect the development of the shark
East Coast Beaches Labeled Critical for Loggerheads
by Jim Waymer
Federal regulators plan to designate more than 700 miles of beach from North Carolina to Mississippi — including most of Brevard Count, Florida’s shoreline, as well as large swaths of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico — as “critical habitat” for threatened loggerhead sea turtles.
The rule would have little effect on most beachfront property owners or fishermen, federal officials say.
But in some cases, people who look to build or repair certain seawalls will face additional scrutiny from wildlife officials to ensure the walls do not harm critical loggerhead habitat.
And fishermen worry stricter rules will one day result…
(read more: Florida Today)
Fossils are amazing. Some children dream that if they dig deep enough in their backyards, they will find fossils from dinosaurs, ferns, sea shells or any other imaginable ancient living thing. Many people don’t know, however, that some of our oldest records of life on earth have modern relatives that are living and growing today. Stromatolites are essentially layers of microorganisms which have trapped and cemented sediments, and even though some stromatolites are found alive and growing today, the oldest stromatolite fossil samples are estimated to be close to 3.5 billion years old!
Ancient stromatolites formed in an oxygen-poor environment compared to today, prior to what biologists call the oxygen revolution or the “great oxygenation event”. Cyanobacteria, or “blue-green algae”, began to take advantage of available water and photosynthesized, eventually inundating the atmosphere with oxygen. Mats of microorganisms, particularly cyanobacteria, bound and cemented layers of sedimentary grains, building the layered stromatolites that we continue to study today.
The featured picture is one of living stromatolites in Shark Bay, Australia, which is home to a great amount of today’s living stromatolite samples, although they are found in many areas of the world, particularly in hypersaline lakes.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/77516097@N00/514063316
Further reading and resources:
It was nice to find a friend that day; the movers were so late and everything was just wonky so I took a walk in the woods.
The rabbit is hard to see here, but I got surprisingly close before it ran off.
- Viewed in normal light
- Dorsal view in polarized light
- Ventral view in polarized light
- Ventral view in polarized light, altered with lambda plate