Tag Archives: biology

The Borneo frog: it’s itsy bitsy and it crawled up the pitcher’s spout

Apparently, Dear readers, the author of BV is on a tiny animal kick. The newest addition to the list being Microhyla nepenthicola, recently discovered by researchers in Borneo. These little buggers live and breed  in the muck that accumulates at the bottom of pitcher plants that grow on the forest floor.

Neat trick, that, since the pitcher plant is carnivorous.  Perhaps even these tiny frogs are too big a bite for the pitcher plant to chew.

And perhaps the author’s love for these creatures of diminutive size is a reaction to the smallness she feels in the face of almost insurmountable personal hurdles, and a respect for their ability to adapt and persevere. Or perhaps that pop psychobabble should go the way of poor  Ornithomimosauria, long extinct and similarly toothless.

But the bottom line, dear readers, is that that tiny frog is damned cute, don’t you think?


Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under academia, exceedingly cute, the strange and the beautiful, tiny animals, Uncategorized

Man-eating catfish. It’s what’s for dinner.

When British biologist Jeremy Wade finally investigated a 20-year history of fatal attacks in the Great Kali River between India and Nepal, he discovered that the local legend of a giant river monster devouring folks who went in the water (like one 18-year-old boy who was dragged down into the river by a creature “resembling an elongated pig”) was not far from true.

Was it a crocodile? No. Frankly, being killed by a crocodile would have a bit more gravitas, and read a bit less like a B horror flick. What  Wade found when he waded in the water were very large, very hungry goonch catfish (Bagarius yarelli).
Catfish, though one of many aquatic scavengers, are not known to be one of homo sapiens sapiens’s more dangerous predators. So what explains this strange behavior? It all has to do with Hindu funeral rites, and folks, it’s not pretty.
According to Hindu custom, the dearly departeds of those living near the Great Kali river are typically burnt on a funeral pyre, after which the charred remains are often tipped into the river. Where they are eaten by catfish. Again, what this sad story lacks in dignity, it makes up for in anticlimactic absurdity.
Nourished on the macabre feast of funeral pyre “leftovers,” the catfish have grown far beyond their normal size, and have learned not to wait for their food to be conveniently delivered in its cooked state- they go after their meat when it is still, so to speak, “on the hoof.”  

The author of BV would like to hereby encourage the Indian and Nepali neighbors of the Great Kali River to consider the American south, which boasts many lovely preparations of catfish: blackened, fried, and in a po’ boy, to name only a few.

Payback’s a bitch, ain’t it fishy fishy?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under marine life, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Sea Anemone

figure 1: the sea anemone, sublime and strange

figure 1: clustered sea anemones, sublime and strange

Sea anemones (order Actiniaria) are marine predators named after the terrestrial anemone (a member of the Buttercup family).  When we think of sea anemones, we typically recall their beauty, their stinging poison, and the symbiotic relationship of certain species with clownfish, which are immune to the anemone’s neurotoxin.

 The internal anatomy of  a sea anemone is fairly simple, but the exterior– particularly the waving, colorful tentacles– is famously alien and even sublime in appearance, as in figure 1, above.

 Yet life teaches us that  for every instance of the sublime on earth, there is a corresponding example of the profane, and the sea anemone aptly demonstrates this truth (see figure 2, below).

 

figure 3: the sea anemone, in all of its earthy profanity.

figure 2: the sea anemone, in all its profane glory.

 

Cf.   http://www.actiniaria.com/
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_anemone

4 Comments

Filed under marine life, rated NC17, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized