A song of ancient Earth

Those who have been reading this blog with some regularity may have noticed that I find virtually all organisms equally fascinating. But some are more equal than others, and few animals and plants excite me more than phylogenetic relics. These are the last remaining members of lineages that were once dominant, or at least species-rich,…

They can count, too

In March of 1882 a little known journal that had been founded only two years prior was about to go under – nobody wanted to read it, and its owner was tired of putting any more money into it. But an enthusiastic entomologist named Samuel H. Scudder, who at that time, after many years of…

Scorpionflies

The Estabrook Woods near the town of Concord, MA have over the years become my favorite local place to find interesting insects and ancient plants. It is also a great location to let my dogs exercise their primeval desire to chase little furry things (always unsuccessfully) and wade in stagnant, swampy water. Recently I wrote…

Hanging in there

Things have been keeping me away from updating the blog, but I finally found a moment to write about one cool animal that usually shows up at this time of year in Massachusetts – the scorpionfly (Panorpa). Or at least that was the original plan. Since I had, literally, only one, rather lousy shot of this…

Helmeted katydids

Porgera, a gold mine in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, is not a pleasant place for a biologist, especially if you are aware of the massive environmental damage of its operations, or the frequent human right violations that this mining camp is known for. But we had no choice but to sleep with the…

Night callers

At first I didn’t know what woke me up. The night was silent and nothing but a faint warble of tree crickets could be heard outside my tent. For a few of minutes I just lay there, foggily trying to figure out what disturbed my sleep but soon started to drift off. Suddenly, there it…