Monthly Archives: October 2015

Madagascar’s Marvellous Mantellids

Mantellidae is a family of small, often brightly colored frogs found exclusively in Madagascar and on nearby islands. The most familiar of these frogs are those in the genus Mantella, which are toxic and similar, although not closely related, to … Continue reading

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Worm-lizards, Caimans, and Other Reptiles of the Gran Chaco

Worm-lizards, or amphisbaenids, are neither lizards nor worms. They are reptiles, distantly related to lizards and snakes, but not nearly as well-known as either. Most species are burrowers, tunneling after insects, earthworms, and other prey (Gomes et al. 2009). Among … Continue reading

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The Slug

Flower or hover flies (family Syrphidae) are widely toted as beneficial insects. They can be pollinators, just like bees, but their larvae or maggots can also be predators of pest insects such as aphids.  Hover flies can also be quite … Continue reading

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The Smallest Whirlpool Ever

Many amazing new species were named today — several moths, an Andean tarantula, and ten Arctic Ocean sponges, to name a few. Choosing one to feature on this site was a challenge, but finally I settled on Metacystis similis, a new … Continue reading

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The Spiraliforms

Today, five new species of land snails were described from Southeast Asia, all belonging to Endothyrella, a genus of small but handsome mollusks. Their shells are only around half an inch across, and not especially colorful, but beautiful in subtler ways. … Continue reading

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The Prickly Pear

The Chihuahuan Desert, stretching from southern Arizona through central Mexico, is home to a surprising diversity of drought-tolerant plant species. Of these, prickly pear cactuses (genus Opuntia) are perhaps the most recognizable. No one is entirely sure how many species … Continue reading

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The Jumping Water Strider

There are insects that live by hunting on the surface of the water. The less entomologically-inclined might call them “water skeeters,” i.e. water mosquitoes. Water striders are, of course, not mosquitoes at all, but true bugs or hemipterans. They do have … Continue reading

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