Elephant hawk moth caterpillar, about 8cm long. Shefford, UK.
A big moth at my house. I think this is a Black Witch moth, wingspan about 10cm.
Cricket eating orange tree leaves. About 4 or 5 cm long and very nicely camouflaged, not only in the green color but also in the segment shapes on its body. Way to go, cricket!
Two kinds of algae. Portmeirion, Wales.
Lichen on a tree at Bellows AFB Beach.
Sun-bleached lichen on vesicular basalt.
Small plants invading my shoes.
Tree trunk upper Manoa
Tree bark. Santa Barbara Califoria.
Sap leaking from a wound on a tree. Lexington, MA.
Leaves on a tree across from my house.
Enormous tree in Manoa Valley (just under Manoa Road)
The same tree later (2007 May 19): not dead after all.
A tree in Santa Barbara, CA, viewed against the twilight sky. This tree has optical depth near unity over much of its surface. Many trees are very optically thick by comparison. Why not this type?
Fungus in a flower pot, Manoa
The rare Triple Nipple mushroom. Actually, these are the same as in the previous picture but one day later.
Dead flies, Great Salt Lake, Utah. Flies are 3mm to 5mm long. Most of them are headless.
Seaweed ball, Santa Barbara beach.
Stranded jellyfish, as big as my hand. Portmeirion, Wales.
Jellyfish stranded on Santa Barbara beach with SS's hand print for scale. The purple stingers are visible through the body.
Acorn worm in Kaneohe Bay. Yes, it's a tube full of sand which goes in one end and out the other. Totally incredible. This type of worm exuded yellow mucus that you can see in the picture: the more of that the better, I'd think, to avoid getting its inards cut by sharp sand grains. Sadly, the acorn worms I held tore under their own weight, as did this one (about 1/3rd way down the worm from the top).
Another worm in Kaneohe Bay. This one wears its rocks on the outside, presumably for protection. It seems thinner than the acorn worm. You can see the head on the left, sticking out from the sand armor.
Spot the fish. Tide pool in East Oahu.
Here's looking at you, kid.
Underside of Cane Spider, about 7cm leg span, in the garage.
Another Cane Spider carrying an egg bag. A baby spider is visible clinging to the near side of the bag. Others jumped out and scattered away, according to Jan Kleyna, who took this picture inside his house.
Crab. Look at those little feeder arms, one set up between his eyes and bigger ones near his mouth. His body is infested with small, spiral-shaped shells that seem to be fixed in place, not gliding around. There probably isn't a safer place to live, if you're a tiny sea snail, and maybe there's free food too.
Two transparent-winged butterflies making more transparent-winged butterflies.
Swallow's nest under the eaves of a house in Santa Barbara, CA. Presumably, those are individual mouthfuls (beak-fuls) of mud.
Exquisite flower on the Makapuu Lighthouse trail.
A handsome yellow cane toad (bufo marinus) intercepted while crossing the IFA courtyard. They have poison glands in their skin and can even squirt the poison when provoked. This one brought a man down soon after I took this photo.
This tree on Pike's Peak in Colorado (with the rocks around its base) is ancient but still looks in good shape. The age is probably around 2000 yrs (although the claim made on the cog train from which I took this picture was that it is 4000 yrs old). This place is high and cold so the growth rate is small, about 5 meters in 2000 yrs is 2.5 mm/yr. If I grew that slowly I'd be only 5 inches tall.
Green stink-bug from our garden.
Spider egg cluster attached to the eaves of my sister's house in UK. A silk net holds and hides the baby spiders (the brown mass) in place.
Two more egg clusters, rather more messy and dirty, attached to brick.
Parasitical plants (mistletoe?) growing on trees.
Close view of a single parasite. The host has no leaves but the parasite keeps going through the winter.
Lichen on a tree by the river in Shefford. Best seen zoomed.
Red berries on a bush in the street, Shefford.
Lichen at the Pali Lookout, this on a wall facing east.
Furry lichen on a wall protected from direct sun and wind. Scale maybe 15 cm.
Furry lichen (top) ad spindly green lichen (bottom). The green stuff grows upwards and uses stalks.
Sap oozing from a wound in a ground-hugging limb of a tree. The sap had the consistency of glue, with no smell. Apparently it's poisonous too: nothing is eating it.
Cut tree branch about 6" diameter on the Kuliouou Trail.
Bark of a tree - a series of dry, soft wooden bands arranged horizontally. These were easily squashed by several millimeters under finger pressure. The bark seemed at least a cm thick. Is their porosity to hold water (doubtful, this is a wet place), provide mechanical protection at minimum weight (maybe), or what?
A very nervous little crab (maybe 8cm across the legs) hiding between two rocks in a tide pool on the North Shore. Later, my (very sweet) iced coffee tipped over and I found another crab of the same type with a claw on the container, apparently drinking the coffee that was spilling onto the sand. Coffee drinking crabs? I kid you not.
Well dug-in sea-urchin in a tide pool on the North Shore. Small waves on the water illuminated by a low (20deg) Sun cast spectra on the rocks and across some of the urchin spines.
Natty little blue-eyed crab hiding in a discarded shell. Note the big claw, used to "close the door" when necessary.
Door closed. This crab seemed to learn about the threat I presented. At first, he (or is it a she?) wouldn't come out of the shell, even when I remained very still for a minute. Then, after finally emerging once to check out the situation, he would go back into this position when provoked, but stay there only for about 5 to 10 seconds. I kept him wet, so I don't think he was desperate for water. I think he adapted his response to the threat.
The same crab in macro-mode with the flash on. Sure, my hand is saturated, but the crab is pretty magnificent, eh?
Shells (not occupied by crabs) hiding in vesicles and cracks waiting for high tide. Shark's Cove tidal pools.
All the black shells hold crabs, some of the white shells do too.
Piece of seaweed splayed out across the beach like the fossil of a giant dinosaur. This seaweed was about 25 ft long. Here on Santa Barbara beach it lies stinking in the hot sun, home to thousands of flies.
Section of another piece of seaweed on the Santa Barbara beach, this one showing numerous flotation sacks.
A small armored plant made of connected tooth-like segments - very hard like SiO2. Santa Barbara. See the next picture.
Closer view showing the segments. Note the tarred spots in the left and upper-left. What a fantastic structure. Even better when zoomed (use the zoom tool, upper right).
The black dots are flies that jumped out of seaweed when I kicked it. After a few seconds, they flew back to feed on the decaying plants. Salt Lake is caked in the bodies of dead flies, presumably salt tolerant like these ones. Santa Barbara.
Sand fleas: SS found these by digging about 30cm into the sand at Santa Barbara beach. They look like little shrimps but can jump about 6 or 8 inches horizontally and are strong diggers, able to bury themselves in about a second. I made one jump about 20 times in a row. He did not seem to get tired.
Bamboo cross-section showing channels for sap. Table mat at 50X. Field width is about 3mm.
The leaves on a pine tree. Yes, they point upwards.
A 3 inch long praying mantis looking at my camera through tiny black pupils. What are those yellow dots on the front legs for? And why is there a translucent yellow dot between its eyes? Moments after this, he (or she - how do you tell?) crawled on the camera and would not let go. Use the zoom tool.
The same mantis with his pupil rotated to keep me in view. I wonder how that works? And look at those leafy wings and the gripper spikes.
Tea, brewing, Beijing.
Tree at Honolulu Airport.
Inchworm found hanging from a 5 meter thread outside the Institute of Chemistry in Beijing. Zoom tool recommended.
Lichen at 4300 meters on a mountain near Jiuquan, Gansu. Is that...6 colors...?
Orange lichen, 4300-m, Jiuquan, Gansu. Zoom tool recommended
Micro-leaved moss at 4000-meters, near Jiuquan, Gansu. Some pellets of freshly fallen ice are visible. The leaves are about 1 mm long.
Small flowers on a 4000-m peak nr Jiuquan, Gansu. Each flower holds, by surface tension, a complete covering of water from rain just-fallen.
Red grass? No. Fallen petals of a lehua tree in Waimea, Big Island, concentrated in this spot by the wind. The seed pod part of the flower is also visible, to the left and below the center line (there is another partly visible at the top right edge), all with the seed doors open. Region shown about 9 inches across.
Dead leaf, underside.
Live leaf, underside.
Branches (actually the stems of giant leaves) on a flat palm tree, older ones brown. These are the attachment points where the branches connect to the trunk. As the tree grows the branches pile up in v-shaped layers. Each one here is about 2cm thick.
4 inch diameter mushrooms that seem to pop up annually on this piece of grass.
Gelatinous secretion from a tree near our house. Not like regular sap, it has the consistency of soft jelly or tofu and is translucent, with no smell and is not sticky. I wonder what it is and why only this tree produces it, and I wonder how to find out. It doesn't seem to be a jelly fungus (e.g. it has no structure) but that's the closest I can get. I assume it is from a tree because I find it on concrete under a particular tree and nowhere else.
Flower with polygonal petals, about 1.5 cm across.
Same flower, different continent, and a bit more developed in the outer petals.
Multi-ringed funghi on a water-logged tree trunk on the Manoa Falls trail. The biggest one is about 3 inches across.
A day after heavy rain, the sand in the tide pools at Shark's Cove was covered by a thin layer of mud. This mud has been displaced in a network pattern, presumably where a bottom-feeding animal has eaten the mud while it swims along. The resulting tracks show light sand through darker mud. The width of each track (cm) gives the mouth size of the animal. The length (10cm) probably corresponds to how much it can eat in one go. I could reproduce the markings with my finger, but it was hard to move slowly enough and gently enough to avoid setting up turbulence that destroyed the surrounding patterns. The whole thing is a kind of sand painting made by fish (or whatever made the tracks). I was lucky enough to reach the pools just after heavy rains and before other people had muddied-up the bottom. Granularity in the picture shows individual sand grains. The dense network gives the idea that a dead-looking sand surface is actually a very active surface for life.
Starfish ensemble. Why are they so colorful? What are those raised dots for? Why does the big guy have so many of them compared to the guy on the left? Santa Barbara.
Nice disguise as a leaf on this grasshopper in Manoa Valley, Hawaii. This one lost a leg but otherwise seemed to be in robust health. As usual, my buds in the life sciences do not make it easy to find out what this type of grasshopper is called, or what research has been done on it.
Strange fruit found in the gutter, naturally dessicated and split open to reveal hundreds of brown seeds, each attached to feather-like fiber parachutes. They blew out and away. Background tiles are about 4 inches square.
This is the original appearance, like a wad of feathers stuffed inside a seed pod.
The seeds were plate-like and packed around a corrugated, woody filament running up the center of the fruit, looking a bit like a long pine cone. The ones at the top (far end in this picture) were extended and ready to fly. The ones at the bottom (near my ring) had their parachutes still folded into ribbon-like strips. The slightest force would knock them off the cluster.
The seed disperser lifted out easily, leaving behind a very smooth internal wall. The only attachment point for the disperser is the rough bump at the right hand end, but there are marks on the shiny inside wall that show impressions of the seeds.
A seed ready to fly. Their terminal velocity was about 20 cm/s, so gusts easily took them away. Very small forces also detached the seeds cleanly from the fiber parachutes, as you can see in the previous picture. Basically, a very cool thing that I've never seen before.
Larva of the ladybug (or ladybird or lady beetle) on an orange leaf, eating mealy worms. About 5 mm long.
28 wolf skulls. La Brea tar pits, Los Angeles.
Tree (worth zoom tool look).
Beetle in the mountains N of Taipei, Taiwan, found by kids outside the restaurant where we ate. About 4 cm long. Look at the gold hairs in the gaps left and right of the thorax and at its fantastic compound eyes.
Fern sheltered underneath the H3 freeway, outside Kaneohe.
Diseased leaf, Waimea. Note fungus running down the central axis.
Bark of a tree, near UCLA. Use the zoom tool.
Different section of the same tree.
Hairy green caterpillar found walking on a downtown Rio street. About 8 or 9 cm long. I did touch it but now find that some hairy caterpillars in this region are deadly poisonous, containing anticoagulants in the spines that cause massive internal bleeding and death. I feel both lucky and stupid. Nasty.
Eucalyptus wood chips (view full-screen mode).
Crab disguised by seaweed growing on its shell. The shell itself resembles a sandy surface. Except when it moved, I could not tell that this was a crab, despite the fact that the steel bucket offered no background visual confusion and it was only 2ft away. An amazing job.
Elegant seaweed ball, probably with a small rock or shell at its center. Goleta Beach.
Cross-section of a Eucalyptus tree showing a nice set of drying cracks, mostly radial but also some concentric. About 45cm diameter.
Yellow tree stump in Potsdam. Has it been stained or is this natural?
Blue fruit on a small tree. Don't know what kind of tree. 1cm across.
Tree sap stalactites.
Figeater Beetle, about an inch long and found crawling on the sidewalk in Westwood on a chilly morning. It's playing dead in this picture, after I turned it upside down. The beetle is iridescent, more so on the bottom side (where you can't normally see it) than on the top side. I wonder what that's about?
Dead Figeater Beetle found outside a restaurant in Alhambra. About 1 inch long. It has a lot of hairs along the legs, around the head, on many of the body armor segments and under the wing casing. Like the Figeater I found last year, this is much more iridescent on the underside than the top side. Why?
Line of pelicans. Long Beach harbor.
Central seed-containing body in a Sago Palm (apparently a cycad, not a palm, with very ancient links to fossil cycads going back almost 300 Myr). You see this flat, sharp-leaved thing in pots and in gardens all around, but rarely with this central component. I wonder what all those frilly bits are for. This one is in Huntington Gardens. It's about a foot across. [Nice zoomed].
A tree (looked like a palm) that grows its branches from a single vertical trunk in a regularly-spaced pattern, then drops them, leaving these elliptical scars. About 20 - 25 cm diameter and 5 m tall.
Blackcurrant bushes and a few teasles smothering the banks of a small river and blanketed in snow, in Shefford. This is a color picture.
Bark of a pine tree, Big Bear Lake. About 2 feet wide section of the trunk. [nice zoomed]
Younger pine - trunk about 18" diameter. This is a 10" section. Nr Big Bear Lake.
Cactus, top-view, Huntington Gardens.
Cactus defense network, top view, Huntington Gardens.
Cactus, top-view, Huntington Gardens. Red flower on top and fruit that just sits up there (until something eats it?). It does look tasty.
Amazing ball cactus, top-view, Huntington Gardens. [nice zoomed]
Cactus, top-view, Huntington Gardens. [nice zoomed].
Cactus blades, top-view, Huntington Gardens. Don't mess with this one.
Cactus blades, top-view, Huntington Gardens. I'm guessing the central spot is extra-important, judging by the density of blades. Presumably that's where the flower comes out.
Pretty plant packing parallel pistils.
Another ball cactus in bloom [nice with zoom tool].
One-inch diameter grey mushroom, slightly damaged to show support structure. Appeared over night. Los Angeles. [ Try the zoom tool. ]
Snail waves. A set of about 6 waves propagate along the foot of a snail to propel it forwards. Strangely, the waves run forwards, faster than the snail moves. I put a movie here:
Partially filled spider web. About 30% of the surface area is covered by a thin film (bright in places due to reflection from the Sun and thin enough that interference fringes appear). Lavender bush, Los Angeles. Region shown about 5 inches across.
Jackfruit. Individual bumps are about 6 mm in diameter.
Red seaweed = blue absorber molecule. Supposedly allows the seaweed to capture blue light deep-down, where the red has already been absorbed by the water.
A gelatinous, biological thing, either an animal or a part of one. The texture and strength reminded me of a sea-slug or a sea-cucumber. It could also be some kind of egg-sack. About 15 inches long, only a very slight fishy odor, and translucent. What is it? Low tide on Goleta beach.
Octopus suckers, each about an inch in diameter, Seattle Aquarium. (nice zoomed)
Flat-head worm, found in Los Angeles after heavy rain by SS. It was about 4 inches long, a few mm wide and covered in thick slime. I've never seen one before. According to the web, they are distinguished by having a mouth and anus in the same place, namely a hole in the middle of the body, near that thick bit. (I know some astronomers like that). When hungry they thrust out a stomach that attaches to the prey (e.g. another worm) and liquifies it. Without food, they can digest their own bodies, typically their reproductive organs (I suspect some astronomers have done that, too). But that's no big deal because they can reproduce in several ways. They can, for example, drop off their own tail section which will then grow into a new worm. Incredible.
Attachment points of a creeping vine on a wall. The vine has gone, only the attachments remain.
Tree grown around a rock.
Self-peeling tree bark. Lake Arrowhead, CA.
Melon skin. Purpose of these tracks? - unknown to me. Maybe they are expansion cracks...but then not all melons or other expanding fruits have them. Region about 15 cm across.
Bark of a dead pine tree. Multiple layers of highly porous (insulating?) wood. Yosemite.
Ponderosa pine bark - region about 10 inches across - made of low density, foam-like wood bark. What are these scales for and why are they of this size and differently colored?
Seagull gliding behind a boat off Longbeach, CA. The bird maintained this fixed configuration for 10 or 20 s at a time, with the wing tips down and continual small adjustments for turbulence. The boat travelled at 15 mph and the bird needed bouts of flapping to avoid falling out of the wake, but otherwise did a spectacular job, following us for about half an hour apparently to get an easy ride to a fishing spot.
Saguaro cactus, Tucson. About 20 ft tall.
Fern shoot about 10cm diameter. Kilauea Iki.
Insect eggs straddling the boundary between window frame (brown) and glass (black). This is the view from the outside, in reflected light. Zoom to see tiny insect heads (central dots).
Same eggs seen from inside the house, in transmitted light. Each egg is about 0.5 mm across. Also worth a zoom.
12 hours later, a lot of the eggs had hatched, revealing that the black dots in each egg are the heads of micro-caterpillars. Curiously, almost all of the larvae were motionless, apparently dead. 24 hours later, all the eggs and larvae were gone, leaving only the faintest trace of the egg locations as faint glue rings that I could not photograph in available light. What happened to them?
Lichen about 2 inches in diameter on the top surface of a wall at Dowth, Ireland.
Turnip. A survivor from christmas dinner.
Ceiba tree, LA Arboretum
Photosynthetic growth (algae) in a "pure" bottle of drinking water, left for a week at room temperature.
Pelican attack, Point Dume, CA. The white material on the cliffs shows where birds nest.
Stink bug at Point Dume. At least, I think it's similar to other insects that are called Stink Bugs. It's very hard to identify insects through the web.
Cool fungus growing on the wet stump of a tree branch in Seattle. Blobs are about a mm across.
Excellent, brain-like fungus on the stump of a dead tree.
Moss on a rotting tree stump, Shefford.
Seeds of an unknown plant.
Unfurling fern. Kilauea Iki.
Raindrops collected on microfern in Kilauea Iki
Bubbles, the bubbling crab. What a weird thing to do. I cannot find an explanation for it.
The crab was aware of being watched while it produced copious quantities of bubbly foam, which it seemed to rub over its body with a rhythmic leg and pincer motion. We watched it continue for several minutes. Crab about 7 cm across.
Shingle urchin, Kona. Supposedly it is flattened to make the urchin wave-hardened. However, I found it easy to pull them off the rocks provided I did so quickly. Takes a second for those tube-feet glue guns to work, I guess.
Spit bug (a.k.a. "froghopper) - insect that sucks sap to make a foam ball inside which it hides. The foam provides camouflage, inhibits dehydration.
Tiny grey limpets coat a mussel bed attached to boulders in the tidal zone off Hunstanton, UK.
Limpet/mussel/boulder field off Hunstanton, littered with dead razor clam shells. Fabulous.
Red-backed jumping spider on our driveway: Phidippus johnsoni (aka "Tufty"). About 10 mm long.
Brick in the library wall, at SMU - Dallas, Tx, made of fossil-rich rock. The shells here are imprints.
Horse Apple, Dallas Tx. Unusual fruit, not eaten by animals and therefore unsuccessful in spreading the seeds. Thought to have evolved in the presence of a now-extinct large ground sloth (or other mammal), when it was widespread across the US. Now confined mainly to a narrow strip of Texas, including Dallas. Not poisonous, but apparently it tastes bad. It smells a bit like an orange.
The only red leaves in the creek. Dallas, Tx.
Wasp comb. Dallas, Tx.
10 meter tree, 0.4 meter deep root branch. It fell a week after intense local winds.
Three simple eyes and two compound ones on a wasp. The bright spot between the antennae also resembles a lens but I need a higher magnification and better image quality to be sure.
Avacado leaf in transmission
Coffee-grounds mold. The clean central area is tea, on which this mold does not grow. Diameter about 9 inches.
Yellow mushroom cluster (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii). Poisonous.
L. Suphurius, the sulphur shelf. Said to be edible, and a substitute for chicken, but I'm not trying it.
Valela, Santa Barbara
High-level parasite growing under the crown of a big palm tree near UCLA.
Two-tone crab holes on the beach at low tide, Los Osos.