I took the oportunity and went for a photographing spree around the local meadows and woods. A bunch of pictures under the fold. It’s 11 p.m. and I still have some work to do, so I’ll be attaching names at a later date. I know most of them, but I need to identify a few of them.
30 March, 2008
25 March, 2008
One of the main and most recognizable characteristics delineating arthropods (and some other animals - see Ecdysozoa) from other animals is its ability to moult. Contrary to our body plan, they have a hard exoskeleton and attached muscles on the inside, where we have exactly the opposite. We have an endoskeleton and muscles attached outside. Both types have their own advantages. Having a hard shell makes it a bit harder to grow, but, you do have a hard shell for potential impacts.
Moulting is a critical time for all animals. This is the time where they shed part of their old skin (a lot of it reabsorbs and is used again to build the new shell) and expose their soft sides. This is the ideal time for predators to strike and hence, animals tend to hide. They also lose their usual coloration (see pictures) which usually makes them more visible. This is also the time where interspecific "confrontations" often take place. If you are growing crickets and it’s too crowded and/or limited supply of food and water, the animals will tend to eat each other during moults, less frequently when fully armorned (personal observation).
Luckily for me, there are also weirdos out there, and here is one of them. I keep a tiny grass stem in the terrarium where I keep the crickets, and one thought this would be a great spot to moult. In the pictures below, you can see the (pale) coloration (or the lack of), the exuvium (moult) and a fully grown cricket. It takes at least 10-20 minutes for them to attain their full coloration. I don’t know how long it takes for the shell to reach terminal hardness (I’m not fond of poking animals). Perhaps it correlates with the color?
Adult males and females have wing, and males use them to produce a high pitch sounds, also audible to us, but especially to their females. The females (not pictured) have a long hard ovipositor protruding from the terminal end of their abdomen. They use it to deposit eggs deep into the soil, where they have more favorable constant conditions (temperature, humidity) to develop.
23 March, 2008
Bush tried to peddle a nookie once again (remember Iraq?):
But Bush in an interview with a US-controlled Farsi-language radio station said Iran has declared it wants nuclear weapons "to destroy people."
But the scam fails and:
The White House on Friday sought to back pedal on comments by President George W. Bush accusing Iran of having said it was seeking a nuclear bomb.
But at least Bush knows (hopefully) that having nuclear power is their right, according to the NPT:
Bush told Radio Farda, which broadcasts from Europe to Iran, that he supported Iran developing a civilian nuclear power program.
"It’s in their right to have it," Bush said, according to a White House transcript of the interview made on Wednesday.
More at Yahoo news.
22 March, 2008
Scientists found potential new species at the Ross sea (between Antarctica and New Zealand). Cruises to destination of remote locations often yield similar result. It’s still common belief that the wonder of science is discovering new species. There must be something majestic (self-centered?) to the fact that your name is attached everywhere the species is mentioned (in print)? But this is far from the truth, and has been for quite some time. The erra of describing species is over, at least for now. While molecular techniques offer a fesh new look at the species concept and recognition, it’s far from applicaple on a massive and field scale. A lot of the morphological identification has been done in the past century. Today, a lot of people are not pursuing to find new species, but work with ecology (interaction of species with other species and environment), physiology and recently most pronunced, genetics, instead. Which is just a step forward in the race for knowledge.
A lot of new species awaits us in the ocean deeps, the forrest darks and mountain colds, but even more new knowledge is stored within and between them.
21 March, 2008
This is exactly why we should not rely on the police to protect us. We have to do it ourselves.
A woman from South California was calling 911 when someone shot her dead. She was calling for help when someone was trying to break into her house. I guess she was right.
The US has o.k.-ed an arms sales to Kosovo. Followed by a loud bang. This is going to get interesting, as the history of the region dictates a conflict.
10 March, 2008
Yesterday, about a month long project has been launched in Ljubljana - Dvoživke na Večni poti. A project of translocating amphibians across the road will try to minimize the roadkill that results when frogs, toads, newts and salamanders migrate to their "nesting" sites.
A small fence has been erected yesterday that will prevent animals from crossing the road. Volunteers will be picking moving them across the road daily. The project is also about identifying and counting individuals, which will give us a clearer picture of which sections are "hot spots" for crossing animals.
9 March, 2008
I have just read a story about US Catholic church paid 400 million EUR (615 million USD) for child sex abuse in 2007 (see from RAW story here). This just shows how much abuse has been going on, and not just recently. A lot of cases go back decades. Second, it shows how much money Church really has. This is probably just the tip of the ice berg. One has to wonder what they do with it. Help those in need, or gather more and more power? We can only imagine what can follow some day. And third, and this is really important, settling out of court is a catch - if the church settles, they are not criminally responsible, and the abusers walk free. Also, the victims are in it for the money, not as much justice. Of course, one has to wonder how far one would come if he dragged that little cock sucker through the legal system. At the end of the day, a few million in your pocket is perhaps worth more than a few years of jail time for that pervert.
6 March, 2008
L’oreal and UNESCO are awarding their international "For women in science" scholarship to dr. Maja Zagmajster, one of the junior scientists at "my" faculty. We are all very happy and pleased that she received the award. She has been recognized for her work in researching the biodiversity of subterranean fauna in western karst region. She is the first Slovenian junior scientist to receive the scholarship. She will be receiveng her award in Paris. Read the story here (in Slovene) or here (official page). On the other hand, some of our research facilities and institutions are "overstaffed" with women, and missing technical people for heavier and more technical work. .. Or so I hear.