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Welcome to the Circus of the Spineless, Edition #64!

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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With each edition of the Circus of the Spineless being published every month, I stand in awe at the science and nature blogging community’s response to keeping this long-running carnival going. Every month we get submissions and often new bloggers are are knocking at our doors still! Give yourselves a pat on the back. Next month will mark the sixth year anniversary of the Circus, started in 2005 by musician, film-maker and all around good guy Tony Gallucci.

If you new to the Circus, each month a new host takes us on a journey of some of the best spineless offering of the last month! It’s a great way to catch up on excellent science, natural history and nature photography of the under-appreciated majority in the Animal Kingdom. if you blog, send in 1 or 2 of your best posts or volunteer to host! Even if you do not blog, you can submit posts you’ve enjoyed from elsewhere.

Now, on with the Circus!

The Insect Big Tent!

Brandon Keim at Wired Science has some amazing photos and science of the Dung Beetles! Not only can they dunghandle their crap uphill both ways – hey, one beetle’s crap is another beetle’s treasure! – but admire their fungal farming abilities and ooo and aah at their sexual dimorphism!

Not impressed by beetle farming? Well check out these ants collecting mesquite seeds from… wait for it…. coyote Dung! Roberta at Wild About Ants will give you something you won’t see at Barnum & Bailey!

Dragonflies are all the rage, as well they should be. They are, after all, perfect as Dana observes at En Tequila Es Verdad. So much so that JSK at Anybody Seen My Focus? has photographed them all over the place!

Scandal is afoot at the Circus! Some supposed “dragonfly lady” has written an excellent essay on the post-monsoonal descent of the Palo Verde Beetle on Tuscon! From Odonata to Odo-nono!

Bees, wasps, and the flies that look like them abound in Flatbush Gardener’s NYC garden!

In tribute and memorial to great insect chemical ecologist Thomas Eisner, Jennifer of The Artful Amoeba writes a fantastic essay on the chemical defenses and offenses of the bombardier beetle and plants.

Can one overstate how amazing ants are? Explore this metaphysical connection of people and their six-legged friends with entomologist Marlene Zuk at Myrmecos.

Arachnids of Wonder!


Plate 66 from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur (1904) (Wikipedia Commons, click for species IDs).

Watch in awe as spiders transform into ants! Learn the ancient art of myrmecomorphy right here on EvoEcoLab.

Pretty in pink won’t keep this moth off a tiny spider’s dinner plate. Pictures and story by Wanderin’ Weeta.

Marine Invert Comedy Hour!

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll come away with a new outlook on life as Dr. M guides us through the many personalities of anemones over at Deep Sea News!

BUZZ!!! Hello? huh, nobody there… BBBUUUUZZZZZ!!!!!! hello? oh sorry, that must be my lobster! Zen at Neurodojo explains loud lobster buzzing, predator avoidance or just crustaceous self-massage?

Follow Iffy, Alvy and the whole hydrothermal crew of Deep Fried Sea, a comic series at Southern Fried Science.

Finally, enter the HALL OF VERMES!

Everyone’s favorite “elegans” worm is the star of this show! Come watch as their sperm delivers lethal toxin to embryos over at Quintessence of Dust and fear for the loathsome nematode as it wrestles for its life with badass fungi AT THE BOTTOM OF THE FREAKING SEA at Deep Sea News!!


That’s all for this edition of the Circus of the Spineless! Stay Tuned next month as the Circus travels to the Cephalopodiatrist to get that embarrassing head-foot problem looked at. Send your submission to me to pass on to Danna! The gmail knows me as kzelnio.

Kevin Zelnio About the Author: Kevin has a M.Sc. degree in biology from Penn State, a B.Sc. in Evolution and Ecology from University of California, Davis, and has worked at as a researcher at several major marine science institutions. His broad academic research interests have encompassed population genetics, biodiversity, community ecology, food webs and systematics of invertebrates at deep-sea chemosynthetic environments and elsewhere. Kevin has described several new species of anemones and shrimp. He is now a freelance writer, independent scientist and science communications consultant living near the Baltic coast of Sweden in a small, idyllic village.

Kevin is also the assistant editor and webmaster for Deep Sea News, where he contributes articles on marine science. His award-winning writing has been appeared in Seed Magazine, The Open Lab: Best Writing on Science Blogs (2007, 2009, 2010), Discovery Channel, ScienceBlogs, and Environmental Law Review among others. He spends most of his time enjoying the company of his wife and two kids, hiking, supporting local breweries, raising awareness for open access, playing guitar and songwriting. You can read up more about Kevin and listen to his music at his homepage, where you can also view his CV and Résumé, and follow him twitter and Google +. Editor's Selection Posts on EvoEcoLab!

Follow on Twitter @kzelnio.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. SusannahA 5:25 pm 08/8/2011

    Great circus! Enough fun for hours of not getting any work done! Thanks again, Kevin!

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