When you read a story, you may occasionally wonder what the reporter went through to get it. About a month ago I arose at 5 a.m. to accompany two wildlife biologists and three fisheries volunteers into the high country of Colorado in order to report a story that came out in High Country News this past week.Over the course of a 12-hour day, we covered about 10 miles, climbed several thousand feet, slogged through bogs in which I sank to my calves, swatted clouds of mosquitoes, and were drenched by rain in order to get to the high ponds and puddles where boreal toads breed.
Cyst, trophozoite ("amoeba"), and flagellate forms of the protist Naegleria fowleri. Photos by CDC. In the press this week were reports (see here and here and here) that the brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri has killed three people this summer, as it does in a typical year.
Mealybugs and their myrmecoid herders. Photo by Ron Hemberger, courtesy J. McCutcheon. Used with permission. If it goes around on six legs, it doesn't get much dowdier than the mealybug 1 .
Woolly mammoth, resplendent. Model from the Royal BC Museum, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Creative Commons Tracy O. Click image for link. As I write, the Snowmass Water and Sanitation Department District is busy digging, damming, and filling the Ziegler Reservoir on top of one of the world's only known high-altitude Ice Age fossil sites -- and "without question" the world's finest mastodon site, according to Denver Museum of Nature and Science VP Kirk Johnson -- near Snowmass Village, CO, a ski resort.Fortunately for us, the DMNS had 70 days spread over two seasons to get in, dig like hell, and get out.
Author's note: This essay was originally posted on April 19, 2011, at Artful Amoeba 1.0 honoring the work of the late Thomas Eisner, a world-renowned chemical ecologist.
A few weeks ago local lichen expert Ann Henson and I scouted out lichens on the flanks of Gray's Peak in central Colorado. Since my last post was on the awesome power of lichens, I thought I'd share a few photos of some of our amazing locals.Our very first lichen was probably the most spectacular: Thamnolia vermicularis , the whiteworm lichen.
And in this corner . . . the challenger, Lobaria pulmonaria. Given the common name "lungwort" thanks to its lung-like appearance, medieval herbalists invoked the Doctrine of Signatures to deduce it must be good for treating lung complaints.
One of our fascinating subjects for CotS #63.5 -- a By-the-Wind Sailor, Velella velella. Creative Commons Notafly. Click image for license and original.
Microbial hand grenades? Mutant pumpkin seeds? Actually, it's far, far stranger than that. Scanning electron microscopy of myxospores of a Myxidium sp.
UPDATE: After being accidentally closed all launch day, comments are now open! Please feel free to introduce yourself, suggest an organism or topic for a post, or say hi below.
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