dendroica
libutron:

Tomas’ Worm Salamander - Oedipina tomasi
Definitely salamanders of the genus Oedipina are one of my favorites, don’t you think they look charming with her long body, its very short limbs, and tiny webbed feet?. Besides, as all other plethodontids, they lack lungs and breathe through their skin. Top it off, they lack aquatic larvae and hatch as miniature adults from eggs laid on land or terrestrial vegetation.
This is Oedipina tomasi (Plethodontidae), a Critically Endangered species only known from The Cusuco National Park in Honduras.
References: [1] - [2] - [3]
Photo credit: ©Andrew Snyder | Locality: Cusuco National Park, Honduras (2010)

libutron:

Tomas’ Worm Salamander - Oedipina tomasi

Definitely salamanders of the genus Oedipina are one of my favorites, don’t you think they look charming with her long body, its very short limbs, and tiny webbed feet?. Besides, as all other plethodontids, they lack lungs and breathe through their skin. Top it off, they lack aquatic larvae and hatch as miniature adults from eggs laid on land or terrestrial vegetation.

This is Oedipina tomasi (Plethodontidae), a Critically Endangered species only known from The Cusuco National Park in Honduras.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Andrew Snyder | Locality: Cusuco National Park, Honduras (2010)

libutron
libutron:

Blue-diademed Motmot - Momotus lessonii - How to deter a predator without having to flee
Also commonly known as Blue-crowned Motmot, Momotus lessonii (Coraciiformes - Momotidae) is a beautiful bird found in Mexico and Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama).
Momotus lessonii is a relatively large and slow-flying forest bird, it builds conspicuous nest tunnels in mud banks, and it often forages on the ground, sallying from the same predictable perch. These particular behaviors increase the Blue-diademed Motmot’s vulnerability predators, but to deter predators this motmot (as all species in the family), repeatedly wag their long tails from side to side like a pendulum, drawing immediate attention to their tail, in a tail wag display, which tells predators that it is aware of their presence and is prepared to flee. 
These non-aggressive signals from prey to predator are advantageous for both: the predator wastes no energy on what would be an unsuccessful attack and the prey conserves energy by avoiding the need to escape. 
Reference: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: ©Marcelo Camacho | Locality: Panama (2012)

libutron:

Blue-diademed Motmot - Momotus lessonii How to deter a predator without having to flee

Also commonly known as Blue-crowned Motmot, Momotus lessonii (Coraciiformes - Momotidae) is a beautiful bird found in Mexico and Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama).

Momotus lessonii is a relatively large and slow-flying forest bird, it builds conspicuous nest tunnels in mud banks, and it often forages on the ground, sallying from the same predictable perch. These particular behaviors increase the Blue-diademed Motmot’s vulnerability predators, but to deter predators this motmot (as all species in the family), repeatedly wag their long tails from side to side like a pendulum, drawing immediate attention to their tail, in a tail wag display, which tells predators that it is aware of their presence and is prepared to flee. 

These non-aggressive signals from prey to predator are advantageous for both: the predator wastes no energy on what would be an unsuccessful attack and the prey conserves energy by avoiding the need to escape. 

Reference: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Marcelo Camacho | Locality: Panama (2012)

libutron

libutron:

Insect eggs: Julia Heliconian Butterfly 

In the top photo you can see an egg of the commonly named Julia Heliconian, Dryas iulia (Nymphalidae), perched on the tendril of a Passiflora plant. The second photo shows an adult of this species.

Like most other Heliconiines, the Julia Heliconian lays it’s eggs on Passiflora (Passion flower). There has been a great deal of study into the relationship between these plants and Heliconiine butterflies, which strongly suggests they they co-evolved.

There is a constant evolutionary battle in which the plants try to defend themselves from the butterflies. Some Passiflora vines produce false stipules at the base of leaf stems, that induce egg laying by certain Heliconiinae species. A day or two later the stipules drop off, carrying the eggs with them. Eggs which fall to the ground probably get eaten by ants, but even if they survive, the resulting larvae will starve. Certain other Passiflora vines produce tiny tubercules on the stipules that mimic Heliconiine eggs. Any butterfly visiting the plant sees the false eggs, is misled into thinking that the plant is already overladen with eggs, and is consequently inhibited from ovipositing.

The dazzling orange Dryas iulia is widespread and common in the southern United States, Central America and much of the Caribbean, and occurs throughout all of the tropical and subtropical areas of South America.

Technique (egg): Colored Scanning Electron Microscope image.

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: [Top: ©Martin Oeggerli] - [Bottom: ©Richard Stickney | Locality: Surinam, at the NC Museum of Life & Science, Durham, North Carolina, US, 2013]

libutron
libutron:

Halloween Crabs (Gecarcinus quadratus): Ecosystem Engineers
The so called Halloween Crab, Gecarcinus quadratus (Decapoda - Gecarcinidae) is a neotropical land crab with a distinctive patterning; the upper carapace seems completely black (actually dark brown when examined closely), the body and limbs are a bright orange-red, two bright yellow to white triangular spots decorate the front of the upper carapace, and the claws are purple.
The species is distributed along Pacific shorelines from Mexico to Peru. Some authors have treated Gecarcinus quadratus as a subspecies of Gecarcinus lateralis (the Atlantic species), or as synonym with Gecarcinus lateralis, while others have maintained Gecarcinus quadratus as a valid species.  
Whatever, these crabs play an important ecological role on its tropical environment and is regarded as an engineering species that controls nutrient cycling in tropical forests. Gecarcinus quadratus and other similar species of land crabs process large quantities of leaf litter, thereby influencing nutrient cycling. They alter the structure of plant communities through selective consumption of seeds and seedlings, and their burrows provide habitat for obligatory and facultative arthropod symbionts. Based on the direct and indirect influences of the land crabs on resource availability, as well as their modification of habitat, they can be considered allogenic ecosystem engineers. 
References: [1] - [2] - [3]
Photo credit: ©Eduardo Mena | Locality: Bejuco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica (2010)

HUZZAH MOTHERFUCKERS!!!

libutron:

Halloween Crabs (Gecarcinus quadratus): Ecosystem Engineers

The so called Halloween Crab, Gecarcinus quadratus (Decapoda - Gecarcinidae) is a neotropical land crab with a distinctive patterning; the upper carapace seems completely black (actually dark brown when examined closely), the body and limbs are a bright orange-red, two bright yellow to white triangular spots decorate the front of the upper carapace, and the claws are purple.

The species is distributed along Pacific shorelines from Mexico to Peru. Some authors have treated Gecarcinus quadratus as a subspecies of Gecarcinus lateralis (the Atlantic species), or as synonym with Gecarcinus lateralis, while others have maintained Gecarcinus quadratus as a valid species.  

Whatever, these crabs play an important ecological role on its tropical environment and is regarded as an engineering species that controls nutrient cycling in tropical forests. Gecarcinus quadratus and other similar species of land crabs process large quantities of leaf litter, thereby influencing nutrient cycling. They alter the structure of plant communities through selective consumption of seeds and seedlings, and their burrows provide habitat for obligatory and facultative arthropod symbionts. Based on the direct and indirect influences of the land crabs on resource availability, as well as their modification of habitat, they can be considered allogenic ecosystem engineers. 

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Eduardo Mena | Locality: Bejuco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica (2010)

HUZZAH MOTHERFUCKERS!!!

dendroica
dendroica:

Bird of the Week: Military Macaw

The Military Macaw probably got its name from the military personnel who first imported the birds to Europe as pets. In the wild, this parrot occurs in three subspecies throughout a large but fragmented range extending from Mexico to Argentina.
Like the Great Green, Blue-throated, and Lear’s Macaws, these beautiful and intelligent parrots are popular cage birds, widely captured for the pet trade within their home countries. Another major threat to these macaws is habitat loss, caused mainly by deforestation for agriculture and settlement.
Like other parrots, Military Macaws are quite noisy; their raucous calls and shrieks can be heard far and wide as flocks travel between roosts, nests, and feeding sites. Favored foraging areas are the highest outer branches of trees, where these macaws forage for fruits and nuts. They nest in tree cavities and on high cliff faces. Once mated, pairs stay together for life…
(read more)

dendroica:

Bird of the Week: Military Macaw

The Military Macaw probably got its name from the military personnel who first imported the birds to Europe as pets. In the wild, this parrot occurs in three subspecies throughout a large but fragmented range extending from Mexico to Argentina.

Like the Great Green, Blue-throated, and Lear’s Macaws, these beautiful and intelligent parrots are popular cage birds, widely captured for the pet trade within their home countries. Another major threat to these macaws is habitat loss, caused mainly by deforestation for agriculture and settlement.

Like other parrots, Military Macaws are quite noisy; their raucous calls and shrieks can be heard far and wide as flocks travel between roosts, nests, and feeding sites. Favored foraging areas are the highest outer branches of trees, where these macaws forage for fruits and nuts. They nest in tree cavities and on high cliff faces. Once mated, pairs stay together for life…

(read more)

libutron
libutron:

O’Donnell’s Salamander - Bolitoglossa odonnelli 
Also commonly known as Mushroomtongue salamander, Bolitoglossa odonnelli (Plethodontidae) is considered part of a complex of three species that are difficult to separate morphologically.
This species, once common but now rare, occurs in rainforests and cloud forests of Guatemala and Honduras, and is regarded as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. 
References: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: ©Todd W. Pierson | Locality: Alta Verapaz, Guatemala (2010)

libutron:

O’Donnell’s Salamander - Bolitoglossa odonnelli 

Also commonly known as Mushroomtongue salamander, Bolitoglossa odonnelli (Plethodontidae) is considered part of a complex of three species that are difficult to separate morphologically.

This species, once common but now rare, occurs in rainforests and cloud forests of Guatemala and Honduras, and is regarded as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. 

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Todd W. Pierson | Locality: Alta Verapaz, Guatemala (2010)

libutron
libutron:

Northern Banded Coffee Snake - Ninia pavimentata
It is a small colubrid snake of the species Ninia pavimentata (Colubridae), native to the highlands of central Guatemala, and Honduras.
Adults of this non-venomous snake grow up to 0.28 m in length.
References: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: ©Josiah Townsend | Locality: La Liberación, 1030 m, Reserva de Vida Silvestre Texiguat, Honduras (2010)

libutron:

Northern Banded Coffee Snake - Ninia pavimentata

It is a small colubrid snake of the species Ninia pavimentata (Colubridae), native to the highlands of central Guatemala, and Honduras.

Adults of this non-venomous snake grow up to 0.28 m in length.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Josiah Townsend | Locality: La Liberación, 1030 m, Reserva de Vida Silvestre Texiguat, Honduras (2010)

scientificillustration
jehart:

Red-eyed tree frog life cycle
in watercolour and technical pen on Arches hotpress watercolour board. 
Finally posting this piece, which I finished a while ago. This was part of my semi-private lessons on topics in scientific illustration, and was the first time I’d made a descriptive illustration in watercolour (usually, it’s Adobe Illustrator). I’ve discovered that I’m not so skilled in painting backgrounds, but it was an interesting learning experience, and I think that it would be fun to try again some day. I’m not crazy about the illustration board I use, since it curved severely under heavy washes, so next time I’ll probably use stretched or heavy hotpress paper. On the plus side, it holds up remarkably well to multiple layers of liquid masking fluid. 

jehart:

Red-eyed tree frog life cycle

in watercolour and technical pen on Arches hotpress watercolour board. 

Finally posting this piece, which I finished a while ago. This was part of my semi-private lessons on topics in scientific illustration, and was the first time I’d made a descriptive illustration in watercolour (usually, it’s Adobe Illustrator). I’ve discovered that I’m not so skilled in painting backgrounds, but it was an interesting learning experience, and I think that it would be fun to try again some day. I’m not crazy about the illustration board I use, since it curved severely under heavy washes, so next time I’ll probably use stretched or heavy hotpress paper. On the plus side, it holds up remarkably well to multiple layers of liquid masking fluid. 

libutron
libutron:

Guatemala Neckband Snake (Half Coral Snake) - Scaphiodontophis annulatus
Though characterized by a coloration and pattern similar to that of the venomous coral snakes (genus Micrurus) and by extremely long and fragile tails, Scaphiodontophis annulatus (Colubridae) is actually a harmless snake, but presumably, both the coloration and the tail structure are putative defense mechanisms that protect the snakes from predatory attack.
In this species the color is variable in the extent of banding pattern, with some individuals showing the brightly colored pattern only on the anterior third or less of their bodies. 
This snake is aglyphous (lacking grooves), which means that it has no specialized teeth and each tooth is similar in shape and often size. In Scaphiodontophis annulatus the maxillary teeth are peculiarly hinged and shovel-like, an adaptation for feeding on skinks.
The Guatemala Neckband Snake is a diurnal species that inhabits the leaflitter of mature wet forest in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Colombia.
References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4]
Photo credit: ©Josiah Townsend | Locality: La Liberación, 1030 m, Reserva de Vida Silvestre Texiguat, Honduras (2010)

libutron:

Guatemala Neckband Snake (Half Coral Snake) - Scaphiodontophis annulatus

Though characterized by a coloration and pattern similar to that of the venomous coral snakes (genus Micrurus) and by extremely long and fragile tails, Scaphiodontophis annulatus (Colubridae) is actually a harmless snake, but presumably, both the coloration and the tail structure are putative defense mechanisms that protect the snakes from predatory attack.

In this species the color is variable in the extent of banding pattern, with some individuals showing the brightly colored pattern only on the anterior third or less of their bodies. 

This snake is aglyphous (lacking grooves), which means that it has no specialized teeth and each tooth is similar in shape and often size. In Scaphiodontophis annulatus the maxillary teeth are peculiarly hinged and shovel-like, an adaptation for feeding on skinks.

The Guatemala Neckband Snake is a diurnal species that inhabits the leaflitter of mature wet forest in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Colombia.

References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4]

Photo credit: ©Josiah Townsend | Locality: La Liberación, 1030 m, Reserva de Vida Silvestre Texiguat, Honduras (2010)

libutron

realmonstrosities:

The Pelican Flower is a Central American vine with huge flowers that bloom for just two days before they wilt and die.

The first day is spent using the stench of death and decay to attract flies which get trapped overnight within the depths of the flower. They’re only let out the next day, after a dowsing of pollen, so they can get trapped by a whole new flower and pollinate it in the process.

Pelican Flowers get their name from looking a bit like a pelican from the side. I guess Malevolent Alien Chrysalis Flower didn’t catch on.

…Images: dl7tny/Cary Bass/Kew on Flickr/Brian Chiu/Brian Henderson