The soursop is the fruit of Annona muricata, an evergreen from Central and South America adapted to areas of high humidity and relatively warm winters. The taste has been described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlying creamy flavour reminiscent of coconut or banana.
 Photograph: Muhammad Mahdi Karim
(via: Wikipedia)

The soursop is the fruit of Annona muricata, an evergreen from Central and South America adapted to areas of high humidity and relatively warm winters. The taste has been described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlying creamy flavour reminiscent of coconut or banana.

Photograph: Muhammad Mahdi Karim

(via: Wikipedia)

In Search of Lost Salamanders:

Returning after 38 years to find lost salamanders in the remote cloud forests of Guatemala.

by Robin Moore

“We called it the golden wonder”, says Jeremy Jackson, reminiscing about a salamander that he was the first, and last, to find in the wild 38 years ago.

Time has not dulled his memory: I found the first one under a sheet of bark in a field and, after collecting in this field for weeks without success it was obviously something unusual. What the few photos of Bolitoglossa jacksoni [aka Jackson’s Climbing Salamander] that exist don’t show is the brilliance and depth of the coloration. It was an exceptionally beautiful animal”.

But what brought Jackson to the remote forests of Guatemala all those years ago? His good friend, Paul Elias. Elias had ventured to Guatemala for the first time in 1974 – his findings had been so remarkable that he was compelled to return…

(read more: Medium.com)

photographs by Robin Moore

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astronomy-to-zoology:

Eudiagogus pulcher
…a species of Sesbania Clown Weevil (Eudiagogus spp.), a group of Broad-nosed Weevil (Entiminae). E. pulcher occurs from southern North America and Mexico south to Central America. Adult E. pulcher are typically seen in wetland margins and are known to feed on the foliage of rattlebox (Sesbania spp.). Their larvae will feed on rattlebox as well but instead of foliage will feed on the root nodules of rattlebox.
Classification
Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Coleoptera-Polyphaga-Curculionoidea-Curculionidae-Entiminae-Eudiagogini-Eudiagogus-E. pulcher
Image: ©Tracy Palmer Villalobos

astronomy-to-zoology:

Eudiagogus pulcher

…a species of Sesbania Clown Weevil (Eudiagogus spp.), a group of Broad-nosed Weevil (Entiminae). E. pulcher occurs from southern North America and Mexico south to Central America. Adult E. pulcher are typically seen in wetland margins and are known to feed on the foliage of rattlebox (Sesbania spp.). Their larvae will feed on rattlebox as well but instead of foliage will feed on the root nodules of rattlebox.

Classification

Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Coleoptera-Polyphaga-Curculionoidea-Curculionidae-Entiminae-Eudiagogini-Eudiagogus-E. pulcher

Image: ©Tracy Palmer Villalobos

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Banded Cucumber Beetle - Diabrotica balteata 
This beautiful beetle belonging to the species Diabrotica balteata (Coleoptera - Chrysomelidae) is a well known pest of many crops in Mexico, the United States and Central America. Adults are distinctive for their bright green color and by having two transverse bands on elytra, each with four irregular yellow spots.
References: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: (via  | ©Luis Stevens) | Locality: San Luis Potosi, Mexico (2014)

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Banded Cucumber Beetle - Diabrotica balteata

This beautiful beetle belonging to the species Diabrotica balteata (Coleoptera - Chrysomelidae) is a well known pest of many crops in Mexico, the United States and Central America. Adults are distinctive for their bright green color and by having two transverse bands on elytra, each with four irregular yellow spots.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: (via | ©Luis Stevens) | Locality: San Luis Potosi, Mexico (2014)

Anhingas (Anhinga anhinga), sometimes called Snakebird or Water Turkey, a kind of Darter, are unusual looking birds. These birds are semi-aquatic.Their bones are much more solid than other birds, which helps them stay underwater, where they hunt fish and other small aquatic animals. They are found from the Gulf Coast of the United States to Central South America.
photograph by Bill Supulski 
(via: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park - TPWD)

Anhingas (Anhinga anhinga), sometimes called Snakebird or Water Turkey, a kind of Darter, are unusual looking birds. These birds are semi-aquatic.Their bones are much more solid than other birds, which helps them stay underwater, where they hunt fish and other small aquatic animals. They are found from the Gulf Coast of the United States to Central South America.

photograph by Bill Supulski

(via: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park - TPWD)

dendroica
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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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]

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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!!!

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)