Nick Baker breaks the fourth wall with ‘Beautiful Freaks’

The first time the Virtual Ranger met Nick Baker he was presenting prizes at the British Wildlife Photography Awards. Stricken with a streaming cold, he manfully posed for photos and shook hands with sponsors before pulling out of his hat a masterful extemporised address to the assembled photographic dignitaries.

Nick Baker and a crab

And whereas the government minister and the CEO of a big environmental body had both slipped away to their taxis almost before the flashbulbs had cooled, it was Nick Baker who stayed to sign autographs and chat with passing bloggers, and indeed was still standing animatedly discussing the details of moth physiology with one of the photographers as the gallery was being closed up. Continue reading Nick Baker breaks the fourth wall with ‘Beautiful Freaks’

Check out this massive crab

We heard you wanted to see a picture of a simply gigantic crab. So here it is.

Coconut Crab (Birgus latro)

Coconut Crab (Birgus latro)

The Coconut Crab (Birgus latro) is the world’s biggest land-living arthropod. It lives in the eastern Pacific region, and, as the name suggests, can crack open and eat coconuts. Actually it will eat all sorts of things; but luckily for us, rarely if ever does it eat live animals.

Endangered fly rediscovered on unusual ‘crabitat’

In 1966, 21 specimens of a new type of fly were collected from an unusual habitat in the Caribbean by a fly expert called H.L. Carson, who was intrigued to find three separate species of fly all living solely on (and in) tropical land crabs – two in the Caribbean and one on Christmas Island, half a planet away. He speculated that the flies’ use of the strange ‘crabitats’ had evolved separately in all three cases. Since that time, nothing more has been seen of these curious creatures – until now.

Drosophila endobranchia

Male Drosophila endobranchia fly courting a female fly under the watchful eye of their host (a yellow morph black crab Gecarcinus ruricola) © Stensmyr et al

In 2007 another study was undertaken by Marcus C. Stensmyr of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany. Stensmyr and colleagues wanted to find out more about Carson’s flies and their odd way of life. Continue reading Endangered fly rediscovered on unusual ‘crabitat’