Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Link of the week- the beauty of fungi...

...may sound like a contradiction in terms, but as these stunning photographs show, just because an organism lives on the forest floor, is almost entirely composed of tiny white tubes and feeds on rotting organic material, doesn't mean it can't be beautiful...

The first link is to a picture called “Decomposition on the forest floor” by James Milligan -

The second link leads to “Fungal Abstract” by Craig Lipski-

Today's third link - “Mushroom” by Ken Kovak - demonstrates the slow power of fungi - as we see a group of tree fungi slowly prizing the bark off a tree-

Today's final link is a slightly more off-the-wall ("less on-the-wall"?) kind of "fungal art" for want of a better word- one of a number of similar pieces by Bristol-based artist ElinTM

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Quote of the week- Joseph Wood Krutch, the earth producing beauty, joy and food

"If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food, either."
- Joseph Wood Krutch
(American Naturalist, Writer and Critic, 1893-1970)

Friday, 25 June 2010

Cheering-up Quoll, Sea Kraits and the launch of ThePet Info Club

Hello. Good morning and Welcome (back) to Weirdbeautiful...
In place of a cheering-up bird today we have a "cheering up quoll".(Image by "Leonard G" -a public domain image).

I never know whether to be ashamed as a zoologist each time I discover the existence of an animal I had never previously heard of, or just impressed at evolution's creativity, or both... Anyway, the quoll is one such animal: having languished for 32 years in ignorance of its existence, I was recently enlightened, as a consequence of an interview I did with Prof Rick Shine of Sydney University. An Australian and Papua-New Guinean marsupial, it is a small carnivore, that sometimes lives on the ground and sometimes in trees and a relative of the much better known Tasmanian Devil. The reason why this animal was remotely relevant to the interview was that they are- apparently- unusually vulnerable to the poison of Australia's cane toads and, unfortuantely for all concerned, also inclined to eat the toads.

There's more information on this problem- and a Sydney University- run project to train quolls to avoid eating the poisonous cane toads in an article in Australian Geographic, here-

Actually, as the article explains, the work quoted is part of a project headed by Prof Rick Shine. My interview with him will be published in the September edition of Practical Reptile Keeping Magazine- for some reason, the magazine is always a month ahead of itself, so the "September" issue is actually on sale throughout August, rather than September. In the interview, Prof Shine talks about Cane Toads, his work conserving Australia's rare broad-headed snake and his work on Fijian sea kraits.

The other, related news is that the writer, editor and leading petcare expert David Alderton (editor of Practical Reptile Keeping magazine) has now launched an online forum, website and webstore call PetInfoClub dealing with all manner of pet-related things. You can find Pet Info Club [HERE]

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Link of the week- the perils of tea drinking...

Welcome to Weirdbeautiful. Today's links-of-the-week are two articles relaying scientific research about the perils of tea-drinking and the benefits of coffee drinking (rather than the other way around, for a change).

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Quote of the week- Bernard Meltzer- use your talents

"Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best."
- Bernard Meltzer
(American Radio Host, 1916-1998)

Image by V. Neblik, 2010. This weird little bird is a Black and White casqued Hornbill, Bycanistes subcylindricus: an African bird with a monumentally large bill- to which this picture really does not do justice- there is a better picture of the bill [here]. The individual in my photograph lives in London Zoo.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Link of the day- The Weirdbeauty of Seaslugs

Seaslug (image by Parent Géry)

Hi. Welcome to Weirdbeautiful.

Both Links-of-the-day today are articles by Dr. Terry Gosliner about Seaslugs. Despite their name, as the picture above shows, they are stunningly beautiful little creatures; not to mention, more than a little weird.

The first article (complete with some awe-inspiring photographs) is here-

Dr Gosliner's second article -
- also lavishly illustrated, picks up where the first one left off by answering questions submitted in response to the first article.

Red Sea Nembrotha sea slug- image by Jon Hanson
(image taken from and reproduced in accordance with its creative commons 2.0 licence (- click here for details)). This image was originally posted to, which links to some other stunning photos of marine life by Mr Hanson. The picture by Parent Géry is a public domain image.

Thanks for visiting Weirdbeautiful. The next post will be on Sunday.

In the meantime, there are over 200 previous posts on this blog, which you can access by scrolling down or clicking on the appropriate month-of-posting in the blog archive. You can also visit this blog's contents page, but it is very incomplete and very much a work-in-progress...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Quote of the week- H. P. Lovecraft- the joy of pursuing truth

"To the scientist there is the joy in pursuing truth which nearly counteracts the depressing revelations of truth."
- H. P. Lovecraft
(American science fiction author, 1890-1937)

Image: Komodo dragon,Varanus komodoensis: an animal with an array of bizarre behaviours and quirks of evolution. Picture taken in London Zoo.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Link of the day- Jupiter, comets, cloud formations seen from space and baby turtles

Hi. Welcome to Weirdbeautiful.
The first link of the day today is this article in "Wired" magazine, with some really awe-inspiring pictures of cloud-formations seen from above-

and the second is this lovely picture of a baby turtle-

the third link-of-the-day today is this story about amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley observing a comet hitting the surface of the planet Jupiter-

Thanks to Phil France for bringing the first link to my attention and for the second.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Quote of the week- the human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged

"The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man." -Author Unknown

Image -"Craterscape" (c) Victoria Neblik, 2010 - from the book "Rock in the Landscape". All rights reserved.
Quote: thanks to

For more details of "Rock in the landscape", click [HERE].
To buy a copy, click [HERE

Friday, 4 June 2010

Link of the week- acupuncture and adenosine

Hi. Welcome to weirdbeautiful.

First link-of-the-week today is (again) to a medical, rather than a wildlife story. This article talks about research into how/if acupuncture works, concluding that acupuncture needles release adenosine (a compound known to reduce inflammation and pain) into the tissue around the needles. I don't know enough about the subject to comment on this, but I thought it was/is an interesting story -

The second link is both weird and beautiful- a micrographic image of daisy pollen-

(actually, this one image in a gallery of pollen images)