A beautiful photo of a Senegalese bichir (Polypterus senegalus) from Carl Zimmer’s latest blog post for National Geographic. Unfortunately, I think the post and the Nature paper both get totally confused about the term “fish” (there is no such thing) and our common ancestry with early transitional tetrapods and the bichirs. They also completely miss the point about why bichirs are such awesome creatures. I might write a short post about that soon.


Unsung Seafood (for Men’s Health Magazine), sumi ink, pen & digital.


Tiger Beetle, for The Nature Conservancy Magazine

AD Katie Lesser

“But the chief cause of our natural unwillingness to admit that one species has given birth to other and distinct species, is that we are always slow in admitting any great change of which we do not see the intermediate steps.”
— Charles Darwin. "On the Origin of Species…" Chap. XIV. Recapitulation and Conclusion. 1st ed., p. 481. From the beautiful chapter that summarises the whole work and finishes with the more famous "endless forms most beautiful" quote.
“The human understanding resembles not a dry light, but admits a tincture of the will and passions, which generate their own system accordingly; for man always believes more readily that which he prefers. […] in short, his feelings imbue and corrupt his understanding in innumerable and sometimes imperceptible ways.”
— Fracis Bacon. Novum Organum (1620).


Chephalopods, from Animalium

Artist Jenny Brown's collage mutants perfectly capture the fragile and wild colourfulness of marine life.

Pyramidal neuron in the hippocampus receiving excitatory input. The red dots show the sites of synaptic contacts onto thousands of structures called dendritic spines. The remodelling of dendritic spines in hippocampal neurons like this one are an essential process of memory and learning.

Very original and imaginative acrylic on wood panel paintings by Robert Steven Connett. Clearly inspired by the iconic art of Ernst Haeckel’s “Kunstformen der Natur”, but blurring the line between the fantastical, the grotesque and reality even further.

(via: butdoesitfloat)


A Monograph of the Naked-Eyed Medusae: with Figures of all the Species
Written and illustrated by Edward Forbes, 1848.
Published by The Ray Society.

Neuronal activity in the hippocampus. Two-photon calcium imaging.

3D reconstruction of neurons in the somatosensory cortex. Original source unknown.

An absolutely beautiful 19th century Japanese illustration of a horseshoe crab, probably Tachypleus gigas.

Known for their precious blood, these incredible creatures are often called "living fossils", based on the supposition that they have existed for millions of years without changing. In fact, this isn’t true. The four now living species of horseshoe crab are relatively modern, despite their prehistoric look, and there are a number of extinct horseshoe crabs known from the fossil record that look quite different from modern ones. And this is without even considering the soft parts of these animals, which don’t fossilise, or their DNA sequences and internal physiology, which likely also changed significantly over evolutionary time.


Marine Atlas from sometime between the late 1820s & late 1840s by Mori Jiang Yuan Shou (I *think* it was a 1/2 Japanese, 1/2 Chinese teaching manual). The 82 page book features a large number of hand-painted watercolour sketches of marine animals and plants.

It is hosted by the Rare Books Database at the National Diet Library in Japan.

Mr. Michael Gibson
Northampton, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom
Specimen: Proboscis of a blowfly. From a slide by E. Wheeler.
Technique: Brightfield
(via mucholderthen)