PROBOSCIS

Happy Lunar New Year! We’re celebrating the Year of the Monkey by highlighting some amazing Asian monkey species. 

This striking fellow is an adult male proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus), also called the long-nosed monkey or bekantan in Indonesian. Male proboscis monkeys use their fleshy, pendulous noses to reverberate loud bellowing noises that attract mates or warn others of predators. Infant proboscis monkeys are born with bright blue faces and black fur!

Proboscis monkeys eat mostly leaves, seeds, and unripe fruits, and sometimes insects. They are only found on the island of Borneo and are endangered with extinction because of deforestation and hunting.

Learn more about Asian primates at our February 21 event, Spotlight Asia: Ring in the Year of the Monkey. 

This is a moth proboscis, used to suck up nectar and other liquids. The green structures in this colour enhanced image are called sensilla and are the moth’s taste buds. Each sensilla is about 38 micrometres long. Scanning electron microscopy by Darren Brown, University of Queensland

source

The mouth of a blowfly

Blowflies are of incredible importance to forensic science. With their keen ability to smell a dead animal from over a mile away, they are usually the first insects to come into contact with decaying bodies, usually within minutes of death. Females lay eggs in dying tissue, which develop in a predictable pattern based on temperature and weather that can be used to determine time and place of death. Recent research is uncovering how the development of blowfly larvae change depending on the chemicals and drugs present in a victim’s system, revealing clues for a more accurate time and cause of death.

Image by Michael Gibson.

PROBOSCIS

[noun]

1. the trunk of an elephant.

2. any long flexible snout, as of the tapir.

3. also called beak - the elongate, protruding mouth parts of certain insects, adapted for sucking or piercing.

4. any of various elongate feeding, defensive, or sensory organs of the oral region, as in certain leeches and worms.

5. Facetious: the human nose, especially when unusually long or prominent.

Etymology: via Latin, from Greek proboskís, “elephant’s trunk, literally, feeder”, from boskein, “to feed”.

[René Magritte - Philosopher S Lamp]

5

The anatomy of the proboscis of the South American Tapir (Tapirus terrestris); the third figure has a horse (Equus caballus) for comparison.

Witmer, L. et al. (1999) The proboscis of tapirs (Mammalia: Perissodactyla): a case study in novel narial anatomy. J. Zool. Lond. 249, 249–267.

I recently wrote an article on the re-definition of the terms “trunk”, “proboscis” and “prorhiscis”. In short, “trunks” no longer refer to facial protrusions, “proboscides” are appendages used to eat (in elephants, tapirs), and “prorhiscides” are other big noses used for various purposes.