“Striped Bumblebee Shrimp” (Ghathophyllum americanum)

a beautiful species of Gnathophyllid shrimp which boasts a very large range, that ranges from the Caribbean to the Indo Pacific, including the southern coast of Africa, India and Australia. Striped bumblebee shrimp typically inhabit tropical lagoons, bays, and coral and other reefs. Where, like other shrimp, they will scavenger for a wide range of organic materials. Due to their unusual black striped appearance, striped bumblebee shrimp have become common in the aquarium trade. 


Animalia-Arthropoda-Crustacea-Malacostraca-Decapoda-Caridea-Gnathophyllidae-Gnathophyllum-G. americanum

Image: Chad Ordelheide

Behemoths of the ancient past…and future?

One thing that many known prehistoric creatures have in common - and the thing that most people find fearsome - is that a lot of them were huge. Everyone knows about the gigantism of T-rex, Diplodocus, and Megalodon. But there were also ground sloths the size of modern-day elephants, dragonflies the size of hawks, and cockroaches the size of domestic cats (!)

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Trout Lily - Erythronium americanum. Watercolor on Illustration Board.

A common and beautiful woodland wildflower native to eastern North America. Named for its unique dappled leaves, the trout lily blooms in early spring and is sometimes found in huge colonies of plants that have spread via underground offsets from their bulbs.


Just a leafy hillside, right?

Wrong! It’s absolutely covered with these intriguing yellow flowers with mottled leaves. They were EVERYWHERE up that hillside and others by the river, but only briefly. I took these pictures around March 15th, and when I went back a week later they were all but gone. I’m so glad I went hiking that day.

I have successfully googled these, and they go by many names: trout lily, dogtooth violet, yellow adder’s tongue, amberbell: all erythronium americanum. I love them.

The giant ground Sloth, Megatherium (= giant beast) (1796)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Pilosa
Family : Megatheriidae
Subfamily : Megatherinae
Genus : Megatherium
Species : M. americanum, M. altiplanicum, M. medinae, M. istilarti, M. parodii, M. sundti, M. gallardoi

  • Late Pliocene/Early Holocene (2 Ma - 10 000 years)
  • 6 m long and 4 000 kg (size)
  • South America (map)

Megatherium is the poster mammal for the giant megafauna of the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs: this prehistoric sloth was as big as an elephant, about 20 feet long from head to tail and weighing in the neighborhood of two or three tons. Fortunately for the other animals, the Giant Sloth was restricted to South America, which was cut off from other continents at the time and thus bred its own peculiar assortment of plus-sized mammals (a bit like the Australia of today).

The giant sloths of five million years ago led much different lifestyles than their modern relatives. Based on its huge, sharp claws, paleontologists believe Megatherium spent much of its time rearing up on its hind legs and ripping the leaves off trees, but some experts believe this mammal may also have been an opportunistic carnivore, slashing, killing and eating its fellow, slow-moving South American herbivores.

Megatherium is also an interesting case study in convergent evolution between dinosaurs and mammals. If you ignore the thick coat of fur, this mammal was anatomically very similar to the tall, pot-bellied, razor-clawed breed of dinosaurs known as therizinosaurs, the most imposing genus of which was the huge, feathered Therizinosaurus.


Sorry for a bunch at once! The first 3 are from Maryland; the spider’s from my basement (quarter sized), the caterpillars appeared all over the sidewalks.

The mantis is from Southern California (I wondered on account of the color, I mostly see them bright green and woody brown).

Hello, the first is a Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), the second is a Wolf Spider, probably a Tigrosa sp., the third is a Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum). The mantis looks like just the invasive European Mantis (Mantis religiosa) they (along with other mantid species) can show a pale coloration along with the typical green/brown. 

The forest floor is covered in these amazing trout-lilies (Erythonium americanum). This patch was getting a lot of sun, and the leaves have turned a lurid purple. Trout-lilies are part of a group of plants - the spring ephemerals - that get their blooming done early, sneaking it in before there are enough leaves on the trees to darken the forest floor.

Recently, a man in Bellevue, Michigan (U.S.A) accidentally discovered the bones of a mastodon, buried in his own back yard. At first they discovered a blackened rib, but they soon unearthed 42 bones.

Michigan’s fossil record represents a slew of Pleistocene animals, including giant beavers, peccaries, a great diversity of ungulates, and the occasional walrus. But the most common find is ‘Mammut americanum’, the American Mastodon. To date, over 330 American Mastodon sites have been discovered in Michigan; more than any other Pleistocene animal.

Why are we finding so many bones from this one, gigantic animal?

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Trout Lilies (genus Erythronium)

Members of  this genus are called trout lily or fawn lily, for the dappled markings on their leaves, or dogtooth violet (even though they’re members of the lily family, not violets) for the tooth-like shape of its corm (like a tuber or a bulb).

Most of the roughly 30 species are western North American in distribution, often restricted to the west coast; but one of the best-known is the Yellow Trout Lily (E. americanum) of the east. These grow in rich deciduous forests, blooming before the leaves come out on the trees. They form large colonies that can be hundreds of years old, though each individual plant is quite young in comparison.

Plants with only a single leaf are too young to flower. It may take 7-8 years for a plant to reach maturity, producing two or more leaves and finally blooming. Their seeds are surrounded by a fatty capsule that is appealing to ants. The ants will often carry the seed back to the nest and remove the capsule, ditching the seed where it can germinate.

The flowers of Erythronium species can be yellow, white, or even purple, and many can be readily found for sale at garden centers.

photograph by Julie Falk (CaptPiper) on Flickr

(via: Peterson Field Guides)



Carabidae (Ground Beetles)-Omophron (Round Sand Beetles)- Omophron americanum (American Round Sand Beetle) 5.3mm

Willl they bite. Yep, did I get bit Yep. Aggressive  little buggers, and amazingly fast!!!

First one I have found.

Range NF-AB to FL-AZ, Mexico

Habitat immediate vicinity of water on bare or sparsely vegetated sandy substrates, sometimes saline, at 260-2,200 m altitudes.

Season Adults Apr-Dec; copulating pairs, Apr-May; gravid females, May-Jun; teneral adults, Jul-Sep. Life Cycle nocturnal, adults take cover during the day in burrows dug in the ground; adults are gregarious, often come to lights; they also stridulate. The most common and widespread Omophron in NA