mark scherz


A small selection of the frogs I photographed in Marojejy, NE Madagascar in 2016. Click the photo to see the species name.

Photos by Mark D. Scherz © 2016.


Boophis anjanaharibeensis by Mark Scherz


Uroplatus phantasticus by Mark Scherz


Lycodryas cf. granuliceps by Mark Scherz

Boophis andreonei 

I spent this winter in a forest in northwestern Madagascar, where my team and I were investigating the herpetofaunal diversity of some unstudied tracts of forest, and how their distribution is affected by proximity to the edge of the forest. The next few months will be spent processing the data and writing reports and papers. I estimate we found at least four, but perhaps as many as ten, new species. I’ll keep you posted on progress! In the mean time, my blog will be featuring some photos from the field :)

Photo © Mark D. Scherz, 2015


Portia schultzi Karsch, 1878

This little spider is one of the most intelligent arthropods on the planet. Their behaviour is bizarrely familiar, and they show signs of reasoning, planning, and focus. I encourage you to read the wikipedia article about them.

I found this individual on the wall of a hotel in eastern central Madagascar, just outside the Anjaha Community Reserve. I have a deep love of salticids, and although I couldn’t identify it initially, I immediately knew it was something special. The result was the most satisfying photoshoot I can remember. Such an enchanting animal.

Photos © Mark D. Scherz, 2014


Vistas in the Bealanana district of northern Madagascar.

Photos © Mark D. Scherz, 2016

The Open Man

There’s man with a hole
that goes straight through his soul
and it’s open for all to see.

Just ask and he’ll tell 
every joy, every hell,
and how it all came to be.

He will tell you unbidden;
no secret is hidden;
and he’ll speak with a gleam in his eyes.

But he hides in the shell
of the stories he tells;
each story a cunning disguise.

It’s easy to heal
when all that you feel
is bared like a page in a book,

but the depths of a hole
in a broken man’s soul
depends on how deeply you look.

Each story’s a mask
with the ultimate task
of hiding the tears at the seams.

Tears in the heart
are bad for a start 
but there’s noting like tears in your dreams.

By Mark Scherz 


Life is built of a succession of stages.
We move from one to the next.
By stages I mean both
the performance platform,
where we live,
and love,
and die,
and the audience applauds,
or boos,
or sobs,
along with us
and at us.
And levels,
where we pass from one to the next
in a futile,
urgent effort
to climb the ladder
to be someone;
to achieve something;
to live up to an expectation,
and yet also imposed by the audience.
We live our first years
in a stage of growth;
of feeding and sleeping and wailing;
of learning;
The First Stage:
Act One, Scene One.
Curtains part.
Enter the protagonist,
stage right
(or wrong
as the case may be).
From there the stages blur into one another.
Where does the learning stage end?
And where too the childhood stage?
Where the teen, and where the adult?
the stages are not always clear.
But they exist.
We mark them.
They exist.
When high school ends and University begins
the stage changes.
When University ends and employment begins
the stage changes.
When one job ends and another begins
the stage
as ever
It is not necessarily location;
not a change of scene as marked
in a play - a farce of truth -
by men in black
reshuffling elements to transport the audience,
but a change in feeling;
in essence;
in nature.
A change,
in short,
in life.

by Mark Scherz, 17 September 2013.

Apologies for the open verse. I hate it myself, but this just flowed out so I chose to let it, for once.

I am about to embark on one of the largest stage changes in my life. I am leaving everything I know and love and starting new things: grad school. I will be leaving my mother, alone in an enormous and empty house. I will be living by myself for the first time in my life. I will be living for the first time as an integrated part of a society in which the dominant language is not my mother tongue (not that I have any problems with German - mine just isn’t perfect and is composed of four very different dialects).

I will probably be the youngest person on my course. That’s not new for me - I’m already the youngest researcher in my whole field - but it will be interesting working together with other people of similar intellect and passion but fairly different interests in a new and unfamiliar setting.

I will also get to work alongside the leaders in my field and really get to know them. To start measuring their shoes, if you will pardon the extension of a metaphor, for the eventual wearing of them.

I am excited, but nervous. I am full of trepidations about setting out on my own, but it is time. I am ready.

The stage is changing.

My life is changing.