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 :)
A Brookesia cf. lineata. These delicate little lizards make everything else in the world seem a little too fast. I’m waiting on the genetic results to confirm the identity of this specimen (and others collected this year).
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.
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, fragile, urgent effort to climb the ladder to be someone; to achieve something; to live up to an expectation, internal 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? No, 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 changes. 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.