Monday 16 September 2013

Giant Stripe-Eyed Grasshoppers of the Mediterranean

On various dates and in various locations across the Mediterranean Sea; I came across big grasshoppers most noticeable by the grey-black stripes on their compound eyes. Time and again, it brought me a strange joy to see their familiar faces in a variety of different places.

Here are all such grasshoppers I've encountered up to date.

I found this one in Cesme - near the city of İzmirI kept this animal for a few hours and fed it pulped carrots, which it consumed with great enthusiasm.

This giant specimen I found in the ruins of Baalbek, while touring Lebanon with my family in 2010. It differed from the others with the dark spots across its body. Its seemed to be watching my moves from behind a cage of colourful ocular stripes.

This final one I found on the coast of Zonguldak, an old Turkish mining city on the coast of the Black Sea, in 2013. It was extraordinary how the one race of insects had colonised all these different environments across the Mediterranean basin.

I identified these great insects as Anacridium aegyptium, fabulously known as "Egyptian locusts." Although their name suggests biblical swarms, these animals were harmless and according to zoological literature, not prone to swarming.

If I find one near my home one day, I may try to keep it as a pet in an Asian-style cricket cage.

Friday 13 September 2013

The Doorway of the Oceanographic Institute in Paris

In May 2011, I visited Paris for a scientific conference and chanced upon one of the most beautiful entrances to any building, ancient or modern. Here is the gateway to the French Institute of Oceanography.

A giant bronze octopus straddled the doorway to the institute. This building, known as "The Home of the Oceans," was designed in 1911 by famous French architect Henri-Paul Nénot. Famous artists and sculptors of the time helped decorate it.

If you ever visit Paris, make sure to see the Oceanography Institute.
It is located at 195 rue Saint-Jacques in Paris, 5th district.

Two Nocturnal Animals from Bodrum

In August 2010, I took a night-time walk in Bodrum, old Halicarnassus and currently one of the most popular holiday destinations in Turkey. I came across two interesting critters, which I thought gave a nice illustration of convergent evolution in small, nocturnal animals.

I first saw this Turkish gecko, Hemidactylus turkicus. The locals knew them as "suleymancik," little Suleiman [Solomon]. I wondered how this name first originated. Geckoes were very common around Bodrum and elsewhere in the Mediterranean. My childhood summers were spent chasing and capturing these harmless creatures, whose faces always seem to smile.

This, on the other hand, was the mature form of an ant-lion, Myrmeleontidae sp. As juveniles, these insects constructed elaborate, pit-like sand traps and fed on the insects that fall there. Their larvae, blind and equipped with vicious jaws, looked nothing like their parents. The adults, as seen here, were dainty little flyers with complex, lattice-like wings.

Like the gecko, the mature ant-lion had independently evolved large black eyes to better see in the dark. I released both critters after catching and photographing them.

A Trashy Custom Car

In July 2011, in Istanbul, I came across a custom-job car that was exceptional in its trashy build and cheesy quasi-nationalist symbolism.

From spider and scorpion stickers to an aggressively black-and-red Turkish flag, weird Chinese sign stickers, pimped-up hubcaps, shitty blue lights and various pointless chrome attachments, the car had all the hallmarks of a bad custom job. It was almost if someone was purposefully trying to tack every stereotyped modification onto a single vehicle.

Strange Fungi (Hydnellum sp?)

In September 2013, I saw a these fungal growths over a damp, shady patch of ground.

They looked all soft and squishy, and seemed as if they had sprung up very rapidly, engulfing sticks, stones, leaves and other detritus around them.

Some of the larger ones had sticky, dew-like drops oozing from their surface...

I was instantly reminded of the infamous bleeding tooth fungus, Hydnellum peckii. These looked like a less colorful versions of that organism. While I am no fungus expert, I guess these pale "sticky dew fungi" could have belonged to a related lineage.

I left the oozing fungi as I found them. I wondered if they were poisonous...

The Adventures of C. M. Kosemen

I am C. M. Kosemen, artist and researcher. Welcome to the photoblog where I'll try to share the interesting things I've seen, as often as I can.

This, by the way, is not the first such blog I've operated. Here is the previous photoblog I kept between 2007 and 2009.

Have a nice day,