Beautiful Anuran Photos From Vietnam

Wildlife photographers' challenges are many: know a species, be there, avoid disturbing the species, use the right equipment, and prepare for failure. In my case, failure is simply avoided by taking several photos, but you can't always use such a low-effort solution.

Sometimes you have to go to great lengths to get the right photograph - like going to Vietnam.

I encourage you to experience beautiful frog photos by clicking here.

Additionally, if you have any wildlife photos you feel the whole world needs to see, send them to me at halla(at) and I'll see what I can do for you.

Bella Gaia - Be Amazed

Be not afraid to find yourself in awe:

1800s-Style Wild Goose Chase

I recently read this neat article by Craig Lemoult via NPR and got to thinking about fanatical naturalists.

After much creative thinking about what it would be like to search for invisible animals, mythical beings, and possibly-extinct species, my ending stance reads: Go get 'em!

Leopard Gecko Birthday Cake!

For the man who has everything, give him a leopard gecko cake on his birthday.

The cake was inspired by my own pet leo, Bob.
Here he or she is:

PETA mustn't know about this ;)

Here are some older birthday pictures of
my mom's nifty animal cakes (I'm nine in this first one):

And a dolphin, too!

If you like cakes or laughing until your belly hurts, check out this awesome blog.

The Slow Death of Taxonomy

I recommend reading this fascinating article from the New York Times written by Carol Kaesuk Yoon.

Taxonomy is dying, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Thanks to Dr. Jessica Hellmann for sharing this article with me.

Squishy Octopus Maneuvering


Review - "The Fascination of Reptiles"

The Fascination of Reptiles by Maurice Richardson is nowadays innaccurate and historical, at best.

This book is a decent read for the only the most enthusiastic herpetologist.

Reptiles is written from the author's personal experiences as a herp enthusiast, with a fond eye focused on all things reptilian. Species descriptions and anecdotal accounts of reptilian behavior swap places back and forth covering the snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles, and alligators. The author's emphasis is extrordinarily heavy on appealing to an assumed-British audience. For example, whole chapters are devoted to the very few British reptiles, while mere paragraphs are allotted to a slew of Indonesian or South American treasures.

A common theme in Reptiles appears to be the author's unrelenting obsession with the degenerative features found in skinks, legless lizards, and burrowing snakes. Truly, it was obnoxious. Evolution does not have a goal or purpose - get over it!

A common flaw in the field of herpetological description is its lack of mention for ancestrally-related reptilians - birds. A mention or two of birds, or even dinosaurs, would make me smile a bit.

Illustrations by Shaun Milne are cute, but you can't help but wonder about their accuracy at times. Some sense of scale in the plates and drawings would have been appreciated.

Chapter topics: Classification and Evolution, The Living Ancestor, The Lizards: Suborder Sauria, British Lizards at Home, The Marvellous Chameleon, The Snakes: Suborder Serpentes, Pythons and Boas, Poisonous Snakes [2 chapters], British Snakes at Home, The Chelonians: Tortoises and Turtles, The Crocodilians, Some Reptiles of North America, Herpetologists I Have Known, Reptiles In Captivity, and An Anthology of Reptilian Belles-Lettres.

Overall: 2/5 - a fun read, but not particularly useful or entertaining

Bill Nye the Science Guy on Amphibians

More Bill Nye. This time he hops around like a frog and gets impassionate about the difference between reptiles and amphibians. Enjoy!

Review - "Niko's Nature"


Niko's Nature, by Hans Kruuk, is the most impassionate biography I've read to date - regardless of the subject's occupation or importance.

Kruuk sucessfully orchestrates compelling accounts of the life, personality, and famous research of the Maestro (Tinbergen's affectionate title bestowed by his graduate students).

For those not in the know, Niko Tinbergen was one of the four men awarded a Nobel Prize in 1973 for his contributions as a founding father of the science now referred to as ethology, or animal behavior (before his work, ethology had a different meaning amongst zoologists and biologists). His field work studying gull and tern behavior laid the foundation for his concepts and theories of modern ethology.

Although Tinbergen's work has been criticized, reviewed, and revised, and occasionally dismissed throughout the years, his influence spans wide. It is not difficult to admit that without the alliance of Niko Tinbergen with his equally-renowned collegue and friend, Konrad Lorenz, the field of modern ethology would probably look nothing like how it does today.

A recipient of several distinguishing awards and honors, one of Tinbergen's greatest honors is to have such a well-written and interesting biography in his namesake. Kruuk, one of Tinbergen's Ph.D. students during his Oxford teaching years, gives a very personal account of the Maestro's being and presence. One of the most difficult things to put into words is an accurate account of someone's personality, especially from an early age to their death.

Lively photographs and pictures are icing on the cake. Every single image is relevant in its placement within the book. Included are several of Tinbergen's own photographs and drawings which is a plus, considering that photography and drawing were two of his best-known skills (along with ice skating, writing, and film-making in his later years).

Any student of ethology, biology, or underwater basket weaving should get a copy of this book and read it. Be inspired by the life of a great researcher and understand the awe that can be inspired via superbly-composed nonfiction.

Overall: 5/5 - Probably worth a second read; good addition to your bookshelf

Field Trip - To the Forth Worth Zoo!

My family took a trip to the Fort Worth Zoo just after school was out. Rather than drone on and on about a zoo many of you have never visited, I'll post some pictures. For larger images, click on the thumbnails.

Review - "Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting"


What I expected: A dry account of scientific literature on the title's namesake.

What I got: Way more than that.

Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting, edited by Catherine Rich and Travis Longcore, is one of the most readable, yet thorough, summaries of a specific topic within science writing that I have read to date. Beyond paraphrased accounts of the drastically-underappreciated scientific studies examining the ecological consequences of artificial night lighting, each section of the book begins with a brief account of a relevant naturalist's anecdotal experiences observing organisms in their nocturnal environment and ends with a succinct, meaningful conclusion as to where we should go from now.

It should be obvious to anyone who has lived within 50 miles of a modern urbanized human society (that means you!) that urban glow lights up the sky unnaturally. ECoANL cites a paper by Cinzano et al. (2001) which calculated "18.7% of the terrestrial surface of the Earth experiences night sky brightness that is polluted by astronomical standards." This impressive figure continues to include 61.8% of the United States and 85.3% of the European Union.

The impact of turning our planet into a giant night light is startling.

Topics included in ECoANL: Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians (the reason why I picked it up in the first place), Fishes, Invertebrates, and Plants

On top of being a beautiful literature synthesis (at a good price), the main editors suggest reasonable and practical solutions to understanding and reducing the impact of artificial night lighting.

Overall: 5/5 - A model novel in the scientific writing community

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