Biodiversity & Evolution

Posts tagged “Photography

I’ll have the ‘Cuisses de Grenouille’ please

The family Colubridae is the most diverse family of snakes with almost 2,000 species, though this group is non-monophyletic (that is, in evolutionary terms, the group does not contain all descendants of the most recent common ancestral species).  Thus, this family requires a great deal of work by taxonomists to sort out the natural groups and determine relationships among them.

Leptophis is a genus of colubrid snakes, commonly called parrot snakes.  Parrot snakes are long, slender, bright green snakes found in the tropical forests of Central and South America.

The parrot snake shown in the first two images below, Leptophis ahaetulla (Colubridae), had just found itself a hearty meal. Despite having obviously lost this battle, the frog did not give up the fight so easily, as it kicked and squirmed until the very end. If you look at the expanded body of the snake you can see just how large this frog was – the snake was more than 4 feet in total length.  Notice that the skin stretches as the snake swallows the frog – the blue coloration is the skin beneath the green scales.

(Click the images to see them in full size)

Parrot snake (Leptophis ahaetulla)

Parrot snake (Leptophis ahaetulla) eating a frog, La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

Parrot snake (Leptophis ahaetulla)

Parrot snake (Leptophis ahaetulla) eating a frog, La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

The next three photos are a second species of parrot snake, Leptophis depressirostris, barely distinguishable from the species shown above except for one scale between the eye and the nostril (just learned this interesting fact today from a friend, Ethan).

In the picture below, this parrot snake is demonstrating its incredible and intimidating defensive display.

Satiny Parrot Snake

Satiny Parrot Snake – Leptophis depressirostris (Colubridae), La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

Below you can see the body of a large tick, full of blood, attached under a scale on the snake’s neck.

Satiny Parrot Snake

Satiny Parrot Snake – Leptophis depressirostris (Colubridae), La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

Satiny Parrot Snake - Leptophis depressirostris (Colubridae)

Satiny Parrot Snake – Leptophis depressirostris (Colubridae), La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica


Visit to the Capital

I recently visited my sister in Washington, DC.  We walked around the city on a nice sunny afternoon and I had to chance to take some photos that captured some incredible architecture of these historical buildings.  If you haven’t visited DC I recommend you go!  Here’s what we saw:


Elk Knob State Park, NC

We returned to Elk Knob State Park, NC – this time with some decent weather.  It was clear enough that we got a nice view from the top of the mountain.  Here’s a few random things I saw along the way as well as the view from the top!

Scorpion fly feeding on caterpillar

Scorpion fly feeding on a dead caterpillar on the leaf of a fern, Elk Knob State Park, NC

Agelenopsis sp. female in funnel web

Agelenopsis sp. female in funnel web at Elk Knob State Park, NC

Elk Knob Bumblebee

A bumblebee on a flower at the top of Elk Knob State Park, NC

Elk Knob State Park NC - south view panorama

(Click photo to enlarge) The southern view from the top of Elk Knob State Park, NC – panorama consists of seven photos stitched together


Waterfalls of Glen Burney

Last Sunday, despite the gloomy weather forecast of 50% chance of rain all day, we decided to head out and hike the Glen Burney Trail along a small stream near Blowing Rock, NC.  Its a great little 3 mile hike that visits several different falls along the way.  I decided to get my feet wet, literally, to get some of these shots of the falls from various angles.

Glen Burney Falls along the Glen Burney Trail

Glen Burney Falls along the Glen Burney Trail

Glen Burney Falls along the Glen Burney Trail

Glen Marie Falls along the Glen Burney Trail

Glen Marie Falls along the Glen Burney Trail. I selectively removed all colors except green for an artistic effect. Original shown above.


Full Moon

I have a new found interest in astrophotography…lately I’ve been reading a lot about it.  I really enjoy photographing the night sky, however it is not an easy task!  I don’t have any great pictures of the stars just yet, but I’m working on it (when the weather cooperates).  So I thought I’d share a photo of the waxing gibbous moon from a few days ago and one of the full moon that was visible two nights ago.  I never invested in a telescope…but I’m adding it to the wish list now.

Waxing gibbous moon observed on 7/27/2012 from Boone, NC.  Shot at 135 mm and cropped.

Full moon observed on 8/1/2012 from Boone, NC. Shot at 135 mm and cropped.


The truth about daddy longlegs

The arachnid order Opiliones has several common names in English including daddy longlegs, grand daddy longlegs and harvestmen.  I have many wonderful things to share with you regarding the natural history of Opiliones so I’m going to post it in a series of about five posts. Here is the first fun fact to whet your appetite.  Keep an eye out for the others very soon!

Longlegs fact #1: Daddy longlegs are NOT spiders.

They are also not insects.  So what are they?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Daddy longlegs are arachnids belonging to the order Opiliones.  The subclass Arachnida includes spiders, scorpions, mites/ticks, daddy longlegs, and several smaller groups, all of which belong to different orders.  So daddy longlegs are distantly related to spiders, but are actually more closely related to scorpions!

These incredible arachnids are easily overlooked, as they are most active at night and many species are very secretive in their behavior.  Here’s a few examples of species from Costa Rica:

Prionostemma sp. feasting upon what remains of an insect

Cynorta marginalis eating an earthworm as a second individual sneaks up.

Poecilaemula signata (male) with enlarged chelicerae

The orange harvestman, an undescribed species

For more arachnid photos see my Arachnid gallery.


Appalachian Golden Hour

Since I moved about 6 weeks ago, I have been exploring some new great locations to photograph the sunrise and sunset here in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina.  Yesterday, I found a great spot for both the sunrise and sunset and I was lucky enough to have something more than a grey, overcast sky (as lately it seems there is a 50% chance of rain all day, every day).  I hope to continue this series of posts as I discover more great places to photograph the landscape here in the High Country of North Carolina.

Sunrise on Blue Ridge Parkway

Above: A view of the sunrise from an overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

Sunset in Boone, North Carolina

In addition to capturing some nice colors in the sky, I also took a few nice macros of a bumblebee on a thistle with a red sky in the background.  With and without flash.

Bumblebee on a thistle

Silhouette of a thistle with bumblebee