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2. elokuuta 2020

Observation of the Week 2016-09-01

This two-tailed Arizona Bark Scorpion seen by jaykeller in Arizona is our Observation of the Week!

“My parents told me that in my earliest years, up to about age 4, I was deathly afraid of anything with more than 4 legs. By age 6 or so, that fear turned to intrigue, and I never looked back,” says Jay Keller. At age thirteen he had an 8,000 specimen insect collection and even helped the assistant curator of the Frost Entomological Museum of Penn State sort and re-catalog large portions of their collection and conduct public tours. In his teen years, nature took a backseat to other interests (“sports, cars, music, GIRLS etc.”) but he was always aware of it. By his mid-twenties, however, he got back into nature “by becoming an all-too-serious birdwatcher, which waned a few years ago as I became bored with that and started re-noticing all forms of nature, especially rekindling my interest in insects - now primarily through photography vs. collecting.”

Jay’s friend BJ Stacey (@finatic) introduced him to iNat a few years ago, and he says “once I decided to dip my toe into it, I became hooked, and now spend far too much time with it for my own good! You will always see me on the leaderboards not because I want to be at the top of the heap, but more because I am a very active nature photographer who tends to be in nature all the time, which is the one thing other than my family that provides me stress relief and happiness.” As of today (September 1st, 2016), BJ and Jay are our two top observers, with over 65,000 (!) observations between them.

The two of them recently took a trip to Arizona, which is when Jay found this remarkable two-tailed Arizona Bark Scorpion, as he was using a UV flashlight to look for fluorescing scorpions. “I observed it for a minute before I realized that something was ‘off’...when I quickly realized that there was only one set of legs and chelae, it suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at a single Bark Scorpion with two metasomas and two stingers!” In terms of anatomy, a scorpion’s “tail” is called the metasoma, and is an extension of its abdomen, or opisthosoma (the anus is actually located near the end of the metasoma, towards the stinger).

Wanting to study this rare individual, Jay notes that he “very carefully” was able to put it in a vial (the Arizona Bark Scorpion is the most venomous scorpion in North America) and took it home, where he says he “[gained] permission from my wife to maintain such a creature at least for a period of time.” You can read more updates and info about the scorpion on Jay’s iNat journal post here, it’s definitely worth checking out. And yes, both tails seem to be totally functional and are used for stinging. He notes that “others who are far more experienced with scorpions than I, and who have themselves observed many thousands of individuals have told me they have not yet found one.”

In regards to photographing and exploring nature, Jay says “I have a strong desire to simply understand what I am seeing out there, and the photos not only aid in their eventual identification, but ultimately make me want to research the creatures at a much deeper level, which is in part made possible with the community on iNaturalist. iNaturalist is a really exceptional forum for all those with a keen interest in the natural world to learn about, enjoy and share with others the amazing diversity of life that exists around us.”

- by Tony Iwane


- Here’s video of a two-tailed scorpion in captivity, feeding on a cricket. This one doesn’t use its stingers here, however. 

- If you want to get a UV flashlight for yourself, they’re relatively cheap and easy to find on the internet. It’s fun to go on a night hike and see what else fluoresces, like millipedes, lichens, plants and more!

Lähetetty 2. elokuuta 2020 02:06 käyttäjältä hannahsun99 hannahsun99 | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

iNat and Media Attention in 2016 2016-08-30

iNaturalist has been the recipient of some media attention this year, from the National Park Service’s BioBlitz 2016, which peaked on May 21st, and xkcd’s mention of iNat in its early June comic, but our biggest boost came from this story on NPR by KERA’s Lauren Silverman, which ran on August 6th and made some comparisons between iNat and the Pokemon Go craze.

iNat user Sam Kieschnick (@sambiology), an Urban Wildlife Biologist in Texas, had been running a few moth programs during National Moth Week and one program in Midlothian, Texas got some press in a local paper. “Lauren Silverman...must have read that and called me up to get some more information,” says Sam. “Another moth night was coming up in Dallas, so I invited her to it.  She brought some recording tools to make a story for the local and statewide shows. The story ended up going a little bit towards the Pokemon Go angle, and that was good - because of that, it was picked up nationally on Sunday morning's All Tech Considered.”

The NPR story really boosted the number of new users to iNat, as well as activity on the website and in our mobile apps. For example, here’s a chart showing the number of new iNat iOS users after the NPR piece aired crushing any old records we had (you can see the earlier spikes around the BioBlitz and the xkcd mention).  

It’s interesting to compare these new user spikes to the number of iOS sessions (a period of time when a user is actively engaged with the app). There’s a really big spike during the BioBlitz’s peak days, although not as large as the NPR story garnered.

The BioBlitz spike was due to a high number of multiple sessions (same folks using the app multiple times), whereas the NPR spike was caused by a large number of new users, rather than multiple sessions. Different audiences and goals, perhaps?

What’s cool is that our numbers post-NPR are still significantly higher than average. After the xkcd mention we had a huge spike in web sessions, then a sharp drop-off; after NPR, session numbers remain much higher than usual and very high for this time of year, which historically has lower session numbers. And while we of course can’t link all new users to the NPR story, it’s fun to check out the numbers of new users since the story ran: 35,414 new users were created between August 5th and August 30th, and they’ve made 58,518 observations - about 31% of all observations made since August 5th. Not bad!

So what’s going on here? Did the NPR story just reach the right demographic? Have a wider reach overall, since it’s from a major news source? Or perhaps the popularity of Pokemon Go helped everyone realize that going outside and pointing your phone at things can be a lot of fun - priming folks for iNat. It’s also noteworthy that the NPS BioBlitz was focused on a specific period with a specific goal, whereas the NPR piece took a different tack, emphasizing fun, competition, exploration, and discovery - something folks can use any day, wherever they are.

If you’ve got some thoughts, feel free to share below.

- by Tony Iwane (with data help from the iNat team)

Lähetetty 2. elokuuta 2020 01:58 käyttäjältä hannahsun99 hannahsun99 | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

Observation of the Week 2016-08-17

This Common Glider butterfly, seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo by congonaturalist, is our belated Observation of the Week for August 17th, 2016!

I originally emailed Naftali Honig (@congonaturalist) weeks ago, but email communication has been spotty, as he is in the Democratic Republic of Congo doing anti-poaching and anti-trafficking work, mainly with elephants but with other threatened wildlife as well. Originally from New York, Naftali says he “started getting involved in doing anti-poaching and anti-trafficking work after living in the rainforest for a year. I would have loved to just stay in the forest and explore, but there are too many threats to the wildlife I came to love there.” He’s a 2016 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and you can read more about him and his work here

Of course during his time and his work there, Naftali sees many other animals. “I see Common gliders all the time in Central Africa. They seem to be common here in this corner of the DRC...Curiously, right after this photo got chosen as Photo of the Week, what seemed like millions of Common gliders flew over the village where I was in DRC! Conditions must have been just right.”

The Common glider butterflies of Africa (Cymothoe caenis, different from the Common gliders of Eurasia, which are Neptis sappho) are, as their name suggests, common throughout tropical Africa, and are varied in color and pattern. The straight lines you see on the one above are markings on the underwings and wouldn’t normally be seen from above without strong backlighting, like we have here. They’re a migratory butterfly, and it’s likely Naftali saw a migrating group come through the village.

Naftali uses iNaturalist to log his findings, and says “Citizen science is a fascinating approach in the 21st century and frankly I've learned a lot about taxa for which I simply haven't got the guidebook out in the Congo! I'm usually not too far from my bird and mammal guidebooks, but butterflies? Wasps? Orchids? This global community of passionate people is really impressive and genuinely inspiring.”

- by Tony Iwane


- Here’s a video of National Geographic’s 2016 Emerging Explorers, including Naftali.

Lähetetty 2. elokuuta 2020 01:52 käyttäjältä hannahsun99 hannahsun99 | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

Observation of the Week 2016-08-25

This Spider-tailed Horned Viper, seen in Iran by matthieuberroneau, is our Observation of the Week!

I love snakes, and a few years ago my friend @robberfly sent me a video of the Spider-tailed Horned Viper. I was floored, and never forgot about this bizarre animal. So when Matthieu Berroneau’s observation of one (the first one with photographs on iNat) was being passed around by the iNat crew it made my day.

OK, personal tangent out of the way.

A professional herper and photographer in the south of France, Matthieu Berroneau has also been obsessed with this snake, ever since it was first described in 2006. Despite having recently returned from a trip to Malaysia, he and his companions had the opportunity to visit Iran and they couldn’t turn it down. They “planned to observe different crazy species of Amphibians and Reptiles of Iran like Paradactylodon persicus, Phrynocephalus mystaceus and of course Pseudocerastes urarachnoides (Spider-tailed Horned Viper).” And that they did - with the help of local guides and their own expertise, Matthieu and his group found over 60 reptiles during their two week, 5,500 km trek through the country. The search for Pseudocerastes urarachnoides in Iran’s Ilam province was an adventure in and of itself, involving armed guards, stormy weather, and of course an encounter with a venomous snake. Matthieu goes into more detail here, definitely check it out. “This day will live long in my memory and it is still with stars in the eyes that we leave Ilam,” he wrote. "Iran is an absolutely beautiful country inhabited by friendly and cheerful people, full of incredible scenery and unsuspected wildlife."

The first specimen of Pseudocerastes urarachnoides was collected in a 1968 survey and promptly misidentified as a Persian horned viper (Pseudocerastes persicus) with a tumor or growth, rather than a new species. When another specimen was collected in 2003, it spurred more research and the description of a new species in 2006. And researchers suspected that the snake used its strange tail as a lure (which many other snakes do), this behavior wasn’t observed in the wild in until 2008. With its perfectly camouflaged scales, the snake is well hidden from its prey until it’s too late. However, at least one snake has been observed having its spider appendage pecked clean off by a bird!

Matthieu recently joined iNaturalist, but he’s been documenting his finds online for much longer - his high quality photos are on Flickr; he and his friends have created Herpetofocus.fr, where they share their photos and experiences; and he has a Facebook page. He’ll continue posting to iNaturalist and says he’s found it useful for keeping track of where he’s found his many subject. “And if at the same time this can help the scientistic community and the conservation of endangered species,” he says, “it's perfect for me!”

- by Tony Iwane


- Here’s some footage of Pseudocerastes urarachnoides using its tail to catch a  bird.

- All of Matthieu’s iNat observations in Iran can be found here.

- Make sure to check out Herptofocus.fr’s trips page to read about their other amazing trips.

- The original published description of Pseudocerastes urarachnoides.

- Please note that while Matthieu writes excellent english, I did clean it up for clarity.

Lähetetty 2. elokuuta 2020 01:36 käyttäjältä hannahsun99 hannahsun99 | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

Observation of the Week 2016-08-21

This Gelotopoia bicolor katydid, seen in Guinea by nefariousdrru, is our Observation of the Week!

The above katydid is the first one of its species posted to iNaturalist, and it was found not by a professional naturalist or wildlife biologist, but by Heather, an infectious diseases epidemiologist!

This spring, Heather deployed to Guinea in response to a flare-up of the Ebola virus, working with the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists, who was helping the CDC staff the response. The flare-up happened in the forest and response time was critical, so the UN and WHO cleared some forest next a village and set up a camp for the responders.

When she visited the camp for the first time, Heather noticed a dead moth and some other insects. “As I was taking photos, I realized that what I thought was a twig hanging off the tent was actually a moth, so then I went looking for more,” she says. “I then realized that there were ‘bugs’ seemingly everywhere (at that time, my knowledge of insect taxonomy was pretty much just “butterfly, moth, ant, roach, praying mantis, and ‘bug’”). All that to say that, I didn’t know what I was looking at but I knew enough that it was special, even if just to me.” Heather continued to take photos in her spare time: “I’m a giant nerd and really enjoy adventuring. So, what that means is that on my adventures, I end up taking a lot of photos and working backwards.” After struggling with various identification resources, Heather heard the NPR story about iNaturalist, “so I figured I’d give these IDs another shot. That changed everything.”

Not much information is available about the Gelotopoia bicolor katydid, but katydids (Tettigoniidae, also known as “bush crickets”) are a large and incredibly diverse family of the order Orthoptera (the grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and more). You can distinguish a katydid from its releatives by looking at its antennae - it has long, thin antennae, whereas grasshoppers have antennae which are shorter and more thick. Many katydids are actually predatory, with some species even predating snakes and lizards! Members of this family, like the one Heather found, have also evolved incredible camouflage.

Heather will continue to add observations from the places she travels to. “I’ve only been an INaturalist member for a couple of weeks now but now I know... there’s a place for my observations other than my ever expanding photos folder,” she says. “It has really helped me see how I fit into a larger community and appreciate the warmth of veteran naturalists who are willing to act as a resource for a newbie like myself.”

- by Tony Iwane


- Check out Heather’s other observations from Guinea here. Please help ID them if you’re knowledgeable about the region!

- Noted entomologist, author and photographer Piotr Naskrecki has written quite a few blog posts about katydids, showcasing their diversity. Here are some of them

- Katydid nymphs are usually really cool looking. Bugguide has a collection of nymph photos.

Lähetetty 2. elokuuta 2020 01:22 käyttäjältä hannahsun99 hannahsun99 | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

1. elokuuta 2020

Observation of the Week 2016-08-10

This Langaha pseudoalluaudi snake, seen in Madagascar by victorialnjackson, is our Observation of the Week!

“While I'm by no means an expert on Leaf-nosed Snakes from Madagascar...I can say that her observation is quite exciting,” writes herpetologist Paul Freed (@herpguy). “Of the three species of Leaf-nosed Snakes endemic to Madagascar, her observation is one of the rarest of the three.” Paul notes that in Gerald Kuchling’s paper from 2003, Kuchling says the species was described from only the type specimen, found in 1966! “It is possible that additional specimens have been seen/collected since 2003, but given their limited distribution in remote regions of northwestern Madagascar, and the cryptic appearance of this highly unusual snake, it's not likely that many other specimens have been found,” says Paul. This snake is also the first record of this species on iNaturalist as well.

Victoria Jackson, who posted this observation, is a student of Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter in the UK, and was a research assistant on an expedition that Operation Wallacea was conducting in northwestern Madagascar. “We surveyed everything from the trees and other plants to the invertebrates, herps, birds and mammals,” she says. “One of the herpetologists on the team was out on a survey when they found this Langaha pseudoalluaudi and brought it to the camp to show everyone (they put it back where it had been found afterwards). It was amazing to see, so delicate and beautiful and a very gentle snake.”

Very little is known about L. pseudoalluaudi, but the most common snake of the genus, L. madagascariensis, has been the study of some observation and research. It’s difficult to differentiate sexes in most snake species but in the Langaha genus, females have a more “leafy” snout, whereas the males have a snout that is more smooth and pointed. L. pseudoalluaudi females also have protruding scales above the eye, which L. madagascariensis females lack. Langaha snakes are considered ambush predators (makes sense) and hang from branches and vines in the forest, waiting for reptile and amphibian prey. They have been observed stalking and chasing lizards, however. Like many colubrid snakes, they are rear-fanged, basically meaning they have to chew on prey to envenomate it - which is exactly what this researcher let one of them do. He felt severe pain for hours, enough so that he “found it very difficult to sleep because of the intermittent severe throbbing and tenderness which continued throughout the night.”

Victoria (above, with a male white morph Paradise flycatcherTersiphone mutata) is hoping her studies will lead her to a career in biology, a field which has appealed to her since she was a child, “[and] which grew and grew through watching David Attenborough's nature programmes on TV.” She’s “interested in many aspects of biology, not just zoology and wildlife etc., but also genetics and cells and how everything works together.”

As for iNaturalist, Victoria loves using it to record what she sees every day, in addition to her trips abroad. “It's great when I don't know what something is because the chances are, other users will be able to identify it,” she says. “I think it's a great modern way to record your sightings on a database that scientists around the world can use!”

- by Tony Iwane

- A very nice little article (PDF) about observing L. madagascariensis behavior in the wild, something that has not been done much.

- Speaking of Sir David Attenborough, here’s a nice playlist from his great Life in Cold Blood series.

Lähetetty 1. elokuuta 2020 19:45 käyttäjältä hannahsun99 hannahsun99 | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

Observation of the Week 2016-08-04

This Antarctic Minke Whale, seen by clinton in Auckland, New Zealand, is our Observation of the Week!

“I fully expected that we would have to euthanize the animal as it was in a very unusual location for that species (i.e. stuck on a tidal flat well up a very busy harbour) and its height on the flat meant it had to have been there for some time,” recalls Clinton Duffy, a Technical Advisor-Marine, in the Marine Ecosystems Team, New Zealand Department of Conservation. “However, we were surprised to find the animal was calm and very alert, and in good condition with no external signs of injury.”

Trained volunteers from Project Jonah had already been on the scene, managing spectators and stabilizing the whale. As the ride rose, Clinton and two others (Yuin Kai Foong and Dr. Rochelle Cosntantine) stayed with the whale as the crowds dispersed. The whale was walked into deeper water, submerging then surfacing for breath. “This went on for about 40 minutes during which time a boat load of volunteers arrived in wet suits and were able to help keep the whale upright. Then suddenly, without any warning the whale began swimming at speed towards the main channel.” They followed it in boats in an attempt to steer it out to sea, but it eventually disappeared. “Hard to believe you could lose an animal that size. I think we all expected it to turn up on another mudflat on the next tide but it was never seen again.  All in all it was a good result,” he says.

Cetaceans (whales and dolphins) strand for many reasons, such as illness, age, navigational errors, and noise pollution from sonar. Sometimes mass strandings occur, and it’s thought to be caused by the intense social bonds in some species - a few may strand, then send out alarm signals to others, who also get caught ashore. According to Project Jonah, New Zealand has one of the highest stranding rates in the world, averaging about 300 per year. Antarctic Minke Whales are the third smallest baleen whale species in the world, with females averaging about 29.2 ft in length and males 28.2 ft in length. Their relatively small size made them unattractive to the whaling industry and it wasn’t until the 20th century that some were commercially hunted, mainly for their meat, and thus Antarctic Minke Whales are now among the most numerous of baleen whales, with population numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

“A lot of my work involves the investigation and establishment of marine protected areas,” says Clinton. “I have a broad in interest in marine biodiversity but I am particularly interested in the biology of sharks and rays.” His current research interests include the movements, habitat use and population size of Great white sharks, and he’s also interested in spurdogs and smoothhounds in the South Pacific. As a child he spent many holidays in a small beach house on the Wairaparapa Coast, and was interested in the flora and fauna he found there. “Not many people were able to tell me the names of the plants and animals I found or caught so I had to teach myself using whatever books I could find or was given."

Clinton considers himself a fairly new iNaturalist/NatureWatchNZ (iNat’s sister site in New Zealand) user, but he’s already found several interesting observations that might be records for New Zealand, which he’s passed on to other scientists. “Beyond that,” he says, “I am considering starting a project focussed on sharks and rays occurring in the South Pacific to see if we can generate better information on potentially threatened species in the region, and I would like to begin others devoted to the fauna and flora of the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours, here in New Zealand.”

- by Tony Iwane

- National Geographic shows a close encounter with an Antarctic Minke Whale in...Antarctica.

- A classic YouTube video shows two divers having a very close encounter with two baleen whales. Yikes!

- If you find a stranded whale or dolphin, it’s best to call experts, as helping such large animals can be dangerous for both you and the animal. Here’s a list of contacts for the U.S.

Lähetetty 1. elokuuta 2020 19:35 käyttäjältä hannahsun99 hannahsun99 | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

Observation of the Week 2016-07-27

This parasitic Isopod seen by oryzias outside of Hong Kong is our Observation of the Week!

Like many of us, Hung-Tsun Cheng became infatuated with animals and nature after learning about dinosaurs. As a child, his father took him on weekend hikes “if I finished my homework,” bringing along a net to look for fish in the streams. He was especially fascinated by fish that had developed sucker-like fins on their bellies that allowed them to stay put in fast-flowing streams.

While recently moving some Sumatran silverside fish (Hypoatherina valenciennei) from a drying-out tidepool, Hung-Tsun noticed one that was unhealthy. And on closer inspection, he found a parasitic isopod attached to it!

While it’s tough to ID, this isopod most likely belongs to the Cymothoidae family of isopods, which are parasitic, mainly on fish, and found in both marine and freshwater environments. There are about 380 described species in the family, and they feed on blood. Interestingly, these isopods are protandrous hermaphrodites, meaning they are all males when they are juveniles, but become female when they attach to their species-specific host. Perhaps the most well-known member of this family is Cymothoa exigua, which feeds on the tongues of snapper fish. Eventually, the fish’s tongue withers and dies, but the fish will actually use the isopod as a prosthetic tongue! The isopod presumably stays in there as it is a safe place for its young to develop.

The Hong Kong area has quite a thriving iNaturalist community, with over 15,000 observations of 2,999 (so close to 3,000!) species made by 257 observers. @sunnetchan has over 4,000 of those observations and has written a passionate journal entry about documenting every living thing he can. @hkmoths has started a Hong Kong Moths project to document moth species and abundance. Keep up the awesome work, Hong Kong iNatters!

- by Tony Iwane


- A nice write-up in Wired about Cymothoa exigua, and some videos showing them. Not for the squeamish!

- It’s National Moth Week! Roger Kendrick (@hkmoths) has a nice article about moths and citizen science on their website. Get out and find some moths!

Lähetetty 1. elokuuta 2020 19:12 käyttäjältä hannahsun99 hannahsun99 | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

Observation of the Week 2016-07-20

This Rainbow Whiptail seen by dllavaneras in Venezuela is our Observation of the Week!

An entomologist living and working in Venezuela, Daniel Llavaneras and fellow members of ConBiVe (a non-profit dedicated to the conservation of Venezuelan biodiversity) recently went on an exploratory research trip to Venezuela’s San Esteban National Park. On the last day of their visit, they went to Isla Larga, which is just off the coast. “We saw a wildlife cornucopia,” he says, “from squids and fishes to sea urchins and feather duster worms. Once we got out of the water, we thought that the wildlife surprises were over, and then we saw a blue streak dashing across the sand towards us.” That blue streak was the Rainbow Whiptail pictured above. It approached the group and “started eating the ants that were coming to and from a nearby nest. It gave me enough time to pull out my camera and shoot a few frames before some enthusiastic tourists approached it too quickly and it ran away.”

Rainbow Whiptails are quick, vibrantly-colored lizards native to the Caribbean, Central America and South America, and have now become established in Florida. Some populations of this lizard and other members of its are all-female or mostly female and reproduce by parthenogenesis (laying unfertilized eggs), and they have been known to engage in pseudocopulation, in which two females engage in mating-like behavior.

Daniel’s interest in natural history began during childhood (“I still have the newspaper clipping when Cryolophosaurus ellioti was published; it amazed me that dinosaurs could be found in what is now Antarctica,” he says), and his current main interests include urban biodiversity and citizen science/outreach. “The incredible diversity of animals that thrive (or at least still survive) in an increasingly urbanized area is something that greatly interests me,” he says. Daniel’s been following the rise and fall of different species in and around Caracas, noting that while he hasn’t seen a spreadwing damselfly (once common) in five years, other animals like macaws, sloths and even frogs can be found in abundance in certain areas. “The number of species that I’ve found in my house since I moved three years ago is over 100, most being insects and spiders, but also geckos and birds, including one stray vulture (I live on a 6th floor).”

Daniel only recently joined iNaturalist, after hearing about it from a colleague, but says that using iNaturalist has already “cemented and refined the way I document my wildlife observations. My notes always include behavior and other miscellaneous tidbits, but they sometimes stay in my field notebook for weeks or months, with many organisms without IDs. By uploading to iNaturalist I can get help from other colleagues around the world, and I can also help with citizen science, an area that I really enjoy.” He’s optimistic that through citizen science and other forms of outreach, “people [will] realize that there is a lot to gain with conservation and ecotourism.”

by Tony Iwane


- You can follow Daniel on Twitter and Instagram, and he says he’s happy to help with insect IDs and answer questions.

- Here’s a paper Daniel helped with, looking into whether or not sylvatic bugs are becoming associated with human dwellings.

Lähetetty 1. elokuuta 2020 19:09 käyttäjältä hannahsun99 hannahsun99 | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

Observation of the Week 2016-07-08

This Fan-throated Lizard seen by ashutoshshinde in India is our Observation of the Week.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky and take a great animal photo without much effort, but that’s usually not the case. And it definitely was not the case for Ashutosh Shinde and his companions, but photos like the one above make it all worth it.

Ashutosh has always been interested in animals and nature, but a visit to the Gir Forest in Gujarat (last home of the Asiatic Lion) in 2013 really got him interested in nature photography. “I clicked many images (most of them are of trash quality ;) ),” he admits, “but it took off from there.”

He’s long been fascinated by the stunning Fan-throated Lizards of India, so he and a group of fellow photographers drove nearly four hours to the lizard’s habitat and began to search for this tiny reptile. They soon lucked into a male displaying on a rock and then used teamwork to keep track of it and take photos. “Since the texture of the dorsal part of the body was extremely camouflaged, we had decided that one out of three will always keep an eye on the lizard's movement while the rest of the three are shooting and this activity continued in turns so that each one of us get to photograph the beauty.” The group also made sure to not disturb the animal and interrupt it during mating season, using only telephoto lenses for their shots. “The entire stint of 3-4 hours was one of the best times spent in wild so far,” says Ashutosh. “Finally we said goodbye to this beautiful species, with heavy heart but with a promise to come back next season.”

Like the Fan-throated Lizard, quite a few lizard species have a dewlap, or loose fold of skin on the throat, that they can extend by using internal cartilaginous structures. These displays are used to attract mates and communicate with other males regarding territory, and territorial disputes can lead to violent fights between males.

“Currently, as i am relatively amateur in this field, I try to learn each and every thing in nature which comes up to me...may it be mammals, birds, or insects,” says Ashutosh. He uses iNaturalist not only to identify the organisms he finds, but to discover other species he has never heard of before. And his philosophy about wildlife photography?

“If you show patience and respect for nature, it will never send you empty handed. Hence follow utmost care and practice best ethical wildlife photography techniques while on the field, you will surely be rewarded with an outstanding shot.”

- by Tony Iwane


- Awesome video showing Fan-throated Lizards in action courtesy of the Maharashtra Forest Department.

- V. Deepak of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore has recently discovered five species of Fan-throated Lizards. 

- Sir David Attenborough elicits some territorial displays from an Anole lizard by using a mirror.

- Other iNat users have also posted excellent photos of Fan-throated Lizards, check ‘em out here.

- BBC made a nice documentary about the Asiatic Lions of Gir Forest.

Lähetetty 1. elokuuta 2020 18:53 käyttäjältä hannahsun99 hannahsun99 | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

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