There's something striking and lawless about the bodies of moths, isn't there? Their patterns of howling eyes, bark-like patterns, haloes of bright, thin hair seem almost accidental, like fractals gone all wrong. Now, a new procedural generation bot pays tribute to the morbid maths of moths, and it's compelling.
Poet and artist Katie Rose Pipkin and multi-talented game maker Loren Schmidt (their stark, demanding 'retro'-style work Star Guard was an Independent Games Festival design finalist) have collaborated on Moth Generator (lepidoptera automata, of course). It makes moths, tweets and names them.
A dark sort of beauty wings out of such a simple idea: Sometimes there is one tiny pearlite body pinned to a slate-gray scientific sheet, and at other times, it manifests a whole board with a array of spectacular forms pinned side by side. You feel lots like you're wandering the collection of some mad biologist, skirting the line between artifice and nature. Follow @mothgenerator on Twitter to watch the dusty, incandescent life forms unfold.
A trailer loaded with millions of bees in 400 hives overturned in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho on Sunday. Read the rest
Read the rest
A University of Cambridge zoologist analyzed almost 400 videos of juvenile mantises jumping onto a pole for a March 5 study in the journal Current Biology. Malcolm Burrows concluded that the bugs spin their bodies to help them land on target.
The actual video from the study is soundless, but for my money, the footage from New Scientist (that linked above) benefits from its Blue Danube soundtrack. The music lends the sequences an air of a very classy insect pole dance.
"Watch a praying mantis perform acrobatic jumps" [New Scientist]
Animator Jilli Rose created this lovely animated short about a group of stick insects stranded for 80 years near Lord Howe Island, on a sea stack with only one shrub for protection. It also tells the story of the scientists who discovered them and raced to save them from extinction. Read the rest
Read the rest
Spanish photographer Carlos Perez Naval, age 8, won the London Natural History Museum's Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 prize for this breathtaking photo of a yellow scorpion. From the photo description:
Carlos had found it basking on a flat stone in a rocky area near his home in Torralba de los Sisones, northeast Spain – a place he often visits to look for reptiles. The late afternoon Sun was casting such a lovely glow over the scene that Carlos decided to experiment with a double exposure for the first time so he could include it. He started with the background, using a fast speed so as not to overexpose the Sun, and then shot the scorpion using a low flash. But he had to change lenses, using his zoom for the Sun, which is when the scorpion noticed the movement and raised its tail. Carlos then had to wait for it to settle before taking his close-up, with the last of the light illuminating its body.
And see all the 2014 winning photos here.
This looks like a tornado but it's actually a swarm of insects, perhaps red locusts, that Ana Filipa Scarpa photographed in Vila Franca de Xira, Portugal (EPOD).
Newcastle University researchers outfitted praying mantises with tiny 3D glasses to better understand the evolution of vision, and potentially improve computer image processing. I wonder if they gave the mantises a headache like they do me. (Thanks, Ari Pescovitz!)
"Spray gun is coated with gilt and trimmed with bee and flowers, can be used on household pests when company is around." Go here for more wonderful gifts from 1953 that LIFE magazine deemed were "far better to give than to receive."