Thursday, October 30, 2008

Today's Flowers #13

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I have absolutely no idea what this flower is called, but I like the delicate petals among those ferocious spikes.
See more flowers!

Edit: Thanks to Arija I know now that it's called Love in the Mist, Nigella damascena. In the language of the flowers it was a symbol of rejected love, women gave these flowers to their suitors to let them know that they were not interested. In German it's called Maiden in the Green, Jungfer im Gruenen.

Camera Critters #30

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A peacock mantis shrimp, Odontodactylus scyllarus. I love those eyes. Mantis shrimp are very intelligent and have excellent vision: they see more colours than we do, have depth perception in each single eye (that can be moved independently from each other) and they can see polarized light. If you are interested in this, you can read the original article here - hooray for open access science! Here's an article that's (a lot) more understandable for the layman.
This shrimp was pretty shy at first, but when he noticed that I wasn't using a flash to take pictures, he came out and after a while I really wondered who was watching who. Except when something moving in his tank got his attention. Peacock mantis shrimp have claws that are turned into clubs and can smash open clams, other crustanceans and can kill or at least stun fish with them. They can also break the glass of tanks. They use them like a mantis uses its legs to catch prey, at a speed of 23 m/s. Ouch.
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Photos were taken at the Tropenaquarium at Hagenbecks Tierpark.
Now go and see some more Camera critters

Skywatch Friday #16

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Sunrise on Monday in my backyard

More skies around the world at Skywatch Friday

Monday, October 27, 2008

MyWorld Tuesday#2

This is Antje:
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She was a female walrus and lived at the zoo Hagenbecks Tierpark, to the very old age of 27 years. I was at the zoo the day before she died and there were hundreds of people who had come to say goodbye, she was very popular and the most famous animal at Hagenbeck. The reason for that was that she was the mascot of the NDR (a TV station based in Hamburg) and short movies of her were shown as fillers. For me, it was the first thing I knew about Hamburg: Antje lives there. Here you can see such an Antje short film.

After her death, she was given to the Zoological Museum, for mounting. The museum is one of my favourites because they have a really interesting collection of all sort of mammals, birds, herps ect. It's great to visit with kids and if you want a reference for drawing, the museum is the place to go (admission free, too). Where else can you get this close to a tiger
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or a rhino
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They also have some very rare things in their collection, for example this Narwhal skull
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Not only has it two tusks, it's also a female. Usually only males have tusk and only one.

This Huia is also something that you can see almost nowhere else. The species was exterminated at the beginning of the 20th century and only a handfull of specimens remain.
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Only a very small part of the collection is open to the public. The Zoological Institute which the museum belong to has one of the biggest collection of preserved specimens of mammals, birds, herps, insects and other invertebrates and fish worldwide. Scientist from all over the world visit it to do research. Unfortunately, the senate of Hamburg doesn't seem to consider this important and may sell huge parts of the collection off. The Institute will move to another site in a few years and allegedly it would be too expensive to make room for the whole collection. At the same time, Hamburg is building a concert hall that may well cost over 500 million Euro, over 600 million dollar. Is it me or does anyone else find something wrong with this picture? I really think about this every time I visit the museum, so I hope you don't mind me getting on my soapbox a bit here. I'll leave you with another picture from the museum :) Go explore the rest of the world at MyWorld Tuesday
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Today's Flowers #12

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a Black Hellebore (Helleborus niger) aka Christmas Rose. It always makes me think of Tad Williams' great novel "The War of the Flowers"

For more flowers, visit Today's Flowers

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Camera-Critters #29

Komodo dragon, London zoo - a male named Raja. He was really active that day, running around the enclosure. An amazing animal, very powerful and impressive.

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For more animals, go to Camera Critters

Friday, October 24, 2008

Queen Mary 2

The Queen Mary 2, just after being pushed into the Blom und Voss dock
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the dock is closed by two towboats
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Skywatch Friday #15

Wednesday autumn colours before a grey sky, seen from a subway station
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Yesterday, clear blue skies. The building may be an old powder magazine, but I'm not sure.
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For more skies around the world, visit Photobucket

Edit: I just leaned from a book I'm reading that it's not a powder magazine, but an air raid bunker. There are 10 such bunkers in Hamburg and they are called Zombeck-Tower after their designer, Paul Zombeck. You can see the inside of such a bunker here

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tron

Does it remind anyone else of Tron?
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Camera Criters #28

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This is one of my assassin bugs, the species is called Platymeris biguttata and they make very cool pets. Their sting is extremely painful and they can spray you with a defensive liquid, but they are no aggressive at all. I don't handle them, but it's not a problem to pick up the hiding place they sit under, they usually won't move at all. They are also pretty social and it's possible to keep a colony of 20 or more of them in a long 10g (with a lid, they can climb glass and fly!). If an assassin bug gets attacked by another, it make a specific sound and the attacking bug will let go immediately. I have even seen them share a cricket or roach.

They are very inquisitive and will learn that there will be food when you open their enclosure. My colony will hide at first, but then they come out and check what I'm doing. That gets me pictures like this, with an assassin bug gallopping towards the camera at full speed, he may have mistaken the movement of the lens for prey:
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Here's one feeding on a cricket, they can kill insects/invertebrates that are as big as or bigger than they are.
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The nymphs (babies) are really tiny, you could fit five or more on your thumbnail. At first they are bright red and then change to a dark red/black after a few molts.
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Entry for the Camera Critters meme.

Today's Flowers #11



Ochna serrulata - aka Bird's Eye Plant, carnival plants or - my favourite - Mickey Mouse Plant. I think it looks like a slightly pychcotic fly, though.
Planten un Blomen, old Botanical Garden in Hamburg

Photo for Today's Flowers