Saturday, October 31, 2009

Camera Critters: Book Scorpion

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What's the ideal pet for a weird bug-loving librarian? Of course, a book scorpion. Yes, they really exist and there are a LOT of them around. There are 3300 different species worldwide, living in leaf litter, moss, bird nests and one species does indeed live in books, it's called Chelifer cancroides. This is the one that gave the whole order its common name, but the more correct name is Pseudoscorpion.

They are tiny, the biggest species reaching only 8 millimeters, and totally harmless. The pinchers are way too small to hurt a human, but they hunt insects and other invertebrates like book lice, moth larvae and or even small flies that may be bigger than they are.

Pseudoscorpions have elaborate mating rituals which include dancing, like real scorpions do, and the female will carry the eggs in a pouch under her belly. The babies stay there for a while after they are born and for while are fed by the female with a secretion from her ovaries.
They can produce silk from glands between their jaws and use it to build nests, for shelter, mating or molting while growing. Here the one my book scorpion made:
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It's tiny, less than a centimeter long. My book scorpion was a female, as I learned when I noticed the egg sack under her belly, but she escaped from her home (a plastic box with some leaves, moss and sand) shortly after that. They can squeeze through the smallest cracks and I didn't put the lid on her home tightly enough I guess. Since she was a real book scorpion, I still hope that I may run across her or her offspring when reading one of my books.

Find out some more about pseudoscorpions here and find more critter photos at Xamera Critters

Sunday, October 18, 2009

MyWorld Tuesday: Autumn Afternoon

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Sunday afternoon, Blankenese and the Elbe. I fall in love with Hamburg all over again.

MyWorld Tuesday lets you travel around the world in pictures.

Monday, October 12, 2009

MyWorld Tuesday: Michel

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This is the tower of the Michel, the protestant St. Michaelis Church in Hamburg, the most famous church in Hamburg and one of its major landmarks. It's the third church of that name in Hamburg, the first one was built in 1647 and burned down after being hit by lightning in 1750. A second church was built 1786, but it burned down, too, after the tower caught fire while being repaired. A photo of the collapsing tower can be seen here. 1912 the third Michel was finished and while the nave was hit by bombs in 1944 and 1945, the tower survived the destruction of Hamburg in WWII.

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the Michel has six bells, weighing between one and nine tons

it's dedicated to the archangel Michael
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the statue shows Michael conquering the devil
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The tower is 132 meters high, the second-highest building in Hamburg and one of the highest church towers worldwide. You can climb it (or just take the elevator) and it gives you an awesome view over Hamburg.
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the port and the Landungsbrücken

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the town hall (with the tower)

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the Speicherstadt, where the merchants used to store goods like spices and coffee (and some still do, many buildings are office buildings now, though)

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the Heinrich Hertz television tower, also known as Telemichel

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the Medienbunker, a former flaktower and bunker, giving shelter to at least 18.000 people during the air raids in WWII. It now houses media agencies, schools for dance and music, a nightclub, theatre groups ect.

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these are the roofs of a weird little street with houses built in 1670 and used as apartments for widows of Hamburg grocers. The street still looks like it used to and is the last one completely build with timberframe houses in Hamburg. Here's a picture of the street itself - I'm always amazed by the thought that once much of Hamburg looked like that or at least similar.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Camera Critters: Duprasi

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Can you resist those eyes? It's a duprasi, a gerbil species. They are also known as fat-tailed gerbil and this is why:
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They store fat in those tails, like a camel in its hump. This little guy was a guest at my house for a short while on his way to his new home after he had been given up for adoption at a shelter.

Monday, October 5, 2009

MyWorld Tuesday: Bismarckdenkmal

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Bismarck von hinten - the title of a 70s TV show taking place in a part of Hamburg that would give you that view of the statue. It shows German (well, German Empire) chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), nicknamed the Iron Chancellor

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The monument is 34 metres high, Bismarck himself almost 15 metres and made from granite. It was errected between 1901-1905 and even at that time, it was controversial due to it's enormous size. It really a bit overwhelming when you stand right next to it, but it does has a sort of grace and I always feel that Bismarck's a bit melancholy, watching the Elbe from his high position.

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Despite its size and the fact that it stands on a small hill right next to the Reeperbahn, the momument is hidden behind trees and you can easily miss it, even when you know it's there.
I would love to get a look at the catacombs under the foundation - it's unknown what they were supposed to be used for, but there are a few kilometers of tunnels.During WWII, the foundation was used as a bunker, but there days it's not accessible for the public because it's in danger of collaps.

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