Saturday, September 06, 2014

Horseshoe Crabaction

Trilobites and giant water scorpions, like Pterygotus, creep, crawl, and swim through my Devonian brain every time I see one of these critters.
Horseshoe crabs, (okay, you already know this, but it is obligatory), are not really crabs at all.

What they are, is a class of ancient relics that have apparently evolved to a perfect state of happiness, since they look today pretty much like they a hundred million years ago. 

I had to mess with this one while snorkeling in the Gulf recently ... I mess you know ... it's an interactive thing.
She wasn't feeling all that interactive, but I only bothered her for a few minutes to take a closer look.
The long tail is the "Telson" and it's a useful tool for flipping yourself upright after the waves have tossed you upside down with all your jiggly parts exposed to predators.
By the way, if you love shore birds, you love this animal too. The billions of eggs that horseshoe crabs lay at the high tide line on our shores are the fuel for the vast flocks of migrating shore birds arriving for the winter.

There's few things in the sea more harmless than a horseshoe crab, but they sure LOOK like a pointy, creepy, nightmare out of the movie ALIEN.

The flappityflopflappity parts in the upper part of this view are the horseshoe crabs book gills ... similar to the book lungs on Arachnids like spiders and scorpions ... a hint at the close relationship between this gal and truly creepy things like spiders and scorpions.

The jiggly parts on the ventral side include this awesome assortment of jointed appendages and those, along with that hard exoskeleton are what lump this animal into Phylum Arthropoda, a group that includes about 85+percent of all Earth species.

There are so dang many species of Arthropod...

If you were an alien biologist surveying the variety of life on Earth, you would probably conclude that there's one dominant primate species that builds lots of cool stuff and is highly intelligent, but this planet is really an Arthropod planet.

See ya around, little Limulus polyphemus.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Here are the two osprey chicks that would not exist had August 2013 not been a month of wonderful cooperation between between the Levy County school district and the Central Florida Electric Cooperative...not retelling that story here, but search PF for it if you didn't read it before.

Two healthy new ospreys ... concrete evidence of a job well done.
This was my last view of the chicks back in July.
The next time I dropped in at school, they had left the nest to to live their mullet munching lives.

What a pair!

This pair of Barred Owls was a wonderful consolation prize after a gopher tortoise I was following outwitted me.
That is not something I'm proud of ... being outwitted by a slow moving tortoise, but it happened.
... another post certainly, another time.
Barred Owls are a pretty regular companion here at PFHQ, but catching a pair together is a treat.
What a pair!

Finally, pairs of pears ... why do the almost nonmunchable hard pears do best here in Florida?

I was so hot and dehydrated after trimming cherry tree limbs from above on this day, that even the meager juice and fructose of a sand pear was welcome, but ... man are they solid.

The only time I remember these being truly tasty was a million years ago as a teenager, when Miss Colese made a relish out of them.
This tree (which I have named "Katy Peary") has taken a beating over the years. The deer stripped her foliage and rubbed her bark off when she was a sapling. Then a large oak nearby dropped a huge branch on her that broke some of her major limbs.

Katy's a trooper though ... what a pear!