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Carny of the Spineless rolls in (on a trail of slime)

September 2, 2010

Like the best of deviant affairs, it pulls in to town in the deep of night, not to mention behind schedule. Buzz on the midway is that the circus manager’s son was busted for running a meth lab and they blew through the caravan gas money to bail him out. A day late, and more than a few dollars short.

So no elephantine parade through Main Street, this. Rather a disheveled caravan of rust-stained trailers towed behind emphysemic flat-beds. Strange, misassembled metal beasts ringed in colored incandescence that promise who-knows-what pulse-quickenings when unfolded.

This is the Circus of the Spineless, rubes! Where the only vertebrae are the steel girders of the vomit rides, and who knows when those bolts were last tightened! Tickets are free, but the post traumatic stress lasts a lifetime!

So bring a full pack of smokes and wear your cleanest heavy metal tshirt. It’s a midway of stomach-clenching treats, sucker-games to challenge physics, and side show freaks. Slime right up. Let the show begin!

Bad rides. Worse music. But wikkid awesome flyers, hey!

Just look at that nudibranch!

From the ink-stained hand of Phineas X. Jones comes the promo poster for the Chicago dates of Lollapalooza 2010: Tradition. Honor. Mollusks. Finally a festival with its vertebrate priorities straight! But what do you expect from the cryptonaturalist documenter of the Octophant and Octolope. Even cryptonatural illustrators gotta eat, so by all means buy some of his prints!

Did someone mention food?

Just look at that jaunty gait! He *owns* the midway.

What’ll it be, funnel cake or corn dog? Hey, at least you’re not a myrmecophage, whose arthropodic feeding preferences are based partly on just how hard the deep-fried twinkie — I mean ant or termite — fights back. Jason Goldman over at The Thoughtful Animal has the analysis of food preference behavior in giant anteaters. Come to think of it, you could make a case for a deep-fried twinkie chemical defense…

Ant eating takes us on a different direction at Roberta Gibson’s Wild About Ants where we get ring-side seats to the Praying Mantid vs. Rover Ants match-up. Ants don’t have a chance.

If there’s anywhere to be a culinary adventurer it’s at the carny, amiright? And if it doesn’t work out, at least you won’t be only one looking green. Bacon too boring? Try some Sea Pork over at David Ingram’s Schooner Cove snack shack. So greasy you’ll need to clean up with a Purple Intertidal Sponge.

Oh, sorry, I must have mistaken you for feces.

“Spit that out, Timmy! It’s bird shit!” Hahaha, rube! The wood nymph moth, captured in photos by Kind of Curious, disguises itself as bird feces to avoid predation. Doesn’t work so well with toddlers.

Heavy petting in the funhouse.

If you’re a male earwig there’s three ways to get some action on the midway: Win her that 4ft plush rainbow pony at ski-ball; Ring the bell at the hammer slam (don’t pull yer groin muscle!); Or, of course, cultivate an “extremely exaggerated sperm-transfer appendage”. Carin Bondar has all the salacious details.

Female earwigs like their boys big. Zen Faulkes at NeuroDojo explain how male A. bruennichi spiders just plain like their girls, period. Even though they lose their penis. And then get et. Talk about getting laid at any cost.

Wouldja look at the spin of that spermatophore?

And if you’re a deviant snail looking for extra kink, Kevin Zelnio‘ll give you the down-low lowdown on the anti-chiral position you saw enacted in the latest brown-paper-wrapped issue of Mollusk Mambo.

Rebecca Deatsman of Rebecca in the Woods documents in near-pornographic detail the bath-house-like orgy of walking sticks taking place among the fronds of a palm. Get a room, er, suite!

But if it’s romance you’re after, you big sap, put some Neil Diamond on the mp3 and share an earbud with your sweetie octopus, because Mike Lisieski of Cephalove explains how nothing makes a ceph’s heart go pitter-pat-times-three than a little loooove.

Epic journey through the house of hallucinogenic horrors.

Ted MacRae of Beetles in the Bush follows his own Congo river into the heart of darkest Oklahoma, confronting rattlesnakes and storm fronts, determined to capture the near-mythic Kurtz of tiger beetles: the Great Plains Giant. No spoilers! This one’s too good to give away, you’re gonna have to read the page-scroller of a post yerselves.

But Ted is an adventurer of Ahabish drive and he has further metaphoric explorations to take, this time through the parks and preserves of Missouri. There he confronts the notion that fire on the fragmented landscape may harm more than a entomologists weekend collection hopes.

Kazimierz Lebowski takes a swing through the funhouse of Costa Rica at Science & Soul. Mud on his boots, machete in hand, he sees many bugs.

Wet jungle gives way to high & dry Tucson, where Doug Taron of Gossamer Tapestry meets a fat lizard, many desert butterflies, and one scarab beetle.

“I am not an elephant! I…am…a…really freaking cool invertebrate!”

Pensive on his rotting log sits Giant, the most poetic of springtails.

The incomparable David Winter of The Atavism educates us on New Zealand’s freakishly large giant springtail and freakishly adorable peripatus, or walking worm. Peripatus will ejaculate glue quite far to immobilize a meal in sticky spooge. Giant springtail looks like a sex toy. They both live on rotten logs. Draw your own smutty conclusions.

If you lose your larvae somewhere between the bouncy castle and beer emporium, the designated orphan retrieval spot is out at the Bedegaur-covered rose bush. Just get to the pincushion gall before Wanderin’ Weeta who may happily slice open that fuzzy, safe-haven just to see your little tots squirm. Sicko.

Just one head...FOR NOW!

The Museum of Curiosities takes on the hybrid Doctor role of Doolittle and Frankenstein as he husbands an assortment of wild-caught flatworms and contemplates whether to make them regenerate two heads. Photos are provided, sex and violence ensues.

Cory surprises himself at 10,000 Birds by doing a remarkable job of identifying the butterflies in his gorgeous photos from a trip upstate. Then he further flexes his invert ID muscles on some delightful damselflies.

The Walnut Sphinx Moth caterpillar squeaks when imperiled. That makes two of us. But it’s a good thing, because otherwise it might never have lived to metamorph into the lovely adult photographed porchside by Stephanie Suesan Smith.

It’s a comb-footed spider and her diabolical nest found in Mike’s backyard and documented with detail at Slugyard. But he wants to know: what’s for lunch, hmm?

Two from CarlyB at The Featured Creature: the optical radiance of a Madagascan Sunset Moth, and — oh, what’s this? Another scarab beetle? Blinged out T. perakensis. And hang on, we haven’t heard the last of ol’ Scarabaeidae…

Like the midway at midnight: sensory overload.

Don't hate me because I'm beautifully filtered for circularly polarized light.

Move over mantis shrimp, there’s a new circularly polarized light-sensitive sheriff in town. Scarab beetle (back) in the funhouse, yo! Mike Bok of Arthropoda illuminates the circumstances of the vision elite. I’d like to see C. gloriosa just try to take down an octopus, mantis style, though.

Back at NeuroDojo, it’s the grasshopper version of out-of-sight-out-of-auditory-neurons. Dr. Zen describes how flightless grasshoppers shrink their ears now that they don’t need to be so sensitive to the ultrasonic echolocation cries of hungry bats. It seems, though, that even when they’ve returned the ears, the neurons are theirs to keep.

Enter the Dragon(fly).

A lone Halloween Pennant vogues for the camera of JSK at Anybody Seen My Focus?

But don’t get too complacent when it comes to lone dragonflies. Like teens to the Iron Maiden cover-band stage, these winged monsters of rock will pack up and swarm! A rare and undoubtably awesome spectacle to behold for the lucky researcher. Christine Goforth aka The Dragonfly Woman spills the dirty on the spectacle and describes the latest in dragonfly swarm migration tech: the thorax-mounted radio transmitter. Cutting edge entomological research!

Is that a radio transmitter on your thorax, or are you just happy to swarm me?

After-hours carny civilians invited to run the rides themselves!

Still spinning your head over the swarming migratory dragonflies? Yeah, me too. Well, if you catch wing-buzzing army in the exo-flesh, Dragonfly Woman wants to know! She outlines her desired data points in the above post’s epilogue.

And your work ends there not! Kerstin of More Than Honey is trying to fact-check the truth of how many bee-kilometers get flown to produce a kilogram of honey. The fate of a documentary film may hang in the data-driven balance! Apiarists with calculators, help this auteur!

Many huge and appreciative thanks to all the invertophiles who contributed to this month’s Circus of the Spineless. I had a blast curating. See you all next month when the carny sets down in the vacant field of Wild About Ants!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2010 1:03 am

    First time anyone’s called me a sicko! (I think.)

    A great carny! Thanks!

    • September 3, 2010 7:26 pm

      You obviously haven’t been talking to the wasps.

      Thanks for your fab submit!

      • September 3, 2010 7:42 pm

        Sure, I’ve been talking to the wasps. “Calm down! Stop wriggling! Ok, turn this way. This way, you ijjit!”

        Oh. You mean listening! No, I guess I haven’t. Maybe a good idea.


  2. September 3, 2010 4:31 am

    Awesome, such a great line up and presented as only you could!

    • September 3, 2010 7:30 pm

      Thanks, David. It was a lot of fun! I think I’m in love with the Perpatoides.

  3. September 3, 2010 2:22 pm

    superbly done! congrats!

  4. September 3, 2010 6:53 pm

    What a great collection! Thanks for hosting!
    Now let’s hope for plenty of calculator-possessing apiculturists!

    • September 3, 2010 7:52 pm

      Here’s to the power of Hive Mind, so to speak. Looking forward to the film!

  5. September 4, 2010 12:40 am

    Dude! This was awesomely done! I think I actually read it all the way through, something I rarely do with blog posts lol.

    Oh please host again in the future!

    • September 4, 2010 7:30 am

      Thanks, man! & I hope you didn’t mind the unannounced inclusion of your kinky snails. I mean, really! how could I not?


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