Wednesday, August 29, 2012

 A 200 Year Old Mystery

For nearly two centuries, scientists have pulled so-called "monster larva" from the guts of fish and wondered what these thick-bodied creatures looked like as grown-ups. Now one biologist believes he has finally matched the larva with its adult counterpart. 

"It's very exciting to have solved a nearly 200-year-old conundrum," Keith Crandall, a biology professor at George Washington University, said in a statement. 

Drawing from genetic evidence, Crandall reported in the journal Ecology and Evolution this month that the larva, Cerataspis monstrosa, is actually a baby version of the deep-water aristeid shrimp known as Plesiopenaeus armatus.

Making this match-up between the baby and adult forms was not as easy as finding a larger version of the larva. In fact, the two couldn't look more different, the researchers said. C. monstrosa has a thick body covered in armor with "exceptional horn ornamentation," the researchers write. Yellowfin and blackfin tuna and dolphins prefer this "monstrous and misshapen animal," as the larva was called, for prey — and it was in these predators' gut contents that scientists had encountered the monster larvae. 
Its adult form,Plesiopenaeus, which calls the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean home, looks more like a lobster.

Scientists began to suspect a link between the two in the 19th century. 

"Because previous studies suggested an affinity between Cerataspis and penaeoid shrimp, and more specifically the family Aristeidae, we sampled heavily within these groups," Crandall explained.  His lab had been collecting crustacean DNA information for several years, providing a database to compare the Cerataspis DNA and make the link. They found a 99.96 percent match between the sequences of five genes for both organisms.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Poodle Moth

It's been compared to a fluffy dog, a Pokemon character and a Power Rangers villain — but whatever it is, the Venezuelan poodle moth has captured the Internet like Mothra in a bad Japanese movie. Now it's up to the experts to figure out exactly where this moth belongs on the tree of life.
The first thing to emphasize is that the poodle moth is no phony concoction like the jackalope, dogerpillar, or chupacabra. Its cute, furry, scary look is totally in line with what's expected for a neotropical ornamental moth. In fact, cryptozoologist Karl Shuker found a similar picture of a white, fuzzy critter known as Diaphora mendica, or muslin moth, a member of the lepidopteran family Arctiidae.
The Venezuelan poodle moth is even more bizarre-looking than your run-of-the-mill muslin moth. That's largely due to the details that zoologist Arthur Anker of Brazil's Federal University of Ceara captured in the photograph he took in the Gran Sabana region of Venezuela's Canaima National Park several years ago.The nearly head-on perspective, without any sense of size scale, led my colleague Rosa Golijan to compare the bug to a Power Rangers villain — for example, Finster, the loyal servant of Rita Repulsa. However, if this showy critter is indeed a neotropical relative of the muslin moth, it's much more benign. Such moths feed on herbaceous plants and cause little trouble. They're also relatively small: The muslin moth's wingspan amounts to little more than an inch (28 to 38 millimeters)

Shuker would love to nail down the flying poodle's precise species name: "Is it indeed a member of Arctiidae, or are its taxonomic affinities elsewhere? Could it even be a species still undescribed by science? Thousands of new insects are discovered every year in the South American rain forests, so it would be by no means unusual if Art's Venezuelan poodle moth proved to be one, too."

The fact that there are so many types of moths in the Arctiidae family — an estimated 11,000 species around the world, including 6,000 known species in the neotropical region — would make it tricky to classify this particular insect, unless there's an actual specimen in hand that can be sampled for genetic analysis. Nevertheless, we've put out our own inquiries with lepidopterists, and if we hear anything back on the bizarre case of the Venezuelan poodle moth, we'll let you know in an update.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Flora and Lucy

We had a post earlier showing Grandson Sam on his first day of school.  It is now time for the granddaughters to shine!  Flora is now entering the fourth grade and Lucy is in kindergarten at Shepherdstown Elementary.  These gals are no longer babies.  Soon we hope to post Nate's first day in his school.  I believe his school starts after Labor Day.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What Type of Bird is This?

One afternoon I looked out at the bird feeder and saw a critter lying in the seed tray.  Yep, twas a CAT BIRD!  This black tailless cat was in deep sleep.  I had to take action.  I did my imitation of a pack of rabid bulldogs.  I wonder what the neighbors think when they hear me barking at the top of my lungs?

Friday, August 24, 2012

 Ed's 75th Surprise Birthday Party

On August 5th, Ed Grafton's wife, Willa, had a surprise birthday for this retired GSC forestry professor.  Ed and I came to teach at Glenville State the same year - 1972.  Ed is a master at his craft and he and Willa are great friends.

It was a grand occasion with a multitude of folks in attendance.  Willa certainly knows how to throw a party.

Judy is looking on as Willa and colleague and friend, Joe Hickman, strike a most lovely pose. 

Joe and wife, Seva, and their grandson, Issiah, are pictured below.  These folks have been our friends throughout the years.  We have shared many adventures and stories together.

Several of our former students arrived to celebrate the 75th.  Mark Casto and his family- wife Tonya, Kyle and Lauren - live and work in Kanawha County.

Sam Cowell, Chris and Saran Crum, Paul Jarrell are folks who will always be in our memories.  Chris and Sarah (newly weds!) live in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Sam and Paul work at Carnifax Ferry Battlefield State Park near Summersville, WV

Lady Liberty was the center of attention.

Willa had wonderful food catered for this occasion.  Yummy!

The cake was so unique and celebrated Ed's adventures.  Ed traveled on several occasions to Africa.  He has many interesting stories to share about these trips.

Guess the helmet was not edible.

Happy Birthday, Sir Ed!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Grade

Yep, on Tuesday, August 21st, Sam arrived for his first day in First Grade at Simpson Elementary School.  Flora started to school on Wednesday and Lucy will enter kindergarten today.  Hope we can post a few photos of the gals at their school.  It is very hard to believe that the grand kids are already this old.  How could this be since I am only 26?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Part 22
Our Plane Trip Home
The Final Episode 

What a crazy place!  The airport at Provo is extremely small and there was a multitude of people preparing to fly out. We were supposed to fly at 3:30 P.M., but our US Air plane was 25 minutes late.   We finally boarded US Air in a rain storm. Guess it does rain for brief periods in Providentales. 

Arrived in Charlotte at 6:30 P.M.  Now the craziness really began. We had only a little over an hour to catch our connection to Pittsburgh. All had to click perfectly in order to board our plane in time.

We had to go through customs then collect ALL our luggage and place in a special area so it could be screened on US soil. 

They are very strict about any electronic device.  If they see or hear a cell phone, it will be confiscated immediately.  I certainly did not want to lose my iPhone brother. 

Our group was screened in the security area.   Getting close to time for our next flight.  Oh, no!  Judy was stopped by security and had her carry on bag examined.  Seems the scanner picked up a problem. 

Turned out to be an over sized shampoo bottle. Got that resolved and now we were running frantically toward gate at the US Air concourse. On the way up the ramp to the plane, I heard my cell phone ring!!  My about died- thought phone was off- I though that if it would have rang in the US Customs area we would have been super delayed and miss our connection.

Hurray, we are on our plane to Pittsburgh.  We left Charlotte with hearts pumping and bones tired. 

There was a beautiful sunset as we left Charlotte.


The flight to Pittsburgh was about an hour. Once again the boys were excellent on the plane. As we flew into Pittsburgh,  we were greeted with a display of fireworks over the city.  Most likely they were coming from the baseball park   

Our plane landed in Pittsburgh around 9:30 P.M.  Sarah and Jeff took Nate to get the cars that were  parked in long term parking. Judy, Shirley,Sam, and I were off to collect our baggage. 

Problem - we waited and waited. Our two checked bags along with one of Jeff's and Sarah's were no where to be found.  After contacting a US Air agent, it's seems the bags were not on our flight but will be on the next plane. They were to deliver our luggage in Bridgeport during the night. 
We had supper around midnight at a McDonald's near the airport. We arrived at Sarah and Jeff's at 2:00 A.M. on Sunday.  When I awoke around 7, I went to the porch.  NO LUGGAGE.  It did arrive around 10:00!

What a wonderful tip and adventure.  Thank you all for allowing us to share that with blog family.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Part 21
Preparing For Our Trip Back To West Virginia

On Saturday (July 28) we departed the beautiful island of Provo.   As in past mornings we went down to JOJO's  for continental breakfast. Twas the last oatmeal, beagle/cream cheese , and fruit for this trip.  Judy had to say the last goodbyes to  Samuel and  JR, our waiters.  (And,of course, everyone got more hugs!)

After breakfast (around 900 A.M.) our gang went for  the final swim and the last "push Grandpa into the waterfall".  


Our crew left the condo at 11:00 A.M. and placed the plethora of luggage once again into our rental car. 

Our crew ate an early lunch at JOJO's.  Man, of all days, it took a long time to get our food delivered. I had a  grouper wrap. (yummy) 

We packed into the van with all our luggage at 12:30 P.M.  What a miracle it was again to get all our luggage plus people into the van!  I felt as we were illegal aliens getting ready to cross the border. (Or in a clown car at the Ringling Brothers Circus) It took 10 minutes to get to the Hertz rental.  They saw our dilemma and took us to the airport in a larger van. 

Tomorrows blog - The Plane Trip

Monday, August 20, 2012

Part 20
"We Funk"

As we were finishing our supper, here comes "We Funk" back from the wedding reception.  Hearing drums by the pool area, Judy, Shirley, and the boys headed in that direction with cameras in hand.

It seems that on their way back from the reception. a gentleman at one of our tables paid them to play a song.  What energy! 


I was on my way to buy a Hemingway's T-shirt when I noticed Judy in the middle of the band.  My good wife was hopping around like a young virgin at a fertility dance. 

The group was all percussion with the exception of one whistle. Yep, like a drum major, he led his musical troop by blowing his whistle.

What a great end to a most memorable evening!  We left with the knowledge that we had another "a most special adventure".  As we arrived at Windsong, it was time to start packing for the trip home.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Part 20

After shopping we headed to  Hemingway's Restaurant at the Sands Resort.  What another great adventure!  Wait until you see what unfolded.
As we arrived at the restaurant there was a delightful Caribbean band in full dress unloading. Judy had to have a picture with these young people. They were in full native costume. Hold on -  the name of the band is "WE FUNK". 

The young folks had no idea why they were there.  They just knew they were hired for a "gig".

As we were escorted to our table, we noticed a wedding being conducted on the beach. What a lovely evening!

This is a marvelous location for a restaurant - Grace Bay is certainly beautiful.  We had to take some time for pictures.

We ordered our meals. Judy and I had the Grouper Creole and fried ice cream for desert.


We noticed "WE FUNK" heading to the wedding reception.  How could we miss them- they traveled by our table!

Tomorrow's blog - You will never guess what happened at the end of the meal!