Monday, April 20, 2015

Jonathan and the roach.

The highlight of my day was strolling over to John Marrone’s History class and telling my son Jonathan the good news that, Yes, we are going to name an insect after him…but, the bad news, is that it’s a cockroach!

It all began with an impromptu adventure to a rocky outcrop on the Lebombo Mountains above Siteki. I can’t conceive of anything better than scratching around weird habitats, and this place is plenty weird. There are orchids and Camphor trees and all sorts of other exciting creatures.

Jonathan, like all my kids was doing his own exploring, having become used to being dragged through the bush at regular intervals, from a very early age. I am not sure how he spotted it but there it was… “Dad, come see this strange beetle..”

Well a beetle it was not! As you can see from the photo, it has the makings of a paper thin, lichen encrusted, granite mimicking, coin. It looked bizarre, even to me as a complete novice on the topic of cockroaches.

So with a few cockroach pictures on file, we made our way back to Maputo where I sent the images to every cockroach expert I could find.

The reply from specialist Ingo Fritzsche came within two hours.

“Your cockroach looks really special, I never have seen anything like that before and on the first picture it looks like an adult. I can place it near in a Family, but nothing closer. Sometimes it is possible, that someone finds a new genus or of course new species, new to science.”

The end of the story is not yet apparent, because we obviously didn’t capture the roaches. We need to go back and make sure that we find some that can be described.

Nevertheless it sure pays to keep your eyes open. Well-done Jonathan.

Its a roach for sure!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pied Beauty in Maputo

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
  For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
  Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;        5
    And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
  Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:        10
                  Praise him.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)