Field of Science

Because It's Friday....

...and nothing much seems to be working as it should. Here are a couple of photos to while away the time that were taken last year up at Lorna Glen, a station-turned-into-a-reserve in central Western Australia. The creature above is an absolutely massive mantis that we came across - I can't give you a more specific ID, I'm afraid. Hopefully the hand gives you some idea of the scale of the thing - it was at least four inches in length, possibly longer. And if you look really closely, you may be able to make some of the relatively minute ants that were making its life difficult when we found it - they were busily attacking the sensitive joints between leg segments.

Moloch horridus, the spiny devil or moloch, is arguably the strangest-looking of all reptiles, and I can assure you that they look even stranger in the flesh. They have an odd jerky way of moving, the closest thing to it in appearance being old stop-motion model animation. And they are perhaps the most docile animals in all existence - an attempt to pick one up will spark an instant outburst of absolutely nothing. The picture below, I think, gives an idea of how energetic and fractious molochs aren't.

Perhaps the most abundantly obvious group of animals in the area were grasshoppers. One of the common species was a spotted, brachypterous form (Greyacris picta or something similar*) that I thought was a nymph until one day we found this mating pair (the little guy on top is the male).

*I originally IDed them on this post as Monistria pustulifera. A comparison of the excellent photos in Rentz et al. (2003) (a generally excellent book) set me right.

Update: A reader has suggested that the mantis may be a species of Archimantis. He also confirmed my ID of the grasshopper as probably Greyacris, though not necessarily G. picta itself.


Rentz, D. C. F., R. C. Lewis, Y. N. Su & M. S. Upton. 2003. A Guide to Australian Grasshoppers and Locusts. Natural History Publications (Borneo): Kota Kinabalu.

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