Category: reblogs












TIL there is a species of fungus that only exists in Texas and rural Japan, and is thought to have been in both places for 19 million years


turns people into cowboys or samurais depending on which place you’re in 

That explains why cowboy movies and samurai movies are so similar.

Cowboys are Alolan form Samurai

So in Japan it’s called Kirinomitake while in Texas it’s called either Texas Star (because after releasing spores it’s unfolded into a star shape) or the Devil’s Cigar because it starts out as a long oblong mushroom but then it unfolds with an ominous hissing noise and releases a big smoky black cloud of spores.

It only grows in these two places, and people did genetic testing and a bunch of math to determine that the two populations started diverging from each other nineteen million goddamn years ago, so it’s not possible for humanity to have moved it from one place to the other. They’re at the same latitude, but 11,000 fucking kilometers apart not to mention the goddamn ocean in the way.

“this is only another illustration of the unusual and unpredictable distribution of many species of the fungi. It would be difficult indeed to account for it, and we merely accept the facts as they are.”

So apparently it’s pretty common in the mycological world to find some bullshit that can’t be explained and would probably drive men mad to look at too closely, and just sort of shrug and move on with your day.

The species is also the only example of its genus.

Your daily reminder that anyone who devotes their life to studying fungi is not to be trifled with because their brain is full of things humanity was never supposed to notice.

just fucking mushrooms


Oh hey fun fact, apparently the sanctuary I do outreach at has these. I haven’t seen them, but the Travis Audubon Outreach Coordinator has photographed them and had them IDed. She was telling me about them a couple weeks ago and I was like WOW I NEED TO FIND ME SOME!!!

In exchange, I told her about the magical super butterfly-attractant Lantana that was off-trail. I swear like 30 species at once on that thing it was redonkulous.

If you’re in Austin, the Blair Woods Sanctuary is open to the public, dawn to dusk. It’s behind The Austin Wildlife Rescue’s intake center. There’s a pond, and two weeks ago it was STILL swarming with dragonflies! Nice little patch of wilderness with some walking trails and rare fungi I guess.

December 12, 2018

Update: Texans, Guess What?

They’re out right now and iNaturalist can tell you exactly where to find them [link]. They have been found within the past couple days in Austin, and within the past week-ish in Dallas-Fort Worth. Looks like this fungi come out in the cooler months between October and April, and they grow on the stumps and rotting roots of Cedar Elms. 

If you look at where these have shown up on iNaturalist historically (if you follow the link, click on the filter button in the top right and get rid of my date filter), and you will see they have a very interesting distribution pattern…

Very interesting

It’s almost like, the spores are in the water or something 😂

December 13, 2018

nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist: nanonaturalis…














Mystery Tussock Moth caterpillar livepost continues! Unsettling egg raft and hatching photos over here (trypophobia warning!)[link] 

The babes are still pretty small, but oh boy they are HUNGRY. Their poops changed color from yellow to the standard green color. They are escape artists and I have to continually put them back into their habitat when I’m feeding them (I use a paintbrush to move them, very convenient!), and there are SO MANY of them. 

September 8, 2018

They are still so tiny but SO FURRY!! Look at all that FLUFF!! These babes are a pain in the butt and are constantly trying to escape. I can’t wait for them to get bigger and fluffier.

September 9, 2018

First Molt Underway

Prepare for

The Fluffening

Their head capsule includes the earmuff dongles I’m d y i n g

September 10, 2018

First Molt Complete

Still no idea who they are!

I did an enclosure change today. How do you move hoardes of tiny caterpillars, you ask?

See related video, Painting by Caterpillar: Tussock moth

September 11, 2018

They’re perfect

Starting to look a little more tussocky! Still very small.

September 12, 2018

I have been a bad caterpillar liveposter, BUT these things have molted a second time and they are still almost impossible to see without a microscope.

If anything, the fluffier they get, the harder they are to see!

These are from last night :X

September 15, 2018

They are taking forever and I’m impatient.

This one hadn’t moved in three days or so. Turns out he was just molting??? (That’s his old skin next to him)

September 25, 2018

I guess they’re a little bigger?


Also, those hairs?


Don’t touch! The fluffy looking hairs have a strange texture, and they may be the irritating hairs that can cause allergic reactions. I really need to read up on stinging caterpillar anatomy!

October 2, 2018

Are you ready?

I love them 😭

October 11, 2018

I think we have an ID!

Looks like a Yellow-banded Tussock Moth! Still need to see the adults to know for sure, but these babs match the photo in the caterpillar guide perfectly!

October 15, 2018

Large and terrifying

Very cute, but wow those hairs all look like trouble!

October 20, 2018

Punk Hairstyles for the Distinguished Caterpillar

Arching his back… almost like he’s trying to maximize his chances of stinging somebody.

I can’t believe how OLD they are! They just keep growing and molting. I don’t know how big they get, but I believe they still have aways to go.

October 24, 2018

An update!




Cocoon time!


Oh! Who is this?!?


Mystery solved! This is a Southern Tussock Moth!! Others in my butterfly/moth group thought it was a different species based on the caterpillar (as did I!), which is exactly why I raise caterpillars! When I found the eggs, I could not find any documentation relating moth species to egg or caterpillar. And now I have the egg, the caterpillars at every size, the host plant, the cocoon/pupa, and the adult moth!

Science is awesome, and citizen science is even awesomer. I’m not a “real” entomologist. Anybody with the time and energy can do this (and when I have the time and energy, I write up a how to guide, I promise!)

Anyway, let’s love on this bab a bit since he can’t sting me now!



Adult emerged December 9, 2018, other photos from earlier (oops).

Testing this reblog… having issues with things getting flagged sigh. Please let me know if you can see my beautiful grown baby.

The Great Job Hunt 2018 – SciComm Edition

The Great Job Hunt 2018 – SciComm Edition:



Hey all. I originally posted this on twitter but maybe some tumblr folks can benefit from it too. I was job-hunting and found lots of SciComm jobs that don’t really fit me but might be someone else’s perfect match, so I compiled everything in a spreadsheet.

Also, yes, tumblr is still blocked here so I only check it when I need to post. If you have something to say about this spreadsheet (or if you wanna nerd out about sea slugs), I’m on twitter & instagram @franzanth and discord franzanth#8986.


Oh hey this thing again!

nanonaturalist: Giant Floater Mussel, Pyganodo…


Giant Floater Mussel, Pyganodon grandis

Let’s put it in the electron microscope!!


I had to break tiny parts of the shell off to fit it into the microscope, and one part of it broke off into little needle-like crystals. This is what they looked like up close. Nice!


I moved to an intact area, and saw these tightly-packed hexagon structures. Hmmmmmmmmm… I think those crystals in the top photo came from this anatomical feature of the shell. Let’s look at one of the opalescent areas!


Oh! Look at that! If you need help understanding the information at the bottom, this image is magnified 1350x. The scale bar in the lower left corner represents 50 microns. A human hair, on average, is 100 microns wide. If a piece of your hair was in this image, it would be twice as wide as that scale bar.

These little flaky things are interesting, let’s zoom in!


WOW!!! Now we’re zoomed in 2600x. These are crystals that make up the inner portion of the shell, but look: they’re thin plates, and they grow in layers! The size is interesting, too. You know how the insides of shells shine kinda rainbow-ey? I’m guessing it has something to do with the size–visible light is roughly 400 to 750 nm in wavelength, so physical structures in those sizes tend to do strange things with light (you think butterflies limit themselves to pigmentation? HA think AGAIN!). And these crystal plates are about the right size! 


Here’s a different area with those crystals, but with mysterious holes! What are they for?! 


ENHANCE. This was the zoomiest I could get. Look at those crystals! Nice!

Before I left, I needed to take a look at the outside of the shell.


Since the electron microscope looks at things so close up, it’s possible that this is all just sand. But it could also be minerals bound together with a protein matrix, which is what I believe the outer shell of these is! I was looking around for an area that looked more “shelly” and I found… this:


Uh… I have no idea what this is… But it was embedded in the outer shell of that mussel! UPDATE! IT’S A DIATOM!!!! 😀

If you have electron microscope requests, keep sending them in! I’ll keep doing these until they kick me out the door on Feb 28 OR until I quit which is HOPEFULLY way earlier than that!

December 7, 2018

@thatmcufangirl Oh boy prepare to clutch your pearls (I guess maybe literally if you’re doing oysters!) and be horrified. Here’s the sample before I switched to electron beam mode:

It ain’t coated. It’s not a “real” SEM in the sense that your lab has access to. We can’t get 20,000x either. The diatom is 13,500x, and that’s PUSHING our best resolution. We have a Phenom desktop SEM, but the cheapest model, and the charge reduction sample holder lets you throw samples in without coating them at all. We could probably get better resolution if we did coat them a little, but before I discovered the secret of that sample holder, our “brilliant” senior scientist (who was promoted to department director…) was having us coat everything in the gold sputterer for 20 minutes and our samples were coming out terrible because… uh… well… You can probably guess.

I don’t have any good tips based on what I know from experience BUT I would suggest possibly looking into other coatings (do you have access to carbon?). When I did nanowires and nanoparticles, before imaging in TEM, we coated them in carbon. Another possibility is 120s is too long. What do the other oyster people use? (Lit review time!)

December 7, 2018



Southern Ground Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri #403



I’ve seen these babies in the wild! They are endangered! They are AWESOME! They were… on the ground! I was still figuring out how to use my camera, so the photos aren’t the best, but look at these damn birds.

From Liwonde National Park in Malawi, November 2017

that mushroom time lapse post made me think ab…

that mushroom time lapse post made me think about how the sex organs of some fungi look similar to penises and now my mind is blown. like??? why would human sex organs look similar to the sex organs of a mushroom please help

i was actually reading about this in a book the other day (the intro was talking about the penis-like structures of stinkhorns specifically). the answer is….its purely a coincidence. 

for fungi, the goal of a mushroom is to spread their millions of children far and wide. they do this by running into a compatible fungus under the ground and ‘mating’ with them, meaning that they fuse a little and start building the initial fungus structure. when it’s finished, they just inflate the already-finished cells with water, which is why they can sprout up out of nowhere overnight and why they have the ‘inflating’ effect u see in those gifs (note: this doesn’t count for shelf mushrooms and other long-lasting mushroom structures, where the fungi just build a really hearty structure that they grow new layers on each year, but if we’re talking about Dick Fungi then we’re talking more about the ones that sprout from the ground and wilt in a few days/weeks). fun fact, this is what a stinkhorn mushroom looks like before it’s inflated

nervous.jpg. to pick the above image apart a little, stinkhorns work by having a coat of sticky, smelly substance full of spores coating their very-nsfw-ish caps that attracts insects to carry it off into the sunset. in this pic, the outer layer is a protective covering that the mushroom breaks through, the brownish jelly stuff just inside that is the spore substance that coats the mushroom, the greenish layer forms the actual head of the mushroom, and the white layer forms the stalk. this is easier to see when u look at an inflated one (that in this case has a lot of the spore goop already eaten off): 

this is an especially lewd patch with one inflated and two uninflated. its just very unfortunate lmao, like….really unfortunate in this case holy shit

anyway, the resulting structure- which spits spores that are the sexual result of the two fungi mating- is apparently just functional. if you want to spread your spores, you want to be high enough off the ground for the wind to carry them off or for bugs to see it or for water to hit it or w/e, so u gotta have a stalk to support the actual spore structure. from there, u just gotta have something to transmit the spores, wether it be by wind or water or w/e, and for whatever reason….they just Look Like That. like thats just…..a very unfortunately highly effective shape, i guess. 

nanonaturalist: @midnight-mod submitted: Hey! …


@midnight-mod submitted:

Hey! Could I get some help IDing these little fellas? My mom found them in a lake in Texas, they’re about 5-6cm long. She’s a flyfisherman so she’s always really excited about learning about aquatic larvae in areas she fishes! I’ve been digging through lists and guides of aquatic invertebrates/larvae and haven’t found anything quite like them, care to help me out?

These fat babies are water scavenger beetle larvae. I’ve never been blessed with seeing them in person, but I have seen the adults. They can be small, but they can also get very large! Here are a couple from Austin:


Tropisternus sp.


Hydrophilus ovatus 

These were both seen in March 2018. Sorry it took me SO LONG to answer you life is stressful!

December 1, 2018

@indelliblemercinary, that’s a great question (and thanks for pointing that out–I edited my post to say they are beetle larvae to avoid confusion). I think you will find that many immature aquatic insects take on these shapes, which means they can look very similar to one another. I mentioned I’ve never seen water scavenger beetle larvae before, but I have seen predaceous diving beetle larvae before:

This guy is a lot younger than the babies in the submitted photo (this photo had to be taken through a microscope!), but the shape of the head and the mouthparts (those are beetle jaw pincers!) are very similar. If you are familiar enough with beetle larvae, you will notice that the legs, head shape, eyes, and “neck” are different enough that they are not the same type of beetle. 

But let’s look at dragonflies and damselflies, because those are very interesting to compare! I’d like to note that the immature forms of dragonflies and damselflies are known as nymphs because they don’t go through complete metamorphosis (there is no pupa stage, they just molt one more time and come out as a full adult). All beetles go through complete metamorphosis, so their immature phases are called larvae, even when they are aquatic.

I have never seen a living dragonfly nymph (I think they tend to keep themselves buried!), but I have seen their exuvia (the exoskeletons they leave behind after they molt). The exuvia will show you exactly what they looked like, minus some of the coloring. Notice the differences between this guy’s body shape and the beetle larvae: you can actually see the little flaps where his wings were forming, his legs are much longer, he has much larger eyes, and he doesn’t have the “pincer” jaws. Before that final molt, the nymph climbs out of the water so they can hang and let their wings harden, and sometimes you can get lucky and find one near a pond or lake.

Here is a live damselfly nymph! A little different from the dragonfly (we have the tail gills, and a longer body), but still fairly similar when you compare it to the beetle larvae. See the wing buds on his back? 

You are more likely to notice beetle larvae and dragonfly/damselfly nymphs when they are older and ready to become adults, but it’s important to keep in mind that they start out very tiny! As they develop, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs will molt several times, and look more and more like adults each time–but this means they start out looking more “larva-like.” Those wing buds don’t start to become visible until later stages in their development. For beetle larvae, they can start out very thin, and then get very fat as they feed, which can make identifying them tricky!

Aquatic insects are challenging, immature life stages of insects are challenging, so immature life stages of aquatic insects are really hard! I am definitely not an expert on these topics, so always feel free to ask me if I’m sure about something!

December 2, 2018

This might be extremely gross for some but I r…

This might be extremely gross for some but I recently found a nest of carpet beetles in an unused room of my house. One of the larvae pupated and has become an actual beetle. I'm in love with these seemingly pest-like creatures please tell me how I can get rid of them without hurting them so my family doesn't find out and kill them. If you can't I understand, they are considered pests more than anything but they're so cute. All those spots on their backs and tiny legs and wings and asfdgh sorry

uhhhh I think the only way to get rid of them without harming them is to just remove them by hand one by one? I know that is a super unsatisfactory answer because they are so small and easy to miss. 

But my dude I totally agree, they are adorable. I used to play with the ones I found in my house. I was also the girl in my house that prevented my family from killing the bugs when possible so I totally get ya. Good luck with them.

500 Queer Scientists | Stories

500 Queer Scientists | Stories:


Hey, this is a great resource if you’re like me and feel isolated and alone in stem/your field bc of being queer. I am incredibly lucky to have worked in places with other lgbt people in the past, but right now it’s become apparent that there’s not really a lot of lgbt people in my current department. 

Oooh yes this is good. I’ll have to do one of these. Might be time to take another absolutely ridiculous selfie. Oh hey, four day weekend?!

willow-wanderings: tooiconic: scarlet-benoit-…





If Humans Flirted Like Animals.

are you saying that engagement rings aren’t just cool rocks 

They sloth is my favorite


Ok so when I was doing a security job on a college campus, the geology club on said campus was having their mineral and fossil sale (which is where the club gets the vast majority of its funds for the year). They had some really cool shit but their sales techniques were… uh, they were bad, just really terrible. They set up the tables, put all their stuff out, hung a sign up… and then sat there, occasionally mentioning quietly to one or two passersby “Hey we’re having our mineral and fossil sale if you want any.” Very boring, overly factual, not very attention grabbing.

Now I’m a fuckin nerd so I’m all over this shit (the sale was literally a foot away from my security post so I wasn’t even getting in trouble for spending literal hours ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the really cool stuff they had). And me being the type of nerd who must SHARE ALL THE THINGS when I find cool stuff (and who also has 18 years of customer service/retail experience to draw on), I start trying to get some of the literal hundreds of students walking by to get some of the cool things. The club only needed a couple hundred bucks and we were on the largest campus in the state so they should have been making their goal easy but almost no one was biting. So my “must share the thing” nerdiness teamed up with my “must help all the people”-ness and I did my best to pitch in and get them more sales.

Now, it was two days before valentines and a lot of the people walking by were dudes. So I start trying to get them interested with comments like “hey come check out the cool stuff you could get for your bae!”

One group of dudes paused but it didn’t seem like they were gonna stop and get any of the cool things, so I go “No, seriously, chicks dig this shit, you literally cannot go wrong here. There’s fossils and cute little carvings of manta rays and kitties, and literal gemstones here; that box is full of fucking EMERALDS that are 3 for $5. GET. SOME.”

They didn’t believe me that the ladies would go nuts for “a bunch of shiny rocks.” So I decide to prove it to them. And in the most booming voice I can muster (and I can muster quite a bit after a decade of choir classes) and yell “THEY HAVE SHINY ROCKS OVER HERE AND THEY’RE REALLY COOL!”

Literally instantly, three separate groups of ladies look straight at the tables and make a beeline for them, all of them saying some variation of “Wait, did you say shiny rocks? WHERE?! WHAT KIND?! OMG!” Suddenly a dozen or so different gals (and several dudes), who seconds ago were only thinking about getting to class, stopped in their tracks to detour to the table full of shiny rocks. Only two left without buying at least one thing.

The dudes I’d been talking to before were bewildered but convinced, so they start looking for the best shiny rocks they can get to give their SOs. Several of them came back a few days later to inform me that my seemingly ludicrous advice of “get them shiny rocks” had gotten them laid or scored them a date.

So, remember kids, GET THE BAE A SHINY ROCK. That shit WORKS.

For reals. When I was a young teenager, set free in the mall, I spent something like $35 (and we’re talking mid-1990’s dollars here) on this sodalite egg:

Let me tell you, if somebody came up to me and handed me an awesome shiny rock, I would most definitely accompany them on adventures in milkshakes, mothing, and getting lost in the desert.

Even better if they were hanging from a tree and screaming while handing over the rock. At that point, let’s just get married, honestly.

November 21, 2018