Where the Age of Dinosaurs met its end.

Here is the location of Playa del Carmen, for comparison. At least I’m on the same peninsula. Chixulub is the Mayan name for a town, with “ch’ic” meaning a flea or tick, and “xulub” meaning a devil or demon. It’s also named for a massive crater discovered nearby, which measures 180 kilometers in diameter (110…

Travel Day–San Jose, Costa Rica to Mexico, D.F. to Cancun

The next step in my research will be in and around Akumal, Mexico, where Bagheera kiplingi is 90% vegetarian (opposed to 60% in Costa Rica). I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get some good samples for internal and external imaging, as well as DNA from bacteria that might be shared between the spiders and ants. My…

My last day in Palo Verde (maybe I’ll miss it here).

Okay, so I definitely won’t miss the mosquitoes, which were swarming so thick that they actually got through my shirt and filled my back with bumps. Yet nature still had some ways of surprising me today; it was as if everyone came out to say goodbye (even the blood-sucking insects). Besides seeing two while tailed…

Another day, another insect.

I looked it up, and it appears to be true that termite males and females go through a winged, “alate” form before they mate and become a new king and queen. That explains the pile of wings on my floor two mornings ago. Now I do have to admit some respect for the termite, because…

Bien metido.

Bien metido is a Panamanian term, and I’m not sure if it’s the same in Costa Rican Spanish. There are some definite differences in language (as I’ve learned) since the word tranque (Panamanian Spanish for a traffic jam) doesn’t exist here and a small restaurant in Costa Rica is apparently called a soda (Coca-cola is a gaseosa, then). What…

The first vegetarian spider of the season (with a catch).

Today I found Bagheera kiplingi at Palo Verde Biological Station, after searching more than 200 Vachellia plants. They definitely aren’t common around here, but this is the first time (that I know of) it has been documented in the area. I found it where I find most Bagheera spiders, inside a rolled-up leaf on an acacia (Vachellia) plant. Admittedly, I wasn’t in…

Entomophobia? Me?

“You’re going to have mosquitoes at Palo Verde,” said one of the advisors on my vegetarian spider project. No big deal, I thought to myself, I’ve dealt with mosquitoes before. I’m not afraid of insects, am I? That’s what the work “entomophobia” means. Coincidentally, I happened to be reading Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet on my way to Costa Rica,…

Reptiles aplenty, but definitely not Jurassic Park.

In my visit to La Selva, I’ve probably seen more wild reptiles than I’ve ever seen before (9 crocodiles, 2 iguanas, and too many geckos to count), which made me think I should make some sort of witty comment about this region of Costa Rica coming straight out of a scene from Jurassic Park. Of course,…

Come on, stay still just one second longer!

My photos definitely could use some improvement, first through the use of better equipment (a telephoto lens would be nice) and secondly through my timing. Many times a great photograph has gone past, and then I’ve had to dig out my camera or my phone, only to have the moment pass me by. When it…

Good news on the frogs (sort of)…

The good news is that there are frogs everywhere at La Selva, although the bad news is that these species are resistant to the chytrid fungus that I mentioned in an earlier post. Some species have special protein fragments (called peptides) in their skin, others have different adaptations for dealing with the threat. Strawberry dart…

Two lessons I’ve learned…

“Ah, sí. Todos los senderos son de cemento.”  Oh, yes. All of the paths are concrete. That was the first lesson I learned, which is to not assume that everyone knows what they’re talking about. Maybe he was referring to the major paths, or the paths that connected the eating area to the cabins. Whatever it was, there…

La Selva, Costa Rica (Tropical Rainforest for sure!)

I came after dark, since our bus had broken down in San Jose and I needed to get to the bus station, hail a taxi, and then cross Costa Rica’s capital city to reach another bus station in order to get a bus ride to La Selva Biological Station. “La Selva” basically means “The Jungle” in English,…