Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Year of the Dragon: The Dragon Wrasse

Dragon Wrasse (juvenile rock mover)
(Photo by Reeflections)

There are a number of fishes that have dragon-inspired names, and today's post will take a look at one such species.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Year of the Dragon: More Dragon Slugs

Glaucus Atlanticus. mDSCN4131
(Photo by paulhypnos)

Yesterday, we looked at a species of marine slug known as the blue dragon nudibranch, one that is seen quite often on reefs in Singapore waters. Today, my post will focus on a very different nudibranch that shares the same name.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Year of the Dragon: Dragon flowers

Dracunculus vulgaris
(Photo by Jörg Hempel)

It is amazing just how so many different creatures can be associated with dragons for some really spurious reasons. Take for example, the chinchillas (Chinchilla spp.), whose Chinese name of 龙猫 ('dragon cat') is due to the fact that they resemble a Japanese anime character who bears that same name in Chinese translations. Or the dragon trees (Dracaena spp.), named after their reddish sap that was extracted and marketed as the blood of mythical reptiles. And don't get me started on dragon fruit (Hylocereus spp.); the only possible link with dragons I think of comes from the apparently scaly fruits and spiny succulent stems.

With the various flowers named after dragons though, the connection with the mythical fire-breathing reptiles turns even more tenuous.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Year of the Dragon: Dragon Trees and Dragon's Blood

Tincturing Dragon's Blood
(Photo by Ayala Moriel)

Carrying on the theme of posts on organisms that are somehow associated with dragons, we now come to another interesting group of plants.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Year of the Dragon: Dragon fruit

Dragon fruit
(Photo by daria_weber)

Moving away from animals for a while, this post will look at a plant that is familiar to most of us, and is linked to dragons by name.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Year of the Dragon: The "Dragon Cats"

Chinchilla - Chinchilla lanigera - Long-tailed Chinchilla
(Photo by StefanKoeder)

An unfortunate consequence of having the Chinese zodiac associated with animals is that there are bound to be plenty of superstitious people who get a pet associated with that particular year, only to lose interest soon enough. Despite campaigns to encourage responsible pet ownership, the Year of the Rabbit was not a good one for plenty of pet bunnies, dumped once the novelty wore off. In Singapore, most exotic reptiles are (thankfully?) banned as pets, so we won't get a spike in cases of chameleons, iguanas or bearded dragons being released in our parks. However, there is the likelihood that by the end of the Year of the Dragon, we may see a rise in sales of another animal, and a corresponding spike in cases of abandonment and neglect. One thing's for certain, the chinchilla actually has very little to do with dragons.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Year of the Dragon: Singaporean Dragons

0003 - Green Crested Lizard
(Photo by sayhitoant)

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Singapore is home to a number of agamid lizards (F. Agamidae). This post will discuss the several species of agamids that are found here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Year of the Dragon: Amazing Agamids

chinese dragon
(Photo by ~zymon~)

According to the Chinese zodiac, it's now the Year of the Dragon, and I thought I'd do a special post on some of their real-life counterparts. No, dragons don't really exist, but there are a number of lizard species commonly known as 'dragons'.

komodo dragon 25008637
(Photo by mlp55)

The most famous 'dragon' is of course, the largest extant lizard, the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis). With its fearsome, prehistoric appearance, one can easily imagine how early sightings of large monitor lizards may have led to stories about ferocious gigantic reptiles.

Besides the monitor lizards, however, there is a family of lizards which contains some very bizarre-looking members, known collectively as the agamids (F. Agamidae). Often adorned with frills and crests, some agamids look so strange that they would probably not appear out of place in a medieval bestiary.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Flight of Dragons

Draco beccarii: Indonesia
(Photo by Javier_M.)

Over the last couple of years, I've seen a particular image make its way around the Internet, popping up every now and then creating somewhat of a stir every time it resurfaces.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Seven Links Blog Project: A Milestone Year

We're almost a week into the new year, and while I'm not really the sort who likes to reflect on the past year and mull over my successes and failures, Crystal Riley from Crystal and Bryan in Singapore has tagged me to take part in the Seven Links Blog Project, where I repost links to seven of my posts from different categories. Although I was tagged last year, I only found out last night, and I guess it's still not too late for me to look back on 2011.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

On Meat-eating Giant Pandas


(Photo from Huffington Post UK)



A few days ago, this sequence of camera trap images of a giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) gnawing on the carcass of an animal started showing up on news sites all over the world. It's received quite a fair bit of attention, and certainly reveals a darker side to the seemingly placid and peaceful nature of the giant panda. However, it does appear that much of the coverage of this story overlooks a couple of facts.