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African Assassin Bug (platymeris biguttata)_1


Wikipedia is not helpful in explaining why this bug is called an assassin bug. It does not describe the guild to which these bugs must belong. It neither tells you how to take out a contract on someone nor how to talk your way out of it should an assassin bug contract be taken out on you. There is no mention of the poisons or blades that might be used. No, instead, Wikipedia has this to say:


“Though spectacular exceptions are known, most members of the family are fairly easily recognizable; they have a relatively narrow neck, sturdy build, and formidable curved proboscis.”


Which means that not only do you live in a world with assassin bugs that may strike from nowhere, but someone look different enough from the others to be considered “spectacular exceptions”. We know nothing more. They may look like other bugs. They may look like cats. They may look like dogs. They may look like a lamp, a burrito, or even that thing right behind you there … did it just move?




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Lesser Spot Nosed Monkey (Cercopithecus petaurista)_2


The Institut Alpin Videmanette in Rougemont is, sadly, not effective for everyone.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Lion (Panthera Leo)_1


She’s preparing her husband’s dinner. hoping to make him blind. Little does she know that soon, she shall drown.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)_10


This koala disapproves of your music, your movies, and your games because they do not match the values with which he was raised. He does not understand the technology you use or what you do with it. He misses having a job that he liked where he was more important that most everyone else. He wants the world to go back to the way he remembers it being, even though it was never that way and his memories have been carefully forged by a deliberately shoddy educational system and untrustworthy media.


This koala has been abandoned by the systems created to protect him. He has been abandoned by those who used to spend time with him. He has been abandoned by those who could try to understand his concerns and help him to make sense of the deluge of changes he faces. He feels worthless and confused … and he hates that feeling.


This koala has many friends who feel exactly the same way and who have nothing to do during the long, slow, and lonely Tuesdays.


This koala is going to vote for that rhetoric that is understandable to someone who feels lost in this new, scary, world and is afraid of further change. No amount of discussion will change his mind because, to him, there only one who seems to care. Lectures will not change his mind. Logic will not change his mind. Impassioned pleas will not change his mind.


Listening might.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus)_4


This is the kagu, an endangered bird from New Caledonia. It is apparently the only bird to develop “nasal corns”, or those things on its beak that cover the nostrils. Wikipedia is careful to specify “only bird”, which means that I am now envisioning fish and mastadons with nasal corns.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus)_3


It is common for young elephants to be asked to learn the “Little Teapot” dance before they are allowed to advance to more complex routines such as The Hokey Pokey, The Electric Slide, or Limon’s Moor’s Pavane.


I chose not to photograph the handle.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Great Argus (Argusianus argus)_2


This is the great argus. You may wonder why there is no lesser argus.


Hermes slew it on Zeus’s order.


The ancient Greeks screwed up all of our taxonomy. That’s why we had to fix it with Latin.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)_12


We are told that big, sharp, pointy teeth mean that the animal is a meat eater and that long, flat, teeth means they eat plants.


For contemporary animals, we can easily identify the exceptions to the rule but, barring fossilized stomach contents, it’s much harder to know about ancient extinct species.


So take a few minutes and visualize a tyrannosaurus rex as it hunts it’s native prey … celery.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Orangutan

Mar. 29th, 2016 11:01 pm
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Orangutan_4


I’ve been staring at this picture for weeks, trying to come up with something either funny or a story that needed some sort of hairy, hulking character in it. Instead, as I had it up at the convention, within less than a minute, one person asks how I got a photo of her cousin and another asked how I got a photo of her husband.


So I guess I’ll be going with those.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Ethiopian mountain viper (Bitis parviocula)_1


The camouflage works pretty well until you get to the head … by which time, of course, it’s too late.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)_28


Insert eucalyptus here.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Leaf Cutter Ant_5


Once upon a time, there was an ant with a dream. That ant realized that the entire colony could survive if they could grow their own food. That ant realized that the food should be kept underground where it was safe from other colonies and anyone that could harm it. That ant realized that the only food that could grow underground was fungus AND that fungus required food for itself. Then, that ant convinced all of the other ants to carry pieces of leaves to feed the fungus.


We will never have a leader like that.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Common Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)_4


The Hippo of Change is hard to see from above, because change is often hard to see coming.

The Hippo of Change has eyes as dark as the depths of its soul, because change if frightening.

The Hippo of Change glows with an inner light, because large changes can light your way even while you feel you cannot breathe.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Collared Lory (Phigys solitarius)


This bird is bright red, bright green, and has a bright purple crown. It is the only rain forest bird in Fiji to learn how to live in cities. It is the only species in its genus. It lays its eggs in rotting coconuts.


So, of course, it’s going to be named after a truck with a collar.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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This was going to be a story. It was going to be a touching coming-of-age tale in which a young man felt trapped between his youth and the man he should be. He would not have yet learned to let things go, and would have been constantly reminded of mistakes made in his past. He would have been frustrated at not being appreciated in his job. He would have struck out at the dating scene many a time, only to see his childhood bullies being successful. He was going to be frustrated and angry. Then, at an appropriate crisis point in the story, he was going to meet his former childhood friends and, being teased by them, and burning with embarrassment, he would have angrily walked home, having lost his car in an accident earlier in the day.


Once home, you would have learned that he was also brilliant and had been building a time machine. There, somewhat drunk, he would have made a poor decision. He would have stepped into the machine and gone back to fix his mistakes. From there, one chapter at a time, he would have revisited each haunting memory. There, through the eyes of an outsider, he would have slowly discovered that his enemies were even more screwed up than he was. One would have recently lost her father and was taking out her pain on all of those around, not just him. Another would have been realizing he was gay and was afraid of not having his feeling returned, and was placing a false up between himself and our time traveler. Still another had contracted a deadly but invisible disease from a blood transfusion, and was trying to deal with the likelihood of an early death, which was driving her to work ever harder to achieve success at a very young age, though such efforts sped the progress of the disease.


Each trip, and each visit, would alter his memory. He would remember the event, of course, the pain would be blunted as the changed events were layered over the originals. As he reached the end of his journey, he would find himself in precisely the same position, for sometimes one’s circumstances are due to larger forces than one’s immediate past. However, he would no longer have any friends remaining as, to them, due to his own intervention, his life seemed blessed. He had grown up without hardship and without the sharpening of personality that such hardship provides. As a result, he hadn’t been interesting enough to attract new friends and, because he dodged their interactions throughout his own timeline, he had lost even the acquaintances of his past.


The story was going to end with him slowly realizing that what had once mattered no longer did and he was going to just stare at his time machine trying to decide whether to risk another trip and overlay his rapidly fading memories with new ones that could be better … but could also be significantly worse.


The story was going to be touching and sad and funny. It was going to be one that you were all going to live and share with all of your friends.


Alas, the story was never written because as he took his third trip through time, he watched his first and second lives from a distance, he discovered a plot hole.


Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)_3




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Black Crested Mangabey (Lophocebus aterrimus)_4


Don’t let your daily dip cause ‘dry hair’.


POMADE




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Allen's Swamp Monkey (Allenopithecus nigroviridis)_2


This is Allen’s swam monkey.


They are many like it … but this one is Allen’s.


He really should keep better track of things.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Tree Pangolin (Manis tricuspis)


The pangolin is one of the very few animals that I deeply love, yet have (almost) never seen. They are, basically, a walking security metaphor. They are predators, but not apex predators, so they must also engage in defense. They are covered in scales that protect them when they curl into a ball. The edges of the scales, though, are razor sharp and basically fight back against the attacker. They’re not the most impressive, but they are extremely well adapted to their environment.


Or, well, they were. Like security, their biggest enemy is people. There are eight species of pangolin, and they are endangered. They survived for over fifty million years. They’ve had to change their diet. They’ve had to evolve different types of scales. They’ve had to evolve to live in different climates and different habitats.


They did not, however, evolve to not be yummy.


This is the best view I’ve ever had of a living one. If I travel to Asia or Africa, I can probably get a better one. In but one human lifetime, even that will likely not be possible.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons)


This is the southern hairy-nosed wombat. At some point in history, the following conversation must have occurred:


“Crikey! I just found a new critter!”

“Looks like a wombat to me.”

“Well sure, but look how hairy it is!”

“Eh, I’ve seen hairier.”

“Yeah, but check out that hairy nose!”

“I saw a wombat with a hairy nose just the other day.”

“Oh yeah!? Where!?”

“I dunno. Up north somewhere, I think.”

.

.

.

“Fine.”




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

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