TGIPF: Alligator Awesome Redux

Today really feels like Thank God It’s Penis Friday, doesn’t it? This post originally appeared in February 2013. The alligator harvest at Louisiana’s Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge happened every September, so in the fall of 2007, Diane Kelly packed her bags. She wasn’t hunting, but she still had to put her scalpels and knife blades and […]

Where is here; here is where

Isaiah grins at me across the dining room table and more than 1,000 miles. In my nephew’s small, pale hand is an outsized Crayola marker, to match the pencil in my more gnarled fingers. We both lean over rectangles of paper—his in Colorado, mine in Oregon, now occupying the same virtual space, thanks to a […]

Concert Bug

Sunday afternoon I sang a concert of madrigals and other choral music of the last few centuries. It was in the pleasant modern chapel at a retirement home. Between sets, the music director introduced the next group of songs. A set of Elizabethan madrigals, with plenty of fa-la-las. (They don’t mean anything, but they’re joyful.) Some […]

Beetles, Time Travelers

In the summer of 2011, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History was in the process of doing some bug relocation. Specifically, they were moving some of their beetles from the museum building downtown out to a storage facility in the suburbs—specifically, the non-plant-eating scarabs. It was a lot of scarabs. The museum has a […]

Saccorhytus coronarius Is Your Weird Cousin, Too

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Mouth. Anus. Reproductive bit in between. Isn’t that all one really needs to get by? I’m oversimplifying, of course. Lungs are helpful if you live on land, for example. But check out our newly discovered really ancient fossilized ancestor. Saccorhytus coronarious, unearthed recently by paleontologists in sedimentary rock in […]

Redux: So Hard Core

When I first met Brian Fisher, I was still a young science writer cutting my teeth in the Bay Area. I desperately wanted to write a feature about him but could never sell the story. So, finally, I wrote about him here on LWON and again in a sequel, here. Sigh. I could have done […]

The trouble with abundance

There are several things you’re likely to notice if you fly over Southeast Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago on a clear day. If you’re an alpine junky like me, the first will be the snowcapped mountains that stretch seemingly without end from near the coast to the eastern horizon somewhere in Canada, their white-and-gray-tongued glaciers pouring all […]

Stop Underestimating Chickens

One of my favorite things about my usual writing beat (living things) is that we humans never stop learning new things about animals. We’re even still discovering species that are new to science. (Check out the glorious ruby sea dragon, previously known only from beach corpses, and Hoolock tianxing, a gibbon just determined to be its own […]