Over the rainbow

Costa Rican Rainbow Galliwasp (c) Andrew Gray

Costa Rican Rainbow Galliwasp (c) Andrew Gray

Check out this little chap – a Rainbow Galliwasp, one of Costa Rica’s most colourful lizards. This one’s a very small hatchling, but like an adult galliwasp he usually lives hidden amongst the leaf litter on the rainforest floor. These reptiles belong to a group of lizards called the ‘Anguids’, the same as our European Slow Worm, Anguis fragilis.

In the neotropics 2 species of this group belonging in the genus Diploglossus occur, including this Costa Rican species. The other species, D. millepunctatus, is restricted to Malpelo Island, located off the Pacific coast of Colombia, but what a beauty this is!

IMG_1249Apparently the adult lizards can grow up to 20cm long, and people in northwestern and eastern Panama know it by the names ‘scorpion coral’ and ‘madre de culubra’, This `mother of coral snakes’ is believed by them to be poisonous and so is somewhat feared. From its colourful scales I can kind of see why some might be wary.

Certainly if the bite from this youngster is anything to go by I am pretty sure an adult rainbow galliwasp would give a person walking barefoot through the rainforest a bite on the toe they wouldn’t be getting over it in hurry! lol

SLOW WORMS                       LEGLESS IN CORFU

As views reach 400,000, I would like to thank you so much for following frogblog and invite you to visit the archives (top left) to look back over the past 7 years!

Do you know the way to San Jose..

Carlos de la Rosa, Director takes it all in his stride (c) A Bamford

Carlos de la Rosa, Director, takes it all in his stride (c) A Bamford

Rain, rain, and more rain. It hasn’t stopped for days and now its taking its toll all around the Sarapiqui area. The Sarapiqui River has burst its banks, flooding immediate areas and creating chaos for the local people. Some people who work at La Selva have even had their houses completely washed away. The Director of La Selva has been really wonderful with it all, a top guy – so supportive of all his staff, and all who are staying at la Selva. It’s been the highest flood for many years and its been incredible how fast the water level of the river has been able to rise in such a short time. Roads are closed, many landslides in the surrounding areas, bridges affected too.

The floods have eased, but before the last road to San Jose was also closed or affected further by landslides we decided it was time to pack, unfortunately leave La Selva, and head back to the capital. Everyone in our group is completely safe and sound. The next time time someone tells me it rains a lot in Manchester… :)

.

Carlos de la Rosa         Raining sheep frogs           La Selva, OTS 

High and dry

Hog-nosed Pit Viper, Porthidium nasutum (c) Amanda Bamford

Hog-nosed Pit Viper, Porthidium nasuta (c) A Bamford

Pit vipers are a group of snakes that have evolved some amazing adaptations. They are highly camouflaged, lightning quick, and have heat sensing pits on their faces to detect the slightest change in temperature. Some species live on the ground and others are totally arboreal, having prehensile tails and living a life fully in the trees.

Here in Costa Rica their are several species of pit viper including ground and arboreal species. When on the Caribbean coast our group was lucky enough to come across 2 highly camouflaged specimens, one a Hog-nosed Pit Viper Porthidium nasuta, a small but highly venomous species, and the other was an Eyelash Viper. Although eyelash vipers can come in an array of different colours, this was well brownish-red.

IMG_4517

Eyelash Viper, Bothriechis schlegelii (c) A Gray

Yesterday, as the water levels started to rise at La Selva biological research station, where we are now, due to seriously heavy rainfall, other species of snake which usually reside hidden in the rainforest started to make themselves present. Whilst the snakes here at La Selva are on high alert, those on the Caribbean remain high and dry!

.

Pura Vida from Costa Rica!

Hola! Chris here,

I’m out with Andrew and the undergraduates in Costa Rica, hoping to take all the work I’ve been doing in Manchester and using it out here to both compare the Museum examples to wild frogs and study frogs that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Hyloscirtus palmeri (c) Andrew Gray

Hyloscirtus palmeri (c) Andrew Gray

Whilst out here I’ve had the privilege of working with Brian Kubicki at the Costa Rica Amphibian Research Centre. As such, I have managed to get access to some fascinating frogs. One particular specimen Andrew spotted whilst we were out in the forest with the undergraduates belonged to the rarely found species Hyloscirtus palmeri.

This is an amazing species, originally thought to be a giant glass frog due to its large size and translucent skin. However, it is not a glass frog but the only species in Costa Rica to belong to an unusual South American group of frogs. This species differs from all the other species of Neotropical tree frogs that we have come across in that although it lives in the rainforest it must live close to rivers as it actually lays its eggs under water on submerged large stones or boulders. Finding this rarely discovered frog at the CRARC was a highlight of an already superb trip.

New discovery! - Hyloscirtus palmeri matches the leaves it sits on in the visible and Infrared.

New discovery! – Hyloscirtus palmeri matches the leaves it sits on in the visible and the Infrared. (c) Chris Blount

It was particularly exciting for me to collect data from this frog as early analysis of my results indicate that this species is able to reflect near-infrared light from its skin, a phenomenon I am investigating and a trait never before seen in this genus. The frog however, didn’t care about my research, and seemed to be far more interested in catching a ride on Andrew’s hat!

COLOUR CHANGING FROGS

 

Student experience

IMG_1048Here on the University field course we aim to provide all our students with the best possible experience. Professor Amanda Bamford and all our team have been working tirelessly to ensure this. As we have moved on from Turrialba and our nightly visits to the Costa Rican amphibian research centre, the special time spent in the rainforest, a first for many of our students, is really hitting home.  For Brian Kubicki and myself, the opportunity to share our passion in creatures of the forest at night and to be able to witness the student’s initial reactions to what they are shown is pure pleasure. No matter how many times we have personally experienced the rainforest at night, it never stops being very special.

Naturally we want to share it, and, in doing so, we hope all we do so with will find it just as special as we do and want to share it too, spreading the word, influencing the future, helping us all protect that which needs conserving.

.

LIFE SCIENCES: WHY WE LOVE IT

And so we begin

IMG_0943Fantastic to be back in Costa Rica, and at the moment we are just settling into our accommodation, assessing the local area, and had our first day in the field as part of the course. We have a great bunch of students this year and they seem thrilled to be out here experiencing everything we come across. Based back at the Turrilatico in the highlands, yesterday they spend the day working on their field books and last night I took the first group down to the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Centre to meet and go out into the rainforest at night with Brian Kubicki.

IMG_1032It was a wonderful first night and introduction to the rainforest for the group and I hope some the images I was able take share the excitement and experience some of our students had during their first day of the field course. We head out again tonight with the second group and I will be adding more images tomorrow in the hope of sharing more of what they see!

.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Life Sciences          C.R.A.R.C      Turrialtico      Treats of Turrialba

Bee line for Bee orchids

(c) Andrew Gray

Bee Orchid, Corfu, (c) Andrew Gray

A couple of posts ago Tom highlighted some of the wonderful orchids he came across whilst in Majorca, and hearing of such amazing plants prompted Tara and I to go looking for some while we were in Corfu over the past couple of weeks. Its a place we make a bee-line for at this time of year and it didn’t disappoint – the weather was glorious and the hillsides covered a huge variety of flowering wild plants, it was a treat and a half to be there surrounded by such blossoming nature. The heat of the mediterranean sun, together with witnessing a wide variety of reptiles, a colourful array of butterflies, and with highly scented blooms filling our nostrils, it felt like we were in paradise.

Bee Orchid, Corfu (c) Andrew Gray

Bee Orchid, Corfu (c) Andrew Gray

After searching several areas we were lucky enough to finally find a small mountain valley that was literally thick with Orchids – many different species thriving together, including 3 bee orchids of the genus Ophrys, some growing literally within a metre of each other. As Tom mentioned, these orchids have evolved to deceive male bees into pollinating them by imitating the look of a female bee’s thorax  – and by releasing a smell identical to the female insect’s attractant pheromone. Very clever indeed! It was amazing to come across such beautiful orchids and a pleasure to spend time again on the greenest island in Greece.

Bee Orchid, Corfu (c) Andrew Gray

Bee Orchid, Corfu (c) Andrew Gray

.

Corfu remains one of my very favourite places to visit, and at this time of year the intensity of its nature never fails to fill me with pleasure. Next week I head to Costa Rica, another of my favourite places in the world. I look forward to sharing my time there with you over the next few weeks..

Orchids of Majorca          Snakes of Corfu

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 204 other followers