Terrible hairy fly and other beasts

The Guardian‘s “This week in wildlife” site has put up a new photo of the world’s rarest fly, the terrible hairy fly from Kenya.  Here the wingless beast looks a bit like a spider mimic (predators might not be able to count legs), or maybe the legs are elongated simply to help it maneuver about in its rock-cleft, bat-guano environment.

Mormotomyia hirsuta (photo from Nairobi’s International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE).

And what creature do you think this is? (Answer: check the Guardian site.)

Finally, this is sweet (and should be on Pharyngula). The Guardian caption: “An octopus is released by a group of Buddhists into Victoria harbour in Hong Kong on 4 December 2010. The group gather regularly to release fish left unsold from Hong Kong’s thriving local markets back into the harbour, while offering prayers of long life and freedom from future captors.”


  1. Insightful Ape
    Posted December 10, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    By-catch is an important environmental problem and it is laudable that the Buddhists are doing this. May Buddha bless the by-catch.
    But “fish”? If I were the cephalopod I would be seriously offended.

  2. Sven DiMilo
    Posted December 10, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Buddhists release live, nonnative freshwater turtles off of NYC bridges all the time–into seawater.
    Probably all die.

    • Ysor
      Posted December 10, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      This would be one of the instances when I wish science literacy is higher among the general populace…

    • Richard Benton
      Posted December 10, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      care to document that statement with some facts.most buddhists are highly educated.sounds like you made this up.another bigoted atheist.I am a buddhist atheist.I do not believe it is necessary to br an asshole to point out delusion.

      • MadScientist
        Posted December 11, 2010 at 12:55 am | Permalink

        “most buddhists are highly educated”

        Ah, now there’s a “fact” that I would like to see documented. I certainly don’t get that impression throughout regions of India and the rural populations of China.

      • Ysor
        Posted December 11, 2010 at 3:44 am | Permalink


        So, merely implying that higher science literacy would ensure such gesture of compassion towards other living beings would not have ended in vain, or even backfire, is an example of bigotry!? Wow! Sounds like you need to increase your offense threshold to me.

        I myself was a buddhist, before I became an atheist about a year ago. I still hold dear Buddhist teaching of compassion, though for different reasons. Many years ago, my own father, a staunch Buddhist, used to buy captured tortoises and set them free in a local river. A well-meaning action, but it could have wreaked havoc in the river ecosystem if the tortoises didn’t belong there. Wouldn’t you agree that if my father had even basic knowledge of ecology, he would be able to save, rather than endanger, more animals?

        Furthermore, your claim that “most buddhists are highly educated” is dubitable. Even if it is true, “highly educated” and “science-literate” are two different things.

      • Cam Larios
        Posted December 11, 2010 at 4:24 am | Permalink

        As far as documentation goes, you might be interested in this NYTimes article from 1997, “Good for karma, bad for fish”, which describes releases of animals by Buddhists in New York.

      • daveau
        Posted December 11, 2010 at 6:52 am | Permalink

        Awfully bellicose for a buddhist…

      • Sven DiMilo
        Posted December 11, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        Here you go, jackass:

  3. Hempenstein
    Posted December 10, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    The Guardian photo of the orangutans is hard to look at – the one in the foreground seems clearly to have given up all hope. I feel guilty focusing on his hands and feet, marvelling at how they are nearly identical.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 11, 2010 at 12:39 am | Permalink


      So, too, the drying shark fins.

      Cool fly, though!

  4. MadScientist
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    That’ll teach PZ not to steal the kitteh posts.

    • daveau
      Posted December 11, 2010 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      No, it will probably start a new battle.

      • Sili
        Posted December 11, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink


  5. Brian
    Posted December 11, 2010 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    Why is the fly called terrible? I mean, it’s not scary. Non terribilis est.

    • Bill
      Posted December 11, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Just because it is terrible at being a ‘fly’ – what with the lack of wings and all

  6. TrineBM
    Posted December 12, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    One really, really wants to think that that second picture is a soft, warm pony-muzzle with a little frost adorned in picturesque little soft hairs … But what if it is a GIGANTIC fly with white hairs and non-facetted eyes (shudder)
    I think it’s a pony. Must go look in link.

  7. E.N.
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Good for you Sven 🙂 For posting and substantiating your information about the release of freshwater turtles by Budhists into a deadly seawater.

    A lot of groups falsely claim bigotry when someone rightly points out that a member of their group is doing something wrong.

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