RIP Andreas Kay

October 9, 2019 • 11:30 am

Andreas Kay, known to me as the naturalist and photographer who redisovered Atelopus coynei, has died, and died too soon (I believe he was just 56, and had contracted brain cancer). I was informed of his death by two people, and I’ve asked Lou Jost, who knew him, to write a brief memoriam. I’ve put it below.

by Lou Jost

Andreas Kay, well-known macro photographer residing in Ecuador, has just died after having a golf-ball-sized tumor removed from his brain in Quito a few weeks ago. He was in great pain.

He re-discovered and photographed the toad Atelopus coynei, once thought to be extinct. 

Andreas had discovered many new species of plants, and several are named after him, including the orchids Lepanthopsis kayii and Lepanthes kayii. He helped the EcoMinga Foundation set up its Dracula Reserve. He is best known for his magnificent collection of 29,048 macro insect and plant photos from Andean Ecuador, published on his “Ecuador Megadiverso” Flickr site.

This vast collection of breathtaking photos surely contains many more species new to science.

Andreas lived a simple life devoted to nature photography. His brain tumor was not discovered until it was very large, and his health declined rapidly after that. Knowing he would die soon, he gave me his hard drives, and I will send some of his photos to Jerry periodically.

Here are some photos sent by Lou, the first of Andreas and the other of his photographs. I’ve included Atelopus coynei: one of the photos he took at the rediscovery.  And I will put up Andreas’s photos as I get them from Lou. If you go to his Flickr site linked above, you’ll see how wonderful they are.

Andreas Kay

This orchid is one of his discoveries, Lepanthes kayii, photo by Kay.

Atelopus coynei, from an email Andreas sent me in February of 2012:

I found this post on Andreas’s Facebook page, and it makes me tear up, even though I didn’t really know him. “I had a wonderful life but much more to learn.”  You can’t do better than that, for although he’s gone, he still has much more to teach us.

RIP, Andreas.

I’ve learned that you can make a donation to Andreas’s family (and perhaps his work) at this link.


15 thoughts on “RIP Andreas Kay

  1. Beautiful work – so painful to learn about this. Condolences and best wishes to his family, I am so sorry.

  2. Sad news. And wonderful photos. Why do so many of the best have to go so early?
    Glioblastoma is a bitch, I lost one of my best friends in SA to it about ten years ago, he was only 42.

  3. Just an extraordinary body of work in photographs and videos. It should be required viewing for all evolution skeptics. It is a great loss to no longer have Andreas Kay among us.

  4. I have been following the news about his situation, and am very sad to learn of the outcome. I would regularly visit his Flickr page to both marvel at the biodiversity that he shared, and the unparalleled quality in his presentation of it.

  5. Very beautiful work. I would have preferred “he gave me his cloud account password” over “he gave me his hard drives”. Please get those suckers backed up asap!

  6. I am sad to hear that Andreas Kay has died, and would like to offer my condolences and best wishes for his friends, family and colleagues. Andreas captured a stunning photograph of the snake-mimic caterpillar that was first described by Walter Bates in 1861, leading to the important evolutionary principle of Batesian Mimicry. Andreas was kind enough to give me permission to use that photograph on the cover of my forthcoming book, “Rethinking Evolution: The Revolution That’s Hiding in Plain Sight”. You can see it at .
    RIP Andreas Kay, your work lives in the hearts and minds of your many followers.

    Kind regards,
    Gene Levinson, PhD, MRSB

  7. Andreas Kay 1963-2019
    He truly enriched my life with daily doses of amazing
    images on FB. I’ve learned that he was a well known
    Entomologist, photographer and researcher.
    He will be missed… His work will be studied and
    admired by future generations…

  8. Today I was thinking about Andreas and his amazing photography. I never expected my life to be impacted in such a way. His photos drive me to want to learn more.

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