Sunday, March 18, 2012

Adventures in Entomology: Taiwanese Tenacity

I like to emphasize how science (and entomology in particular) is a field focused on curiosity and exploration. When I'm talking about entomology, I like to call it "the great equalizer." Why? Because it's so easy to make your own discoveries and find something notable. You don't even need an advanced degree--just an interest.

Case in point? A Taiwanese shopkeeper named Hsu Kun-chin who likes gardening. This article is from July 2011 (I'm a little late on getting this posted) and is a great story. Hsu Kun-chin discovered new information about the mating habits and molting process of the ogre-faced spiders in the genus Deinopis.

Ogre-faced spider: photo by Hsu Kun-chin

I suppose I can understand why they call it ogre-faced. It's not as cute as the jumping spiders, but it's still neat. 

I feel like Hsu Kun-chin and I would get along pretty well; we seem to share some common traits. For example, his family wasn't too keen on him keeping these spiders in his house. My roommates and parents can commiserate.

Hsu Kun-chin's story also highlights the importance of basic research. Studies about the habits of animals are necessary to inform questions that scientists can research with future experiments. If we're missing knowledge or have the wrong information about how an animal acts, that needs to be fixed. Fortunately, it's not a losing battle: as this story illustrates, this is research that anyone can do, no fancy laboratory required!

Such research may require dedication and a heck of a lot of tenacity as well. This quotation illustrates it best: 
“Though I often encountered boars and poisonous snakes on those trips, I never wavered from my goal." -Hsu Kun-chin

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