Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Museum work and another post

I've just returned to Fayetteville after a week spent in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Museum of Natural Sciences Research Lab. I was there working with Rowland Shelley, one of the world experts on millipedes. I made a similar trip last fall--a whirlwind of looking at as many millipede specimens as I could to get acquainted with the North American diversity. This trip was more focused, but still as intense as last fall.

Despite sitting in front of a microscope for what was easily over 30 hours, I enjoyed it. There's something to be said for being immersed in your passion for long periods of time, even if it gets exhausting. I'm still trying to figure out how I felt so tired for as little as I moved for the past week. Even so, I was still marveling at all the different forms millipedes can take, especially their gonopods (modified legs used for sperm transfer):

A gonopod from a male Ethojulus millipede

Gonopods of a Nannaria millipede

I looked at some spectacular gonopods last week and kept marveling at how intricate some of them were. The Ethojulus gonopod (above) reminds me of blown glass.

On a final note, I still have a few more posts to write from my Ohio summer collecting. The business of research and traveling has kept me from editing the photos I took and writing up an account, which I should have expected. However, I was asked a few weeks ago to write a guest blog for The Conversation! I wrote about the importance of my Ohio collecting and what I hope to accomplish with it, and you can read that at this link.

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