Odious and Peculiar

Philology and esoterica: scribblings, ravings and mutterings.



O&P's Current Pick:

Forging the Sampo

Odious' Links:

The Little Bookroom
The Pumpkin King
Larissa Archer
Inverted Iambs
Hitherby
Eve Tushnet
Natalie Solent
Pamela Dean
Kambodia Hotel
Pen and Paper

Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary
Deep-Sea News
NASA's Mars Website
Classics Online
Perseus Digital Library
Catholic Encyclopedia
Eurekalert!

Nine Scorpions
Siris
The Blithe Kitchen
Letter from Hardscrabble Creek
Arts & Letters Daily
Wuxiapedia
About Last Night

Peculiarities:

Photoblogging

Inspirations
Querencia
Chas Clifton's Nature Blog
Cronaca
Rock Art Photo Blog
Girl on a Whaleship
Nature Lyrics Languagehat
Jabal al-Lughat
Laputan Logic
Strange Maps
Vladimir Dinets: Polymath Russian Adventurer
Virtual Tour of Almaty, Kazakhstan
Aerial Landscape Photography
USGS Earth As Art
Panoramic Aerial Maps of the American West

References
SummitPost
The Internet Bird Collection
Bird Families of the World
Ancient Scripts
The Aberdeen Bestiary Project
The Cephalopod Page
The Ultimate Ungulate
The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire
USGS Streamflow Data

Worthy Miscellany
Finno-Ugrian Music
Boojum Expeditions
American River Touring Association

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Saturday, December 15, 2007
 
Provided with the happy excuse of books to review, biologist Tim Flannery rhapsodizes about the wonders of the deep. Excellent passage:
To understand the full extent of the constraints that the abyss places on life, consider the black seadevil. It's a somber, grapefruit-sized globe of a fish—seemingly all fangs and gape—with a "fishing rod" affixed between its eyes whose luminescent bait jerks above the trap-like mouth. Clearly, food is a priority for this creature, for it can swallow a victim nearly as large as itself. But that is only half the story, for this description pertains solely to the female: the male is a minnow-like being content to feed on specks in the sea—until, that is, he encounters his sexual partner.

The first time that a male black seadevil meets his much larger mate, he bites her and never lets go. Over time, his veins and arteries grow together with hers, until he becomes a fetus-like dependent who receives from his mate's blood all the food, oxygen, and hormones he requires to exist. The cost of this utter dependence is a loss of function in all of his organs except his testicles, but even these, it seems, are stimulated to action solely at the pleasure of the engulfing female. When she has had her way with him, the male seadevil simply vanishes, having been completely absorbed and dissipated into the flesh of his paramour, leaving her free to seek another mate. Not even Dante imagined such a fate.

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