26 August 2009

"The Smaller Majority"

Several weeks ago I blogged a startling photograph of the Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko. Curious about the photographer and his work, I requested the book from our library. The Smaller Majority is a 300-page "coffee table" photo book detailing Piotr Naskrecki's life work of capturing images of the small creatures of savannas, deserts, and tropical forests. Unlike many similar books, this one has not only gorgeous images but also intelligent and interesting text.

Examples of "TYWK"-type information include these two tidbits -
1) Butterflies that "puddle" at muddy spots or collections of animal dung are seeking sodium, which is rarely found in plants (potassium is the principal cation in vegetation). "In extreme cases a moth may imbibe an amount of fluid 600 times its own weight in a single puddling session, expelling the excess water as it drinks and retaining only the precious [sodium]."
2) Ant lions (larvae of owl flies) catch and consume insects, but they "are missing two elements of the body that seem to be absolutely critical for any predator: the mouth and the anus."

The lower photo above is a pupa of an "unidentified Yponomentidae." The mesh-like cocoon that enfolds it is just awesome. There are lots of other pix like this in the book - mostly frogs, cockroaches, ants, spiders, mantids, katydids - things like that. You can see a small sample at his Flickr photostream.


  1. i bought this book a year or so ago and it does sit on my coffee table. When people pick it up, they are, for the most part, unimpressed. Other (generally more interesting people) can't put it down and usually stay much too late. I fell into the latter category until I bought my own copy.

  2. Fascinating! We used to dig up antlions as a kid, and hold them in the palm of our hand and feel them tickle it. (I just spotted a few antlion dens under my swing in the yard the other day.) I had no idea that they were fly larvae, let alone the other lovely little tidbit of info you threw in!


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