Today is my birthday. It is also Linda Trueb’s birthday. I don’t know if she knows that we are birthday buddies.
I'm currently enjoying a breakfast sandwich and a tall Americano at the Starbucks near our hotel in Manila. Luke has just called Rafe from the town of Solano (about seven hours north of Manila). The boys were supposed to head up to the first site and establish camp at Mt. Palai, but only seven of the 30 porters that they hired yesterday have shown up.
A major Midwest snowstorm during the Christmas holiday delayed the 36-hour journey for our intrepid herpetology team, but we eventually made our way from snowy Lawrence to the Kansas City airport. The very long plane trip to Manila included a layover in Minneapolis and a layover in Japan. -Rafe
The KU herpetology collection has 330,000 specimens, including nearly 600 primary type specimens (holotypes), approximately 15,000 secondary types (paratypes), and extensive holdings of osteological specimens, cleared-and-stained specimens, and tissue samples for genetic analysis. Herpetology provides loan transactions and tissue loans (involving 15,000 specimens in 2009). Collection inventory information for researchers is available online through HerpNet or Specify.
Photographs and information from postdoctoral associate David Blackburn and graduate student David McLeod were published in this Los Angeles Times article just in time for Halloween. (McLeod’s photo is incorrectly attributed to Lee Grismer.)
We were in Hinoba-an, a municipality in the southwestern half of Negros Island. The mission was to try to collect the first genetic samples in the world of a burrowing species of lizard first described from the western half of Negros. To survey the habitat in the municipality during our visit, we hired a local tricycle driver to take us around during the day. Tricycles or pedicabs are dirt bikes that have had small carriages attached to their bodies.
One of the first sites I had on my schedule while in the Philippines was an island called Marinduque. It is actually just south of mainland Luzon Island (not that this description is helping for the 99% of you that don’t study in the Philippines). All you have to realize is that it is one of the closer islands to Manila. So as you guessed, it only took about 12 hours to reach our destination. Unlike our Aurora bus trip though, the Marinduque voyage was broken up nicely into four, three-hour segments—Bus, Boat, Bus, Jeepney...and water buffalo.
It is not clear to me what point in time I became incapable of comfortably traveling long distances by bus, boat, and small, motorized jeeps. However, last week I was quickly reminded of just how old my overweight body feels at the ripe age of 28 (I really need to lay off the queso). I traveled with my friend and collaborator Dr. Arvin Diesmos to Aurora Province on Luzon Island. We are setting up our next site for the large KU biodiversity expedition planned for May and June of this year.
There is leaving for an expedition, and then there is leaving for a nine-month expedition. Where to begin packing is a question I am always asking myself. The airlines have not made it any easier. While we used to be able to check-in two enormous 70-pound bags, we are now only allowed two 50-pound bags. This means I will be leaving my car at home this year. I would say that I get a little too meticulous about packing. Everything has to be placed out on the floor organized by size, and then by color.