Back to the Jungle: Thank you Lary Reeves and Phil Torres

It’s been quite a week at Real Scientists as Phil Torres teamed up with Lary Reeves in the Peruvian Amazon and brought us a week chock-full of the most awesome animal spottings and a feel for what field work in one of the planet’s most important tropical rain forests is like.

We were treated, after some slightly terrifying photos of clawless-scorpions-on-faces, real macaws in the wild:

Macaws in the wild, copyright Phil Torres

Macaws in the wild, copyright Phil Torres

The parade of  insects began with a greeting from our insect overlord:

 

Our Probosciid Grasshopper Overlord, © Lary Reeves

Our Probosciid Grasshopper Overlord, © Lary Reeves

The..um..Thing:

Thing © Phillip Torres

Thing © Phillip Torres

And many, many glorious monkey shots:

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We got an awesome insight into field work as the crew climbed up trees, into mud pits and wandered the jungle in daylight and night time to search for new species, new samples and new animal behaviours – while ill, in Lary’s case.

Brothers in Arms: This is Phil carrying Lary because Lary cannot get his legs wet © Phil Torres

Brothers in Arms: This is Phil carrying Lary because Lary cannot get his legs wet © Phil Torres

So thank you, Lary and Phil for such an entertaining week – straight from the jungle:

Besties: Lary and Phil

Besties: Lary and Phil

There were also many other critters, including many spiders and frogs and more monkeys. So thank you, Lary and Phil for another spectacular week live front he jungle. Be sure to checkout the Storifys if you missed out on any of the tweets: Storify Part 1  Part 2 . 

And then, of course, there was this: coming tantalisingly close to discovering what critter makes these:

© Phillip Torres

© Phillip Torres

 

Unfortunately due to circumstances out of our control, Phil and Lary weren’t able to make their big announcement about the strange structures first reported by Wired during their time on RS.  However,  keep following Real Scientists and we’ll be sure to update you when the story breaks officially!

You can  follow the continuing adventures of Lary on twitter at @BioDiversiLary and Phil at @phil_torres.  You can also find out more about the Tambopata project and work at Peru Nature  because we, too:

© Phillip Torres

© Phillip Torres

 

 

Welcome (back) to the jungle: Phil Torres and Lary Reeves tweet for us from the Peruvian Amazon

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Earlier in the year we had conservation biologist, entomologist and all-round good guy Phil Torres tweeting for us from his adventures in the jungles of Peru, which was implausibly brilliant. Those of you who were with us in March will remember Phil; here’s a link to the bio post we put together at the time, Upulie‘s forlorn farewell post, and the superb Storify archive of Phil’s week on the account, assembled by Sarah. For those who’ve joined us since then, and missed out: you’re in luck. Phil’s back. And this time he brought company. Joining Phil in exploring the Amazonian wilderness – and in curating RealScientists this coming week – is University of Florida graduate student Lary Reeves, aka @BioDiversiLary.

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Lary’s interests are in conservation biology and biodiversity, which he’s studied in systems as (bio)diverse as flying foxes, butterflies and tortoises, from Florida to New York to the Phillippines. Like Phil – and colleague/mentor/fellow former curator Dr Andy Warren – Lary’s research passion is finding and identifying rare and novel insect species. Occasionally, with his face.

lary

While this will be Lary’s first stint on RealScientists, it’s not his first stint in the Amazon. He comes prepared…

…so there’s not much else to say but prepare yourselves for another amazing week of live-tweeted fieldwork on RealScientists!

Farewell, Pocket Attenborough Phil Torres

Jaguars, beetles, pumas, butterflies, beetlejuice drinking wasps, monkey-riddled cacao…this is a shortlist of  some of the things our very own tweeting-Gerald Durrell, Phil Torres, has shared with us on his adventures in the Peruvian Amazon this past week. If he’s not teaching us about iridescent beetles and their equally sparkly mites (mites are like the lice of bugs. I know, eww), he’s successfully making dedicated arachnophobes watch videos of spiders that create clever booby traps and silken nets to capture their prey.  Phil’s taught us what essentials you need to go exploring in the tropics – apart from a detached attitude towards dry socks and giant tarantulas – to  enthusiasm and patience,  that truly, only tough guys can chase butterflies through six inches of Amazonian mud.

Copyright Phil Torres, All rights reserved, 2013

Copyright Phil Torres, All rights reserved, 2013

Phil has been hugely popular with our Real Scientists audience this week, fulfilling requests for pictures of various fauna, helping us recognise tapir butts and turtle footprints, sending us tragic photos of how he had to entertain wild macaw chicks. He’s been accessible and a joy to watch.  There are still requests pending – no otters have been spotted yet and there’s some deficit in the monkey department. No Morpholino butterflies have been spotted in their full iridescent powder blue glory.  If you ask very nicely, he will keep us updated on his decoy-building spider and if you ask even more nicely? Perhaps we will hear from him again at Real Scientists. In the mean time, please be sure to follow his continuing adventures on his personal twitter account @phil_torres, Peruvian adventures at Peru Nature and his own blog The Rev Science. Thanks, Phil, it’s been an amazing week, and all good wishes for your future PhD studies.

If you missed anything from Phil’s week of curation, please check out Storify: http://storify.com/RealScientists/real-scientists-phil-torres.

Next up, we are delighted to welcome Dr Michele Bannister/@astrokiwi, who’s curiosity and love of science and the stars has led her to a life in astronomy, poetry and adventure.  Stay tuned for more!

Phil Of The Jungle

We are thrilled to welcome to RealScientists conservation biologist and science educator Phil Torres, who will be curating the account this week (March 10-17) from the field. And when we say ‘the field’, we don’t mean ‘the coffee shop across the street from the lab’. Phil’s field is the jungles of Latin America, having been based deep in the Amazon in both Ecuador and Peru for the last year and a half. His research focuses on how butterfly populations are affected by abiotic factors, like salt, and by biotic factors, like mammal-hunting humans and defaunation.
 
Phil was first introduced to the art/science of studying butterflies by Dr. Andy Warren at the age of seven. Andy was (and still is) traveling around the world to exotic locations researching and discovering new species of butterflies. Phil thought that sounded like a pretty awesome life, and decided at a young age he would do the same, and focus on rainforest conservation in Latin America. And, following careers as a model, a TV presenter and journalist, and in public science education in Los Angeles, he’s done exactly that. His work has ranged from investigating reforestation in the jungles of Puerto Rico to demonstrating nature’s cool evolutionary defences by getting lethal African Spitting Cobra venom shot into his eye, which maybe wasn’t that clever, but probably cheaper than Botox off-the-shelf in LA. He has also been fortunate enough to participate in scientific expeditions in Venezuela (where he was held at gunpoint) and Mongolia (where he got lost in a forest full of quicksand) and has assisted in discovering over 40 new species.

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His own finds include a new species of spider that creates a spider decoy in its web, and this fuzzy caterpillar. The decoy spider, which he discovered in 2012, is the only animal known to construct another animal from scratch, and was featured in Wired, BBC, National Geographic, ABC News and CNN, amongst others. So far he has resisted the temptation to name it something daft, indicating he’s more grown up than most Drosophila geneticists.
Having survived the scariest, hairiest, this-makes-Bear-Grylls-look-like-Liberace* moments the world’s nastier jungles could throw at him, his next high-risk adventure will be taking on an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology PhD at Rice University in Houston. Finally, a Dr. Phil who we actually WANT to see on television. Phil’s twitter handle the other 51 weeks of the year is @phil_torres. He blogs at TheRevScience.com and from his Peruvian base at the Tambopata Research Center at blog.perunature.com. And remember kids, as Phil always says: “Only tough guys catch butterflies.”
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I did mention he’s an ex-model, yeah? And has three times as many Twitter followers as me. Not that I’m bitter. BRB, making voodoo doll.
*Thought experiment: would Bear then be obliged to lobby for his own banning from the scouting movement? Answers on a postcard