Art from the Lights of Canopus,1847.

The Anvār-i Suhaylī or Lights of Canopus — commonly known as the Fables of Bidpai in the West — is a Persian version of an ancient Indian collection of animal fables called the Panchatantra.
The tales follow the Persian physician Burzuyah on a mission to India, where he finds a book of stories collected from the animals who live there. Much like in the Arabian Nights (which actually uses several of the Panchatantra stories), the fables are inter-woven as the characters of one story recount the next, with up to three or four degrees of narrative embedding.

Many of the fables offer insightful glimpses into human behaviour, and emphasise the power of teamwork and loyalty: one passage describes how a hunter catches a group of pigeons in a net, only for them to be saved by a mouse who gnaws through the rope.
The version celebrated in this post hails from nineteenth-century Iran and is particularly notable for its exquisite illustrations — scenes of tortoise-riding monkeys, bird battles, conversing mice, delicate purple mountains — 123 in total.

The artist behind the images is not mentioned, but the creator of the equally elegant nasta’liq style writing which they serve, is named by The Walters Art Museum (who hold the manuscript) as one Mīrzā Raḥīm.
Source: Illustrations from the Lights of Canopus (1847) | The Public Domain Review

An Ocean Creature that Makes itself Invisible.

by Mark Strauss,
Cystisoma have mostly transparent bodies that reduce their visibility to predators.
But they also rely on an anti reflective coating to make them even more difficult to see.
Photograph by DAVID LIITTSCHWAGER, National Geographic
Life under the sea can be nasty, brutish, and short if you don’t have an effective form of camouflage.
The cuttlefish’s skin, for instance, holds some ten million color cells, allowing it to impersonate a chunk of a coral, a clump of algae, or a patch of sand.
But for animals in the open ocean, there’s no place to hide.
For them, the best camouflage color is no color at all—transparent bodies allow them to partially blend into their watery surroundings.
And now, a scientist has discovered that some of these animals possess yet another magician’s trick: anti reflective coatings that render them nearly invisible.
“They are really hard to see when they’re in the water,” says Laura Bagge, a marine biologist and doctoral student at Duke University.
“The only thing that gives them away is their eyes. The retina has to be pigmented. That’s the way it collects light.”
Source: This Ocean Creature Makes Its Own Invisibility Cloak

Bats by Ernest Haeckel c.1904.

30525603876_2f3ab52093_hPlate 67 from Ernst Haeckel’s visually dazzling Kunstformen der Natur, (Art Forms of Nature), published in 1904.
With the assistance of Jena artist-lithographer Adolf Giltsch, Haeckel produced one hundred plates depicting the forms of animal life.
With this book Haeckel wanted to create an “aesthetics of nature” and to show how the incessant struggle for existence he had learnt from Darwin was in fact producing an endless beauty and variety of forms – Darwin and Humboldt combined together.
Focusing mainly on marine animals, the bat is one of the only mammals featured in the book, but the page of surprisingly cute “chiroptera” is certainly one of the book’s most striking offerings.
The full line up is:
1-2: Brown Long-eared Bat  3: Lesser Long-eared Bat  4: Lesser False Vampire Bat  5: Big-eared Woolly Bat  6-7: Tomes’s Sword-nosed Bat  8: Mexican Funnel-eared Bat  9: Antillean Ghost-faced Bat  10: Flower-faced Bat  11: Greater Spear-nosed Bat  12: Thumbless Bat  13: Greater Horseshoe Bat  14: Wrinkle-faced Bat  15: Spectral Bat
Read more about Kunstformen der Natur and how it relates to Haeckel’s philosophy of “monoism” in our essay “Ernst Haeckel and the Unity of Culture” by Dr Mario A. Di Gregorio; and read more about Haeckel’s role in one of science’s great controversies in our essay “Copying Pictures, Evidencing Evolution” by Nick Hopwood.
Source: Ernst Haeckel’s Bats (1904) | The Public Domain Review

‘Yoda’ Fruit Bat found in New Guinea Rainforest.


A tube-nosed fruit bat with an appearance reminiscent of the Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda has been discovered in a remote rainforest.
The bat, along with an orange spider and a yellow-spotted frog are among a host of new species found in a region of Papua New Guinea.
More than 200 animals and plants were revealed for the first time after two months of surveying in the rugged and little-explored Nakanai and Muller mountain ranges last year.
Looks familiar: The creature bears more than a passing resemblance to the Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda
The findings included two mammals, 24 species of frog, nine plants, nearly 100 new insects including damselflies, crickets and ants, and around 100 spiders.
They were uncovered by two scientific teams co-ordinated by Conservation International’s rapid assessment programme, in partnership with Papua New Guinea’s Institute for Biological Research and conservation organisation A Rocha International.
The teams explored different altitudes of the forest-cloaked Nakanai mountains, which host cave systems and some of the world’s largest underground rivers, and the Muller range, accessing the remote areas by plane, dinghy, on foot and even by helicopter.
via Bat resembling Star Wars Yoda discovered in Papua New Guinea rainforest | Mail Online.

Bears/Bird/Black Cat.

Brown bears in Alaska, lions in the Serengeti and pond turtles in the Philippines in this week’s pick of images from the natural world.
This female bear seemed more interested in having her breakfast when she was approached by a male suitor in Lake Clark, Alaska. 
Photograph: Greg Morgan/Barcroft Media
A reed parrotbill on Ganyu Wetlands in Lianyungang City, east China’s Jiangsu Province
Photograph: Si Wei/Corbis
A black leopard photographed after triggering by a remote camera in the forests of Peninsula, Malaysia
Photograph: Rimba Group/AFP/Getty Images
See more via The week in wildlife – in pictures | Environment | The Guardian.