Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Great Expectations - Interplanetary Rock Flipping Day, 2012

Is there a space rock in our future? Why not? We've flipped rocks everywhere else, haven't we?

This weekend, dozens of intrepid rock flippers have ventured out into the world to discover the wild critters, known and unknown, that inhabit the secret places. So alien to us they are, and yet so like us in many ways; our cousins, actually.

Here's a partial list of who we are and what we found. (Some reports are still to come in; I've heard that I should expect moose. We've got camels and leopards already.)

In no particular order:
'There are older and fouler things than orcs in the deep places of the world.'
  • Margy, at Powell River Books Blog, for the second year running found no crawling or creeping critters. Not for lack of effort; what's going on with the shoreline at Bellingham Bay? At least she got some eelgrass this time.
  • Patrick, a student of lunar petrology (Told you we'd gone interplanetary!), blogs at poikiloblastic.    I never knew a rock had defense mechanisms before! And he has a photo of a cute (really!) slug.
  • Hugh, at Rock, Paper, Lizard, gifts us with another Interpreter wildlife expert story. "A rubber boa?" I'd never heard of these before. Yes, they do exist. Did they find one? Read the story.
  • Clytie, at Random Hearts remembered. Didn't find critters, but there was a pretty heart, so all is well.
Some kind of twirly insect casing ...
  • Olivia, at Beasts in a Populous City, learns a modicum of humility.
  • Benet, at Walking with Henslow, flipped rocks in Starkweather Creek. Sow bugs with lime green spots!
  • Pablo at Roundrock Journal, reports on another of his biodegrading experiments, and finds a cricket and a companion rock flipper; an armadillo.
Some kind of stripy insect casing ...

  • Bill, at Fertanish Chatter, checks in with some pretty millipedes, a "nifty" spider, and is this a toad bug? A sight for sharp eyes!
  • And then there's a toad, no easier to see than the toad bug. Judy's husband found it; Judy blogged it at LilacGate.
 Then husband said "What is that?" and I finally saw the toad, settled in for the winter.
  • Kate St. John, at Outside my Window, flipped a rock, found a leopard. And a pair of camels!
  • Rebecca in the Woods; an ant and a beaver. (The beaver was not under the rock.)
  • Bug Girl posted an announcement on Skepchick, and a couple of flippers turned up in the comments. Here's Greenstone123's story. Ant kitchens! And scribe999? Don't give up. Not even in Jersey!
  • Also in comments, on Rebecca's blog, Madhu in Sri Lanka found a couple of ants.  And Christopher (in Missouri) found ticks, and got too many tick bites to count. It's a wild and dangerous world out there!
  • And on to the Flickr group! We have photos from Sara (mamasara4), from Georgia (georgiabkr), Dean (Ontario Wanderer), Benet (benet2006), Upupaepops (Upupa4me), Bug Girl (bug_girl_mi), and Pablo (Paul Lamble). Beetles, crickets, slugs, and so on, including an angry isopod, making threats to Upup...'s fingers.
Not under a rock; all around the rock piles. In blazing sunlight, on my grandson's shirt. Fuzzy, but I like the contrasts.

  • And then, there's me. I still haven't written up my post. (That should give comfort to a few others who haven't logged in yet. There's still time!)
  • NASA's stone is still unflipped. Of course, they take years, decades even, to get anything done. And there's always that transmission time to take into account.
  • Update: Here's my post: Hard-scrabble existence.
  • And an e-mail from Gail Bellamy reports, "Jamestown, New York----nothing but a few small ants----then a split large rock with the first layer had 2 black ants, but the bottom had a large fat toad resting comfortably. All are still in place." She doesn't include photos, unfortunately.
  • Update # 2: Fred sent in his report from the Muskrat River, Ontario, via e-mail attachment. I've posted it here.
  • Update # 3: And Mark, operating on the Celtic calendar, sent in his results today, Sunday the 16th.
  • I think that's the lot. Have I missed you?

I'll send an e-mail with the list to all the participants, but feel free to copy this list and paste it on your own blogs. Thanks for Rock Flipping with us!


  1. Thanks for all the work you put in to sponsoring this fun event. - Margy

  2. Anonymous3:31 am

    It was lots of fun. Love seeing everyone's results, too.

    BTW, I bet the stripy insect casing is a ground beetle, and that grasshopper might be a differential grasshopper, but I'm not sure what all you've got by you.

  3. Thanks Susannah, for a great job. I'll be checking back for further developments. Are you listening, NASA?

  4. Anonymous1:59 pm

    The link to Round Rock Journal is wrong.

  5. Thanks, Anonymous. I've fixed it.

  6. Sara, I looked up differential grasshoppers, it seems that we're outside their range. That may not matter; we're seeing quite a few things that have moved north. I'll send a clearer photo in to BugGuide, and see what they say.
    Thanks for the tip!


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