Showing posts from 2024

7th century Runic Gold from Suffolk

Early Medieval runic gold coins are very rare. One type, a shilling or thrymsa found in East Anglia, is known from only two examples (plus a broken contemporary plated forgery). Dating to about 660-70, in the "Trophy" series (the earliest East Anglian coinage), it is known as the 'Runic Reverse' or ‘Runic Ring-Bearer’ shilling (Marsden 2016, Marsden & Pol 2020). The example shown here was found in 1998 by a detectorist near East Bergholt, Suffolk (about 25 km from Sutton Hoo) and is registered with the Fitwilliam Museum's Early Medieval Coin Finds . The other known example  was found near Billockby, Norfolk. The obverse shows the head of an emperor facing left with a floating cross in front and above, and a nine-rayed starburst with two connected rings and a slightly disconnected third (with attached line) below. The floating cross on this coin is particularly reminiscent of Constantine's vision (as recounted in "Life of Constantine" by Eusebius)

Miocene ant-mealybug trophobiosis imaged with X-Ray micro-computed tomography

Amber is a remarkable preserving medium for Mesozoic and Cenozoic terrestrial biotas, but even when transparency is good, available viewing angles can be limited. X-ray micro-computed tomography is used here to study a rare association of a Miocene ant ( Acropyga glaesaria ) trapped in resin while carrying a mealybug Electromyrmococcus inclusus with which to incubate a new colony. The technique allows inspection from any desired viewpoint and detailed anatomical measurements. An addition to an extremely limited corpus, this is a fourth known example of an Acropyga gyne holding a mealybug and the second known specimen of Electromyrmococcus inclusus . Measurements and other features of both ant and mealybug are consistent with the holotypes. Introduction Inclusions in amber not only preserve individual organisms in fine detail, but can record interactions between organisms, including symbiotic relationships of various kinds (e.g. Johnson et al. 2001, LaPolla 2002, Poinar 2011, 2019). In

Borneo Wildlife in the Deramakot Forest

Deramakot lies in central Sabah, northwest Borneo. It's reached by a drive of about 4 hours from Sandakan, the major part being through seemingly endless palm oil plantations. The sustainably managed forest reserve is known as the best place in Borneo to have a chance of encountering the spectacular clouded leopard, but even so, sightings are few and far between. I found myself with a few clear days before needing to be back at university to give a talk in Kuala Lumpur, so on the spur of the moment (after checking with Alternative Adventure Borneo that it would be OK to turn up at such short notice), I booked a flight to Sandakan for the following morning.  Once installed in a room at Deramakot, there was a meal and then it was straight out into the evening to see what we could find. Sharp-eyed guide Elsie was balanced on top of the cabin of the vehicle. For the following two evenings, we headed out in the afternoon with a packed dinner to be eaten just after dusk before continuing

Kuala Lumpur Otters

Over the years, I've met some very interesting wildlife within the limits of Kuala Lumpur. Two days ago, on a walk through a hilly area of forest in the city, I heard quite a large splash in a small lake hidden by trees and wondered if that could have been an otter. This afternoon I went back to focus on the lake and see what could be seen. Once again, there was a large splash and ripples moving across the surface of the lake, which I could only glimpse through small gaps in the trees. I found a way down towards the lakeside and there they were, four very lively otters splashing, surging, turning and making quite a lot of noise. I managed a couple of photographs, but once they noticed my presence, they disappeared, leaving a calm lake surface disrupted only by pond skaters and the occasional fish. Here are three of them boisterously chasing a fourth. They are smooth-coated otters ( Lutrogale perspicillata ). And here is the calm lake after their disappearance. I walked slowly and q