We Found the Rare Pinocchio Lizard in Ecuador!


The city of Quito reminded me in many ways of other major cities in South America: bustling, crowded, lots of taxis, and loud construction. Unlike other cities, however, and much to my surprise, just a short drive from Quito put us in one of the most beautiful environments I’d ever experienced: the cloud … Continue reading

Top 10 Most Incredible Reptiles & Amphibians from Ecuador


Ecuador is a beautiful country on South America’s west coast and, despite its small size, has an extremely diverse landscape – from the Amazon rainforest, to the Andean highlands, to the Galápagos Islands. I recently conducted a research expedition to Ecuador and it was an unforgettable experience, to say the least. I was fortunate … Continue reading

We Discovered & Published a New Butterfly Life History

FIGURE 5 Adult Adelotypa annulifera putative wing pattern mimicry

It was late 2014 when Phil Torres first showed me the photos from his recent trip to the Peruvian Amazon. Among them were amazing images of the tropical wildlife, from brilliant macaws to elusive pumas. But there were a few critters in that album that stood out to us in particular. Flipping … Continue reading

In the Field: Macro Photography, Microscopy & How Butterflies Create Color


Working in the Amazon rainforest has its challenges. To name an obvious one, it can be difficult to take equipment into remote field sites in order to conduct research. Fortunately, we live in an exciting time, as technology is rapidly becoming simultaneously cheaper and more portable. In this post, I want … Continue reading

Achoo! Why Galápagos Marine Iguanas Sneeze


On my recent trip to the Galápagos, I could hardly contain my joy at seeing some of the animals that, until then, I had only seen on TV. The marine iguanas were one of my favorites, blending in with the lava rocks, not giving a care in the world about … Continue reading

Discovering a New Butterfly-Ant-Parasitic Plant Relationship

6 Butterfly on Tree

“Huh, that’s weird”, I muttered as I trudged through the mud in the rainforest. Even though the sun was setting, it was still hot and steamy, and sweat was dripping into my eyes as I stared at a tree with bizarre yellow outgrowths… Watch the video “Mystery of the Yellow … Continue reading

Testing a Foldable Microscope in the Amazon Rainforest

2 Leaf gall compilation Foldscope

For the past few months I’ve been working with Stanford University researchers who developed an origami-style paper microscope, known as the Foldscope. We were the first researchers to take the Foldscope out to the Amazon rainforest and investigate the micro-world with nothing but this incredible device and a cell phone. Below … Continue reading

We Found (and yelled at) a Crazy Tentacled Caterpillar

On my recent travels through the Peruvian Amazon, I came upon the craziest caterpillar that I have ever seen, and subsequently yelled at it for hours.   Why did I yell at it? Well, its strange behavior towards sound was why I noticed it in the first place. I had … Continue reading

Bioluminescence in the Peruvian Amazon – Like the Avatar Movie, but in Real Life

cover photo2

  If you’re familiar with the 2009 science fiction film, Avatar, you may have enjoyed the lush extraterrestrial glowing rainforest. But the glowing rainforest that I experienced was real, and it occurred in the Peruvian Amazon of Tambopata this past March. I should start off by mentioning that I’m an … Continue reading

BioSCAN and Los Angeles’s 30 Newest Species


  A recent study has revealed thirty species that are new to science living in the bustling city of Los Angeles. This is really exciting news because we usually don’t think of urbanized areas as having biologically diverse environments. Our human-made habitat seems removed from nature; buildings and concrete replacing … Continue reading