March 30, 2009

Leaves, leaves, leaves.

I've just returned from Costa Rica today. I saw a lot of amazing things while there but my main purpose for wanting to go to CR was to see the cloud forests. They were beautiful, of course. Verdant, thick, lush, full of singing birds and other organisms. The Quetzal is truly a beautiful bird, well worth the hours spent tracking it down, though I couldn't get close enough to get a picture of his fuzzy blue mohawk, he was fabulous just the same (you can find someone else's pictures of the Quetzals here: ).

The first thing we saw in the first cloud forest we went to (Bosque Nuboso Los Angelos) were leaf-cutter ants. There were a couple hundred of them busily at work- they managed to be quite difficult to avoid at times. You read about these industrious little workers of tropical biomes but it has never occurred to me that I might actually see them at some point in my life. But there they were! Carrying their huge green leaf cutouts on their backs up the trail to a storage warehouse under one of the muddy steps.

I have to admit, I have never worked as hard as these ants, these guys are true manual laborers. What was really curious was to see some of the leaves that they cut these leaf chunks out of. Look at these big loads they're carrying and how perfect these lines of cutouts are on the leaves:

I was mostly fascinated by the strange and wonderful leaf patterns in the cloud forests. These are not your ordinary everyday leaves. I've been working out some new art designs in my head using these patterns and hope to have some new things to show you soon, at which time I'll post the pictures of the leaves in a longer post. The design diversity found in nature is impressive; and great fodder for the imagination.

I wish everyone could experience the cloud forests before they disappear. They are amazing ecosystems that are disappearing quickly.
Andrea at Studio6

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