Happy Thanksgiving from FLAAR 2016
Posted November 23, 2016.
The ancient Maya of southern Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala had a turkey species totally different than the North American turkey: the turkey of Guatemala is the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata).
We show here two felines getting ready to have their yummy turkey feast (there are five species of felines in Guatemala: jaguar, puma, jaguarundi, ocelot, and margay).
We hope you enjoy our thanksgiving day bird feast humor. Don’t worry, we do not eat wild ocellated turkeys; they are protected species.
SIGGRAPH 2016, for 3D scanning and animation of animals
Posted May 10, 2016 by Diana Cruz and Vivian Diaz
Animals are obviously the core of successful animated films, everything from Bambi to the macaws of RIO and RIO 2. Since the office of FLAAR Reports is in Guatemala, it is no surprise that we are studying the remarkable mammals, reptiles, and amphibians of this part of the world (home office of FLAAR is Missouri, USA, but our operational office is in Latin America).
Scanning animals is tough since they move a lot. We prefer not to have to sedate an animal in order to scan it. Plus obviously in the middle of the jungle we don’t have the Hollywood style 3D scanning studios available.
So one of many reasons why we like to attend SIGGRAPH is to learn what new software, what new hardware, what new techniques are available to scan animals, birds, insects or other creatures in 3D.
The SIGGRAPH Conferences are five educational days, 24-28 July, Anaheim, California.
SIGGRAPH 2016 exhibition is 26-28 July.
There are various web sites, one is www.s2016.siggraph.org. We hope to see you there in July.
New edition of Eduard Seler’s monograph on Mayan animals
Posted January 18, 2016
Monkeys, bats, jaguars, dogs, armadillos, coyote and fox, opossum, rabbits, peccary, deer, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, spiders, scorpions, etc are pictured in the art of the Maya and of the Aztecs (and Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Teotihuacan, etc).
Eduard Seler gathered together drawings of all these species and published an approximately 150 page opus with over 1000 illustrations. This German monograph was translated decades ago, and then in the 1990’s edited by Frank Comparato, LABYRINTHOS.
Frank passed away last year, and we at FLAAR wish to bring back deserved mention of Frank Comparato’s contributions to Maya research (he was Field Director of the FLAAR mapping project at Yaxha, as but one example).
As soon as we can raise the funds to complete the scanning of this opus on Mayan animals, we will make it available for students on this FLAAR web site on the animals which were important to the Mayan people of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Black jaguar in Guatemala
Posted January 4, 2016, to start the New Year
For my birthday yesterday, I took Senaida to visit the La Aurora Zoo. The Zoo was packed with local visitors, plus several people from Europe and US who live and work in Guatemala. Senaida is the Q’eqchi’ Mayan speaking student intern who assists us to learn about the flora and fauna of Alta Verapaz, which is where she and her family live.
We focused on the animals which are native to Guatemala, but I will admit I enjoyed watching the mother hippopotamus instructing her baby hippo to follow her into the water. Since the water was over his depth, he tried to climb onto the slippery back of his mother.
Lots of construction going on, which means lots of new places to explore several months from now.
The Parque Zoológico Nacional La Aurora has excellent collection of owls: dozens of species are native to Guatemala. I was pleasantly surprised to see a melanistic black jaguar. Although named “black panther” in fact these are not panthers and not leopards (though melanistic black leopards also exist). The black jaguar is native to Mesoamerica and South America.
This trip to the zoo on January 3rd was to take notes for what animals we would like to photograph on our next visit. For example, we have never photographed coyotes or falcons here. Plus the collection of spider monkeys is zoologically interesting since there are many colors, from black with brown to pure brown with white.
The zoologists and staff at Parque Zoológico Nacional La Aurora are both knowledgeable and hospitable to research visits, which we appreciate.
How to find and photograph howler monkeys in Guatemala
Posted Dec 14, 2015
In 50 years of photographing animals of Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize, I do not have good photographs of howler monkeys. Spider monkeys are easier, especially since AutoSafari Chapin has over a dozen on islands, so they are totally free to wander around (they can even swim to move away from the island if they want to). No cage, so no ugly metal bars in the photograph! Plus I estimate monkeys are happier not being in a cage.
I have not yet seen any zoo with captive howler monkeys, nor yet met anyone who has a pet howler (though we do know people do keep them). It is best to have animals out in the forests, but for photographic research, it definitely helps if the habitat of the howler is accessible in a realistic manner. We have over a thousand utilitarian plants we need to find and photograph in Guatemala
(www.maya-ethnobotany.org) and hundreds of animals of the Mayan world. So it is not realistic to spend months in mosquito and snake heaven to photograph animals for study purposes.
So it was a pleasant and unexpected surprise to find a howler monkey 6 meters directly above me while I was checking in at the Hotel Ecológico Cabañas del Lago. Using a 200mm lens I was able to get a high-resolution photo (Nikon D810, 36 megapixel camera). So if you seek a howler monkey to photograph, check them out at www.ecoHotelCabanaDeLago.mex.tl
These howlers are not captive! They are in their native habitat (along the shores of Lake Izabal, Guatemala).
Out in the forests, if you are lucky, sometimes you can find a howler monkey close enough to use a telephoto lens. But if you really want good photos it helps to go to Tikal, Yaxha, or comparable places in Mexico (Calakmul perhaps), and Belize. But I lived and worked at Tikal for 12 months (in 1965) and at Yaxha over five years (1970’s) and have been at Calakmul in the 1990’s. Still no really good howler photos, though Las Guacamayas Biological reserve on the Rio San Pedro is a good place. So again, I recommend the Hotel Ecológico Cabañas del Lago.
There are two species: Guatemalan black howler, Alouatta pigra and the golden-mantled howler, Alouatta palliate. I estimate the one I photographed in Izabal is the black howler.
Creatures which inhabit the Mayan Underwaterworld Cosmos
Posted October 7, 2015
On Oct 30th Dr Hellmuth will lecture on the creatures associated with the Surface of the Underwaterworld (2:30pm). This is the key part of the Maya cosmos, between “heaven” and “hell” so to speak. Nicholas spent eight years researching this topic to produce his PhD dissertation (Karl-Franzens Universitaet, Graz, Austria). All this work is available in a coffee-table book with 727 illustrations, Monster und Menschen, ADEVA, Graz (ADEVA no longer exists but we have a copy available for substantial benefactors for our continued research).
To prepare for this lecture we went to the actual eco-system out in the tropical rain forests of Guatemala. And the local crocodile kindly cooperated to pose for a photograph directly in front of the place we were overnighting (Las Guacamayas Biological Station, Rio San Pedro Martyr, Peten, Guatemala).
The lecture will introduce all the creatures of the rivers and lakes, plus sea creatures of the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, which were the sources of inspiration for Mayan murals, sculptures, and painted ceramics (vases, bowls, and plates).
Lecture is at the Centro de Formación de la Cooperación Española en Antigua (Antiguo Colegio de la Compañía de Jesús), 6ª avenida Norte entre 3ra y 4ª calle Poniente, Antigua Guatemala.
Video of photogenic spider wrapping up a wasp, Guatemala City
Posted October, 2015
Our video team did a nice video of a spider capturing and wrapping up a wasp. We raise spiders, wasps, stingless (Meliponia) bees, butterflies, tailless whip scorpions and many other creatures at 1500 meters elevation in Central America.
These creatures live in our Mayan ethnobotanical research garden, where we study medicinal plants, plants for dye colorants, and other plants used by the Mayan and Xinca people of Guatemala for thousands of years.