Wasp that makes honey; yes, a wasp, not a bee (in Guatemala)
Posted March 16, 2017
Several months ago, while doing research on all pollinators other than bees, I learned that there is a “Mexican honey wasp,” Brachygastra mellifica. So we went back into all recent photos of “bees and wasps” and found that we had photographed a honey wasp in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, the first week of November 2016.
Today I asked one of our plant scouts if he knew these insects, and I was really surprised that he was fully aware of these wasps which make honey. He lives in the Ixbolai river area of Peten (that is my rough phonetic spelling of the Q’eqchi’ word for this river).
He said that there was a giant nest of this honey wasp in his milpa and he had to burn it out since the wasps were stinging him every time he went to his milpa.
FLAAR Mesoamerica has the honor to invite you to…
Posted February 13, 2017.
Plantas Comestibles Nutritivas para Mejorar Significativamente la Dieta y Salud de los Niños en las Zonas Rurales de Guatemala
This conference is made to present the importance of nutrition among Guatemalan children, especially in rural areas, and the health benefits that this can have in the Mayan society.
You can download the formal invitation in the link above.
Videos of Mayan animals of Guatemala
Posted February 1, 2017
We have made a list of all animals which the Mayan people interacted with for thousands of years. This list includes insects, seashells, sharks, centipedes: every creature of Mesoamerica which the Mayan religion, art, iconography, or hieroglyphic writing would have pictured or discussed. This information is to assist archaeologists, zooarchaeologists, ethnographers, linguists, students, and to show the world all the species that need to be protected by not bulldozing, mining, or otherwise destroying the fragile Neotropical eco-systems of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
Over the last year we have done additional videos and want to show you the links here. By the end of next week all the videos should hopefully be available.
Dr. Nicholas interacting
with a giant tapir
mother and its baby
Two pumas playing
in a tree in front of Nicholas Hellmuth
Nicholas with a friendly Guatemalan porcupine seated on his shoulder
The other aspect of our research on plants and animals of the Mayan civilization is to prepare two series of books:
- Illustrated books for children (we have a capable team of illustrators)
- Coffee table books for adults (FLAAR has experienced photographers, in-house)
The illustrated books for children can be downloaded on our www.MayanToons.org (previews, 4 pages each, of lots of titles).
The coffee table books on jaguars, macaws, and other creatures of the Neotropical seasonal rain forests, mountains, deserts, rivers, lakes, and oceans can appear as soon as donations from foundations, corporations, and considerate individuals allow our team of 15 graphic designers to prepare the material.
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.