(La Selva) Today we visited INBio, the National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica. Located just outside San José, INBio houses a large research collection of the insects of Costa Rica, as well as public interpretive displays (think natural history museum). We visited the collections to help better familiarize ourselves with the beetle groups we’ve been seeing during our trip, and to help match up specimens that we had collected but were unable to identify to the species level. I have never visited the terrestrial arthropod collection of any museum, but let me say that it was amazing. Just being the presence of that many species is pretty awe-inspiring, but to top it off many of those specimens are gorgeous. A single specimen of a gold or silver Scarabs is impressive, but an entire drawer of them, lined up like a frozen army is incommunicably beautiful. Various descriptions were tossed around: gold and silver plated candies, gold doubloons, or “Beetle T-1000”.
Not just the big stuff is impressive. Many of the folks here are interested in the tiny, unassuming species which go unnoticed and unappreciated, even by other scientists. Holding a drawer filled with specimens that are smaller than the dots on their labels, I can’t help but wonder at how an animal that size does all the same things an elephant does: find food, grow, find mates, etc. Many of these beetles have intricately sculptured exoskeletons which go unnoticed until viewed under a microscope.
Folks who know me can probably guess how difficult it was to get me out of there.
Above: A frozen platoon of Scarabs.
Below: The ostentatious and the obscure.