To introduce us to Japanese culture and people, the JSPS (Japanese Society for the Promotin of Science) organized for each of us to spend the first weekend that we were in Japan with a host family. The couple that hosted me were in their 70s and retired, and were awesome! This is a grasshopper on a hydrangea at a park near their home.
Lunch on the first day. Mmmm...This is a touch tank at teh Kannonzaki Museum of Natural History where I saw my first marine snail in Japan! This museum covered topics of regional as well as general interest. It did it thoroughly and had very clear exhibits. For example, the evolutionary arms race (G. Vermeij`s "escalation" concept) is well displayed here. As crabs get better at prying open snail shells, natural selection favors snails with better defenses against crab predation, and only crabs with claws particularly good at getting into defended snails eat enough to survive, and snails that...well you get the picture. And this escalation goes on for millions of years. Beautiful.
- I am a graduate student at UC Berkeley studying the diversity and evolution of whelks. This summer I was sponsored by the NSF (USA) and JSPS (Japan) to work with Dr. Seiji Hayashi at Nagoya University in Japan to collect buccinid gastropod (whelk) tissue samples and examine whelk shell collections at musems throughout Japan. Sugoi! Some of the snails that I study are pictured to the right.