Thursday, April 12, 2007

Beware of FLOPS

How can I write about new animals without discussing FLOPS?!?!

A couple of weekends ago, I returned to Anza Borrengo to celebrate Tonkhero's birthday. The celebratory event turned out to be a weekend of discovery and learning, especially about the negative effects of global warming. Let me introduce you to a FLOP:

Don't even try. You ain't going to find any information about a FLOP in the world wide web. FLOPS are an entirely new species, a by-product of global warming actually. Since we were the first to discover FLOPS, we took the liberty to name them (thanks to the Lady Pun) as well as study them on behalf of the human race. Just remember you learned it here first.

What is it?
A FLOP is the retarded mutant cousin of a fruit fly, a little insect about 3mm long. While fruit flies live and prosper in moist areas, the FLOP lives in the arid dry heat of the desert. Because there is not enough water in the desert for FLOPS to survive, their total life expectancy last only 3 hours.

Life cycle of a Flop
The flop egg is about half a millimeter long. It takes about ten minutes after fertilization for the embryo to develop and hatch into a worm-like larva that flies! The larva eats and grows continuously, molting one minute, two minutes, and four minutes after hatching (first, second and third instars). After six minutes as a third instar larva, it molts one more time to form a pupa. Over the next hour, the body is completely remodeled to give the adult winged form, which then hatches from the pupal case and lives for 3 hours.

Research on Flops
There is none. Until now.

We discovered that flops are extremely complex organisms. Embryonic development is where most of the attention is concentrated, but there is also a great deal of interest in how various adult structures develop in the pupa, mostly focused on the development of the compound eye, but also on the wings, legs and other organs.

We observed:

(1) Since Flops have a short life expectancy, they love to get together and party. They roll deep and fly around like it's 1999.

(2) Flops are harmless and good-intentioned, but extremely annoying and relentless, and tend to occupy more space than appreciated by humans. But they can't really help it. There are like billions and billions of them. Kind of like Chinese people.

(3) Essentially, flops are all over the place -- your clothes, your food, all over your body. We felt anxious about the flops, especially the small larvae ones, flying into our noses and ears. I think they got stuck in my hair and chilled in the crevices of my body.

Below are some campers who tried to shield themselves away from the flops:

It was a futile attempt. You can't tell from the picture because my camera only has 3.2 mega pixels, but the flops were all over these ladies, and the lenses of my camera. Too bad the flops are so small we couldn't capture them in this photo. If you saw how many flops were flying around, you would be kind of disgusted.

(4) But interestingly, you don't get disgusted. Flops are clean insects that do not spread germs... yet. We predict that future generations of flops may carry deadly diseases as their immune systems get stronger, and they become far more physically and intellectually superior than humans.



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