DATABASE: They Sing By Night

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Science  28 May 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5675, pp. 1221
DOI: 10.1126/science.304.5675.1221a

Crouched on a leaf in Costa Rica, a spiky conehead katydid (Copiphora rhinoceros) eyes a photographer. The insect's rapid-fire chirps, which sound a bit like a squeaky sewing machine, stand out in the rain forest's nocturnal chorus. You'll find a wealth of information about the conehead and more than 6800 other katydid (Tettigonioidea) species at this taxonomic database run by Piotr Naskrecki, an entomologist at Conservation International. What makes these species accounts stand out is the wealth of photos, sketches, and paintings. The collection includes more than 15,000 images of type specimens, the original samples used to describe the species. You can call up lists of collecting locales and find out which museums currently hold the specimens. Or listen to recordings of some species' calls.

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