Why I study obscure and strange little animals

14 January 2014 by Christopher Buddle, posted in Biodiversity, Natural History

I sometimes find myself defending why I study obscure and strange little animals.  Questions such as “what good are they” are asked of me.  I sometimes get weird looks when I describe what it is like discovering new distribution records of a tiny jumping spider, or the thrilling anticipation of turning over a rock to see what hides underneath.  I have to remind myself that not everyone is fascinated by the natural world.  I also think it is worthwhile reminding myself why I study small animals. Here is a list:

The Arctic pseudoscorpion Wyochernes asiaticus (Photo by C. Ernst)

I study these animals because they are there even if we can’t always see them.

I study these animals because they are unknown, and stir up a sense of curiosity, wonder and awe; their biology is as amazing as any other species.

I study these animals because they play important roles in their ecosystems; roles that we have yet to fully understand.

I study these animals because they are one piece of a giant biodiversity puzzle – they are as interesting and fascinating as primates, blue whales, oak trees, honey bees, or coral reefs.  

I study small animals because they are giants in their own world; size is relative.

I study these animals because they are beautiful; they are a landscape painting; they are a a Bach Cello Suite; they are millimetres of perfection.

I study these animals because they have a history; a history as great as their larger cousins; they are evolution exemplified.

I study these animals because nobody else does.

The Arctic pseudoscorpion Wyochernes asiaticus (photo by C. Ernst)

What are your reasons for studying small, strange animals?

...thanks to Crystal Ernst for the stunning photographs of Wyochernes asiaticus - these photos were taken on a field trip to the Yukon

Note: I'm currently at a research workshop in Kenya, and thus can't do a regular post this week, so this is an old post from my arthropodecology.com blog (I gave myself permission to repost it here)


3 Responses to “Why I study obscure and strange little animals”

  1. Gunnar Reply | Permalink

    The majority of the world's species are small and rare. If we want to understand biodiversity, it is not enough to look at birds and plants.

  2. Susan Reply | Permalink

    Oh how true, I love this post. Thank you

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