We have come across some great animals on our trip, but surely, one of the weirdest is this female Trilobite Beetle (the males look completely different) It is about 6cm long and is called a Trilobite due to its resemblance to the long extinct family of sea creatures, but it is not a living fossil, it is and insect, and a rather fascinating one.
Enormous thanks to our fantastic guides for the day on Santubong, Zulfadhi and Yeo. We will be keeping in touch for orchid related conversation.
How big would you expect a Borneo Forest Dragon to be? Well here is the one that appeared from behind a large tree stump on Santubong and posed for photos.
This is a female with small spikes on the back of its neck, the male has long spikes.
Santubong is the mountain we have been looking at since we arrived in Kuching and today we explored its forests with MRSM students.
We crossed rivers, climbed up and down ravines, and came across an array of Borneo’s biodiversity.
Orchids were not abundant but did include some gigantic Grammataphyllum speciosum
There were also the tiny flowering orchids Agrtostrophyllum tenue and Bulbophyllum coriaceum.
We also found some great frogs – one on a leaf:
and one at a waterfall – can you spot it?
There was no question that today’s orchid of the day had to be Dimorphorchis lowii (Amalia’s favourite) This is a real orchid mystery as it is the only genus that produces two types of hermaphrodite (male and female combined) on a single spike. The top few flowers are yellow and rounded (two on this plant) while the lower flowers covering the long dangling spike (up to 3m long) are red and white and much finer. Even more surprisingly the top flowers are strongly fragrant and the lower ones aren’t. What is going on? The really exciting thing is that no one knowsas there is no good evidence of pollination biology. Are there two different pollinators?
The species is endemic to Borneo and we have seen it several times including under a Bornean Pit Viper in Mulu (below)
It is a really big growing orchid with thick leaves to 70cm long and thick pendulous stems up to 2m long. The flowers are very widely spaced on the long spikes. We have seen the plant flourishing in hot lowland forest low on trees with some shade.
Amalia is particularly excited to find that there is a second species, Dimorphorchis rossii which is smaller all round.
We will see if we can find this species again in the forest over the next two days.
High above Kuching sits the pointed tower of the Mayor of North Kuching. We visited him at the end of the day to support Tengku in her continuing campaign for species orchids in Kuching. The view from the top of the tower was amazing, and the building is wonderfully decorated in the towns symbol – cats.