Thursday, 10 July 2008

Rhinogradentia II

In part two of what will probably be three entries on Rhinogradentia, let's have a closer look at some of the biology and a bit better look at the man behind the work. The book mentioned in the first part, 'Bau und Leben der Rhinogradientia', shouldn't be too difficult too find. But there was a second book, and that one seems to have been published in German and perhaps once in Japanese too, judging from a Google search for the author. It is called 'Stümpke's Rhinogradentia' with the subtitle 'Versuch einer Analyse', which translates as 'An attempt at analysis'. It was written by one Karl D.S. Geeste. My copy, the second printing, appeared in 1988.

It contains a number of essays and historical remarks about Stümpke's work, who as we saw previously did not exist. Gerolf Steiner is the true author's name. It was not until I started writing this blog entry that I found out, 20 years after having bought the book, that 'Karl D.S. Geeste' was another pseudonym of Gerolf Steiner! You may check this on the following link, a website from the university of Karlsruhe. It states, in German only, that Gerolf Steiner celebrated his 100th birthday in March of this year (2008). Congratulations professor Steiner! I never expected Geeste and Steiner/Stümpke to be the same man, as the 'Attempt at Analysis' contains an interview of Stümpke by Geeste, which fooled me completely.

So is there more biological news in there? Yes; and parts of it concern details of the plates in the Rhinogradentia book. For starters, have a look at the Nasobema and its young on the opening illustration in the last entry. What Steiner, as we now know him to be, had to add to the plate was (my translation): 'Please note the allometric growth of the extremities. The hind legs of the young animal are relatively much longer than its mother's". Indeed, and what a nice detail.


Above is another such detail. First, the cover of a Japanese translation. The cover shows 'Orchidiopsis', an obvious example of mimicry: the animal looks like an orchid and thereby lures insects to itself to eat them.

Next, there is an image I made in which the insects are enlarged (clicking on the image will enlerge it in turn). Geeste/Stümpke/Steiner has this to say: "The hexapterate in the top right shows some primitive characteristics: paranota on the abdominal segments as well as cerci. Its larva -bottom right- with small wing buds makes it clear that this is a case of incomplete metamorphosis." Well, well; the island group where the Rhinogradentia live has more biological surprises than just snouters. There are primitive insects, and elsewhere we read about 'land trilobites'.


Here is a final one. Something is sitting on the tree trunk in the figure above, but what is it? Surely it is nothing but an unfinished doodle? No, it isn't.

Geeste: "On the trunk in the background [there is a] Tillinellia farfalloides, a land living prosobranchial snail with collapsible pseudopods. The animal grazes on algae and lichens on trees and can glide back to the floor." He adds that the animal was named for one Tilli Ankel, otherwise introduce only as the wife of one W.E. Ankel. Language lovers will recognise the Italian word for butterfly, 'farfalla', in the second part of the animal's name. Isn't all this a bit overdone for a few rough lines in a drawing? Not really, because the 'attempt at analysis' contains a lovely drawing of Tillinellia, and here it is for all to see:

One final remark; the German text on the site of the university of Karlsruhe mentions two other pseudonyms: Trutzhardt Widerumb and M.I.Kashkina. I couldn't find anything about the former, but the latter authored a short paper in the (really existing) scientific journal 'Russian Journal of Marine Biology (2004; 30: 148-149)' on 'Dendronasus sp - a new member of the order nose-walkers (Rhinogradentia)'. There is a drawing which I will reproduce if anyone asks for it. Did Steiner in his nineties really continue his fifty-year old work? If so, how amazing! Or does this Kashkina for once really exist, as there seems to be at least one other paper by the same author possibly of a more serious nature. Am I being fooled again?


Pavel I. Volkov said...

So, first of all I must say I moved my site to new hosting. Now the English page of site is here:
And next, click here:
I think you'll recieve a little fun reading it. Also look for my addition - translated articles from Russian magazines.

Spencer Covey said...

I have a set of seven original paintings by Dr. Steiner which I am willing to part company with. Would these be of any interest to you? I can be reached at SpencerCovey <> Gmail . com