Treasured rainforest beauty
The large and beautiful Macleay’s Swallowtail Moth – Lyssa macleayi (Montrouzier, 1856), is velvety-brown with bold white features, which are particularly prominent on the ventral surface in flight. It took me eight-years, however, searching every night into the depths of this ancient rainforest as a profession, before I found my first Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko – Saltuarius cornutus (Ogilby, 1892). With a mere flicker of movement, this most wondrous of creatures was finally found concealing itself on the blindside of a tree-trunk in all its cryptic glory. Not only is this tree-dwelling reptile flat to the trunk, with disruptive colours, patterns and textures that optimise discretion and break-up the distinctiveness of any outline, it has also adapted a broad and flattened tail that deceptively portrays as a head, undoubtedly to draw predatory danger to the less critical end of the organism. Even the eyeballs are camouflaged, which is particularly important in an absence of eyelids.
GREEN-EYED TREE FROG
Sighting a Green-eyed Tree Frog – Litoria genimaculata (Horst, 1883) rewards its human discoverer with the quality of its camouflage. These primitive amphibians are so successful in their concealment that grave concerns are reiteratively expressed for their threatened extinction. Then again, on the first night of a monsoonal deluge, after a prolonged period of dry, I see and hear thousands of individuals within a couple of hours, as they emerge onto riparian understory vegetation, seeking to mate. It is not so much that they are actually disappearing, but that they are so wonderfully good at it.
CRYPTICALLY CONCEALLED ORTHOPODS
Concealed by blending into the background, crypsis protects Haffner’s Snub-nosed Katydid – Mastigaphoides haffneri (Weidner, 1965) amongst the leaves of an unspecified Cooper Valley Medicosma tree. Recognised amongst the foliage, with its vein-imprinted tegmina or wing-covering and its sustained, motionless, oblique posture, as it is held for the entire day, wins due respect.
It took a tropical cyclone to expose the Beautiful Malanda Stick Insect – Malandania pulchra (Sjöstedt, 1918), which is otherwise hidden in the upper reaches of the correspondingly green rainforest canopy.
“The attractiveness of my own place within its Daintree World Heritage rainforest, was never sullied by my lack of Indigenousness.”
“Neither was the vision of my own mother, drawn irrevocably into this same rainforest existence after a career as a secondary educator, denied the beauty that exudes when enlivened by the power of an invigorating and accommodating environment.”
“Indeed, the transformation was so pleasing that any preceding existence was rendered incidental to the righteousness of this ultimate purpose. Any respectable offspring would revel in the abundant rewards of such parental good fortune.”
Bearing witness to every aspect of beauty that lays its imprint into the memory that populates our human attention and for the time that we are each of us alive and for whatever part of memory we inherit from our ancestry, the attachment of beauty will always trigger reward. Whether recalled through executive authority or released from the infinite expanse of one’s memory, beauty runs rewardingly within the wealth of its repository.