We were in Hinoba-an, a municipality in the southwestern half of Negros Island. The mission was to try to collect the first genetic samples in the world of a burrowing species of lizard first described from the western half of Negros. To survey the habitat in the municipality during our visit, we hired a local tricycle driver to take us around during the day. Tricycles or pedicabs are dirt bikes that have had small carriages attached to their bodies. So the driver is able to carry 4–6 people inside the carriage and 1–2 people behind him on the actual bike. Of course, if you happen to be a slightly overweight KU graduate student in Hinoba-an, you are the only person that can fit inside one of these carriages. Jason rode on the back of the bike behind the driver.
Just to describe these carriages, they almost fully surround the passengers. There is a small window with access to the driver, a small opening to enter the carriage, and in the front, there is a one-foot square opening through which passengers can see the road. As we were driving on our first day in town at what I assume was the bikes top speed, I noticed that up ahead, the wind had blown several leaves off of a tree. I watched as the leaves slowly fell in Brownian (random) motion to the ground. As we got closer, one of the leaves seemed to be falling right in front of my side of the carriage. Then, out of nowhere, the leaf flew right through my small front window and slammed right into the left side of my face, scratching me under my left eye. Jason and the driver thought it was so funny that they pulled over to laugh at me for quite some time. Seriously, what are the chances of that happening? The good news is we were able to find the species we were hoping to encounter. The bad news is that I seemed to have some interesting luck accompanying me throughout the trip.
The Biodiversity Institute is home to about 60 graduate students and 30 research scientists and curators. They participate in field expeditions to all seven continents and represent areas such as entomology, ornithology, paleontology, parasitology and herpetology. As the authors of this blog, they share their experiences and adventures in collections-based biological research all over the world.
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