Friday snaps: Igor Siwanowicz

Igor Siwanowicz is a Polish-born biologist who works as a technical assistant in behavioral genetics at the Max Planck institute of Neurobiology in Munich.  He’s also a world class nature photographer, specializing in macro photography of animals.  I especially love his mantises.  Here are some of his images (click to enlarge); you can see many more at the Blepharopsis website—the word is a genus of mantids—or in his book Animals Up Close (a nice Xmas gift for a budding biologist).

The first is Idolomantis diabolica, a mantis that mimics a flower.  It sits quietly on a plant, arms extended as in the picture.   A credulous pollinator flies into the middle, expecting a pollen and nectar treat, and . . .

Here’s another flower mimic, the orchid mantis, sculpted by natural selection to fool its prey.

How he does it:


  1. Posted September 3, 2010 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Oh I love Igor!

    Found him on deviantART years ago, have talked to him a few times, he’s wonderful. I’m so envious of all the animals he has gotten to meet up close.

    Since I make plush bugs, and he had told a friend about my work, she commissioned Igor’s favorite (Idolomantis diabolica) as a gift.

    I didn’t realize he had a book, thanks for the link, I’m definitely buying it!

    • Marella
      Posted September 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Wow that bug is amazing!

  2. Posted September 3, 2010 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Wow, these are amazing. Thanks for posting.
    I really like the mantis, even the close up devil view. The first looks like some operatic wizard about to cast a spell on someone. Gorgeous.
    That smiling lizard is really cute too. What is that creature?
    The butterflies too, how’d he get that one? Does he use glue or anything artificial like that?

    • astrokid.nj
      Posted September 3, 2010 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Yeah.. That “smiling lizard”.. What is that thing?? Whatever it is.. just incredible.

      The other day, I had gone to the Philadelphia zoo, and saw a marmoset there. Just an incredible creature. I would have sat there for half an hour just watching that thing.. if not for the friend I had gone with.

      Each of Jerry’s animal blogs remind me of “the conceit of hindsight” chapter from Dawkins’s ‘Ancestors Tale’. Every animal has a history of evolution as long as us.. and is as beautiful as us..

      • horrabin
        Posted September 3, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        That’s a Crested Gecko Rhacodactylus ciliatus.

    • someone
      Posted October 27, 2010 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      No, he does’t use anything but time…

  3. Ben
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    What is that first creature?

    • Darrell E
      Posted September 3, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      A type of mantis.

  4. cmassey1
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    That mantis was soooooo cool!

  5. Insightful Ape
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Mantis, as in, prayerful?

  6. Darrell E
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Gorgeus pictures. I’ll have to get his book for my kids. Well, for me too.

  7. gillt
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Orchid mantis: an insect that mimics a plant which mimics an insect.


  8. Launcher
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    It’s pictures like those that make me glad we live in a world that didn’t evolve 30-foot mantises.

  9. Posted September 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    The first mantis is Idolomantis diabolica. Quite a fabulous animal.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted September 3, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Thanks—I’ve relabeled the picture. How stupid of me not to realize it’s a flower mimic!

  10. Posted September 3, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Those are some great shots; kudos to Igor, and thanks for sharing.

  11. Posted September 3, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Those are phenomenal.

  12. Mike Scirocco
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Great work!

  13. Posted September 6, 2010 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    This pictures are awesome!! The gecko smiling is great. And the chameleon is smiling too!! Wonderful work, congratulations to Igor.

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