Find me on Substack »


Although they’ve been dead for more than two centuries, there is life in these dragonflies. The life of a legendary biologist here in Copenhagen.

I’m working in the Zoologisk Museum at Kobenhavns Universitet with holotype specimens from the Danish zoologist Johan Christian Fabricius. It’s a bit like working with the specimens of Carl Linnaeus.

Mostly I came for one specimen in particular — she’s there at the lower left: Pantala flavescens (Wandering Glider), the most cosmopolitan insect on Earth (and in large part the subject of a book I’m writing). This is the very specimen, collected in India, that Fabricius used to name and describe this species to science more than two centuries ago. Or so we think.  There’s a mystery here to solve.

I’d tell you more but Air France has lost my baggage — all my backpacking gear — putting the rest of this trip with Ruth (hiking in Norway) in jeopardy.



  1. Miriam Lawrence says:

    Hope you got your stuff back! Air France temporarily “lost” our bags too, but we did finally get them back a few days later…

  2. sue says:

    Bryan, seeing that Pantala must have been a very emotional moment! The (possible) very one! Like a sacred icon. Bummer about the gear. Hope that turns out well.

  3. Bummer but that seems to be what one gets for the price of a ticket and the baggage overcharges allow them to do a better job of getting your gear to Hong Kong. where it will all be cloned and you’ll eventually get it back. Hope for the best but Copenhagen isn’t a bad hang-out whilst you wait. Then again you could go on to Norway for some very primitive hiking/camping. G’luck mate! john

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *