An illustrated adventure through the jungles of Hainan in search of the most elusive beetle in China
A young artist and naturalist strikes up an unusual deal with insect dealer Hakomoto, who offers a box of rare beetles in exchange for artwork of his most prized trophies. The collection contains many enigmatic species from the island of Hainan, including some which may well be new to science. Overjoyed with his unbelievable fortune, the young man decides to bring the beetles to the Natural History Museum in London, where they may be identified by experts. His hopes are further raised when Max Barclay, one of the world’s leading authorities on beetles, becomes baffled by the entire collection, and especially by an evil-looking beetle called Carabus which is not known to exist on the island. However, with only one specimen known to science, they must gather more evidence to establish the validity of the species.
Hesitant to draw any conclusions, Max sends the young naturalist on a mission of his dreams – to undertake an expedition to the jungles of Hainan, and to see if he can find Carabus or any of Hakomoto’s other beetles. In his quest, he encounters some of the most bizarre and wonderful creatures imaginable as he battles the elements, trekking through the great rivers and mountains of the island's rugged interior. What he doesn't know is that the outcome has already been written and, as the cloud of mysteries clears, he is forced to accept a shocking but irrefutable truth...
‘Is that a twig?’ I murmured, leaning over to take a closer look. What drew my attention was a reflection, which I thought came from a piece of metal. I took the dark object from the mud and swivelled it between my fingers, trying to see where the reflections came from. As I tilted it against the dwindling light, flashes of rainbow colours seemed to appear from nowhere. The truth suddenly dawned on me and, for a moment, I could have sworn that my heart stopped beating.
It was an insect’s leg, but monstrous – outstretched, it measured nearly five inches long, and was equipped with spikes and claws that seemed far too large for any insect. In my state of ecstasy, I felt like the fossil-hunter who had just discovered the arm of Deinocheirus, as I was equally baffled by my find. I trembled at the thought of discovering its owner, and looked up at the dark shapes of the foothills towering above me – somewhere in there, in the depths of the jungle, lurked a creature that might have never been glimpsed by humanity before me. I carefully folded the limb into a glass vial, and followed the villagers as they disappeared into the forest.
Illustration Classes, Tours of the NHM and much more!
Monday, 12 February 2018
Thanks to all your pledges, we're now on the home straight at 86%! Now is the perfect chance to upgrade your pledge, and make the most of the special offers that you won't find anywhere else!
1. Have your name immortalized in the biological record! I have collected a few new species in the past, and they're all sitting in the Natural History Museum collections waiting to be named…
Saturday, 16 December 2017
I'm very excited to announce that, thanks to some huge pledges that came in last week from family friends, there is less than a quarter of the funding left to muster! I would like to use this as an opportunity to thank all of you for your support, as you are literally making my dream come true. If you know anyone who's particularly interested in nature/art then please help spread the word, and remember…
These people are helping to fund Jungle Gems: A Naturalist's Tale.