The Goth Moths

Goth Hogwarts from the San Antnio Public Library (origin unknown).

One of the most overwrought moments in Thomas Harris’s overwrought 1999 novel Hannibal is when the faceless (literally, as in “has no face”) evil zillionaire Mason Verger makes a child cry so he can drink its tears from a wine glass.

Mason apparently thought he was being goth. So did Mr. Harris. So did Eric Cartman, when, in South Park‘s parody of Hannibal, lapped the tears off his arch-rival Scott Tenorman‘s face (that was right after Radiohead dissed him). All the best deathrock psychopaths drink tears, right?

Well, apparently the moths in Madagascar listen to 45 Grave, according to New Scientist.

A species of moth drinks tears from the eyes of sleeping birds using a fearsome proboscis shaped like a harpoon, scientists have revealed. The new discovery – spied in Madagascar – is the first time moths have been seen feeding on the tears of birds.

Tear-feeding moths and butterflies are known to exist elsewhere in Africa, Asia and South America, but they mainly feed on large, placid animals, such as deer, antelope or crocodiles, which cannot readily brush them away. But there are no such large animals on Madagascar. The main mammals – lemurs and mongoose – have paws capable of shooing the moths. Birds can fly away.

But not when they are sleeping. The Madagascan moths were observed on the necks of sleeping magpie robins and Newtonia birds, with the tip of their proboscises inserted under the bird’s eyelid, drinking avidly… But sleeping birds have two eyelids, both closed. So instead of the soft, straw-like mouthparts found on tear-drinking moths elsewhere, the Madagascan moth has a proboscis with hooks and barbs “shaped like an ancient harpoon.”


Cool image here, though not as cool as Goth Hogwarts.

[Via Liz Highleyman.]

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