It’s almost Halloween, so I thought I’d show you a skeleton I found in the forest recently:

Leaf skeletons are rare things to find in such a well-preserved condition. Sometimes I see them in cold streams where microbes or invertebrates have slowly eaten them away. This one is from the floor of the Biosphere 2 rain forest, where small insects have likely been carefully nibbling it for months.

The intricate pattern of veins you see in the leaf are surprisingly functional, providing mechanical support, water transport, sugar transport, and damage resistance to the leaf. Knowing something about the vein network tells us a lot about the leaf’s function in different environments – more on that next time, but for now, enjoy the skeleton!

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