Description: Nuclear Radiation Giant Tailed Stag Beetle of Bikini
Other common name: Radioactive Giant Beetle, Devil’s Bug, Giant Killer Bug of Bikini
Latin name: Bikinicus hervules yamadaii
Specimen/artifact collected by: Takeshi Yamada, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Origin: Bikini Atoll, Republic of Marshal Islands, U.S. Territories
Date: circa 1725 AD
Size: 41 x 19 x 12 cm (adult female), 32 x 18 x 5 cm (adult male)
Description: This is one of the largest and most vicious carnivorous land arthropod species in the world. The female grows up to 45 cm (17 inches). The functions and purposes of its long sharp hard tail are unknown. The Giant Tailed Beetle of Bikini is indigenous to Bikini Atoll. Males are extremely territorial and have a complex hierarchy but they are not social insects in the way that ants are. Mating and egg laying occur several times throughout the year. A female produces 100 – 200 nymphs after a gestation period of about three months. Maturity is about eight months. Eggs and young are protected by the mother. They are nocturnal and live in leaf litter on the forest floor by the beach and eat small animals. Captive breeding has not been successful and scientists do not know exactly how long an average one lives in the wild.
During the mating period, males become very aggressive. Males male face off and make threatening head bobbing movements which produces a chirping sound. The beetles try to grasp their opponent with its horns to lift it off its feet and fling it to the ground. Sometimes, one beetle may be cut in half by its opponent’s horns. The vicious beetle may march around the defeated opponent to celebrate its success in battle. In the past, observing this aggressive behavior, locals consumed these beetles to obtain the special powers related to the beetle’s size and strength. Their heads are kept as amulets displayed in the kitchen to ward off devils and evil spirits.
Unlike any other insects on the planet, this carnivorous and extremely poisonous (tetradotoxin) species of beetle is highly radioactive due to the series of nuclear weapons testing conducted by the United States in the 1940s and 1950s at Bikini Atoll (located in the central Pacific; one of the 29 atolls and five single islands that form the Republic of the Marshall Islands).
There are well over 1 million (some experts estimate that there might be as many as 10 million) known species of insects in the world. These are divided up into about 32 orders, of which, depending on whose taxonomic system you use, the largest is the beetle, or Coleoptera, with 125 different families and around 500,000 species. They are an incredibly diverse group of animals. In fact, one in every five creatures on this planet is a beetle.
Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of World Wonders: Coney Island Circus Sideshow
by Takeshi Yamada
I developed my fascination for the city’s intricate culture and development as I grew up in Osaka, the third largest city in Japan. I moved to the United States when I was 23 years old, and lived in big cities such as Oakland, California; Baltimore, Maryland; Ann Arbor, Michigan; New Orleans, Louisiana; Chicago, Illinois and Brooklyn, NY, where I live now. The similarities and differences among cities always fascinated me. Therefore, it was natural for me to produce artworks based on what I saw, photographed, researched, interviewed and felt about the unique characteristics of cities, such as the city’s physical, social, material, architectural and cultural development and people including their origin, evolution, costumes, beliefs, folkways, etc. in comparison to other cities. In this sense, I regard myself as a “Visual Anthropologist”. With these unique artworks, I had over 300 major fine art exhibitions including 35 solo art exhibitions internationally including Spain, The Netherlands, Japan and the United States.
I worked as one of the team of mural painters for a theater production entitled “Voyage 350” at the Harbor Place in Baltimore, Maryland in 1984, and it led me to work for a new amusement park to be created called “Power Plant” of Six Flags in 1985. I worked on the team of specialized artists creating a variety of circus sideshow banners, gaffs (“Circus of the Mystery” section), and installation items for the amusement park including 50-foot murals behind the “Fountain of Youth”, marbleizing the floor of “Pandora’s Box” room, marbleizing Greek relief displays and the large wall behind them, coloring the sideshow gaff of “Bigfoot”, repainting the banner of “Leprechaun King”, producing faux wooden floor (from concrete floor) for “Ship in the Bottle”, Decorative design paintings for “Censorium Theater” (it produces the scent of a subject appearing on the theater screen while watching the screen with 3-D eye glasses), signs of “Four Stages of Man” and “Magic Lantern Theater (robot theater), painting variety of machines and electric meters of the “Future Living” display etc. These experiences opened my eyes to the unique American entertainment world of amusement parks and circus sideshow.
My current super-realism artworks (mostly sculptures) reflect my investigation of the unique and distinctive culture where I live in the Coney Island area of Brooklyn, NY. This special culture is called Coney Island Circus Sideshow. My series of artworks are simulations and re-interpretations of this rapidly disappearing unique and distinctive form of modern American pop culture, which originated in Coney Island when Steeple Chase Park opened in 1879. I was particularly inspired by the series of artworks on display at the circus sideshow tents, which are called “gaffs”. “Gaffs” are man-made objects simulating artifacts of wonder and oddities (some are completely fictional, such as “Fiji Mermaid” and “Jackalope”), with details great enough to fool the eyes and mind of the audience as real things at the circus sideshow tents behind the vividly painted large banners. My Circus Sideshow Gaffs celebrate the curiosity and passion of humanity, which never ceases to seek things of mystery and wonder of the universe. With these in mind, I created over 300 one-of-a-kind gaffs including Chupacabra, Fiji Mermaids, Giant Sea Serpents, Two-Headed Babies, Shrunken Human Head, Fossilized Fairies, Nuclear Radiation Giant Stag Beetles, Hairy Trout, King Piranhas, Mongolian Giant Death Worms, Two-headed Snakes, Four-legged Turkeys, Giant Vampire Bats, Chinese Flesh-Eating Mushrooms, Two-headed and Six-fingered Alchemist, artifacts of the Dreamland Fire of 1911 in Coney Island, relics of ancient civilizations, and alien artifacts/specimens collected by the Area 51 US Military Base, among others. Some of my gaffs also reflect my investigation of today’s technologies, and they are created with my digital camera, computer and photo-quality 7-color printer.
I regard my artworks as a “Visual Encyclopedia” equipped with a comprehensive description of each artwork, documentations and cross-cultural anthropological research behind them. It is my hope that my artworks are vehicles to please the eyes, uplift the spirit, stir the imagination and express conviction. It is my desire to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the importance of the global nature of the world, its people and the bonds that mutually bind them. It is my sincere wish that my creativity and its products contribute to the advancement of the glorious culture based on the sanctity of life and true humanism.
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