April 20th, 2015
Somehow a panel discussion at Eastercon 2015 about sexy vampires prompted Charlie Stross to share this delightful bit of natural history with his fellow panel members and their audience:
[…] if you want maximally not-sexy, it's hard to top Placobdelloides jaegerskioeldi, the Hippo Arse Leech.
The Hippo Arse Leech is a leech; it sucks blood. Like most leeches, its mouth parts aren't really up to drilling through the armour-tough skin of a hippopotamus, so it seeks out an exposed surface with a much more porous barrier separating it from the juicy red stuff: the lining of the hippo rectum. When arse leeches find somewhere to feed, in due course happy fun times ensue—for hermaphrodite values of happy fun times that involve traumatic insemination. Once pregnant, the leeches allow themselves to be expelled by the hippo (it's noteworthy that hippopotami spin their tails when they defecate, to sling the crap as far away as possible—possibly because the leeches itch—we're into self-propelled-hemorrhoids-with-teeth territory here), whereupon in the due fullness of time they find another hippo, force their way through it's arse crack, and find somewhere to chow down. Oh, did I mention that this delightful critter nurtures its young? Yep, the mother feeds her brood until they're mature enough to find a hippo of their own. (Guess what she feeds them with.)
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November 1st, 2013
The Amazing Diversity of Living Creatures:
No matter how many species we discover, there will probably always be more still undiscovered. But even among the species known to science, there are many, many that remain undiscovered by the public. Some of these species are very strange, some are truly incredible and lots of them are very small.
He's not wrong…
[Via The Morning News]
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December 8th, 2011
Can anyone think of one good reason why David Attenborough performing What A Wonderful World should not be this year's Xmas Number 1 single? Just one… Anyone…?
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November 7th, 2010
ZooBorns. So much cuteness it hurts. (Some are less cute, but still interesting.)
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February 19th, 2010
Coming to the extras disc of the next David Attenborough box set?
Moderator: Before we begin this panel discussion, I'd just like to say that it's always a pleasure to witness great artists collaborating together on film, and with this film in particular, the result was a remarkably profound experience. So without further ado, please welcome the stars of the film: Lion, Wildebeest, and the Hyenas.
Moderator: Lion, let's start with you. What did you see in this project that made you want to be a part of it?
Lion: When I learned that British Human Who Smells Like Ham was going to direct I immediately knew this was something I wanted to do. Whenever I get an opportunity to participate in what I believe will gratifying work, I leap at the chance.
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February 3rd, 2010
Meet the iron-plated Snail:
Also called the "scaly-foot gastropod", Crysomallon squamiferum was discovered back in 1999, over two miles below the central Indian Ocean, deep within hydrothermal vent fields. Fluids in these vents are high in sulfides and metals, which the snail incorporates into its shell. The gastropod's shell has three layers: a highly calcified inner layer, a thick organic middle layer, and an outer layer that is fused with granular iron sulfide. It is unlike any other known natural or synthetically engineered armor.
[Via collision detection]
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November 23rd, 2009
It's hard to pick a favourite from this selection of images from National Geographic's International Photography Contest 2009, but if pressed I'd probably go for #12 or #23.
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May 23rd, 2009
Apparently bees from hives in Newcastle commute across the River Tyne just like the rest of us:
[Beekeeper Ian Wallace…] said: "Bees don't like crossing bodies of water, it throws their navigation. However Newcastle has lots of bridges, so the bees would fly from the roof, cross the bridge, collect honey and nectar and come back again across the bridge."
March 5th, 2009
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December 13th, 2008
The gallery of this year's winners of the National Geographic Traveler's Photo Contest contains some gems.
As the gallery is done in Flash I can't link directly to my favourite: the second photograph, "Great Egret with Nesting Material" by Daniel Cedras.
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October 22nd, 2008
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July 23rd, 2008
Never, ever annoy a mantis shrimp:
Mantis shrimps are aggressive relatives of crabs and lobsters and prey upon other animals by crippling them with devastating jabs. Their secret weapons are a pair of hinged arms folded away under their head, which they can unfurl at incredible speeds.
The 'spearer' species have arms ending in a fiendish barbed spike that they use to impale soft-bodied prey like fish. But the larger 'smasher' species have arms ending in heavy clubs, and use them to deliver blows with the same force as a rifle bullet.
With each punch, the clubâ€™s edge travels at about 50 mph
Wait, there's more…
[Each…] of the smasher's strikes produced small flashes of light upon impact. They are emitted because the club moves so quickly that it lowers the pressure of the water in front of it, causing it to boil.
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July 21st, 2008
Recent volcanic activity.
The word "spectacular" seems woefully inadequate…
May 8th, 2008
This gallery of photos of the ChaitÃ©n volcano in Chile is astonishing.
It's the sort of weather you want to observe from a safe distance, preferably accompanied by a soundtrack of Metallica or Led Zeppelin.
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