Maximally not-sexy

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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The Amazing Diversity of Living Creatures

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…

Sea Urchin

[Via The Morning News]

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What A Wonderful World

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…?

Thought not…

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Nightmare fuel

November 8th, 2011

Nature Wants to Eat You:

A celebration of the animal kingdom's terrifying mouths, jaws, teeth, and tongues.

[Via jwz]

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November 7th, 2010

ZooBorns. So much cuteness it hurts. (Some are less cute, but still interesting.)

[Via slipstream]

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I was an extra in 'Lion Disembowels Gazelle.'

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.

[Audience applauds.]

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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Crysomallon squamiferum

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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National Geographic's International Photography Contest 2009

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."

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Nature: awesome!

March 5th, 2009

Gymnarchus niloticus is awesome!

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