Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Squirrel Knot

Five infant squirrels that got their tails caught together in a giant knot were rescued and untied by the Wisconsin Humane Society. They were taken to the group’s vets by someone who came across the bizarre scene of their tails caught in what the rescuers called a “Gordian knot” of squirrel tail and nest material. “You can imagine how wiggly and unruly (and nippy!) this frightened, distressed ball of squirrelly energy was, so our first step was to anesthetize all five of them at the same time,” the Humane Society said. The squirrels were frazzled but unharmed by the experience.



Nature – Images

Interesting Images Deadly ‘Love Vines’

Smooth, shiny balls that cling to the undersides of oak leaves often hold a grim secret inside, or, depending on how you look at it, a crunchy surprise: the dried-up corpse of a wasp, killed by a parasitic plant known as the love vine.

These tiny spheres are leaf deformities called galls — swollen tumors of leaf tissue — and their growth is caused by a type of insect called the gall wasp. These parasitic wasps house their eggs and protect their young inside the galls.

When the scientists opened galls that were in the grip of the delicate orange vines, they found wasp mummies inside; the vines had penetrated the galls and drained the insects to husks for their nutrients.

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Eerie blue flames flared from the ground on Hawaii’s Big Island on Tuesday night (May 22), marking a rarely seen phenomenon that can arise during volcanic eruptions. When red-hot lava buries plants and shrubs, the burning vegetation produces methane, a colorless gas that burns blue, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

When methane is heated, it can seep into voids below the surface — in this case, the cracks on Kahukai Street in the residential area of Leilani Estates. Heated methane can explode, but when it was ignited on Tuesday night, its blue flames simply burned out of the fractures in the road, several feet away from the lava, the USGS reported.

Screen Shot 2018 05 25 at 11 00 06 AM

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

NASA scientists flying over the Arctic earlier this month spotted strange shapes out the window, but they aren’t sure what caused them.

Three holes dot the sea ice, seen from the window of a NASA aircraft in the photo above, taken April 14. They’re clustered together, each surrounded by one or two radiating layers of ridged, textured ice, almost as if a batch of archery targets had melted and gone lopsided. All around them are bumpy formations that mean the ice is thin and relatively new.

It’s possible, NASA wrote, that some large mammal took advantage of that thin ice to poke holes through it to breathe.Ring sealsand harp seals are both known to poke holes through the ice that look somewhat similar to this.

Screen Shot 2018 04 24 at 1 15 56 PM

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

An image of an incredibly rare, 65-foot-tall (20 meters) lava-dome fountain rising above the lava fields in Hawaii.

Posted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the image was taken in 1969, during the Mauna Ulu eruption, which lasted (on and off) for an astonishing five years, from May 1969 until July 1974.

Normally, volcanoes erupt lava in powerful jets that look like fountains gone wild. But in this photo the lava spurted out symmetrically, forming an unusual lava-dome fountain.

Screen Shot 2018 04 05 at 1 12 37 PM


Destruction of nature as dangerous as climate change, scientists warn

Human destruction of nature is rapidly eroding the world’s capacity to provide food, water and security to billions of people, according to the most comprehensive biodiversity study in more than a decade.

Such is the rate of decline that the risks posed by biodiversity loss should be considered on the same scale as those of climate change, noted the authors of the UN-backed report, which was released in Medellin, Colombia on Friday.

Among the standout findings are that exploitable fisheries in the world’s most populous region – the Asia-Pacific – are on course to decline to zero by 2048; that freshwater availability in the Americas has halved since the 1950s and that 42% of land species in Europe have declined in the past decade.

Underscoring the grim trends, this report was released in the week that the decimation of French bird populations was revealed, as well as the death of the last male northern white rhinoceros, leaving the species only two females from extinction.

Divided into four regional reports, the study of studies has been written by more than 550 experts from over 100 countries and taken three years to complete. Approved by the governments of 129 members nations, the IPBES reports aim to provide a knowledge base for global action on biodiversity in much the same way that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is used by policymakers to set carbon emission targets.

Although poaching often grabs the headlines for the demise of the rhino and other animals, worldwide the biggest threats to nature are from habitat loss, invasive species, chemicals and climate change.

Conversion of forests to croplands and wetlands to shrimp farms has fed a human population that has more than doubled since the 1960s, but at a devastating cost to other species – such as pollinating insects and oxygen-producing plants – on which our climate, economy and well-being depend.

In the Americas, more than 95% of high-grass prairies have been transformed into farms, along with 72% of dry forests and 88% of the Atlantic forests, notes the report. The Amazon rainforest is still mostly intact, but it is rapidly diminishing and degrading along with an even faster disappearing cerrado (tropical savannah). Between 2003 to 2013, the area under cultivation in Brazil’s northeast agricultural frontier more than doubled to 2.5m hectares, according to the report.

“The world has lost over 130m hectares of rainforests since 1990 and we lose dozens of species every day, pushing the Earth’s ecological system to its limit,” said Achim Steiner, administrator of the UN Development Programme. “Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it supports are not only the foundation for our life on Earth, but critical to the livelihoods and well-being of people everywhere.”

The rate of decline is moreover accelerating. In the Americas – which has about 40% of the world’s remaining biodiversity – the regional population is gobbling up resources at twice the rate of the global average. Despite having 13% of the people on the planet, it is using a quarter of the resources, said Jake Rice, a co-chair of the Americas assessment.

Since the start of colonisation by Europeans 500 years ago, he said 30% of biodiversity has been lost in the region. This will rise to 40% in the next 10 years unless policies and behaviours are transformed.

The authors urged an end to subsidies for agriculture and energy that are encouraging unsustainable production. The European Union’s support for fishing was among those cited for criticism.

A dead Bodó fish in front of stranded floating houses on the bed of Negro River, a major tributary of the Amazon River, during a drought in 2015.

Screen Shot 2018 03 24 at 1 27 50 PM

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

It’s snowing iguanas in Florida. The good news is they probably aren’t dead.

As a so-called bomb cyclone continues lashing the U.S. East Coast with historic cold temperatures, weird weather abounds. In south Florida, temperatures dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) on Jan. 3, giving Tallahassee its first measurable snowfall in 28 years. On Jan. 4, Floridians reported an even stranger sight: frozen iguana bodies falling out of trees and littering the ground around the suburbs.


Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Bubble-Blowing Wasp

Several of the industrious insects were recently observed with droplets dangling from their mouths. Turns out, they were removing excess moisture from their nest by hoovering up water and then expelling it as minuscule water globes, which makes the wasps look like they’re blowing perfectly round bubbles.

Screen Shot 2017 10 28 at 1 38 12 PM

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Huge Jelly Blobs Spotted Off Norway Coast

Giant, jelly-like blobs have been sighted off the western coast of Norway, but the identities of these mysterious objects have scientists stumped.

The blobs are about 3.3 feet (1 meter) in diameter and are translucent, except for a strange dark streak running through their center, Science Nordic reported. No one knows what they are, or what made them.

The Norwegian blobs could be squid egg masses, but their appearance is different from any squid egg sac that has been identified before now. Researchers suggest the mystery could be solved by doing an DNA test on the jelly and compare the results to known DNA codes.