Archive for April, 2012

US tiger shrimp sightings worry scientists


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US tiger shrimp sightings worry scientists

Associated PressBy JANET McCONNAUGHEY | Associated Press – Fri, Apr 27, 2012Increase In Massive Shrimp Discovered In GulfFederal biologists find an increase in the number of big Asian tiger shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A big increase in reports of Asian tiger shrimp along the U.S. Southeast coast and in the Gulf of Mexico has federal biologists worried the species is encroaching on native species’ territory.

The black-and-white-striped shrimp can grow 13 inches long and weigh a quarter-pound, compared to eight inches and a bit over an ounce for domestic white, brown and pink shrimp. Scientists fear the tigers will bring disease and competition for native shrimp.

Shrimp are all bottom feeders, eating detritus and small animals. Bigger shrimp would eat more and these get so big they also eat small shrimp and fish, marine ecologist James A. Morris said.

Reports of tiger shrimp in U.S. waters rose from a few dozen a year — 21 in 2008, 47 in 2009 and 32 in 2010 — to 331 last year, from North Carolina to Texas.

“That’s a big jump,” said Pam Fuller, who keeps a federal invasive species database at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Southeast Ecological Science Center in Gainesville, Fla.

And those are just the numbers reported to the government.

“I’ve had fishermen tell me they have quit bringing them in. They are seeing large numbers in their catch — multiples per night,” said Morris, who works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort, N.C.

The increase “is the first indication that we may be undergoing a true invasion of Asian tiger shrimp,” he said.

Though tiger shrimp are edible, Fuller said they are not currently farmed in the United States.  The last U.S. tiger shrimp farm closed in Florida in 2004, without ever raising a successful crop, according to a USGS fact sheet about the species.

“Nobody knows what happened to their stock. But they have not been commonly caught in the area where that fish farm was,” she said.

She said hundreds were caught along South Carolina, Georgia and Florida after a storm hit a South Carolina shrimp farm in 1988, but none was reported in U.S. waters for the next 18 years. Six were reported in 2006, and four in 2007.

To find out whether last year’s increase was a one-time spike or the vanguard of an invasion, the agencies are asking people to keep a wide eye for tiger shrimp, to report where and when they find them, and bring back frozen tiger shrimp to help learn where they’re coming from.

Subtle differences in the DNA can indicate whether they have meandered in on ocean currents from the Caribbean or West Africa, where tiger shrimp are farmed, arrived in ballast water of ocean-going ships, or have taken up housekeeping in U.S. waters.

Fuller said she thinks ballast water is the least likely explanation because they’re known to be in the wild in areas where they could drift to the United States and because the threat appears widely spread. A map shows most of the reports are from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas, with some in Florida and a few in Texas.

“I think it’s quite possible they’re being swept up from the Caribbean,” she said. “There are large farms there that appear to be connected directly to the ocean. Some of those were destroyed in hurricanes. We don’t know if perhaps a large bunch got loose and swept up here and became established. Nobody knows. That’s one reason we want to do the genetic work.”

It can be hard to get good data on the shrimp, Morris said. For one thing, shrimp boats often are out for weeks at a time. All but the biggest tigers may go unnoticed, and shrimpers may not remember when and where they were caught.

He said it’s also hard to predict their possible effects. Freshwater invasive species have been well studied, but so far lionfish are the only known marine invasive species in U.S. waters, he said

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge anniversary

Posted in Relaxing Corner on April 29, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge anniversary

England’s Prince William and Catherine Middleton wed on April 29, 2011. Here are some of our favorite highlights from their first year of wedded bliss

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive for the British Premiere of "African Cats" at the BFI Southbank in London

Britain’s Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge arrive for the British Premiere of “African Cats” at the BFI Southbank in London April 25, 2012.   REUTERS/Luke MacGregor   (BRITAIN – Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY ROYALS)

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Britain’s Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, kiss as they stand on the balcony at Buckingham Palace with other members of the Royal Family, after their wedding in Westminster Abbey, in central London in this April 29, 2011 file photograph. Kissing as a romantic sense of expression is believed to have begun in India, where an epic poem called the Mahabharata – believed to have been written about 1000 BCE – included history’s first recognizable descriptions of romantic kissing.    REUTERS/Darren Staples/Files  (BRITAIN  – Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive under an umbrella for the UK Premiere of 'African Cats', in aid of 'Tusk Trust', at the BFI Southbank  in central London, Wednesday, April 25, 2012. (AP Photo/

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive under an umbrella for the UK Premiere of ‘African Cats’, in aid of ‘Tusk Trust’, at the BFI Southbank in central London, Wednesday, April 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)

 Photos:  Kate Middleton: Ravishing in Red

Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at a fundraising gala evening in aid of the Child Bereavement Charity, one of Prince William’s charities at St James’s Palace.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

It’s Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first overseas trip as a married couple and everywhere they go, the prince and his bride have been greeted by fanfare. They joined sailors for a prayer service Sunday morning and visited a shelter for troubled youth. Once again, the crowd was infatuated with Kate’s spectacular fashion, as she chose to wear a series of stunning dresses, including those by Canadian-born designer Erdem, which ABC News contributor Katie Nicholl called “very fashion forward.”

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Visit A Unicef Facility In Denmark

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – NOVEMBER 2:  Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge taste a high energy paste used to treat severe malnutrition during a visit to the UNICEF Emergency Supply Centre on November 2, 2011 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visited the centre to view efforts to distribute emergency food and medical supplies to eastern Africa where severe food shortages are affecting more than 13 million people. (Photo by Phil Noble – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Visit A Unicef Facility In Denmark

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – NOVEMBER 02:  Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit the UNICEF Global Supply Centre on November 2, 2011 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The visit is to help maintain the spotlight on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in East Africa, which has left hundreds of thousands of children severely malnourished and at risk of starving to death unless they receive urgent help. The huge supply centre sources supplies packs and distributes the food, water, vaccines and emergency medical kits for children around the globe.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

FILE — Britain’s Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge arrive at a charity event for Absolute Return for Kids, ARK, in London, June, 9, 2011 file photo. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, file)

Zara Phillips Marries Mike Tindall In Edinburgh

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – JULY 30:  Prince Harry, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge depart after the Royal wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall at Canongate Kirk on July 30, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips will marry England rugby player Mike Tindall today at Canongate Kirk. Many royals are expected to attend including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

CULVER CITY, CA – JULY 10:  Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the Mission Serve: Hiring Our Heroes event on July 10, 2011 in Culver City, California. The newly married Royal Couple are on the final day of their first joint overseas tour to the USA. They arrived on Friday after spending 9 days in Canada. The couple started off their tour of North America by joining millions of Canadians in taking part in Canada Day celebrations which mark Canada’s 144th Birthday. (Photo by Splash News – Pool/Getty Images)

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Prince William and Kate Middleton continued their 11-day North American tour in Prince Edward Island, Canada, the fourth day of the tour. Shown here is the royal couple arriving in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on July 3, 2011. Earlier that day, the royal couple was greeted by a fan who wished Kate well in starting a family. Kate, 29, who has not spoken publicly about having children, was overheard saying, “Yes, I hope to.”

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and first lady Michelle Obama (R) talk to Britain’s Prince William (2nd L) and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace, in London May 24, 2011.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Britain’s Prince William dances with Vanessa Boateng (C) as his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (R) looks on during a reception at Centrepoint’s Camberwell Foyer in London December 21, 2011. The national charity, Centrepoint, provides housing and support to improve the lives of homeless young people aged 16 to 25. REUTERS/Ben Stansall/POOL

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Britain’s Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, watch some bull riding while wearing western clothing and cowboy hats in Calgary, Alberta July 7, 2011. The Prince and his wife are on a royal tour of Canada from June 30 to July 8. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Britain’s Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, react after the prince took a shot with a hockey stick and missed during a visit to the Somba K’e Civic Plaza in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories July 5, 2011. Prince William and his wife Catherine are on a royal tour of Canada from June 30 to July 8. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge smiles as her husband Britain’s Prince William comments on her artistic skills during a visit to the Inner City Arts campus in Los Angeles July 10, 2011. Prince William and his wife Catherine are on a royal visit to California from July 8 to July 10. REUTERS/John Stillwell/Pool

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine, sported matching cable-knit, school-style sweaters for a walk in Holyrood Park on August 1st, 2011, in Scotland.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Visit The Royal Marsden Hospital

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – SEPTEMBER 29: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge meets patient Ellis Andrews, during a visit with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge to open the new Oak Centre for Children and Young People at The Royal Marsden Hospital on September 29, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth – WPA Pool /Getty Images)

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 19: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry attend The Sun Military Awards at Imperial War Museum on December 19, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Arthur Edwards – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

War Horse - UK Premiere

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 08: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the UK premiere of War Horse at Odeon Leicester Square on January 8, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)

Britain's Prince William, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge smile as they travel to Buckingham Palace after their wedding in Westminster Abbey in London

Britain’s Prince William, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge smile as they travel to Buckingham Palace in the 1902 State Landau, along the Procession Route, after their wedding in Westminster Abbey, in central London April 29, 2011. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

10 Untranslatable Words (And When You’ll Want to Use Them)

Posted in EDUCATION, BOOK, MOVIE,MUSIC & SPORT CORNER on April 28, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

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10 Untranslatable Words (And When You’ll Want to Use Them)

By Esther Inglis-Arkell
10 Untranslatable Words (And When You'll Want to Use Them)

English is so limited sometimes. There are so many kickass words in other languages, that describe concepts that we just don’t have one word for in English. And that’s a shame, because sometimes we find ourselves in situations that English just can’t describe.

Science fiction and fantasy are full of those sorts of quirky situations and concepts, in fact. Here are 10 words that have no English equivalent, and the science fiction and fantasy classics that you’d want to use them to describe.

10. Aware (Japanese)

The Meaning: Aware is a word, quite well-known, for the bittersweetness of a brief and fading moment of transcendent beauty. It’s that “last burst of summer” feel, or the transience of early spring.

The Work: The Lord of the Rings is the work that most needs this word to describe it. Sure, it’s an adventure and linguistics tale, but backing the battles is an ever-present tone. The whole point of this fantasy trilogy is a chronicling of the end of an era. The days of magic, both terribly evil and extraordinarily beautiful, are coming to an end. With destruction of the ring — the ultimate evil in the world — all the good of the dwarves and hobbits and elves retreat from the world as well, and the age of myth gives way to the more prosaic age of humans.

10 Untranslatable Words (And When You'll Want to Use Them)

9. Maya (Sanskrit)

The Meaning: This word is one that could be applied to a lot of protest movements and many political speeches. It refers to belief — the often unfortunate belief — that the symbol of a thing is the same as the thing itself. It’s the, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” of the literary world.

The Work: V for Vendetta is a work that plays with symbolism and how symbolism becomes real in the eyes of the populace. The eponymous V is armed with a mountain of symbols, from the letter and roman numeral of his name to a particular kind of rose to London buildings to the Guy Fawkes mask that he always wears. Whether this mistaken belief — that a guy playing around with cops and bombs can free a whole country — would actually lead to the kind of sweeping social change depicted in the book is up to you to decide.

8. Wei-wu-wei (Chinese)

The Meaning: Wei-wu-wei is conscious nonaction. It’s a deliberate, and principled, decision to do nothing whatsoever, and to do it for a particular reason.

The Work: Zone One, by Colson Whitehead is the non-action zombie novel. Leaving aside stupid comparisons in reviews that shall remain linkless, it is an understandably frustrating book. The narrative meanders through the current clean-up job, past wanderings, and extended social commentary of a man in a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland. It’s light on action and heavy on description and sustained metaphor. Whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing, you know it’s a deliberate thing. Our own Charlie Jane Anders review of the book states, “you get the sense, after a while, that Whitehead is deliberately trying to deny the reader any feeling of narrative satisfaction, through denseness and obfuscation.” It’s a definite wei-wu-wei novel.

10 Untranslatable Words (And When You'll Want to Use Them) 7. Bricoleur (French)

The Meaning: A bricoleur is someone who starts building something with no clear plan, adding bits here and there, cobbling together a whole while flying by the seat of their pants.

The Work: Oh, golly. We can all think of at least five different series that were worked on by some real bricoleurs, can’t we? But I’d have to say that Lost is the most recent, and the most startling, one of them. They seemed to be making it up since the beginning and hoping no one noticed. Bricoleurs don’t always make a shamble of things. The word can also refer to someone whose loose and improvisational style leads to an inventive and engaging whole. Doctor Who, in its continuous broadcasting under many different creative directors, can be said to be a, um, bricolage? And the series has built an engaging world with something for everyone.

6. Schlimmbesserung (German)

The Meaning: A schlimmbesserung is a supposed improvement that makes things worse. There are actually a lot of words for this in a lot of languages, and that makes me think that English needs to get on the ball and coin a native word for this concept. Everyone needs it.

The Work: Did people want the ‘first’ episodes in the Star Wars series? You bet they did. Did they need them? Debatable. Did that new-old trilogy add anything to what was already there? No. Quite the opposite. And you could say the same for the many re-released CGI upgrades that the original movies received over the years. Some things shouldn’t be improved. Or at least, certainly not in the way they were.

5. Orenda (Huron)

The Meaning: Orenda is the invocation of the power of human will to change the world around us. It is set up to be the opposing force to fate or destiny. If powerful forces beyond your control are trying to force you one way, orenda is a kind of voiced summoning of personal strength to change fate.

The Work: For me, the most interesting part of the Matrix Trilogy was the part that can be described by orenda. I wasn’t too impressed by the first movie’s reveal of Neo as the chosen one, or the idea of all of reality being fake. What I liked was when we got to the second movie, and all that ‘chosen one’ stuff fell victim to the power of predictability and statistics. Neo wasn’t the chosen one. He was a familiar protocol, and he and his fellow humans would obey the dictates of that protocol. Changing that, and the moment when he went from embracing his ‘destiny’ to fighting it, was the point of the series, I thought.

10 Untranslatable Words (And When You'll Want to Use Them) 4. Gâchis (French)

The Meaning: This one means ‘a wasted opportunity.’ Specifically it means an opportunity that was wasted by ineptness being hurled at it from all directions.

The Work: Sounds like the on-air run of Firefly to me. I’m not among those fans who think that Firefly would have been a runaway success. It was a risk. It was a niche genre in a niche genre. Still, it seems like jumbling up the episodes and airing them, you know, whenever, was a bad way to handle an original concept.

3. Weltschmerz (German)

The Meaning: It could be termed world-weariness or ennui, but this particular has the quirk of almost only being applied to privileged young people.

The Work: Can anyone place the follow lyrics: Life can’t be easy/ It’s not always swell./ Don’t tell me truth hurts, little girl./ ‘Cause it hurts like hell. The fact that this was sung to, and about, a fifteen-year-old LARPing suburbanite with a room over-crowded with toys, a closet full of costumes, and a loyal pure-bred sheep dog makes Labyrinth the perfect movie to embody this word. What makes it even better is it is a call for such people to grow up and be more mature, all the while adding in enough dramatic elements that real-life people in the same situation (and let me reluctantly raise my hand, here) felt that it really spoke to them. I still love Labyrinth. It’s a fun and well-done movie. But it definitely resonated with a certain demographic.

10 Untranslatable Words (And When You'll Want to Use Them) 2. Kalpa (Sanskrit)

The Meaning: Time passing on a cosmic scale

The Work: That’s what 2001: A Space Odyssey is all about. Everything, from the music to the subject matter to the deliberate invocation of shapes and symbols as a way of signalling both change and continuity, was meant to show how the ‘cosmic’ passage of unimaginable amounts of time. Since we’re now well past 2001, perhaps Kalpa would have been a better title for the movie, and novel, in the first place. But who knew – for sure – that it had that kind of staying power?

1. Razbliuto (Russian) Update: Or English!

The Meaning: This word, pronounced ros-blee-OO-toe, describes the feeling that a person (generally meant to be a man) has for the person who he once loved, but now no longer loves.

The Work: Take your pick. I have my eye on a few big franchises nowadays that I think will cause a lot of people some razbliuto in a few years. Maybe even a few months. For me personally, though, I suppose I’ve come full circle to The Lord of the Rings. I adored it at one age, and read it over and over on car trips and at school under the desk, and late at night with my room light being switched off – not at all sneakily, I’m sure – whenever my parents came by. And while I respect the work and world-building that went in to it, I have no desire to pick it up ever, ever again. I didn’t even see the movies. And there’s a reason why I added the pronunciation guide to this particular word. I think it needs to get in to circulation in general, since everyone knows the feeling of loving a story at one particular time in their life, and then that love falling away. But I suspect this kind of feeling is particularly strong in sci-fi and fantasy fans. These works don’t just offer a book to love, but an entire world to immerse oneself in, with every character, situation, and story a shining possibility. The stories in these genres can mold themselves to people’s inner lives more than realistic fiction can. But inner lives change, and the things that fill us with joy and inspiration at one point in our lives simply aren’t relevant at other points. While there are plenty of sci-fi and fantasy stories that endure, there are many that drop away as we change. There are some former Ann Rice fans out there who have something to say to Twilight fans. There are people who love Xena who have something to say to fans of Katniss. But to say it, they have to know the word. So say it with me: ros-blee-OO-toe.

Update Note: After some comments from Russian speakers, I took a look around the internet for razbliuto. It seems to be up on some dictionary sites, but only one site traces the history. I got the words for this entry, including razbliuto, from They Have a Word for It, a book about words by Howard Rheingold. It seems his information came from a book called HodgePodge, by J Bryan in 1986. Before that, it looks like it came from a mistaken translation and conglomeration of two words, one of which means ‘a lost love’ and the other meaning ‘whore’. However, it seems since it’s only English linguists who use the word – it’s kind of an English word after all. I say we keep it. Via They Have a Word For It.

New Faults, and Earthquake Risks, Found in Washington


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New Faults, and Earthquake Risks, Found in Washington

Crystal Gammon, OurAmazingPlanet Contributor –         Apr 25, 2012        05:00 PM ET
This LiDAR image (acquired in 2006 by the USGS) shows five paleoseismic study sites (red dots with block perimeters) and three Holocene faults (solid red lines) inferred from the data. CREDIT: Kelsey et al./USGS
  Tectonically speaking, there’s a lot going on in the Pacific Northwest. From the Cascadia subduction zone, where the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is slowly pushing its way underneath the North American plate, to the Seattle Fault, where Native American legends recorded a massive earthquake 1,100 years ago, the region has its fair share of seismic hazards.Now add to that three more potentially dangerous faultsin the Bellingham Basin, a tectonically active area along the coast of Washington, near the Canadian border. A team of researchers has discovered active tectonic faults in this region nearly 40 miles (60 kilometers) north of any previously known faults.”We’ve known for a long time that the whole Pacific Northwest regionis contracting very slowly north-to-south, at the rate of a few millimeters per year,” said Richard Blakely, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., who was part of the study. “It doesn’t sound like very much, but when you concentrate that contraction on specific faults, they can become rather dangerous.” 

Big enough

The faults Blakely and his colleagues found are reverse faults — a type of tectonic fault where one side is shoved up over the other side — and the team estimates they’re capable of triggering magnitude-6.0 to -6.5 earthquakes. [Most Dangerous Places on Earth]

“That’s big enough to cause damage and hurt people, but it’s not as severe as a magnitude-7 earthquake, such as the one that occurred on the Seattle fault 1,100 years ago,” Blakely told OurAmazingPlanet.

The team found the new faults through a bit of collaborative luck, Blakely said. He had been examining maps of magnetic anomalies in the region and noticed clues pointing to several unidentified faults in the area. When his colleagues in Washington showed him LiDAR images — data collected by an airborne laser tool that showed scarps (steep banks formed when a fault ruptures) in exactly the same areas — and paleoseismic records that indicated past earthquakes had shoved the ground upward several feet, they knew they had found something.

New seismic hazards

The three faults the team identified are located near Birch Bay, Sandy Point and Drayton Harbor, all along the Pacific coast of northern Washington, about 20 miles (32 km) north of the city of Bellingham.

They’re about 40 miles (60 km) north of where geologists previously thought active faulting ended in the Bellingham Basin, opening a new swath of the Washington coast to seismic hazards.

What’s more, the team traced the faults from onshore to offshore, meaning that when they do rupture, they could trigger an underwater earthquake.

“This is a big ‘if’=,’ but if they ruptured again along their entire length, some of that rupture would be out in the water, and there might be a tsunami hazard related to that,” Blakely said.

But Washington residents and their Canadian neighbors don’t necessarily need to worry about that happening anytime soon. The researchers didn’t find enough paleoseismic evidence to say how often major quakes occur along these faults.

The last time an earthquake occurred along the Birch Bay and Sandy Ridge faults was at least 1,000 years ago, Blakely said, and moving at a rate of only a few millimeters per year, it could take some time to build up enough tension to produce another quake.

The team’s findings were published March 30 in the Journal of Geophysical Research.===============================================

A Crash of Rhinos: See All 5 Species


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A Crash of Rhinos: See All 5 Species

OurAmazingPlanet Staff –         Apr 26, 2012        04:45 PM ET
RhinocerosCredit: Tim_Booth | ShutterstockA group of rhinoceroses is known as a crash, though these endangered creatures are often solitary.Rhinos are found in parts of African and Asia, depending on the species. 

Some rhinos have one horn, while others have two, and they vary in size from the smallest (the Javan rhino), to the largest (the white rhino)

Here are the five species of rhino. Learn more rhino facts here.

Black Rhino (<em>Diceros bicornis</em>)
Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis)Credit: Piotr Gatlik | Shutterstock(or Prehensile or hook-lipped rhinoceros)The black rhino lives in the grasslands and savannahs of Africa, where all four of its subspecies are listed as critically endangered. One subspecies, D. bicornis longipes (Western Black Rhinoceros), was declared extinct in 2011.

Black rhinos have two horns on their heads, with the front one being larger. They typically weigh between 1,750 – 3,000 pounds (800 – 1,350 kg) and are about 4.5 – 5.5 feet (1.4 – 1.7 meter) tall at their shoulder.

They have a prehensile lip that is good at grasping grasses and leaves (hence the other names they are known by).

Black rhinos aren’t actually black. Their name likely differentiates them from white rhinos, whose name is a corruption of the Afrikaans word “weit,” which means “wide” and describes the mouth of the rhinos.

White Rhino (<em>Ceratotherium simum</em>)

White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum)Credit: Francois van Heerden | Shutterstock

There are two subspecies of the white rhino, the Southern White Rhino (C. simum simum) and the Northern White Rhino (C. simum cottoni), which is presumed to be extinct. The Southern White rhino is considered “near threatened,” and is the least endangered of the rhino species.

The white rhino is the largest of the rhino species, weighing about 4,000-6,000 pounds (1,800 – 2,700 kg) and standing about 5 – 6 feet (1.5 – 1.8 m) tall at the shoulder. They have two horns, with the front one being larger.

The largest populations of white rhinos are found in South Africa. White rhinos’ name comes from

Javan Rhino (<em>Rhinoceros sondaicus</em>)

Javan Rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus)Credit: ©WWF-Greater Mekong

(or Asian lesser one-horned rhinoceros)

The Javan rhino is the rarest of the rhino species, with only between 27 and 44 individuals thought to live in the wild. They are believed to have been poached from their former habitat in Vietnam and are now found only in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park. They are listed as critically endangered.

Javan rhinos are also the smallest of the rhinos, weight about half of what white rhinos do (about 2,000 – 5,060 pounds (900 – 2,300 kg)) and standing 5 – 5.5 feet (1.5 – 1.7 m) tall at the shoulder. They have only one horn on their head.

These solitary rhinos are very rarely seen.

Greater One-Horned Rhino (<em>Rhinoceros unicornis</em>)

Greater One-Horned Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis)Credit: Kenneth Keifer |

(or Indian Rhinoceros)

As its name suggests, the Greater One-horned rhino has only one horn. It is generally between 8 to 24 inches (20 to 61 centimeters) long. They are similar in size to white rhinos.

Greater one-horneds are the most amphibious of the rhino species and will immerse themselves in water and munch on aquatic plants

Sumatran Rhino (<em>Dicerorhinus sumatrensis</em>)

Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)Credit: International Rhino Foundation

(or Hairy Rhinoceros)

The Sumatran rhino differs from its cousins by the shaggy hairs on their body and ears. It has two horns and typically weighs between 1,300 – 2,000 pounds (600 – 950 kg).

The species is considered critically endangered and is threatened by poaching in its habitats in Borneo and Sumatra. They exist only in protected areas.

Images: Species of the Maya Biosphere Reserve


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Images: Species of the Maya Biosphere Reserve

OurAmazingPlanet Staff –         Mar 27, 2012        12:56 PM ET
maya-biosphere-reserveCredit: Melvin Mérida/WCSThe heart of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, which will be protected under a new agreement between local communities, the Guatemalan governments and conservation groups
scarlet-macaw-120327Credit: Melvin Mérida/WCSA scarlet macaw in the Maya Biosphere Reserve. The bird is one of the most endangered species of parrots in the world, threatened by the destruction of their habitats
black-howler-monkey-120327Credit: Melvin Mérida/WCSThe Maya Biosphere Reserve is also home to the black howler monkey (Alouatta caraya).
jaguar-pantera-onca-120327Credit: Melvin Mérida/WCSJaguars, the largest living cats in the Americas, are also found in the Maya Biosphere Reserve. Jaguar populations still exist in 18 countries in Latin America.

Hold Your Nose: 7 Foul Flowers


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Hold Your Nose: 7 Foul Flowers

Brett Israel, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer –         Nov 12, 2010        02:23 AM ET
   Above Titan
Above TitanCredit: Jeff Hillyer/WIU.How’s this for an evolutionary strategy? Develop such a rancid odor that you lure flies and beetles — critters that would normally feed on decaying flesh — and hold them hostage until they’re smothered with your seeds so that when you release them, they can’t help but to spread your genes. 

Here are 7 fetid flowers that have followed that path. From the various corpse flowers to the western skunk cabbage, these amazing, stomach-turning flowers will have you begging for fresh air

Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum)

Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum)Credit: Jeff Hillyer/WIU.

When it comes to creating a big stink, the titan arum does it in style. Not only is it one of the biggest flowers in the world, it’s also one of the smelliest. Dubbed the “corpse flower” after the putrid smell of its bloom, these flowers are huge draws at greenhouses around the world. Though their blooms are rare, the smell of rotten flesh lingers in the air for days.

The titan arum bloom is actually not a single flower, but thousands of tiny flowers, which botanists call an inflorescence. The titan arum’s inflorescence is the largest in the world, typically stretching past 10 feet (3 meters) tall.

Native to the equatorial rainforests of central Sumatra in western Indonesia, the titan arum’s scientific name, Amorphophallus titanum, translates to “giant misshapen phallus.” The plant evolved its horrendous odor and darkly colored collar-like structure, called a spathe, to attract pollinators such as carrion beetles and flesh flies, which normally feed on rotting flesh. [See the stages of the corpse flower’s bloom.]

Several titan arums have recently bloomed, including Titan 3, Metis and an unmanned plant at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England.

Stinking Corpse Lily (Rafflesia arnoldii)

Stinking Corpse Lily (Rafflesia arnoldii)Credit: Jeremy Holden.

Another carrion flower that is often referred to as a “corpse flower” is Rafflesia arnoldii, native to the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia. These plants look and smell like a rotting carcass. These stinkers are big too: Rafflesia flowers are the largest individual flowers on Earth.

The flower, with several petal-like structures around a large opening, can weigh up to 24 pounds (11 kilograms) and grow as large as a person’s torso.

Rafflesia is a parasitic flower. It has no leaves, stems, roots or chlorophyll (the chemical that helps plants photosynthesize). Any water or nutrition is siphoned from its host, the Tetrastigma vine. This makes Rafflesia very tricky to find in the wild because it grows as thread-like fibers within this vine. When it’s ready to reproduce it will form a cabbage-like lump that bursts through to the outside. About a year later, the lump will open but only for a few days. Rafflesia will then grow round fruit, filled with thousands of seeds that are spread by forest animals.

Western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus)

Western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus)Credit: Dreamstime.

This flower might not look so bad, but it’s called a skunk cabbage for a reason. Native to the swamps of the Pacific Northwest, the plant releases a rotten odor that flies and beetles can’t resist.

The Western Skunk Cabbage is tiny in comparison to the corpse flowers. But much like the titan arum, the Western Skunk Cabbage produces a relatively large spadix and surrounding spathe, but they are only a few dozen inches tall. The flower has is rare feature — its blooming stem will get hot. This heat will melt the snow around the plant to give pollinators easy access.

Another fun tidbit: Bears will eat the skunk cabbage after hibernating because it’s a laxative.

Carrion Flower (Stapelia gigantea)

Carrion Flower (Stapelia gigantea)Credit: R.A. Howard, courtesy of Smithsonian Institution/USDA.

No matter the nickname — carrion flower, toad flower, Zulu giant, starfish flower — these native South African plants are like road kill to flies.

The plant itself resembles a cactus, with clumps of 4-sided spineless stems. In September, the flower blooms (see above), producing large, flesh-looking, 5-pointed stars. The flowers have the characteristic rotten smell of carrion plants, but if you find one outside it’s not likely to make you gag.

The flesh-colored flower is covered with little white hairs, and attracts flies and maggots to the male and female sex organs inside its central orifice.

Stinking Root Parasite (Hydnora africana)

Stinking Root Parasite (Hydnora africana)Credit: Lytton John Musselman.

The parasitic plant Hydnora africana, native to the arid deserts in southern Africa, grows entirely underground.

These parasites live off the roots of the shrubby Euphorbia genus of plants. The red, flesh-colored flowers sprout from the sand, jam-packed with black beetles due to the flower’s dung scent. The beetles are trapped inside the flower by downward pointing hairs, but they spill out when the flower opens.

Dead Horse Arum Lily (Helicodiceros muscivorus)

Dead Horse Arum Lily (Helicodiceros muscivorus)Credit: Frederick Depuydt.

This rare, heat-producing plant can raise its temperature to help lure flies into its flower. Of course, the dead horse smell and dark-colored spathe also help.

On a warm and sunny day, the flower will unroll and release its stench while only the female flowers are receptive. Flies are lured deep within the hairy spadix, where they get trapped for an entire day. The next day, the male flowers shed their pollen. The pollen-coated flies then leave the plant, ignoring the inactive female flowers on the way out, and go on to cross pollinate another Dead horse arum lily

Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)Credit: Sue Sweeney.

Like the similarly named plant on the West Coast, the Eastern Skunk Cabbage is a stinky plant at home in swampy wetlands. The plant may be foul, but in Tennessee it’s protected due to its status as an endangered species.

In the spring, Eastern Skunk Cabbage will flower and grow a 4-inch- long(10-centimeter) spadix and 6-inch- tall (15-cm) deep purple spathe. The plant will grow several green leaves above ground after the flower. Crushing the leaves will release the skunky odor

Past Preserved: The Petrified Forest


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Past Preserved: The Petrified Forest

OurAmazingPlanet Staff –         Feb 13, 2012        06:05 AM ET
Petrified Wood
Petrified WoodCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherPetrified wood is a fossil that is the remains of ancient vegetation, most commonly ancient trees. It occurs by a natural action known as permineralization, a process in which mineral deposits take on the shape within the cells of organic tissue. These minerals replace all the organic materials of the ancient trees, most commonly with a silicate such as quartz.
3-D Fossils
3-D FossilsCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherPetrified wood is a 3-D fossil representation of the original living organism. The petrification process occurs deep underground where the wood has become buried by sediments, blocking off any source of oxygen and thus stopping the oxygen-fueled decomposition or the organic matter. Petrification requires four basic materials: water, wood, mud and volcanic ash.
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National ParkCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherPetrified wood is found in all 50 states of the United States as well as many countries around the world. In northeastern Arizona, one of the world’s greatest concentrations of petrified wood has risen to the surface as a result of thousands of years of plateau uplifting and erosion. This great collection of petrified wood is protected within the boundaries of the Petrified Forest National Park.
Foundations Laid
Foundations LaidCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherThe story of this land that is now within the national park boundary begins some 226 million years ago during the Late Triassic Period when the Chinle Formation found here was laid down. Sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, siltstone, and mudstone, are most common here and buried deep within these sedimentary layers are found the petrified remains of ancient forestsa
Pangaea - Supercontinent
Pangaea – SupercontinentCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherWhen all the Earth’s land was once joined together into the supercontinent called Pangaea, this land of northern Arizona was located only a few degrees north of the Earth’s equator, on the southwest shores of Pangaea. The climate was tropical and a great, sediment-filled river system, maybe as large as today’s Amazon or Mississippi Rivers, constantly flowed toward the ancient sea.
Thick Sedimentary Rock Layers
Thick Sedimentary Rock LayersCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherCommon flooding spread the continental sediment across great flood plains, laying down thick layers of sedimentary rock along with the remains of animals and plants, including great trees. The petrified remains of those trees are scattered today across the national park’s landscape
Discovered Species
Discovered SpeciesCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherOver 200 species of plants have been discovered within this Chinle Formation, including lycopods, ferns, horsetails, cycads, conifers and several types yet to be classified. Most of the petrified wood found here is from an extinct conifer given the scientific name Araucarioxylon arizonicum. Modern botanists are still not in agreement that all these ancient logs are of the same species and study into the variety of petrified trees is ongoing.
Submerged Trees Begin to Petrify
Submerged Trees Begin to PetrifyCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherSubmerged deep beneath the sediments of silt, mud, sand and volcanic ash deposited by the ancient rivers, the buried forest of trees remained for millions of years. Percolating ground water carried silica and other trace minerals downward, saturating the deeply buried ancient trees. Slowly, quartz crystals grew within the porous cell walls and the slow process of petrification began.
Giant Quartz Crystals
Giant Quartz CrystalsCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherPetrified wood is basically a giant quartz crystal. Quartz crystals tend to be clear in color and yet petrified wood can be all the colors of the rainbow. These brilliant colors are due to impurities found in the quartz. For example, if iron oxide is present, the petrified wood will be red, brown and yellow. Cobalt results in hues of green and blue. Manganese creates shades of pink, while carbon creates streaks of black
Natural Sectioning
Natural SectioningCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherSince quartz is very hard, yet very brittle, the Petrified Forest often looks as if ancient lumberjacks had come through the forest cutting the large logs into smaller sections. In fact, this fracturing is a result of the natural breaking of the logs from ground stress as the Colorado Plateau began to rise some 60 million years ago
Rising Plateaus
Rising PlateausCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherWhile Colorado Plateau slowly rose, the forces of erosion and weathering removed the softer sedimentary layers leaving exposed an incredible forest of petrified logs scattered across the current high desert landscape.  Some of these petrified logs are over 100 feet (30.5 meters) long, 10 feet (3 m) in diameter and weigh up to 44 tons.
Newspaper Rock
Newspaper RockCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherWithin the boundary of the national park is found evidence that early man lived in and among the ancient forest of stone.  Here, on a sandstone boulder known as “Newspaper Rock,” early Native Americans left many petroglyphs carved into the large stones.
Impressive Sight
Imagine the Treasure Trove
Imagine the Treasure TroveCredit: Linda & Dr. Dick BuscherOne can only imagine the treasure trove of Triassic fossils that are still buried deep within the sedimentary rocks of the Chinle Formation of the Petrified Forest National Park. There is little doubt that an even greater forest of petrified wood will be exposed on the surface of the barren land some time in the far distant future. [Top 10 Least Visited National Parks]

Anti-Poaching Efforts Pay Off in Thailand


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Anti-Poaching Efforts Pay Off in Thailand

OurAmazingPlanet Staff –
A Night Cap
A Night CapCredit: DNP-Government of Thailand/WCS Thailand Program.A tigress drinks with her cubs from a watering hole inside Thailand’s Western Forest Complex.
Out For A Stroll
Out For A StrollCredit: DNP-Government of Thailand/WCS Thailand Program.A Malayan tapir pauses as it trips the infra-red beam of a camera trap in Thailand.
Peek-A-BooCredit: DNP-Government of Thailand/WCS Thailand Program.An Asian elephant calf peeks out from the middle of a herd of adults.  The Western Forest Complex of Thailand contains one of Southeast Asia’s largest and most important elephant populations.
Who’s There?Credit: DNP-Government of Thailand/WCS Thailand Program.A green peafowl eyes the camera.
Look Out, Poachers!
Look Out, Poachers!Credit: DNP-Government of Thailand/WCS Thailand Program.An anti-poaching team on patrol.

Mysterious Balancing Rocks Resist Quakes’ Shakes


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Mysterious Balancing Rocks Resist Quakes’ Shakes

Andrea Mustain, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer –         Apr 20, 2012        12:49 PM ET
A Precariously Balanced Rock, or PBR. CREDIT: James Brune
   SAN DIEGO — In the western San Bernardino Mountains, near the highway that links Los Angeles and Las Vegas, scientists recently discovered a geological mystery: colossal rocks perched in precarious poses right next door to the San Andreas Fault.It’s not the rocks’ balancing actthat is perplexing, said Lisa Grant Ludwig, a scientist who presented this puzzle to colleagues this week here at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America. It’s how the rocks have managed to stay that way with such an aggressive maker of powerful earthquakes just a few miles away. 

Rocks with seemingly acrobatic balance are seen all over the world. Meteorological and geological forces wash away the material around them, leaving the giant rocks balanced like a top. There’s even a term for them: Precariously Balanced Rocks, or PBRs for short, said Ludwig, an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine.

When you start to get into seismically active areas there are fewer and fewer,” Ludwig told OurAmazingPlanet. “And you don’t expect to see them right next to active faults —and you don’t, generally.” [Images: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth]

Still standing

In fact, PBRs are used to verify earthquake hazard maps. “Quite some time ago it was recognized that wherever you see these things, it’s an indication there haven’t been a lot of really strong earthquakes because they haven’t been shaken down,” Ludwig said.

That’s what makes the San Bernardino PBRs so very strange. There are two pockets of more than a dozen of the gracefully balancing rocks, and some are only 4 miles (7 kilometers) from the fault.

Ludwig said that when a colleague brought her pictures of the rocks — and asked how they could possibly withstand the earthquakes that tear along the San Andreas Fault — she had to go see them for herself.

“I have spent most of my career documenting large earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault,” Ludwig said. “I could rock some of [the PBRs] with my hand.”

Seismic mystery

Subsequent dating research revealed that the rocks had been standing in their positions for millennia — in some cases as long as 18,000 years. “That’s a long time for something that is so close to a big fault,” Ludwig said.

It’s not clear why violent shaking has apparently spared the two small pockets near the fault where the rocks still stand. “I think it shows an area of complexity in the fault rupture,” Ludwig said, “and that is what a lot of my colleagues seem to agree on in the discussion.”

She said it’s something that researchers will be pursuing next. “We don’t have a good explanation,” she said.

Reach Andrea Mustain at Follow her on Twitter @AndreaMustain. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.