Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2009


Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador, has announced that he wants other countries in the world to pay his country over 5 billion dollars so that they do not drill in Yasuni National Park.  This demand increases the prviously desired amount Ecuador wanted to be paid not to drill in the area.  According to Correa, the international community should compensate Ecuador for their efforts to prevent pollution, maintaining biodiversity, and fighting poverty.  They decided on this amount after calculating the amount of carbon that would be spewed into the atmosphere if drilling had occurred.

Hoatzin in Yasumi National Park

Hoatzin in Yasumi National Park

This park is a UNESCO world biosphere reserve, meaning that it is an important ecological area full of biodiversity.  There are an estimated one millions barrels of untapped crude oil under the national reserve.    This presents an interesting dilemma for Correa whose administration is apparently relatively environmentally concerned, but also a struggling member of OPEC (also surprising). 

I, personally, do not know how we have gotten to this point.  We are holding our wilderness areas hostage.  This is no way to treat a truly limited resource.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


Pileated Woodie!

Pileated Woodie!

Buttercups trying to hide

Buttercups trying to hide

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

A little closer

A little closer

The goslings are getting bigger

The goslings are getting bigger

Wood Thrush: Thanks for Tom from Mon@rch for the ID

Wood Thrush: Thanks for Tom from Mon@rch for the ID

Another wood thrush

Another wood thrush

This dude just stuck around long enough for me to snap a bunch of photos

This dude just stuck around long enough for me to snap a bunch of photos

A distant Grey Catbird

A distant Grey Catbird

So I decided to go for a little walk in a nearby park.  One does not expect to see much in a park which is so overwhelmed with humanity, but there is plenty of chances for surprises.

Read Full Post »


Not your average sloth

Not your average sloth

The Andes mountains cast a rain shadow over much of the easternmost edge of South America.  This causes little rain to fall in the area, creating deserts, including the driest one of all: the Atacama.   This dry climate helps preserve many fossils, including the discovery made a few days ago.  

 Construction workers accidentally unearthed a nearly complete ancient sloth.  This one is particularly intriguing to the paleontological community because it is 4 million years older than previously unearthed sloths and is one of the few complete skeletons.  The workers were installing a water system in the basement of a house in southern Peru when they unearthed a large number of bones.  Parts of a giant armadillo were also found in the vicinity. 

Returning to the sloth: the creature measured 10 feet long.  Ancient sloths, like their modern cousins were herbivores.  This one probably lived during the Mio-Pliocene.  Strangely, it seems that this animal was much smaller than its late cousins the giant sloth.

Read Full Post »


I have one that next to nobody has heard about.  The Andiperla Willinki, also known as the Patagonian Dragon, is a small insect that lives on Patagonian glaciers.

Andiperla willinki

Andiperla willinki

The insect is coloured brownish-red and black.  It has the amazing ability to survive in extreme cold temperatures, making it one of the most fascinating extremophiles on the planet.

It was first discovered by Willink Aubert, a French explorer.  Because of its rarity, small size, and extreme habitat, it was thought to be extinct for quite some time.  It was, however, rediscovered in 2001 on the Torres del Paine glacier by a film crew.

Read Full Post »


 

Bearded ladies were always a staple of many a wandering carnival or exposition in the mid-1800’s.  Although scientists long theorized about the genetic problem, it was never isolated.  But scientists have only now discovered the genetic mutation which causes women to grow beards.  
Julia Pastrana, the most famous bearded lady

Julia Pastrana, the most famous "bearded lady"

The disorder is known as congenital generalized hypertrichosis terminalis (CGHT) with gingival hypertrophy (try saying that 5 times fast).   Its symptoms are growth of dark hair all over the body, strange facial structure and enlarged gums. 

After analyzing the genomes of 3 people with the rare disease, researchers found the cause of the defect to be on chromosome 17.  Genetic abnormalities affected four to eight genes on chromosome 17, which in turn, determined the severity of the symptoms.

Read Full Post »


Atlantis, the space shuttle which transported the crew that repaired Hubble Space Telescope, successfully touched down at its alternative landing spot in California on Sunday.

Shuttle Atlantis in Space

Shuttle Atlantis in Space

The shuttle finally landed after almost 13 days in space.  The first landing try in Cape Canaveral, Florida was scrapped due to poor weather.  Strong cross winds and potential thunder storms would have caused problems for the landing.  Fortunately, the shuttle had enough fuel and supplies to stay up until today.

Read Full Post »


Komodo Dragon.  When you hear the name of this magnificent animal, the “Isn’t that the big lizard that has bacteria-filled spit.  Well, in fact, the Komodo Dragon is the world’s largest lizard.  They grow to be up to 70 kilos and 3 meters in length!  And, although it has been widely believed that the bacteria in the dragon’s bite is what kills its prey, the creature also has a snake-like venom in its bite.

 

A dragons poisonous bite killed Beowulf, King of the Danes.

A dragon's poisonous bite killed Beowulf, King of the Danes.

The venom sends victims into shock and prevents blood from clotting.  This discovery was made when a MRI uncovered venom glands containing a shock-inducing poison which increases blood flowand decreases blood pressure.  After the discovery was made, the team surgically removed a venom gland from a terminally ill Komodo.  Further analysis of the poison revealed that the bite would cause stomach cramps, hypothermia. low blood pressure, and poor platelet performance.   Not a fun way to go.  The research team also discovered that the Komodo Dragon, like saltwater crocodiles and sharks, use a “grip and rip” method of killing prey, which includes birds and mammals. 

The Komodo Dragon is an amazing predator

The Komodo Dragon is an amazing predator

This fascinating species is only found on a handful of islands on the Indonesian archapeligo.  They are considered to be threatened/vulnerable as there are only about 4,500 in the wild.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: