Posts Tagged ‘North’

A study of Google Earth satellite images has revealed that herds of cattle tend to face in the north-south direction of Earth’s magnetic lines.
Bovines may know more about the earths magnetic fields than you do!

Bovines may know more about the earth's magnetic fields than you do!


It seems that bovines have a compass-esque 6th sense.  The teams who did this research also noticed the same of red and roe deer.

The data on 2,974 deer came from direct ground observations and photos in the Czech Republic. Researchers also examined fresh beds left by resting deer in the snow, where the animals had sought shelter deep in the forest away from the wind, so that was not a variable.

Wind and time of day did not offer better explanations for why 8,510 cattle in 308 locations around the world would mostly face north-south.  Both cattle and deer faced a more magnetic north-south direction rather than geographic north-south, (Earth’s magnetic poles do not line up perfectly with the North and South Poles).

Previous research has shown that animals including birds, turtles, certain bat species, and salmon migrate using this sense of magnetic direction.

However, the researchers suggest that the finding of large animals’ sense of north-south direction could raise other agricultural questions, such as how keeping cows in barns facing east-west might affect milk production.


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The Puma, cougar, mountain lion, Florida panther, or red tiger has a plethora of names, including his scientific title: Puma concolor. They are the most widespread of the American cats and have the largest distribution of any western hemisphere mammal, as they reside all across North and South America. They also hold the record as the mammal with the most names, but enough with the fun facts, let’s get technical, because this is one beautifully evolved animal.

The Beautiful and Powerful Puma in the Patagonian Wilderness.

The Beautiful and Powerful Puma in the Patagonian Wilderness.

Pumas live for an average of 12-13 years, and during this time, can grow up to 3 meters long, three-quarters of a meter in height, and 120 kg.

Pumas are large, slender cats with muscular limbs and large feet, perfect for hunting large game on rough terrain.  They also have a long tail to aid their balance during hunts.  Their grey/brown fur and white underside is creamy white allows them to blend into the grasses and shrubs of mountainous regions. The cubs are born with a spotted coat, which fades with age.

Pumas live in mountainous and unpopulated areas. They can also be found in coniferous forests, lowland tropical forests, grasslands, and, swamps. 

Pumas hunt all herbivores from moose and deer to beavers, raccoons, mice, birds, porcupines, squirrels, insects and fish. They will often bury unfinished food and return to eat it the next day, as larger prey can provide food for over a week.  Pumas hunt at dawn, dusk and at night, and have limited activity during the day.  To hunt, this majestic cat manoeuvres to within 15 m of its prey and then uses its powerful legs to lunge at its prey with a few running jumps that can reach well over 12m.  It will then leap on to the back of its prey and break the animal’s neck with a powerful bite.

Pumas are generally solitary, except for mothers and their cubs.  They have different ranges during the winter and the summer and will migrate each year. The male may have ranges in excess of 160 sq. km, which will overlap with the territories of females.  However males will very rarely overlap with each other.

Sadly. almost all subspecies of Puma are on the endangered list mainly due to ranchers who kill the pumas because they are a “threat to livestock.”

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Another Holmsian inspiration!  I finally finished the complete Sherlock Holmes stories and this one caught my eye: The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane (click on the title for more info).  The animal this time, is quite real.

Cyanea!  Cyanea capillata!  --Sherlock Holmes

"Cyanea! Cyanea capillata!" --Sherlock Holmes

The Lion’s Mane Jellyfish or Cyanea capillata is on record the largest jellyfish ever found.  Its head was 2.3 meters in diameter and had tentacles 36.5 meters (120 ft) in length. 

The sticky tentacles are grouped into eight clusters, with each cluster containing 65-150 tentacles, arranged in a series of rows.  The bell is divided into eight lobes, giving it the appearance of an eight-pointed star.  The thin tentacles emanate from the bell’s subumbrella.  Size dictates coloration: larger specimens are a rich red or dark purple while smaller specimens have a more pale orange or tan coloration.

Its range is confined to the cold waters of the northern Pacific and Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.  Although most lion’s mane jellyfish (whose name was given as a result of their long tentalcles) can deliver a painful sting to swimmers, it is seldom deadly if treated and usually just results in temporary searing pain and red welts.  Although they normally reside in the deeper waters of the ocean, they will enter shallows at the end of their lives.  Lion’s mane jellyfish remain mostly very near the surface at no more than 20 m depth, moving via their slow pulsations and ocean currents.  The jellyfish are most often spotted during the late summer and autumn, when they have grown to a large size and the currents begin to sweep them closer to shore.

They act as protectors and a food supply for many smaller marine animals like shrimp and sea horses.  They themselves will eat plankton and smaller jellies, while they, in turn are hunted by sea birds, large fish, and sea turtles. 

These jellyfish are capable of both sexual reproduction in the medusa stage and asexual reproduction in the polyp stage.  For more on the contorted and confusing life cycle of the jellyfish (which I did not, in fact need to know for my Bio final (Thanks for making me waste all my time on that teacher whose name shall not be mentioned here)), go here: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/pub/seascience/jellyfi.html

P.S. You may also have noticed the new setup of my blogroll.  I made the realization that reading other blogs was taking up all my time, so I segregated them.  I will only regularly read my choice favorites.  Now, if you did not make the cut, it was nothing personal and I will still check up on you from time to time.  Sorry for any inconvenience, but it really was necessary for me.

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The Northern (and Southern for that matter) Lights are now a bit less mysterious.  It turns out that they are caused by explosions of magnetic energy between Earth and the moon, according to NASA.

The Aurora Borealis in Alaska

The Aurora Borealis in Alaska

A network of five satellites on a mission known as THEMIS studied the phenomenon for a year to help gain this insight into the aurora borealis.  The energy explosions that take place a third of the way between Earth and the moon power substorms which cause the sudden brightening and rapid movements of the northern lights.

The substorms are caused by magnetic reconnection, a process that occurs when magnetic field lines around all matter quickly snap to a new shape.  This releases energy stored in the stretched magnetic field lines, sending charged particles toward the Earth.  When these hit our atmosphere…boom the glowing lights at the poles begin to move in their dazzling, spectacular light show.

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All is well on the Phoenix after its descent onto the pole of Mars.  All of the instruments are working to capacity.   Ever since its landing on the red planet on Sunday, the spacecraft has been filming and taking photographs of Mars’ Northern pole. 

A Photo of Mars’ Icy Ground.  The Polygonal Patterns are Probably Caused Due to the Ice Below the Ground.  Patters Like These are Found on Earth as Well.

As I already said, the Phoenix is on a three-month-long mission to dig in the soil and ice using a robotic arm.  These samples will be used to find out if the conditions on Mars can hold life.  The samples ought to contain organic compounds, the necessary  building blocks for life.

Before landing, a black and white image, aerial image of Mars was taken.   This is the first time any camera has imaged a descent through an atmosphere of another planet.  So far, so good.  Let’s hope there are no problems and we can get answers to some of these intriguing questions. 

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