Home of some of the world's most unique wildlife, Australia can add another new creature to its list of strange creatures: an 8-inch long, hot pink slug.
The existence of the slugs on Mount Kaputar, a 5,000-foot peak in New South Wales, has just recently been confirmed. Locals had long reported seeing the strange slugs after rainfall, but taxonimists have now just verified that Triboniophorus aff. graeffei is unique to the mountain's alpine forest.
Scientists believe that the bright pink slugs are survivors from an era when eastern Australia was home to rainforests. If a volcano had not erupted in the area millions of years ago, the creatures would have likely died out. Researchers say that because of that eruption, the mountain is a haven for invertebrates and plant species that have been isolated for millions of years, after the continent dried out and the rainforests receded.
During the night, the slugs crawl up trees to feed on mold and moss. Because fallen eucalyptus leaves are red, they help hide the slugs from predators.
Written By tap taru on Monday, June 3, 2013 | 6:14 PM
Home of some of the world's most unique wildlife, Australia can add another new creature to its list of strange creatures: an 8-inch long, hot pink slug.
For over 20 years, archeologists have been recovering an unusually high number of large carnivore fossils from a cave near Madrid, Spain. According to a new report in the open access journal PLOS ONE, the saber-toothed cat, hyena and red panda ancestor remains found at the site are the result of these animals purposely wandering into the cave and then becoming trapped under mysterious conditions between 9 and 10 million years ago.
Fossils at the cave were first discovered in 1991, and archeologists subsequently uncovered over 18,000 fossils between 1991 and 2008 during two major excavations. Many theories have attempted to explain why such a large number of predator remains have been found in one location. These theories have included the animals falling into the cave and dying, carcasses being washed into the cave by water, and entrapment by an apex predator.
Another bizarre aspect of the site is the near absence of any herbivores, as about 98 percent of the fossils recovered are meat-eaters.
To examine potential causes of death, the Spanish and American researchers examined the geologic history of the cave, the age of the cave fossils, and the time frame of the animals’ demises. They started by looking into the fossilization process of over 6,700 preserved bones from different archeological levels in the cave.
By looking at the types of animals recovered, where the fossils were found, and the lack of fractured bones, the researchers concluded that the animals probably decided to enter the cave in search of prey and became unable to make their way out.
The team also suggested that the lack of herbivore remains may be due to the fact that the clearly visible cave opening was simply not attractive to animals in search of vegetation. The lack of herbivore remains was important for the researchers in ruling out the theory that the animal remains were transported to the cave by water.
“Most probably, carnivores got trapped and remained alive for some time,” the authors wrote. “Also, it is possible that carnivores were searching for water during drought periods and not necessarily for food.”
As the millennia passed, layers of sediment poured into the cave – covering up the animal remains and eventually filling in the cave. The researchers said this would explain why the cave’s ‘window of death’ only covers a certain time span.
The team also noted that fossils in this site are well preserved, most likely as a result of their deposition in the isolated and protective environment of the chamber.
In their conclusion, the team advocated further study of both the cave and the fossils that have been found there.
“Further research is needed in order to ascertain the causes of death of carnivorans inside the cavity but exhaustion, hypothermia or poisoning from drinking water or toxic gases are options to consider,” they wrote.
The team, which included Spanish researchers from the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Madrid, was led by M. Soledad Domingo, a paleontologist from the University of Michigan.
Written By tap taru on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 | 6:51 PM
It was a youthful indiscretion that scarred the ancient world.
A 15-year-old Chinese boy has been outed as the person who scrawled graffiti on a 3,500-year-old temple in Luxor, Egypt.
The boy’s crudely carved message, which was written with Mandarin characters on a bass relief in the Luxor Temple, read, “Ding Jinhao was here.”
Originally built by Amenhotep III in the 14th century B.C. and completed by Ramesses II, the temple sits on the banks of the Nile, not far from the Valley of the Kings.
A photograph of the graffiti taken by another Chinese tourist quickly went viral in China on Friday after being posted to social media site Weibo, where it garnered more than 100,000 comments.
Users on the website were able to identity of the boy and posted his address online. Over the weekend, his school’s website was hacked, and reporters descended on his home in the city of Nanjing.
Besieged by reporters, the child’s mother offered a formal apology on Saturday for her son’s behavior.
“We want to apologize to the Egyptian people and to people who have paid attention to this case across China,” the boy’s mother told local newspaper Modern Express.
Ding’s mother also said that her son scrawled the graffiti years ago, the BBC reported, and had since come to appreciate the impact of his actions.
With China’s economy booming over the past decade, a growing number of the country’s residents have become global tourists.
Earlier this month, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang addressed what he termed the “uncivilized behavior” of some of tourists that was giving his country a bad name abroad.
The teenager whose act now symbolizes a national shame, meanwhile, wishes he could return to anonymity once more.
“The boy has known about it since Friday and cried all night. He has had to be moved around because reporters rushed to their house for interviews,” a reporter from the Modern Express who talked with the parents told the Global Times.
On the bright side, Egypt’s ministry of antiquities described the damage to the temple wall as superficial and said it would attempt to restore it.
EDMONTON - In Arctic summers, Catherine La Farge camps out at the toe of the Teardrop glacier on Ellesmere Island in Canada’s North.
The University of Alberta biologist has watched the ice retreat, up to four metres a year now, giving her an unprecedented view of what was entombed under the ice for 400 years — old rocks, mud, and her specialty, ancient moss.
One day, walking along the edge of the ice, La Farge noticed some of the moss had a greenish tinge. That gave her a hunch — could there be life in that old moss after all?
In an amazing experiment, La Farge found the frozen moss was able to revive itself though it had been buried since the Little Ice Age (1550-1850). Her study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, is shaking up some basic assumptions about land plants.
In the past, when scientists occasionally came across plant material previously frozen under an Arctic glacier, they assumed the plant material was dead. Discoloured and lifeless, it certainly looked like it was.
In 2009, La Farge brought samples back to the lab. On closer examination, she noticed a tiny green stem. There were two possible explanations.
“Either it kept its colour under the glacier or it grew after the moss emerged 400 years later.”
There was only one way to find out.
La Farge ground up the old plant material, put it in petri dishes full of potting soil and set it in the grow chamber next to her office. Then she and graduate student Krista Williams and master’s student David Wilkie watched for signs of life.
It didn’t take long. In about four to six weeks, tiny green filaments or strands called protonema began to grow.
Months later, a dish was almost full of green moss from cells frozen for 400 years. Of 24 samples potted, seven produced new growth.
“It was just incredible,” said La Farge, whose work has given scientists another window into the basic life systems of plants.
“Now we have Little Ice Age moss material that produced juvenile plants.”
In glaciers, there are all kinds of fungi and bacteria, but no one has ever considered that land plants could survive being entombed underneath, she said.
“Now we have to think there may be populations of land plants that survived that freezing. It makes you wonder what’s under the big ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctic and alpine glaciers.
“And we have a 400-year-old lineage of genetic material,” she added.
Mosses are especially hardy and ancient — 400 million years old, she said. Mosses played a key role in moving life from water to land in evolution. They evolved from green algae and paved the way for other land plants.
Unlike most other plants, mosses reproduce by cloning their cells so “all you need is even one cell to survive.”
Also, moss cells are very powerful — totipotent is the scientific term — because they can reprogram themselves to start growth all over again.
La Farge’s work shows that ability to regenerate — the totipotency of a cell — doesn’t diminish with age, at least not over 400 frozen years.
“If we could find some moss that went back 1,000 years or 5,000 years we may find some material that could be revived. But it all depends on the specific way the material is buried and the conditions” — cold and dry is best.
A group of researchers in Germany is already using bryophyte cells — basically moss stem cells — in medical research. La Farge’s work shows the resilience of the cells which could be a factor in their use.
There might be uses. Before sending colonies of humans to Mars, it might be worth seeing how well moss survives the cold dry climate, she said.
La Forge’s discovery shakes up a few assumptions of glacial science, a major one being that as glaciers carved their way forward they crushed everything beneath them. The landscape from retreating ice can no longer be considered barren of land plants ready to grow again. Mosses could be a key agent for regenerating the land.
There’s one other significant aspect to this discovery. While biological diversity is shrinking in the world, the frozen world under glaciers could provide an “unrecognized genetic reservoir.”
These are reservoirs that could be tapped in the future,” La Farge said.
“We really have not examined all the biological systems that exist in the world; we don’t know it all.
“We need curiosity-driven research to make these discoveries.”
La Farge’s co-authors on the study include Williams, Wilkie and Arctic researcher John England, also at the University of Alberta
Written By tap taru on Monday, May 27, 2013 | 9:26 PM
NEW ORLEANS - Before Cpl. Thomas "Cotton" Jones was killed by a Japanese sniper in the South Pacific in 1944, he wrote what he called his "last life request" to anyone who might find his diary: Please give it to Laura Mae Davis, the girl he loved.
Davis did get to read the diary , but not until nearly 70 years later, when she saw it in a display case at the National World War II Museum.
"I didn't have any idea there was a diary in there," said the 90-year-old Mooresville, Ind., woman. She said it brought tears to her eyes.
Laura Mae Davis Burlingame , she married an Army Air Corps man in 1945 , had gone to the New Orleans museum on April 24 looking for a display commemorating the young Marine who had been her high-school sweetheart.
"I figured I'd see pictures of him and the fellows he'd served with and articles about where he served," she said.
She was stunned to find the diary of the 22-year-old machine gunner.
Curator Eric Rivet (rih-VET) let her take a closer look, using white gloves to protect the old papers from skin oils. It was the first time in his 17 years of museum work that someone found "themselves mentioned in an artifact in the museum," Rivet said.
The diary was a gift to Jones from Davis. They had met in the class of '41 at Winslow High School. "He was a basketball player and I was a cheerleader," she said.
Jones had given her his class ring but they weren't engaged, she said. They had dated through high school. They went to the prom together.
He made his first diary entry while a private at Camp Elliott in San Diego, a little less than a year before he was killed. He described it as "my life history of my days in the U.S. Marine Corps ... And most of all my love for Laura Mae for whom my heart is completely filled. So if you all get a chance please return it to her. I (am) writing this as my last life request."
A sniper's bullet between the eyes killed Jones on Sept. 17, 1944, the third day of the U.S. assault on the Pacific island of Peleliu (PEL-uh-loo), in Palau.
Peleliu was where U.S. forces learned the Japanese had changed their island defense tactics. Instead of concentrating units on the beaches and finishing with reckless banzai charges, the Japanese holed up in bunkers, trenches, pillboxes and caves , many of them blasted into the island's hills and mountains , that had to be taken one at a time.
Jones, nicknamed in high school for his blond hair, was in the 1st Marine Division's L Company, 3rd Battalion. He was among 1,794 Americans killed on Peleliu and nearby islands in a 2 1/2-month assault that Marine Maj. Gen. William Rupertus had predicted would be over in a few days. Another 7,302 Americans were wounded. An estimated 10,900 Japanese were killed; 19 soldiers and sailors became prisoners of war. Another 283 POWs were laborers, mostly Korean.
Burlingame said she didn't know why she never got the diary. It apparently went first to a sister of Jones whom she didn't know well, she said.
Robert Hunt of Evansville, the nephew who gave Jones' artifacts to the museum in 2001, told her he had received it several years after Jones' death and worried that passing it on to Burlingame might cause problems with her marriage. It wouldn't have, she said: "My husband and Tommy were good friends."
When she learned Hunt was collecting mementoes for the museum, Burlingame said, she gave him photographs and the class ring.
Jones's last entry, written aboard the USS Maui on Dec. 1, 1943, described winning $200 at craps. He had a total of $320, he wrote, and if he were back home "Laura Mae & I would really have a wonderful Xmas." He wondered if he could wire the money to her as a Christmas present.
That didn't happen, Burlingame said. She said she was touched by the number of times he mentioned getting letters from his parents and her.
Burlingame's tour group had to leave but the museum scanned the diary and mailed a copy to her.
The diary's 4-by-7-inch back cover was nearly filled with her photograph. The picture itself was black and white, but the photographer had tinted her cheeks pink and her lips dark red.
She had signed it, "Love, Laurie."
Museum online tribute to Jones: http://mymemorialday.org/remember/jones.php
Written By tap taru on Friday, May 10, 2013 | 2:58 PM
Is this the lost city of the Kalahari?
Wind erosion has lead to an incredible discovery through google maps.
Comparable to the Nasca Lines in size, and even more impressive in intricacy, a potential massive lost city or site has been revealed in an area of the “verneukpan” an inhospitable area of salt flats in southern Africa .
For over a year now, a young determined Dutchman has been using Google earth to map the world’s ancient sites, very much a crowd-sourced project, with over 900 place markers so far of sites that are known about and links to Wikipedia articles about them.
Archeomaps is the brainchild of Jaimy Visser, who posted this image yesterday on his facebook page www.facebook.com/Archeomaps after Shaun Kirwen brought it to his attention.
Jaimy had found that in his research he was finding many unexplained circular structures around the globe and started project “Esthar” to try and map these as well, in the process he has found huge areas of desert with evidence of similar ancient civilizations around the globe though none quite as striking as these which bear resemblance to carvings at Knowth , Newgrange, Malta and various other prehistorical sites.
The complex in the image is over five square miles, with less striking patterns spread over around twenty square miles at least.
Jaimy Visser had this to say about the discovery;
I’ve found hundreds of circular ruins worldwide while working on my Esthar Project, but usually in terrains that we wouldn’t even be thinking of settling in nowadays. These spirals are incredibly large, and since it’s been an important symbol for so many cultures throughout history, I don’t think we should rule out the possibility they’re old – very old.
Within hours of the posting the image has reached as far as Michael Tellinger the renowned ancient investigator, who could barely contain his excitement;
“Well done guys – this is a huge new step and an exciting page in the Vanished Civilisations of southern Africa – this is one of the most exiting discoveries since the Nazca Lines. I will dive right into this and its connections to the stone circles and Adam’s Calendar. You may have found the evidence of the Lost City of the Kalahari”
We eagerly await some confirmation from the ground of what these formations are, there are no records on the internet about these that we can find. apparently they were not visible on google earth in 2006, so either they are man made. very recently , or revealed by erosion and very very ancient. The spirals resemble markings on the most ancient human sites around the globe. When did our ancient history become so exciting ?
GO Look for yourself.. copy these co-ordinates into google maps, and see if you can find an explanation -30° 0′ 21.64″, +21° 6′ 21.69″
Written By tap taru on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | 3:56 PM
Five climbers have been killed after one of the Philippines' most active volcanoes erupted - leaving more than a dozen others trapped.
Rescue teams and helicopters were sent to the centre of the country as huge rocks and ash began pouring out of Mayon volcano early on Tuesday morning.
Albay provincial Governor Joey Salceda said at least seven people from a group of around 20 mountaineers were injured after being caught by surprise by the sudden eruption.
Clouds have cleared over the volcano, which was quiet later in the morning.
Guide Kenneth Jesalva told ABS-CBN TV network the climbers who died - including a German, an Austrian and a Filipino - were struck by huge rocks.
He said he was in the group that spent the night on the picturesque mountain, known for its almost-perfect cone, when the volcano rumbled back to life and rocks "as big as a living room" came raining down on them - before he rushed back to the base camp to call for help.
Eduardo del Rosario, chief of the national disaster agency, said the injured included foreigners and Filipino guides, with some in a critical condition.
The head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Renato Solidum, said the eruption was normal for the restive Mayon, about 212 miles southeast of the capital Manila.
It has erupted around 40 times during the last 400 years.
It last erupted in 2010, when thousands of residents moved to temporary shelters when the volcano ejected ash across a five-mile zone surrounding the crater.
Mr Solidum said no alert was raised for the volcano following the latest eruption and no evacuation was being planned.
Climbers are not allowed when an alert is up, and it is thought the recent calm may have encouraged this week's trek.
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