Saturday, July 30, 2016

Five Reasons Why You Don't Want to Pick a Fight With an Angry Octopus

Octopus image shown here: by Noel Feans
On first glance it might seem as if an octopus isn't much more than a slimy (an salty) head with eight arms. Nothing could be further from the truth! The octopus is an amazingly intelligent animal and if you are ever tempted to pick a fight with one - don't do it. Keep reading to discover 5 cool octopus facts.

An octopus’s first instinct when confronted by a threat is to hide, but if you continue to pester one you might find that these slimy-looking underwater animals are a lot tougher than they look. After millions of years of encountering daily danger, the octopus has evolved to deal with threats as efficiently and effectively as possible. Octopuses can put up great fights, but they are not mean animals. In reality they are some of the kindest and sweetest animals in the world. New studies have shown that they have individual personalities and some have developed friendships with their human caretakers. Even though they prefer to hide when danger is present, don’t think that they are wimps. If you ever provoke an octopus, then you’re not going to get off easy. Below are five reasons why you don’t want to pick a fight with an angry octopus.


 

5 Cool Octopus Facts:  Brains! Tentacles! Suckers! Camo! Giant!

  • Octopuses are highly intelligent and are one of the only animals to demonstrate tool use. In fact, they are the only invertebrates (animals without a backbone) to use tools. Octopuses also have highly advanced short-term and long-term memories that help them recognize environmental landmarks, distinguish between shapes and patterns, and change strategies to solve problems.
  • Despite not having any bones an octopus is a very strong animal. The largest species can grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh over 150 pounds. Some have even been known to capture and kill sharks. If you ever swim near an octopus, then you might find that it is bigger than you are!
  • Each of an octopus’s eight arms is covered with dozens of small suction cups (or suckers). These suction cups can latch onto objects with more than a quarter ton of force. An octopus can fold its suction cups in half and use them like you use your thumb and forefinger to pick up objects. You only have two, but an octopus has hundreds.
  • Camouflage is second nature for an octopus. They can change the color, texture, and shape of their bodies to make themselves invisible to predators. Common disguises include “becoming” a rock or a part of algae. Some species of octopus can even mimic other animals by taking on the appearance of eels and lion fish.
  • While all species are venomous, only one species, the blue-ringed octopus, is deadly to humans. When its bright blue rings appear to pulsate, you know that it is angry, and you better swim away – fast.

Mesmerizing Octopus Camouflage Trick



 

Hope you Learned Some Cool Octopus Facts! 

Here's some links if you want to learn more fun stuff about octopus? (or just watch some cool octopi videos) :

Amazing Octopus Videos 

How Octopus Swim: Swimming With Octopuses: Octopi Locomotion 

Octopus: Smarter Than You?

 

 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Migaloo the White Whale Has Been Seen This Week!

The albinos whale has been seen off the Gold Coast (Australia) this week!
Please follow the Migaloo the White Whale Facebook page for more sightings!
More on albinos creatures here: Rare albino marine life are exotic


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Bird Of Paradise Birds

Bird Of Paradise Birds: Facts, Pictures And Books About The Beautiful Birds Of Paradise


Antique bird of paradise print on Amazon
The Bird of Paradise birds are vividly colored creatures. These birds live in the trees of the jungles of Papua New Guinea, the Molucca Islands, and northern and western Australia. They are are best known for their brightly colored, unusual plumes and for their complex courtship behavior. Read more about them hereand watch beautiful birds of paradise live in their natural environment.

Facts About The Bird of Paradise Birds

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, bird of paradise plumes were used extensively for millinery, and the bird's scalps are still important in the ritual ornamentation of the aboriginal peoples of New Guinea.

Birds of paradise can be up to 40 inches long; this overall length includes 24 inch tail feathers in two species. Most birds of paradise have stocky bodies, short, rounded wings, relatively short legs, strong feet adapted for perching, and short, square tails. Their bills may be stout or long and curved.

In most bird of paradise species, the sexes are strikingly different in appearance. The male has elaborate plumes on his head, throat, back, wings, and tail. These plumes, which may be black, green, blue, red, orange, or yellow, become erect during the male's courtship display.

They are among the most bizarre of all bird feathers. Some are long and narrow and are twisted at the tips, while others are threadlike, and one species has a series of celluloid-like pennants the whole length of its 24 inch head plumes. In addition to colorful feathers, some males also have brilliant green or yellow coloring on the inside of the mouth. The females of these species are generally dull brown or green. In a few other, rather plain, bird of paradise species, however, the sexes are alike. They are completely black and have only a little blue or green on the throat or head.

Birds of paradise are sturdy, active birds, but they are generally not gregarious. Their voices are loud, harsh, and shrill. They usually feed on fruit, berries, seeds, insects, small lizards, and tree frogs.

Picture of Bird of Paradise: By markaharper1 CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Bird Of Paradise Birds Courtship: Watch the video, it is stunning to see 

The male begins his courtship display either alone on the forest floor or in a group in trees. The specialized plumes are erected or spread, and the bird moves about so that his iridescent feathers glint. Some courting males assume a horizontal position or hang upside down.

The gaudy plumage and courtship displays not only attract mates but also serve to reduce mating between different species or genera and thus limit wild hybridization. However, mated pairs do not form strong bonds and a large number of wild hybrids are known.

The female usually builds a bulky cup-shaped nest of twigs, stems, and leaves on a tree branch, but at least one species is known to nest in a tree cavity. The female then lays one or two pinkish white eggs marked with irregular longitudinal streaks. She generally incubates the eggs and alone cares for the young, although in some of the duller colored species, the male helps to feed the young.



Attenborough in Paradise and Other Personal Voyages

If you love nature and wildlife and decide to buy only one DVD this year, this is the one. I bought this one for my son (who loves wildlife) and it is fascinating! We have watched it dozens of time and it doesn't get old.

This is a 2 discs DVD. The first one will be of interest for bird of paradise enthusiasts. On this DVD you will see birds of paradise like you never did before, thank's to Attenborough's audacious trip to an unmapped part of New Guinea.






Watch this wonderful National Geographic short film:




More About Birds of Paradise Birds:


The Birds of Paradise Project: The birds-of-paradise are among the most beautiful creatures on earth—and an extraordinary example of evolutionary adaptation. On this site you can find what few have witnessed in the wild: the displays of color, sound, and motion that make these birds so remarkable. Then you can delve deeper, examining the principles that guided their evolution and the epic adventure it took to bring you all 39 species.


A Gallery of Bird Of Paradise Birds: Browse 'Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux de Paradis et des Rolliers, suivie de celle des Toucans et des Barbus" by Fran├žois Levaillant and Jacques Barraband online on archive.org

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cacao or Cocoa Who Cares! It's Chocolate

Theobroma cacao Blanco
 image in public domain
If it had not been for a spelling mistake made years ago by English importers, the word 'cocoa' would be spelled 'cacao', as the powder is made from the beans of a tropical tree of that name.

The cacao tree is a pod-bearing evergreen, Theobroma cacao, which grows in tropical regions. The pods are cut down, split open with a heavy knife or mallet, and the pulp and seeds scooped out. The pulpy mass is left to ferment for a week, during which time the beans change from purple to reddish brown and acquire a pungent, chocolate aroma.

Cacao trees had been cultivated in Central America for centuries before Columbus arrived there. Cacao is derived from two Maya Indian words meaning 'bitter juice'. Cacao beans were harvested by the Mayas and Aztecs centuries before they were introduced into Europe in the early seventeenth century. In fact, the Aztecs valued the beans so highly that they used them as currency.

The Spanish conquistadors were sufficiently impressed with cacahuatl, the bitter cocoa drink the Indians made from the seeds of the cacao tree, to take it back to the court of Spain. The secret of cocoa was jealously guarded by the Spaniards until the seventeenth century, when the rest of Europe was introduced to it. It became a highly fashionable drink virtually overnight. So great was the rage for cocoa that "chocolate houses" became popular.

The cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, grows up to 7.5 meters high, bears first at 4 to 5 years, reaches maturity over 10 to 15 years and continues to yield for 30 years or more. The size of the pods containing the beans greatly varies, but normally each pod carries 20 to 40 beans, which are scooped out and put into sweat boxes to ferment; this process changes their color to dark (chocolate) brown. The beans are then dried, usually by the heat of the sun, and roasted, pressed and ground. When fermentation is complete, the beans are either sun or kiln dried, then cleaned and shipped to processing plants.

The manufacture of cocoa continues with the roasting of the beans. Their shells are then cracked and removed and the nibs or kernels are finely ground to produce a liquid called chocolate liquor, which consists mainly of a fat called cocoa butter, which is used in cosmetics and in medicine for emollients.

The ground powder is used to make the hot beverage, cocoa and, when mixed with cocoa butter, forms the basic ingredient of chocolate.

Chocolate liquor is the raw substance from which cocoa powder and chocolate are produced.

Today, revenue from their sale is vital to the main producing countries: Ghana, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Brazil, the United Republic of Cameroon, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Togo and Papua-New Guinea.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Hummingbirds are among the smallest of birds

Hummingbird picture in public domain +Pixabay 
Hummingbirds are among the smallest of birds, and are only found in North, Central, and South America. There are several varieties, and colors depending on region, and mostly I have only seen the green ones, with either pink or red bands around their throats. They actually make a little chirping type sound when they are "talking" to each other. Another thing that makes them so interesting to watch is that they fly into an area quickly and can also fly backwards all the time flapping their wings about 20-70 times per second. They fly faster than some people drive; about 45 miles per hour.




Hummingbirds are beautiful to watch and many people have hummingbird feeders in their gardens. I have been trying to capture a picture of one for a long time, but the picture usually gets blurred because of the high rate of the wings flapping.

If you've never seen one you are truly missing out. And if you have seen one, you know how special they are. What other bird have you ever seen that can flap it's wings about 70 times a second, fly backwards, or fly around the neighborhood at 45 miles an hour?

If you love hummingbirds or know someone who does, make sure you check these  beautiful gift ideas: Hummingbird Gifts for Home and Garden, Hummingbird Kitchen Decor

I love camel

@Shutterstock: serg_dibrova
The camel is either of two large, long-legged, cud-chewing mammals widely used in desert regions as draft or riding animals. Camels are considered stubborn and irritable, but because of their strength and ability to cross burning deserts and to go for days without water, they were long the most important beasts of burden and saddle animals in their native lands. Their great value to the Arabs is indicated by the fact that the Arabic language is said to contain nearly 1,000 words that mean camel. Nowadays, much of their transportation duties have been taken over by motor vehicles, but camels are still important sources of meat, milk, hair, and leather.

Camels, together with their relatives the llama, alpaca, vicuna, and guanaco, are the only living members of a large group of animals that were once native to all continents except Australia. Now only two species of camel remain: the Arabian camel, which is bred in northern Africa and Arabia, and the bactrian camel, which is bred in central Asia.

The Arabian camel has a single rounded hump on its back. The bactrian camel may have either one or two conical humps on its back. Arabian camels specially bred for racing are called dromedaries. Arabian and bactrian camels are sometimes crossbred to produce single-humped offspring that are larger and sturdier than either parent. The wild camels that roam Central Asia today are believed to be descendants of domesticated bactrian camels that have run wild.

More about camels on this website: I Love Camels

Friday, July 8, 2016

Collecting Sand: Sand Collection for All

Sand Collecting -- The Basics of this Fun Hobby

Photo of Sand Particles: Wikimedia Commons / CC
To some people, sand is just an irritation--one that gets stuck between their toes and inside their swimsuits or tracked into the house.

To others, sand is simply useful--for making concrete, cob, brick and other functional building materials and bases, for aquarium bottoms and volleyball courts, for making glass.

To others still, sand is something fun--to build castles out of, to bury their friends or their own legs in, to walk on in bare feet, to collect for making crafts, or even to collect just for sand's sake.

Sand isn't something people think about often, but it really is everywhere. Sand is found at the beach, in deserts and dunes, on riverbeds and rocky shores, on mountains, in quarries and even along the side of the road. Depending on the location, sand can be created from a variety of substrates. The color of the sand depends on the mineral or minerals it's made of, but more on that below, along with the basics of sand-collecting and some ideas for sand collection themes and containers.

Imagine if Each of These Grains of Sand Could Talk - Oh, the stories, spanning millions or even billions of years, they would tell.

This photo (of sand in the Netherlands) is in the public domain.

How is Sand Formed?

It's pretty simple. Sand is formed when rock or other mineral is eroded, weathered or otherwise broken down into tiny pieces. Technically, sand is between .06-2.0 millimeters in diameter, so be sure to measure each piece next time you collect it to make sure you really do have sand. (Kidding of course.)

Rock can be broken down into tinier and tinier particles by the action of wind or water, abrasion, freezing and thawing, and even by impact. Weathering can be mechanical or chemical, the latter occurring when rock reacts with acidic rainfall and water or with chemicals released by organisms.

Particles of rock rub against each other, breaking down ever smaller.

Each grain of sand would have its own story of creation to tell if it could. Scoop up a handful of sand and look closely. Together, it may look like just ... well, a bunch of sand, but close up and magnified, each particle is unique and beautiful.

Your Sand Collection As You Never had Seen It Before - A magical book:

 


A Grain of Sand: Nature's Secret Wonder

This is a fascinating book, filled with stunning sand macros. You will never say "boring sand" again. A beautiful book, even if you have no interest in collecting sand. 

Using the fantastic micro-photographic techniques he developed, the author invites readers to discover the strange and wonderful world that each grain of sand contains. His pictures reveal the subtle differences in the colors, textures, sizes, and shapes of sands from all over the world. And as this infinitesimal world unfolds, so does an intriguing explanation of how each grain of sand begins and forms and finds itself in a particular place, one of a billion and one of a kind.  

 

 

Ideas for Sand Collection Themes

Click link to see where each sand sample is from
No matter what someone decides to collect, it's fun to come up with a theme for that collection, to
learn about each item collected, to document, remember and share the stories that go along with the collection, and to show the collection to others. Some people like to trade with those who collect the same thing. And collecting sand is no different.

Sand collecting is one of many ways to mark and remember special places, special times, and special experiences over the years.

One nice bonus to sand-collecting compared to some other hobbies is that collecting sand can be completely free, or at least very inexpensive in and of itself. That is, you might decide to spend money on getting to the sand you'll collect or on containers for storing and displaying the sand, but the sand doesn't have to cost a thing.

It's a good idea to come up with the theme for your sand collection before you start. Of course, you can have more than one theme, or collections with your collection. So, be creative and have fun with it.

Here are some suggestions for starting your own sand collection, for yourself or maybe with your child, keeping in mind that collecting can be a great learning experience and opportunity for teaching....
  • Collect sand from places you've visited, and learn about those places. Maybe take at least one photo of each place the sand came from, and print the photo to go with the sand sample.
  • Collect sand of as many different colors as you can find, and learn about what makes the sand the color that it is. What types of minerals are in the sand? And what forces created it?
  • Collect sand from all over the place you live and learn about those places in your community, such as different beaches (which can be at the ocean, at lakes and even riverbanks) and other places you find sand near where you live. Learn about those places, why there's sand there, and how it formed.
  • Collect and trade sand from all over the world. You can learn about the people you trade with and make new long-distance friends. You might send one another pictures of where the sand came from and even pictures of each other. Learn about the places, cultures and communities where the sand samples come from, whether you go to the places and collect the sand yourself or get the sand samples from others.
  • Collect sand of all different types and learn about the geology of each type.
  • Collect sand from the same place each year. You can keep adding to the same container (jar perhaps), separating each year's sand with some kind of divider, like a different color sand, cardboard, etc.
  • If you're in the U.S., collect sand from all 50 states, or collect sand from all of the continents.
Can you think of any other ideas for sand collections?

Fascinating Books About the World of Sand:

 

Sand: The Never-Ending Story

Told by a geologist with a novelist's sense of language and narrative, this book examines the science of sand--sand forensics, the physics of granular materials, sedimentology, paleontology and archaeology, and planetary exploration--and also explores the rich human context of sand.

 








The Physics of Blown Sand and Desert Dunes (Dover Earth Science)

This classic book was used by NASA in studying sand dunes on Mars. It was the first book to deal exclusively with the behavior of blown sand and related land forms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ideas for Storing and Showing Your Sand Collection

You CAN Save Time in a Bottle

Start collecting simple, inexpensive containers:
  • Baby jars
  • Canning (Mason) jars
  • Jelly jars
  • A variety of glass bottles of different shapes and sizes
  • Clear wine or champagne bottles with corks
  • Zip-loc baggies
  • Petri dishes
  • Glass ampules and vials, like these
What other containers can you use to store your sand collection?

Remember to try sites like Craigslist and Freecycle, where you can sometimes find free containers like those listed above. You can post Wanted ads as well as search the listings for free items.

Add Green Sand Samples to Your Collection - The latest eBay auctions and buy-it-now sales

Green sand is made of a mineral called Olivine, which weathers quickly on the Earth's surface. Read about olivine here on Wikipedia.

This is a rare sand color, so it may not always be available.

 

Collect Black Sand Samples

Some black sands are heavy, glossy, partly magnetic mixtures of mostly fine grains, found as part of a placer deposit (an accumulation of valuable minerals). Another type of black sand, found on beaches near a volcano, consists of tiny bits of lava. Read more about black sands on Wikipedia

Add Rare Star Sand Samples from Japan to Your Collection

The grains of "star sand" are actually the shells of microscopic, single-celled organisms called foraminiferans or forams. Read about and see photos of star sand, found on the beaches and in the sands of Indo-Pacific waters.

Are you a psammophile? A psammophile is...

["psammo" = sand]
["phile" = love]
...one who loves sand.

Do You Have A Sand Collection? Do you collect sand? Are you an arenophile?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hummingbirds are among the smallest of birds

Hummingbird picture in public domain +Pixabay 
Hummingbirds are among the smallest of birds, and are only found in North, Central, and South America. There are several varieties, and colors depending on region, and mostly I have only seen the green ones, with either pink or red bands around their throats. They actually make a little chirping type sound when they are "talking" to each other. Another thing that makes them so interesting to watch is that they fly into an area quickly and can also fly backwards all the time flapping their wings about 20-70 times per second. They fly faster than some people drive; about 45 miles per hour.




Hummingbirds are beautiful to watch and many people have hummingbird feeders in their gardens. I have been trying to capture a picture of one for a long time, but the picture usually gets blurred because of the high rate of the wings flapping.

If you've never seen one you are truly missing out. And if you have seen one, you know how special they are. What other bird have you ever seen that can flap it's wings about 70 times a second, fly backwards, or fly around the neighborhood at 45 miles an hour?

If you know someone who likes hummingbirds: Hummingbird Gifts
Ideas to make an hummingbird themed kitchen here: Hummingbird themed kitchen