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Blogging on animals, peace and war, science, social justice, women's issues, arts, and much more

Austrian butterflies on flowers


This 22 August 2016 video shows a Niobe fritillary butterfly in the Pitztal valley in Austria.

This 23 August 2016 video shows an Alpine heath butterfly in the Pitztal valley in Austria.

American birds in Cook pine trees


This video from the USA says about itself:

Cook Pine Trees Makes Great Bird Perches

22 August 2016

Birds love to perch at the very top of a tall Cook Pine Tree next to the Backyard. It provides a unique perch vantage as the fast growing tree is one of the tallest around. The new growth pattern at the top of the tree always forms a perfect perch. A favorite hangout of hawks it is also used by almost every other backyard bird at some point. Thanks to Melvin Wei for pointing out that these are Cook Pines and not Norfolk Island Pines as I had thought. The biggest clue is their “rocket shape” compared to the less dense and floppy looking Norfolk Pines. These trees are sold as small ornamentals, but when planted in the yard in a semi-tropical climate like Florida can grow to huge sizes.

Araucaria columnaris, the Coral reef araucaria, Cook pine, New Caledonia pine, Cook araucaria, or columnar araucaria, is a unique species of conifer in the Araucariaceae family. It is endemic to New Caledonia in the southwestern Pacific, where it was first classified by botanists of Captain James Cook’s second voyage of exploration. It is a distinctive narrowly conical tree to 60 metres (200 ft) tall. The female cone is 10–15 cm. long by 7–11 cm. wide.

Tyrannosaurus rex brought to museum this Friday


This is a Dutch June 2016 video, recorded in Montana in the USA. It is about assembling fossil Tyrannosaurus rex Trix for transportation to Naturalis museum in the Netherlands; and about excavating Triceratops fossils not far away.

Dutch NOS TV reports today that on Friday 26 August, a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton will be brought from Schiphol airport to Naturalis museum in Leiden.

The fossil dinosaur is probably an elderly female. Her name is Trix.

Three years ago, Trix was found in Montana in the USA. This animal will make Naturalis the only museum outside the US with a Tyrannosaurus rex.

On 10 September, Trix will be at a special tyrannosaur exhibition.

From the end of 2018 on, she will be part of the regular Naturalis exhibition.

World’s biggest pearl discovery in Philippines


Giant pearl, photo by Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Largest pearl in the world discovered

Today, 17:38

In the Philippines probably the biggest pearl in the world has been discovered. The colossus is 61 centimeters long, 30 centimeters wide and weighs 34 kilos. The value is estimated at around 90 million euros, various media report. The pearl hitherto considered the largest weighs ‘only’ 6.4 kilos.

A fisherman found the now discovered pearl ten years ago near Palawan Island when his anchor got stuck in a [giant] clam. He had no idea what was the value of the jewel and hid it all the time under his bed, as a lucky charm.

Only when the fisherman’s house recently burned down he went with his find to the Philippine authorities. Who have studied the pearl, and now are still waiting for confirmation from experts that it is indeed the largest in the world. A Filipino official put a photo of the pearl on Facebook.

Growing plants on Mars?


This video from Leiden University in the Netherlands says about itself:

A Garden on Mars

22 August 2016

We are the Leiden iGEM 2016 team. In context of the iGEM competition, we are raising money through crowdfunding to support our research! You can support us by donation via the website, or you can support us by sharing this video and spreading the word.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

‘A garden on Mars‘ crowdfunding campaign starts today

22 August 2016

Today, 13 students at Leiden University have started a crowdfunding campaign to collect money for research into the possibilities of growing crops on Mars. Their research will contribute to the knowledge of our galaxy. The project is in the context of the iGEM competition.

Food for Martians

Martian soil contains a toxin known as perchlorate, which causes all crops grown to be toxic to humans. If we manage to land men on Mars in the near future, this is a problem that will have to be resolved. It is not possible to take adequate supplies of food, and crops therefore have to be grown as a sustainable source of nutrition. The students are developing a bacterial system that will break down perchlorate and at the same time release much-needed oxygen in the process: a win-win situation for future Martian explorers. The bacteria will do their work in the enclosed environment of a bioreactor with Martian soil.

Students and the public work together to enable research

The project is completely student led and student run. This includes financing their own materials, including perchlorate, simulated Martian soil and laboratory disposables. State-of-the-art techniques are used, including Martian gravity simulation. The students hope to finance a part of the costly project through crowdfunding. Communication is a key aspect of the project and the students are presenting their project at events, including the Night of Art and Knowledge on September 17.

International science competition

The students’ research is part of the world’s biggest competition in synthetic biology: the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, organised by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In total, over 300 teams are participating in the competition, using synthetic biology to solve a problem of their own choosing. The results will be announced at the end of October 2016 at the Giant Jamboree in Boston.

Crowdfunding campaign

The crowdfunding starts on 22 August 2016 and will continue until the students travel to Boston on 27 October. Their target is €8,600, the amount they need to complete their research.