kottke.org posts about nature

The most difficult photographs in natureOct 05 2009

Outside magazine recently asked a handful of nature photographers to discuss the most difficult shots they ever captured. Philipp Engelhorn selected a photograph taken on the frozen tundra of China:

Winters in northern Xinjiang, China, rival those in Siberia: Forty below zero is normal. We'd gone in the fall to find an eagle hunter and make a handshake deal to follow him. But when we actually showed up two months later, he told us he never expected us to return and had no time for us. So we did the worst thing ever and set out by horse-drawn sleigh across the frozen countryside to find an eagle hunter.

The images that accompany the article are incredible and make most day jobs look like an all-day pancake buffet.

New species of ghostshark uses its headSep 29 2009

A new species of ghostshark was found off the coast of California. The odd-looking creature is a bit of an evolution-born exhibitionist: the males float through the deep with a club-like sex organ protruding from their heads. Scientists are unsure why this is the case, though some speculate that it is to grasp the female during mating. The Eastern Pacific black ghostshark joins the ranks of a special group referred to as "big black chimaeras." This classification is reserved for an ever-growing clique of sea creatures that feature characteristics that aren't found on other living creatures, though one could argue that the males of many species often combine their sex organs and their heads.

A newt that slices and dicesSep 28 2009

The Spanish ribbed newt has an interesting method of dealing with perceived threats. The creature activates its ribcage like mini switchblades, forcing them through its own skin. Even more remarkable, the newt's highly adapted immune system and collagen-cased bones allow it to heal quickly and without risk of infection, which makes it one job interview away from a position with the X-Men.

Sea liliesMar 30 2009

Crinoids, or sea lilies, are marine animals that resemble plants. Unlike its garden namesake, the sea lily doesn't stay still, but creeps along to avoid becoming prey for sea urchins and other predators.

It seems they've also developed the ability to "shed" their stalk-like appendages.

"It's the lizard's tail strategy," said Baumiller, who is also a curator in the UM Museum of Paleontology. "The sea lily just leaves the stalk end behind. The sea urchin is preoccupied going after that, and the sea lily crawls away." And the speed at which they move---three to four centimeters per second---suggests that "in a race with a sea urchin, the sea lily would probably win."

When on the move, they resemble graceful spiders in a hurry.

Crinoids are also the state fossil of Missouri, and inspired the design of Pokemon characters Lileep and Cradily.

Forget chimeras, let's outfit animals with gadgetsMay 03 2005

Forget chimeras, let's outfit animals with gadgets. Ideas include odor respirators for dogs, mice with night-vision goggles, and metal detectors for fish (to steel clear of fishermen's hooks).

Short series of photos from an Iraqi sandstormMay 02 2005

Short series of photos from an Iraqi sandstorm.

Tags related to nature:
science

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