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The Ocellated Ice Fish – World’s Only Vertebrate with Transparent Blood

Every animal with bones hemoglobin in its blood, which carries oxygen through its body and gives blood its red color. Every animal except one – the ocellated ice fish which has water-clear blood.

The ocean’s depth have revealed a series of odd life forms in recent years, from giant squid to translucent sea anemones, but scientists say the ocellated ice fish discovered in 2011 is among the most fascinating creatures the world over.  This unique fish lives in the ice-cold waters of Antarctica at depths of up to 3,300 feet (1 kilometer), and the only specimens in captivity can be found at Japan’s Tokyo Sea Life Park. Apart from the fact that it has transparent blood and no scales, the ocellated ice fish is not much different than most of the fish species living in Earth’s waters.  But its two special traits have researchers baffled. Because hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen through the body of vertebrates, it’s not yet clear how this species can survive without the metalloprotein which binds with oxygen. Several theories have been formulated on the subject, with some scientists speculating that the unusually large heart of the ocellated ice fish might help move oxygen using plasma instead of hemoglobin, and others saying that it may be able to absorb oxygen through its scale-free skin from the oxygen-rich waters of Antarctica. But the truth is very little is known about this fascinating creature and there are yet no facts to back up the claims.

Ocellated-Ice-Fish

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Insect Body Snatchers – How the Jewel Wasp Turns Cockroaches into Zombies

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, I don’t need to tell you what the Imperius curse is. For the rest of you, it’s a spel used to control people’s minds. Now, if you thought something like this was possible only in J.K. Rowling’s world, well here’s some news for you. Nature’s obviously one step ahead. The Jewel Wasp or ‘Emerald Cockroach Wasp’ is actually able to control the mind of its prey, the cockroach, by injecting venom directly into its brain.

The secret to the Jewel Wasp’s ‘captivating’ abilities lies in a neurotransmitter called octopamine in the cockroach’s brain that contols its movements. The wasp’s venom blocks the octopamine, literally converting the cockroach into a zombie. This ‘zombie’ cockroach is completely unable to fight back as it is pulled by the wasp into its underground lair. If you’re wondering why the wasp would go through all this trouble to just eat a cockroach, here’s the really weird part – the cockroach is meant to unwillingly play the part of surrogate mother. The wasp lays an egg into the cockroach’s abdomen, and the larva later hatches and eats the live cockroach from inside out. It takes 3 or 4 days for the larva to hatch, after which it slowly feeds on the roach’s internal organs, keeping it alive the whole time. This process takes about 7-8 days, during which the meat needs to be fresh for the larva. And because a dead cockroach rots within a day, the wasp prefers the ‘stun’ method. Once the roach is eaten up completely and it dies, the larva forms a cocoon inside it. A fully-grown wasp emerges from the cockroach carcass a month later.

jewel-wasp

 

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Talented Composer Makes Beautiful Music with Instruments Provided by Mother Nature

Meet Diego Stocco, the guy who can make music from anything, even raw nature. In celebration of Earth Day, he staged an innovative musical experiment in which he used all kinds of unusual but completely natural instruments.

Who knew tree bark or orange peel could sound so groovy, if orchestrated by the right person? In his new performance, “Music from Nature”, Diego Stocco uses professional microphones and a customized stethoscope to best capture the sounds of nature as made by several uncommon musical instruments, including trees, leaves, almonds and bees. The result is too cool to describe, you just have to listen for yourself.

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Touch-Me-Not – A Plant That Clearly Doesn’t Like to Be Touched

I first heard about the Touch-Me-Not plant from my mother’s stories of her childhood. There were plenty of these where she grew up, and she had fun playing with them. But no matter how much she described the plant to me, I never could quite imagine how the phenomenon worked. Now, thanks to the internet, I can see it for myself ,on video.

The Mimosa Pudica (derived from Latin for shy), commonly known as the Touch-Me-Not, is very true to its name. It obviously doesn’t like to be touched, because running a finger along the leaf simply causes it to fold inwards. I’m not sure if touch really bothers the plant, but the phenomenon is very beautiful to look at. The exact reason for this peculiar behavior of the Touch-Me-Not is also unknown, but it is believed the plant uses this feature to thwart predators. The closing leaves supposedly scare them away. Apart from the stimulus of human touch, the leaves also close during night time. The plant has its origins in South and Central America, but it is actually found all around the world.

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Man Spends a Year Living as a Turkey to Prove They’re Not Dumb

We’ve all heard the popular myth about turkeys being so stupid that they will look up at the rain and drown. Well, naturalist Joe Hutto’s year-long experiment living as a turkey proved it wrong, along with any other myths that suggest the stupidity of the bird. On the contrary, he says that turkeys are born with an “innate understanding of ecology” and have a complex vocabulary to communicate with each other.

Hutto, an ethologist who lives in Florida, has always been interested in the phenomenon of imprinting – in which young birds and animals identify the first moving object they encounter as a mother or a caregiver. So when a local farmer left a bowl-full of wild turkey eggs at Hutto’s doorstep, it was an opportunity he couldn’t refuse. He began his scientific experiment by choosing to imprint himself as the mother turkey. Hutto placed the eggs in an incubator and waited for them to hatch. When the cracks began to appear, he had to act fast, since imprinting occurs only in the first few moments after hatching. He placed his face close to the eggs and when the first poult came out, there was immediate eye-contact and the establishment of a bond. “Something very unambiguous happened in that moment,” he said

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Austrian Lake Is Also a Popular Hiking Spot

A rare natural phenomenon turns one of Austria’s most beautiful hiking trails into a 10 meter-deep lake, for half the year.

Located at the foot of the Hochschwab Mountains, in Tragoess, Styria, Green Lake is one of the most bizarre natural phenomena in the world. During the cold winter months, this place is almost completely dry, and used as a country park where hikers love to come and spend some time away from urban chaos. But as soon as temperatures rise, the snow and ice covering the mountaintops begin to melt, and the water pours down, filling the basin below with crystal-clear water.

Water levels go from one-two meters at most, to over 10 meters, in the early summer. The waters of Green Lake are highest in June, when this extraordinary place is invaded by divers, curious to see what a mountain park looks like underwater. Fish swimming over wooden benches, a grass-covered bottom, trees, roads, roads and even bridges create a surreal setting that feels like it belongs on dry ground. That’s because for half of the year, that’s exactly where it’s at.

Take a look at the amazing images of the Green Lake, shot during the summer season:

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The Turf-Covered Houses of Norway

Norway, like all Scandinavian countries, has always taken pride in trying to live in harmony with nature, instead of conquering it, and its old turf roofs are a perfect example.

Houses with their roofs looking like small meadows may seem a little strange in these modern times, but until the late 19th century, turf roofs were the most common type of roofs in rural Norway. Nowadays, inhabited turf-roof houses are very rare, as the Norwegians have turned most of them into museum exhibits.

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Seven Flora and Fauna that Can Only Be Found in the Everglades

The Everglades is home to many unique plant and animal species, mostly because it’s the farthest-north tropical environment in the world. It is the only true tropical forest in the northern hemisphere. The flora and fauna found in the Everglades are without peer.

Fauna

Florida Panther & Florida Black Bear – This entry gets two, since you’re not likely to see either of them. Both species are critically endangered, so count yourself lucky if you see the slight frame and tan fur of the Florida Panther, or hear the inquisitive snuffling of the Florida Black Bear. Well, count yourself lucky, back away slowly, and hope the animal isn’t hungry.

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Lonomia Obliqua – The World’s Deadliest Caterpillar

Lonomia obliqua is just as frail as any other caterpillars you might have seen, but that doesn’t stop it from causing severe serious internal hemorrhaging and even death, if you just touch it.

This terrible Lonomia caterpillars live in the rainforests of South America, and cause a few deaths every year, especially in southern Brazil, where they’re usually found on the bark of trees. Blending perfectly in their surrounding, Lonomia obliqua caterpillars often can’t be avoided, even if people watch out for them. Most incidents occur when travelers lean against a tree and unknowingly brush against one of more caterpillars, which release a very powerful anticoagulant venom.

Symptoms of Lonomia obliqua poisoning include severe internal bleeding, renal failure and hemolysis. If the skin comes into contact with several caterpillars, death is often the outcome. The lethal dose of the toxin secreted by this terrible creature is among the lowest of all known toxins.

But there is also a bright side to the Lonomia obliqua caterpillar. Its powerful anticoagulant could be used in the prevention of life-threatening blood-clots, but research is still being conducted in the hope of somehow isolating some pharmaceutically valuable chemicals. But until that happens, all you can do is refrain yourself from leaning on trees, the next time you’re in South America.

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7 Bad-Ass Trees You’ll Probably Never Climb

I remember reading an article on Environmental Graffiti, a few months ago, about the thorniest trees on Earth. The photos were really impressive, considering I had no idea such trees even existed, but I felt there wasn’t really enough information about these amazing species of trees. So I took it upon myself to do some research and came up with seven bad-ass trees you couldn’t even hope to climb without some serious protective gear.

Silk Floss Tree (Ceiba Speciosa)

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Two Color Cherry Tree Blossoms in Britain

Due to some careless pruning, a cherry tree, in the British village of Portchester, has grown an impressive cascade of both white and pink blossoms.

Some time ago, an ornamental Kanzan cherry tree was grafted onto the rootstock of a hardier native cherry tree. This technique was invented by the ancient Chinese,and under normal circumstances, all the rootstock does is provide the tree with needed nutrients.

But the rootstock of this particular cherry tree, in Portchester, decided to let everyone know it’s still alive and kicking. According to tree experts, this sort of thing happens, if the grafting isn’t controlled, because the native cherry tree is much more vigorous, and often overwhelms the ornamental variety.  Take a look at how beautiful a cherry tree hybrid can be.

via Daily Mail

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Jabuticaba – The Grape Tree That Fruits on Its Trunk

I remember seeing a tree that had flowers on most of its trunk, but I’ve never even heard of a tree that laid fruit directly on its trunk. Have you?

Jabuticaba, also known as the Grape Tree, is a unique tree found around South-American countries like Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Unlike other trees, its fruit can be plucked and eaten right off the trunk. In order to survive, Jabuticaba has evolved in order to make its fruit more accessible to animals who can’t climb. This way they can reach the fruit, eat it and expel the seeds far away from the parent tree.

Jabuticaba fruits are purple, juicy, and can be either eaten fresh, used in jellies, or left to ferment and made into wine and strong liquor. Dried Jabuticaba fruit peels can be used to treat asthma and diarrhea, and scientists hope it will prove useful in the fight against cancer, as several anti-cancer compounds have been identified in the fruit.

It may look like these tree have been infected by some sort of plant disease, but it’s just evolution at work.

via Kuriositas

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Who Knew Snails Could Grow This Big

Giant African Snails are the largest species of snails on the planet, with a shell that can grow up to 30 cm long and 15 cm in diameter.

Native to the tropical forests of Ghana, Africa, Giant African Snails live in tropical conditions, with no natural enemies. That, combined with the fact each snail can lay up to twelve hundred eggs per year, makes their large population, a problem. wherever a colony of these giant snails settles down, all other species of tree snails go extinct. Their insatiable appetite for any kind of plants and fruits, makes Giant African Snails pests, in their homeland. Just so you can get an idea, these things eat even the stucco and paint, buildings.

Like all snails, GAS are hermaphrodite and very prolific. Just one pair of snails can turn into an 8 to 10 billion colony, in their 5-7 year life span. Another half cycle like this, and we’re looking at 16 quadrillion giant crawlers. It’s a scary image, especially since they can bury themselves for up to 6 months, if the climate isn’t right for them

While they’re regarded as parasites, in Africa, in the Western World, Giant African Snails are some of the most coveted pets on the market, because of their intelligence and ability to reproduce sounds. Actually, I’m pulling your leg, people just like them because their huge, slimy and hard to come by.

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Rainbow Eucalyptus – Nature’s Painted Tree

It might look like someone painted these by hand, but the only artist responsible for these living works of art, is Mother Nature.

The incredible looking Rainbow Eucalyptus is the only species of eucalyptus that grows in the northern hemisphere. It can grow to impressive heights, of up to 70 meters, and it is normally grown for its pulpwood, used to create white paper. There are many other interesting facts regarding Rainbow Eucalyptus, but the obvious question arises: why does it look like it’s been painted?

The secret behind the Rainbow Eucalyptus is actually pretty simple. The trees shed multiple patches of bark every year, but not at the same time. As the patches are gone, the green inner bark is exposed, and, as it matures, every new patch first turns bluish, then orange, purple and maroon. This creates the rainbow effect that makes these trees so nice to look at.

Rainbow Eucalyptus can be found in New Guinea, New Britain and the Philippines.

via Kuriositas

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The Incredible Climbing Mountain Goats

You might think you have mad mountain-climbing skills, but nature’s got you beat. I don’t know how they do it, but these mountain goats climb on to the most precarious places.

Living in mountainous regions around North America, mountain goats can be found at altitudes of up to 13,000 feet, climbing cliffs all day long, in search of food. Thanks to their cloven hooves, each featuring two widely-spaced toes that provide great balance, mountain goats can challenge any seasoned climber and probably best him.

Their double-layered, thick white coats provide camouflage in snowy settings, but the altitude they can reach provides enough protection from most predators. And if they happen to run into trouble, they can jump 12 feet in one leap, and reach a safe point. Just check out the pics to get an idea of their climbing capabilities.

mountain-goat3

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