Helensburgh Glow Worm Tunnel – An Otherworldly Tourist Attraction

The small Australian town of Helensburgh is home to one of the most amazing places on the planet – an abandoned railway tunnel that glows an eerie blue at night.

The Helensburgh Glow Worm Tunnel is an abandoned rail tunnel in Helensburgh, New South Wales which has become famous both for the ghost stories surrounding it and the glow worm colony that give it its iconic bioluminescent blue glow. Originally known as the Metropolitan tunnel, the 624-meter-long underground passage was inaugurated at the end of the 19th century and used to transport coal from the local mine to the suburbs. However, it closed down a couple of decades later and remained abandoned until the mid-90s, enough time for a colony of glow worms to claim it for themselves…

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The World’s Fastest Animal Reaches Speeds of Over 300 Km Per Hour

Cheetahs are famous for their speed, but they don’t even come close to the world’s faster animal, a falcon that swoops on its unsuspecting prey at speeds of over 300 km per hour.

The peregrine falcon is one of the most efficient predators on Earth, and it owes much of that efficiency to its unrivaled speed. During its characteristic dive, this majestic creature reaches an average speed of 320 km/h, but the highest measured speed of a peregrine falcon is actually 389 km/h (242 mph), which makes it faster than the vast majority of commercially available cars. And it’s obviously much faster than the cheetah’s 64 mph record.

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Queen of the Night – The Rare Flower That Only Blooms One Night a Year

Epiphyllum Oxypetalum is a popular species of cactus famous for producing large, fragrant, white flowers only one night per year.

‘Queen of the Night’ is only a nickname, but one that fits Epiphyllum Oxypetalum perfectly. Unlike the several species commonly referred to as Night-Blooming Cereus which also bloom at night time, producing large, fragrant flowers over several weeks, Epiphyllum Oxypetalum only blooms one night a year, for a couple of hours, with its large, waxy flowers withering before sunrise. The bloom of a Queen of the Night is a rare event, one that draws crowds of flower enthusiasts to the jungles of Mexico, Central America and the Antilles for a chance to witness it in person.

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Animated Oats – The Wild Oat Seeds That ‘Walk’ To Suitable Planting Ground

Certain species of wild oats have a special seed dispersal system that looks as if the seeds are walking on the ground looking for suitable soil to take root in.

Modern-day oats (Avena sativa) have been drastically altered through domestication and are entirely dependent on humans for their survival. Not only do they need to be drilled into the soil, but the seeds remain attached to the panicle to make them easier to harvest and minimize seed losses. Wild oats, on the other hand, are a completely different story. They have evolved highly specialized anatomical features that actually assist the spikelets housing the seeds to move on the ground in search of suitable rooting soil. This amazing ability has won the plants several nicknames, including “Animated Oats” and “Animal Oats”.

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The Marble Berry Is the World’s Brightest Living Thing

The fruit of Pollia condensata, aka the marble berry, a plant that grows in the forests of Central Africa, has been scientifically recognized as the brightest organic substance in nature.

The elusive marble berry plant grows up to about meter-tall and sprouts clusters of up to 40 small, impressively-shiny fruits. Seeing a marble berry up close, you could swear it was coated in a layer of metallic blue paint. It looks a lot like a shiny miniature Christmas bauble, shimmering in the sunlight, which is unusual for a plant. The world is full of brightly-colored plants and fruits, but none of them are as iridescent as the marble berry. That fact intrigued scientists, who, after conducting a series of tests, concluded that the fruit of Pollia condensata was not only the brightest fruit in the world, but the brightest organic thing.

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Great Grandfather – 5,484-Year-Old Patagonian Cypress Could Be World’s Oldest Tree

Scientists in Chile believe that an ancient Patagonian cypress known as ‘Gran Abuelo’ (Great Grandfather) could be over 5,000 years old, which would make it the world’s oldest living tree.

The Patagonian cypress (Fitzroya cupressoides), known in South America as ‘alerce’, is a conifer native to Chile and Argentina. They belong to the same family as giant sequoias and redwoods, and can reach heights of up to 45 meters (150ft). They grow at a very slow rate and are known to live for hundreds, even thousands of years, but one particular specimen may be the oldest tree ever discovered. If the findings of a Chilean team of researchers are to be believed, Great Grandfather, an ancient Patagonian cypress in the Alerce Costero national park, is 5,484-years-old, a whopping 600 years older than Methuselah, the current world’s oldest tree.

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Cuban Painted Snails – Probably the World’s Most Beautiful Gastropods

Out of the roughly 1,400 species of land snails that call Cuba home, the six species of the genus Polymita, fondly known as painted snails, are without a doubt the most eye-catching.

When it comes to snail per se, there’s probably no beating the spectacular red-and-black contrast of the Malaysian fire snail, but as far as shells go, Cuba’s painted snails are in a class of their own. Just a look at the stunning swirling colors on their shells, and it’s easy to understand why they are considered by many to be the world’s most beautiful snails. However, this flattering title comes with a downside. Because their dazzling shells are so sought after by collectors, all six species of the genus Polymita are now critically endangered.

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This Weird Parasite Is The Only Known Animal That Can Survive Without Oxygen

Henneguya salminicola, a tadpole-like parasite that infects salmon, has a rather unique superpower – it can survive without oxygen.

When examining Henneguya salminicola, researchers noticed something really strange: the microscopic parasite appeared to have no mitochondrial genome. The mitochondria, commonly known as “the powerhouses of the cell”, are organelles that rely on oxygen in order to produce energy. At first, scientists at Tel Aviv University thought it was a mistake, so they ran the analysis again, and confirmed that the parasite had no mitochondrial genome at all, meaning it did not generate energy the way all other known animals do. Although other single-cell organisms, like amoebas and fungi, have also developed the ability to survive in anaerobic environments, no animals – Henneguya salminicola qualifies as one despite having less than 10 cells – had been known to do that until now.

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