For Some Reason This Tree Species Leans Sideways When Planted Outside Its Natural Habitat

Araucaria columnaris, also known as the coral reef araucaria, Cook pine or New Caledonia pine, is a species of conifer native to New Caledonia that tends to tilt sideways when planted outside its natural habitat.

First classified by Johann Reinhold Forster, a botanist accompanying Captain James Cook on his second voyage to circumnavigate the globe as far south as possible, the araucaria columnaris soon became popular all around the world, thanks to its distinctive narrowly conical shape and its height (up to 60 meters). Nowadays, these evergreen giants are planted as ornamental trees in various areas with warm and temperate climate on five continents, and they generally don’t attract too much attention, but in some cases they have one noticeable particularity – they lean heavily to one side, and when there are more of them planted in the same area, they all lean in the same direction…

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Wombats Produce Square-Shaped Droppings And Now We Know How

Despite having round anuses like all other mammals, bare-nosed wombats do not produce round pellets, tubular coils or messy piles; they are the only creature on Earth that poops cubes.

Wombats, marsupials native to the grassy plains and eucalyptus forests of Australia, are among the most adorable animals in the world, but to animal experts they have been a tough-to-solve mystery for a very long time. And it has all been because of their poop. You see, wombats have the unique ability to produce up to 100 distinctive, cuboid pieces of poop every day. Now, researchers say they have uncovered how the wombat intestine creates this unusually-shaped excrement.

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California Tree Is Still Smoldering After Last Summer’s Wildfires

Scientists and fire crews in California recently discovered a giant sequoia tree that is still smoldering and smoking, almost a year after the surrounding area was devastated by massive wildfires.

The 2020 Castle Fire, which broke out in August of last year and scorched more than 150,000 acres of land, including at least 10 sequoia groves in the region. No one knows how many of these ancient giants were destroyed by the blaze, but one thing is for sure, at least one of them is still smoldering and smoking, almost a year after. National Park Service staff made the shocking discovery earlier this month, while conducting surveys in the area to assess the damage caused by last year’s wildfire. One of them noticed plumes of smoke rising in the distance, and, using a long camera lens, tracked it down to a single sequoia.

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This Caterpillar Mimics a Scary Skull to Keep Predators at Bay

The caterpillar of the rare pink underwing moth has a very peculiar defense mechanism. When disturbed, it suddenly arches its back to reveal a pair of large, frightening eyes and what looks like a two rows of barred teeth.

The pink underwing moth is a rare and enigmatic insect found from subtropical New South Wales through Queensland and New Guinea. It feeds on rotting fruit and, although nocturnal, doesn’t seem to be strongly attracted to light. The moth’s name was inspired by the bright pink bars on its hidden hind underwings, which some experts believe act as a defense mechanism. The theory is that a sudden display of color can startle or surprise a predator for long enough to let the moth escape. But that defense strategy pales in comparison to that used by the pink underwing moth in caterpillar form.

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This Rare Bird Could Go Extinct Because It Has Forgotten Its Mating Song

The regent honeyeater is already one of the world’s rarest birds, but experts are worried that it could soon go extinct, because they have forgotten how to sing.

Flocks of hundreds of regent honeyeaters could once be spotted all over south-eastern Australia on a regular basis, but today the species is critically endangered, with only 300 specimens believed to exist in the entire world. They were also known for the complexity of their mating songs, but as their numbers started dwindling, ornithologists started noticing this complexity diminishing, to the point where male regent honeyeaters didn’t even sound like their species anymore. Today, there is ample evidence that regent honeyeaters have forgotten how to sing, which could render the entire species extinct.

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Golden Tortoise Beetles – Nature’s Living Jewels

Ever seen a tortoise the size of a fly? How about a golden one that can actually fly? Well, today’s your lucky day, as you get to discover one of nature’s shiny treasures – the golden tortoise beetle.

Before you open a fresh tab to search if these adorable critters are real or just the result of digital editing, make sure you use the species scientific name, aspidimorpha sanctaecrucis, as “golden tortoise beetle” is a really common name shared by a number of beetles, like charidotella sexpunctata, among others. What makes this species of beetle special is that the gold pattern on their transparent protective carapace actually makes them look like tiny tortoises.

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Remarkable Slug Can Sever Its Own Head and Grow a New Body

Japanese researchers recently the incredible ability of a sea slug to basically sever its own head and simply grow a new body, complete with fresh vital organs.

Autotomy, the behavior whereby an animal sheds or discards one or more of its own appendages, usually as self-defense mechanism, only to grow them back later, is well documented in the animal world. However, autotomy usually involves limbs or tails, appendages that don’t feature vital organs, whish is why a sea slug that can apparently sever its own head and then grow a new body complete with these vital organs has stunned scientists.

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This Cuddly Rodent Coats Itself in Lethal Poison to Keep Predators at Bay

The African crested rat, an elusive rodent that lives in forested areas of Eastern Africa, has a very strange yet intriguing defense mechanism against would-be predators – it licks deadly toxins onto its own fur.

People inhabiting the highland forests and woodlands of countries like Somalia, Sudan or Ethiopia have long known to stay clear of the large maned rat that makes its home in those areas. Known as Lophiomys imhausi to scientists, this long-haired rat is the world’s only poisonous rodent. But the most interesting thing about it is that it’s not born poisonous; it actually “borrows” the lethal toxin of a plant known as the “poison arrow tree”, which contains a poison strong enough to kill an elephant, when applied to an arrow head. The rat applies this toxin to specialized hairs on the sides of its body, turning itself into as lethal weapon against anyone foolish enough to attack it.

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Orchid Bees – The Living Jewels and Expert Perfumiers of the Insect World

The Euglossines, aka Orchid Bees are often described as the world’s most flamboyant bee tribe, and looking at their brilliant metallic coloration, it’s easy to see why.

Orchid bees are probably the closest thing to real living jewel. Sporting bright metallic colors – with green, blue and gold being the most common – and very few hairs compared to other families of bees, these pollinators really stand out as some of the most visually striking insects on Earth. But it’s not just their bright, shiny exterior that sets them apart from other bees. Euglossines don’t make honey, they don’t build hives, most species of the tribe are solitary, and perhaps most fascinating of all, males collect and mix fragrances which they then use to impress females.

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Russian Far East Region Experiences Particularly Bad “Mosquito Tornadoes”

Villages on the east coast of the Kamchatka peninsula, in the Russian Far-East are experiencing scenes that seem taken out of an Alfred Hitchkok movie. Only instead of birds invading their community, it’s billions of mosquitoes swirling into visible “tornadoes”.

Villages like Ust-Kamchatsk are used to being invaded by large number of mosquitoes every summer, it’s normal for this insects to swarm near bodies of water, but this year it’s much worse than usual. Because of an unusually hot summer, the number of mosquitoes is much larger, making them an even bigger nuisance than they usually are. Window and door nets do little to keep the pesky buzzers out of people’s homes, as they seem to get in through the smallest of cracks, and going outside means dealing with large swarms of mosquitoes that seem to reach the sky when seen from afar.

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Parasitic Wasp Turns Its Helpless Host Into a Bodyguard for Its Eggs

Thyrinteina leucocerae, the caterpillar of the geometer moth, is targeted as a host for a species of parasitoid wasp that can lay up to 80 eggs inside its body. The caterpillar’s reward is a job as bodyguard for the very parasites growing inside it and a slow, agonizing death.

The Glyptapanteles wasp is one of nature’s most fascinating and, at the same time, terrifying body-snatchers. Not only does its lay dozens of eggs into caterpillar hosts, but scientists claim that the insect can somehow change the behavior of the host, turning into a mindless bodyguard whose only mission is to protect the wasp’s eggs against predators. Once the wasp grubs hatch out of its body and begin to spin their pupae, the caterpillar stops moving, stops eating, gets on its hind legs and goes into statue mode. But at the slightest threat for the wasp “babies”, it starts swinging its head violently to drive predators away.

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The Heartbreaking Story of the World’s Loneliest Plant

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, in the UK, are home to thousands of fascinating plants, but none as lonely as the Encephalartos woodii, an ancient cycad species and, most likely, the last one of its kind.

It was in 1895 that botanist John Medley Wood noticed this interesting-looking palm tree on a steep slope in Zululand, southern Africa. Intrigued by its multiple trunks and arched palm fronds, Dr. Wood — who made his living collecting rare plants – had some stems removed and sent to London in a box.It ended up in the Palm House at the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew, where it has been waiting for a mate for over a century. Despite numerous efforts to find it a mate, the Encephalartos woodii at Kew remains alone, unable to produce an offspring and propagate its species. For this reason, many consider it the world’s loneliest plant.

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Misleading Photo of Creepy “Zombie” Toes Throws Twitter Into Overdrive

A photo of what looks like a creepy zombie foot peeking from under a log has been doing the rounds on Twitter this week, confusing a lot of people and blowing the minds of others.

Believe it or not, this picture shared online by Indian Forest Service officer Susanta Nanda isn’t taken out of a horror movie, nor is it showing the toes of an actual zombie or a real-life White Walker. Nanda actually challenged his followers to identify the animal, which was just as misleading as the photos, because what you’re looking at isn’t an animal but a fungus aptly named “Dad Man’s Fingers”.

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Experts Baffled by Lake That Changed Color From Green to Pink Literally Overnight

Lonar Lake, also known as Lonar crater, which formed after a meteor hit the Earth some 50,000 years ago, baffled experts in India after changing hues literally overnight.

Located around 500 km from Mumbai, in India’s Maharashtra state,  the Lonar lake has long fascinated scientists with its seasonal change in color. This natural phenomenon has been attributed to the salinity of the water and the presence of algae, but the change has never been as sudden or as glaring as this year. Plus, while the water of Lonar lake usually turned a reddish hue, this year it turned pink, baffling scientists and locals alike.

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These ‘Ice Cream’ Tulips Look Good Enough to Eat

I don’t normally think of food when looking at flowers, but these lovely ‘Ice Cream Tulips’ really get me thinking about a nice cold treat to cool me off on a hot summer day.

If you’re a flower enthusiast, you probably already know about the ice cream tulip variety, but for most people they are still somewhat of a novelty, especially just before their petals open, when they truly look like an ice-cream cone good enough to eat, or even as a whipped cream-topped treat. They are a relatively new tulip variety, and even though bulbs seem to be widely available for purchase online, they are rather expensive, so you probably won’t see them sold at most flower markets too often. Still, if you’re trying to make your garden stand out, or just make your neighbors constantly crave ice cream, they are worth the investment.

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