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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Daily Drift

It's Goof-Off Day so, yeah, we went with the obvious ...

Carolina Naturally is read in 195 countries around the world daily.   
The NOT-To-Do List ... !

Today is - International Goof-Off Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our readers today have been in: 
The Americas
Tijuana, Monterrey, Mexico City and Mexicali, Mexico
Santo Domingo, Dominican, Republic
Toronto, Pikangikum, Montreal, Ottawa, Byward Market, Scarborough, Saint John's, Oshawa, Moosonee, Guelph, Quebec, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina and Calgary, Canada
Managua and Tipitapa, Nicaragua
Roggen, Nutley, Hiawassee, Alba, Aurora, Scandia, Chicago, Miami, Upton, Sulphur, Grafton, New York,  Los Angeles and Kill Devil Hills, United States
Asuncion, Paraguay
Santa Cruz De Sierra, Bolivia
Lima, Peru
San Salvador, El Salvador
Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Bogota, Medellin and Barranquilla, Colombia
Kingstown, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines
Buenos Aires and Villa Maria, Argentina
Novi Sad, Belgrade and Stubline, Serbia
Oslo, Nesoddtangen and Stravanger, Norway
Saint-Germain-Les-Corbeil, Lyon, Rouen and Orleans, France
Amsterdam, Zwolle, Amersfoort, Roosendaal, Den Haag and Rotterdam, Netherlands
Newport, Wales
Madrid, Gijon and Barcelona, Spain
Costa De Caparica and Lisbon, Portugal
Nicosia, Cyprus
Milan and Rome, Italy 
Ostrava and Vinicne Sumice, Czech Republic
Dublin and Cork, Ireland
North West London, Richdale, Leeds and Barnes, England
Slagelse andCopenhagen, Denmark
Riga and Ventspils, Latvia
Hamburg and Bielefeld, Germany
Bucharest and Chisinau, Romania
Ruse, Bulgaria
Tula, Ryazan, Kazan and Moscow, Russia
Athens, Greece
Kolbuszowa, Poland
Osijek, Croatia
Kiev, Ukraine
Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Tallinn, Estonia
Reykjavik and Selfoss, Iceland
Vantaa, Finland
Kysucke Nove Mesto, Slovakia
Thimphu, Bhutan
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan
Beirut, Lebanon
Bhubaneshwar, Shillong, Vizianagaram, Jodhpur, Pune, Sarkhej, Chennai, Mumbai, Dehra Dun, Delhi, Goa, Patna and Kolkata, India
Manama, Bahrain
Balaipungut, Pamulang and Pekanbaru, Indonesia
Singapore, Singapore
Rangoon, Burma
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Kuala Lumpur, Seri Kembangan and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Baghdad, Iraq
Bangkok, Thailand
Seoul, Korea
Tel Aviv, Israel
Fuqing, China
Oran, Algiers, Algeria
Randburg, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Ariana, Tunisia
Kampala, Uganda
Shurugwi, Zimbabwe
Homebush and Sydney, Australia
Quezon City, Makati and Manadluyong City, Philippines

Today in History

1622 Indians attack a group of colonists in the James River area of Virginia, killing 350 residents.
1630 The first legislation prohibiting gambling is enacted in Boston.
1664 Charles II gives large tracks of land from west of the Connecticut River to the east of Delaware Bay in North America to his brother James, the Duke of York.
1719 Frederick William abolishes serfdom on crown property in Prussia.
1765 The Stamp Act is passed, the first direct British tax on the American colonists.
1775 British statesman Edmund Burke makes a speech in the House of Commons, urging the government to adopt a policy of reconciliation with America.
1790 Thomas Jefferson becomes the first U.S. Secretary of State.
1794 Congress passes laws prohibiting slave trade with foreign countries although slavery remains legal in the United States.
1834 Horace Greeley publishes New Yorker, a weekly literary and news magazine and forerunner of Harold Ross' more successful The New Yorker.
1901 Japan proclaims that it is determined to keep Russia from encroaching on Korea.
1904 The first color photograph is published in the London Daily Illustrated Mirror.
1907 Russians troops complete the evacuation of Manchuria in the face of advancing Japanese forces.
1915 A German Zepplin makes a night raid on Paris railway stations.
1919 The first international airline service is inaugurated on a weekly schedule between Paris and Brussels.
1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill legalizing the sale and possession of beer and wine.
1935 Persia is renamed Iran.
1946 First U.S. built rocket to leave the Earth's atmosphere reaches a 50-mile height.
1948 The United States announces a land reform plan for Korea.
1954 The London gold market reopens for the first time since 1939.
1968 President Lyndon Johnson names General William Westmoreland as Army Chief of Staff.
1972 The U.S. Senate passes the Equal Rights Amendment. The amendment fails to achieve ratification.
1974 The Viet Cong propose a new truce with the United States and South Vietnam, which includes general elections.
1990 A jury in Anchorage, Alaska, finds Captain Hazelwood not guilty in the Valdez oil spill.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

That the corn-eating worms developed an immunity to GMO's designed to kill them

That the ACA is causing the number of uninsured to drop in most age groups

That a woman accidentally joins search party looking for herself

Obama Vows to Keep Pushing Until Women Earn Equal Pay and Workers Make a Living Wage

President Obama reminded the American people that change is hard, but he vowed to keep pushing forward until women earn equal pay, and all workers make a living wage.
At the the White House screen of the film Cesar Chavez: An American Hero, President Obama said:
Cesar himself said that he spent his first 20 years working as an organizer without a single major victory. But he never gave up. He kept on going, and the world is a better place because he did. And that’s one of the great lessons of his life. You don’t give up the fight no matter how long it takes. No matter how long the odds, you keep going, fueled by a simple creed — sí, se puede.
Sometimes people ask me — in fact, while we were backstage, somebody said, oh, you look pretty good. You look better than I expected. The implication being that there might be reason for me not to look good.
But part of what sustains me and part of what I’ve said in the past — and some of you who have been in meetings with me when we’ve experienced setbacks or frustrations on particular issues — I’ve tried to remind people change is hard. It doesn’t happen easily. It doesn’t happen smoothly or painlessly. It happens because you put your shoulder behind the wheel and you keep on pushing. And then, sometimes it’s going to roll back a little bit on you. And then, you got to dig in and you’ve got to push some more.
And Cesar Chavez understood that. You have to push and you create this space. And sometimes you won’t even see all the victories that are achieved, but you’ve invested that time and that effort, and you’ve inspired others. And, eventually, things change, and you pass the baton and future generations then continue this process.
So we’ve got a lot of causes that are worth fighting for. We’ve got to keep fighting to make sure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care. We were very persistent about getting that website fixed. It’s fixed now. And we’ve got more than 5 million people signed up. But we’ve got two more weeks to sign them up. So cuidadodesalud.gov — get on the website, spread the word.
We’ve got to keep fighting to make sure that our economy rewards the hard work of every American with a fair and living wage and equal pay for equal work. We’ve got to keep working to fix our broken immigration system. This is an example of where this is hard, but we’ve made progress and we are going to get this done. This is going to happen. It’s not a matter of if, just a matter of when. And I want it to happen now, so we are going to keep on pushing.
Change is hard. That is why the Obama presidency has been extraordinary. If when the president first took office you would be told that he was going to bring the United States closer than it has ever to universal healthcare access, many of us would have been pleased.
If you had been told that the war in Iraq would be over and that troops will soon be home from Afghanistan back in 2007, how would you have felt?
President Obama has brought change, but that change has been hard fought. Every single day those who are fighting for change have had to battle with repugicans who have made it their mission to oppose any and every change. It doesn’t matter if the proposed change was once their idea. If Obama is for it, repugicans are against it.
Millions of people around this country have fought to preserve what has been accomplished. In future elections, Democrats and supporters will be called on to continue to defend this change.
The president was correct. Change rarely comes quickly and easily, but these gains must continue to be fought for. The repugicans want nothing more than to wipe out the progress made during the Obama years.
Electing President Obama twice was just the beginning. Democrats must be willing to keep fighting for change even after this president’s time in office has come to an end.
Income inequality continues to grow. Women still don’t earn as much as men. Our political system is under constant threat from billionaires who think our government is for sale.
So much has been done, but there is even more to do.

John Boehner Screws The Unemployed by Killing Unemployment Benefits Extension

Speaker of the House John Boehner announced the other day that he plans to kill the bipartisan unemployment benefits extension that the Senate has agreed to.
Boehner used a letter from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies to come out against the bill. Boehner said, “The serious problems with the Senate legislation being noted by these state directors – the state employees charged with actually implementing the Senate unemployment insurance legislation if it were to become law – are cause for serious concern.  We have always said that we’re willing to look at extending emergency unemployment benefits again, if Washington Democrats can come up with a plan that is fiscally-responsible, and gets to the root of the problem by helping to create more private-sector jobs.  There is no evidence that the bill being rammed through the Senate by Leader Reid meets that test, and according to these state directors, the bill is also simply unworkable.  Frankly, a better use of the Senate’s time would be taking up and passing the dozens of House-passed jobs bills still awaiting action.”
Boehner is using the letter as political cover. He needed a reason to once again screw over the unemployed. The concerns voiced in the letter can be addressed legislatively before the bill comes out of the Senate, but Boehner is applying the same logic that he used when he claimed that Obamacare must be killed because the website had issues.
Speaker Boehner is looking for a reason, any reason, to keep millions of people economically struggling. The repugicans view throwing people off of unemployment benefits as a political winner.
They are convinced that they can escape blame for their actions. Boehner and his House repugicans are certain that America will blame President Obama. The truth is that there are enough repugicans in the House who would join with Democrats to pass the unemployment benefits extension.
Boehner had to come up with some reason to keep the bill off of the House floor. Now that he’s got it, millions of hard working Americans are going to be thrown into economic uncertainty and poverty, thanks to John Boehner.

Home Depot founder's non-apology for comparing the 'plight' of the 1% to the Plight of the Jews in Nazi Germany

"My remarks were intended to discourage pitting one group against another group in a society. If my choice of words was inappropriate -- and they well may have been that -- I extend my profound apologies to anyone and everyone who I may have offended." -- Ken Langone, net worth $2.1 billion

Random Celebrity Photos

 Marilyn looking very bored circa 1958

One of the world's most valuable stamps

The world's first adhesive postage stamp was the "Penny Black," issued in Great Britain in 1840.  After it had been in use for a while, officials noted that cancellations with black ink were difficult to discern on the stamps (thus risking their being reused by the public).  Some cancellations were done with red ink, but the simpler expedient was to change the design of the postage stamp to red, and cancel them with black markings.

The "Penny Red" served as postage for a first-class letter in Great Britain for about 40 years (which says something about inflation and economics of the era).  These stamps were therefore printed literally by the billions.  Most therefore are today of only minimal monetary value.  Except for the one shown above.

When you print something by the billions and billiions, the metal plates used to print them wear out, develop cracks and broken highlights, or generally become dull.  New plates are then created.  In nineteenth-century Britain, the printing plates were sequentially numbered, and many stamps of the period carry "plate numbers" placed modestly somewhere in the design.  I have highlighted with yellow ovals in the embedded image the position of plate numbers within the lacework on the lateral borders of the Penny Red.

Plate #77 was found to be defective and not formally used.  The unused copy shown above is one of only nine copies known to exist; it resides in the archives of the British Library and carries a catalogue value of approximately $175,000 USD.

If you have some Penny Reds sitting in an old album in a closet, you can look up the value of the plate number in a variety of philatelic catalogues.   Sound used copies are valued in the range of about $3-20 USD, with mint copies approximately a log power higher.

Man finds egg worth $33.3 million

Just don't drop it.

The Faberge Egg made for Russian royalty that was bought by a scrap metal dealer

You hear about these sorts of things happening. Just never to you.
A person sees a painting at a garage sale, decides to buy it for $5 only to later discover it was painted by someone incredibly famous and worth more than they could have possibly imagined.
Same thing here — only with an egg. A scrap metal dealer in the Midwest stumbled upon an incredibly rare Faberge egg at a sale, the Daily Telegraph reports. The unidentified man, sensing the golden egg was worth considerably more than the $13,000 being asked, plucked down the cash.
It isn't often wise to pay $13,000 for an egg, but in this case, the man's risk was well rewarded. Turns out the piece of art is worth a whopping $33.3 million, according to the Daily Telegraph. Why? The egg was once owned by Russia's Tsar Alexander III and was seized during the Russian Revolution. It is one of only a few original Faberge eggs still known to exist.
Kieran McCarthy, the Faberge expert who verified the man's discovery, compared the find to "Indiana Jones finding the Lost Ark," according to the Daily Mail.
After the man bought the treasure, he did some online research and found a 2011 article seeking the whereabouts of the exact egg in his possession.
He sought out an expert opinion and -- voila -- instant retirement fund, and then some.
The last time the egg had been seen in public was in March 1902, according to Press Association's report.

George Washington Could Swear "Like an Angel from Heaven"

(Portrait by Rembrant Peale) 
From his youth, George Washington made a studied effort at maintaining a public persona befitting a gentleman and a leader. He guarded his conduct carefully with particular attention to his temper. He was capable of savage anger, but rarely displayed it.
Sometimes, though, he lost his composure—usually when dealing with subordinates that he regarded as cowardly or incompetent. Once such occasion was at the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778. Washington’s army had spent several months at Valley Forge training intensively under drillmasters, including the famous Baron von Steuben. Washington was ready to go on the offensive against the British.

(Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth by Emanuel Leutze, 1854)
His senior officers talked him out of a direct assault in favor at a strike at the British rear.* He reluctantly gave heavy responsibility to General Charles Lee, a man of substantial military experience but limited ability. Thanks to Lee, the American battle plan fell apart. Washington rode forward, relieved Lee on the spot, and personally rallied Lee’s fleeing troops into order. It was during this moment that Washington lost his cool and offered General Lee his frank assessment of the subordinate’s professional competence.
Although some historians doubt it, General Charles Scott of Virginia (left) claimed to have witnessed the scene. Scott himself was a man of prodigious profanity. Later in Scott's life, one of his more refined friends tried to convince him to cease swearing. Would it not be better to follow the example of Washington? George Washington Parke Custis, Washington’s step-grandson and biographer, wrote:
After the war, a friend of the gallant general, anxious to reform his evil habits, asked him whether it was possible that the man much beloved, the admired Washington, ever swore? Scott reflected for a moment, then exclaimed, "Yes, once. It was at Monmouth, and on a day that would have made any man swear. Yes, sir, he swore on that day, till the leaves shook on the trees, charming, delightful. Never have I enjoyed such swearing before or since. Sir, on that ever-memorable day, he swore like an angel from heaven.” The reformer abandoned [Charles Scott] in despair.
*One of the qualities that made Washington a great leader was his ability to discern good advice and his willingness to take it. This characteristic secured American victories during the Boston, New Jersey and Yorktown campaigns.

Dear Mom ...

Student deciphers 1,800-year-old letter from Egyptian soldier
A newly deciphered 1,800-year-old letter from an Egyptian solider serving […]

Were you aware ...

Could "night vision contact lenses" become a reality?

Theoretically, yes.  Researchers at the University of Michigan have created a graphene-based material that detects infrared light.
"We can make the entire design super-thin," said Zhaohui Zhong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. "It can be stacked on a contact lens or integrated with a cell phone."  The material worked at room temperature, which is another accomplishment.
More information at Popular Science

Lying to kids is bad ...

Hey, you, stop peeing in the pool!

We all know that peeing in the pool can be disgusting. While chlorine is killing off the bacteria, there are still some other harmful byproducts. Laci explains how peeing in the pool can be bad for the people around you for a few different reasons.



Do Sleeping Pills Really Help You Sleep?

Many people who aren't able to sleep or suffer from insomnia turn to sleeping pills to help get some rest at night. But do these pills actually put you to sleep? Join Trace as he explains how sleeping pills actually work.

A Mystery Solved ...

Why You Need to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day

We're all told that in order to live a healthy life, we should eat right and engage in physical activity. But is diet and exercise enough? Anthony explains why you should take 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy.

3,200-year-old skeleton found with cancer

Archaeologists have found the oldest complete example in the world of a human with metastatic cancer in a 3,000 year-old skeleton. The findings are reported in the academic journal PLOS ONE. 3,200-year-old skeleton found with cancer
The skeleton of an adult male excavated from Amara West, the skeleton shows signs of metastatic carcinoma
The skeleton of the young adult male was found by a Durham University PhD student in a tomb in modern Sudan in 2013 and dates back to 1200BC.
Analysis has revealed evidence of metastatic carcinoma, cancer which has spread to other parts of the body from where it started, from a malignant soft-tissue tumour spread across large areas of the body, making it the oldest convincing complete example of metastatic cancer in the archaeological record.
The researchers from Durham University and the British Museum say the discovery will help to explore underlying causes of cancer in ancient populations and provide insights into the evolution of cancer in the past. Ancient DNA analysis of skeletons and mummies with evidence of cancer can be used to detect mutations in specific genes that are known to be associated with particular types of cancer.
Even though cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death today, it remains almost absent from the archaeological record compared to other pathological conditions, giving rise to the conclusion that the disease is mainly a product of modern living and increased longevity. These findings suggest that cancer is not only a modern disease but was already present in the Nile Valley in ancient times.
Lead author, Michaela Binder, a PhD student in the Department of Archaeology at Durham University, excavated and examined the skeleton. She said: “Very little is known about the antiquity, epidemiology and evolution of cancer in past human populations apart from some textual references and a small number of skeletons with signs of cancer.
Michaela Binder from Durham University working on the skeleton
“Insights gained from archaeological human remains like these can really help us to understand the evolution and history of modern diseases.
“Our analysis showed that the shape of the small lesions on the bones can only have been caused by a soft tissue cancer even though the exact origin is impossible to determine through the bones alone.”
The skeleton is of an adult male estimated to be between 25-35 years old when he died and was found at the archaeological site of Amara West in northern Sudan, situated on the Nile, 750km downstream of the country’s modern capital Khartoum. It was buried extended on his back, within a badly deteriorated painted wooden coffin, and provided with a glazed faience amulet as a grave good.
Previously, there has only been one convincing, and two tentative, examples of metastatic cancer predating the 1st millennium BC reported in human remains. However, because the remains derived from early 20th century excavations, only the skulls were retained, thus making a full re-analysis of each skeleton, to generate differential (possible) diagnoses, impossible.
Co-author, Dr Neal Spencer from the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum, said: “From footprints left on wet mud floors, to the healed fractures of many ancient inhabitants, Amara West offers a unique insight into what it was like to live there – and die – in Egyptian-ruled Upper Nubia 3200 years ago.”
The skeleton was examined by experts at Durham University and the British Museum using radiography and a scanning electron microscope (SEM) which resulted in clear imaging of the lesions on the bones. It showed cancer metastases on the collar bones, shoulder blades, upper arms, vertebrae, ribs, pelvis and thigh bones.
Lytic lesion in the spinous process of the 5th thoracic vertebra
The cause of the cancer can only be speculative but the researchers say it could be as a result of environmental carcinogens such as smoke from wood fires, through genetic factors, or from infectious diseases such as schistosomiasis which is caused by parasites.
They say that an underlying schistosomiasis infection seems a plausible explanation for the cancer in this individual as the disease had plagued inhabitants of Egypt and Nubia since at least 1500BC, and is now recognized as a cause of bladder cancer and breast cancer in men.
Michaela Binder added: “Through taking an evolutionary approach to cancer, information from ancient human remains may prove a vital element in finding ways to address one of the world’s major health problems.”
The tomb, where the skeleton was found, appears to have been used for high-status individuals from the town, but not the ruling elite, based on the tomb architecture and aspects of funerary ritual.
The tomb’s architecture is evidence of a hybrid culture blending Pharaonic elements (burial goods, painted coffins) with Nubian culture (a low mound to mark the tomb).
The well preserved pottery recovered from the tomb provides a date within the 20th Dynasty (1187-1064BC), a period when Egypt ruled Upper Nubia, endured conflicts with Libya and while pharaohs such as Ramses III were being buried in the Valley of the Kings.
The research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the Institute of Bioarchaeology Amara West Field School, with the permission of the National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums in Sudan.

Paleodiet didn’t change – the climate did

Why were Neanderthals replaced by anatomically modern humans around 40,000 years ago? One popular hypothesis states that a broader dietary spectrum of modern humans gave them a competitive advantage on Neanderthals. Geochemical analyses of fossil bones seemed to confirm this dietary difference. Indeed, higher amounts of nitrogen heavy isotopes were found in the bones of modern humans compared to those of Neanderthals, suggesting at first that modern humans included fish in their diet while Neanderthals were focused on the meat of terrestrial large game, such as mammoth and bison.
Fragment of jaw of a wolf from Le Moustier that was analyzed during the investigation
However, these studies did not look at possible isotopic variation of nitrogen isotopes in the food resource themselves. In fact, environmental factors such as aridity can increase the heavy nitrogen isotope amount in plants, leading to higher nitrogen isotopic values in herbivores and their predators even without a change of subsistence strategy. A recent study published in Journal of Human Evolution by researchers from the University of Tübingen (Germany) and the Musée national de Préhistoire in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac (France) revealed that the nitrogen isotopic content of animal bones, both herbivores, such as reindeer, red deer, horse and bison, and carnivores such as wolves, changed dramatically at the time of first occurrence of modern humans in southwestern France.
The changes are very similar to those seen in human fossils during the same period, showing that there was not necessarily a change in diet between Neanderthals and modern humans, but rather a change in environment that was responsible for a different isotopic signature of the same food resources.
Graph showing the isotopic shift of herbivores, wolves and humans at the transition between Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans
Moreover, this isotopic event coinciding in timing with the replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans may indicate that environmental changes, such as an increase of aridity, could have helped modern humans to overcome the Neanderthals.
These new results, together with recently published research showing that Neanderthals had more skills and exploited more diverse food resources than previously thought, makes the biological differences between these two types of prehistoric humans always smaller. In this context, the exact circumstances of the extinction of Neanderthals by modern humans remain unclear and they are probably more complex than just a behavioral superiority of one type of humans compared to the other.

Stunning green flash image captured in Perth

Colin Legg photographs sunset phenomenon beyond famous Australian lighthouse; image appropriately titled, 'Sun Pyramid'
Many sunset watchers have witnessed the green flash. Sometimes it’s vibrant and obvious, other times it’s subtle. (Yes, non-believers, green flashes do occur.)
Photos, in most cases, do not do the phenomenon justice. But Colin Legg, an astrophotographer from Western Australia, on Monday posted a stunning green flash image titled “Sun Pyramid” to his Facebook page.
The image shows the flash of green light on the sun’s upper rim as it set beyond the Rottnest Island lighthouse in Perth. Legg, who specializes in photographing the night sky, posted video of the same event on Wednesday (see video below).
Solar Cauldron – sun setting over Rottnest Island lighthouse. from Colin Legg on Vimeo.
“Some funky aberrations and distortions in this one,” Legg wrote on Monday. “We had nice seeing in Perth this evening, so I shot a video of the sun setting behind Rottnest Island lighthouse from Cottesloe beach. To avoid wind jitter, I setup at the local rugby tavern and asked the players to not kick in my direction. Pretty impressive view through 23 km of atmosphere.”
Green flashes occur only sporadically and very briefly at sunset, when part of the sun suddenly changes to blue or green. According to a San Diego State University Web page devoted to the phenomenon, “Green flashes are by-products of the large variations in astronomical refraction near the horizon. Although there are several kinds of green flash, almost every kind is a by-product of a corresponding mirage.”
Legg’s video reveals multiple blue and green flashes during the final stages of sunset. He was using a Canon 5D Mark II and shooting with a 2,000-millimeter lens.

Daily Comic Relief


15 million year old 'bilby' unearthed in Australia

An ancient fossil of the bilby, Australia's answer to the Easter rabbit, has been discovered at the Riversleigh World Heritage site in north west Queensland.
Inset picture: Fossil teeth of the fossil bilby, Liyamayi day
The 15-million-year-old fossil of the long-eared marsupial, found by palaeontologists from The University of Queensland and the University of New South Wales, confirms that bilbies evolved millions of years earlier than was previously known.
Lead researcher Dr Kenny Travouillon, from UQ's School of Earth Sciences, said the finding would increase understanding of the fossil record and the evolution of Australian marsupials.
"More generally, by understanding how Australia's vertebrates and ecosystems have evolved through time with the changing climate, we can better predict their responses to future climate change and better protect the more endangered lineages against extinction," Dr Travouillon said.
DNA studies on related species had predicted that the bilby had evolved about 25 million years ago, when it separated from its closest relative, the bandicoot.
Until now, the oldest fossil of the endangered bilby was only about five million years old.
"The species that we have discovered is about 15 million years old, which is more in accordance with the DNA data and will provide insight on how bilbies have evolved over time and adapted to changes in the Australian environment," Dr Travouillon said.The species has been named Liyamayi dayi, which is derived from the Aboriginal Waanyi people's language and means 'day's round tooth'.
The "day" refers to UQ alumnus and geologist Dr Robert Day, who funded Dr Travouillon's postdoctoral fellowship at the School of Earth Sciences.
Riversleigh is famous for previous discoveries of extinct Australian animal fossils, such as carnivorous kangaroos, the predecessors of Tasmanian tigers, and tree-climbing crocodiles.
Dr Travouillon and his team, also recovered fossils of a 15-million-year-old species related to modern bandicoots from the same area.
"Just like the bilbies, the previously oldest known ancestor of the modern bandicoots was also about five million years old, and hence this finding also pushes back their age," Dr Travouillon said.
As the new bandicoot species was found in an unusual time period—almost crashing in a time period where it was least expected—the team has named it 'Crash bandicoot', after a video game character.
The fossils were discovered several years ago, and the results of subsequent research has now been published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Dried Snake

Scientists have discovered a sea snake that dehydrates for several months before reconstituting itself after heavy rains, according to a new study:

When animal fall from the sky

"It’s raining cats and dogs" is just an expression, and Sharknado was just a movie. But throughout history, there have been instances of animals falling from the sky. When it’s birds or insects, we assume that they were flying, but how do you account for all those other creatures?
Over the years many different animals have reportedly fallen from the sky. Tadpoles over Japan; spiders over Brazil; frogs over Serbia, ancient Egypt and Kansas City; brown worms over Indiana; scarlet worms over Massachusetts; red worms over Sweden; snails over England; a shower of raw meat (thought to be venison or mutton) over Kentucky; blackbirds over Arkansas; eels over Alabama; snakes over Tennessee and fish over Australia, India and Honduras.
Although they all fall into the freakish category of animals falling from the sky, there are many different explanations for the phenomena. Read about some of these accounts, and the reasonable explanations of how they happened, at Modern Farmer.

What it’s like to be eaten by a crocodile

'I thought it would be cool to try and get some shots from the perspective of his lunch'

A Florida man with a GoPro camera insists he wasn't trying to film a crocodile bite. But that's precisely what happened earlier this week when Chris Madden, a maintenance worker at Everglades Outpost Wildlife Rescue in Homestead, Fla., lowered his camera into the water. "I wanted to get some up-close footage of the crocodile," Madden explained in an email. "But when he immediately lunged out of the water, I thought it would be cool to try and get some shots from the perspective of his lunch."
The resulting footage shows the American crocodile nearly consuming the 25-year-old's camera in three bites.
Madden says he had built PVC housing around the GoPro to protect both his camera and the crocodile ("PVC is soft enough that their teeth penetrate it enough to not cause injury," according to Madden). But when the croc grabbed it a third time, "a tooth went directly through the lens."
Madden says he cleared the idea for the video with Bob Freer, the owner of the facility.
"We discussed everything beforehand and he actually helped me come up with the idea for the PVC housing I put together," Madden wrote. "He's seen the footage, and is hoping just as I am that it will get some views and raise some awareness of the outpost."
In order to retrieve the footage from his mangled camera, Madden and his friend used an age-old technique.
"We had to splash around on the other end of the pond to distract him while my buddy scooped it off the bottom with a long net," Madden wrote.
See the video here.

Animal News

'Chicken From Hell' Was a Fowl-Looking Dinosaur
The Dakotas were once home to "Chicken from Hell," a newly identified dinosaur that lived alongside T. rex. 
Genetic evidence suggests giant, flightless birds, the moas, thrived until Polynesians colonized New Zealand in the 13th century, when the birds quickly went extinct.
Sea Snake Dries to a Crisp Before Rehydrating
Like dried fruit coming back to life in a bowl of cereal, a sea snake rehydrates after months of considerable dehydration.
As if an 18-foot snake that can eat humans isn't worrisome enough, a new study has found that Burmese pythons possess incredible, natural GPS ability.
'Hogzilla' Returns: 500 lb. Monster Boar Killed
'Hogzilla' makes a comeback: An enormous wild boar was recently killed, and it's only the latest in a series of monster pigs.

Animal Pictures