Categories
Animals Nature

How the Mary River Turtle breathes for 72 hours underwater

The Mary River Turtle is a remarkable creature for two main reasons.

One, it possesses specialized glands on its bottom that allow it to stay underwater for 72 hours—yes, it breathes through its genitals. It does this by releasing oxygen bubbles through its cloaca, the hole (aka butt) it excretes waste through.

Two, the animal sports an algae-infused mohawk. It uses the algae growing on its shell to camouflage itself from predators. The Mary River turtle is easily one of Australia’s largest turtles extending beyond 20 inches in carapace length.

The turtle lives exclusively in Mary River streams in southeastern Queensland, Australia, where it’s listed as one of the world’s most vulnerable reptiles. The species is listed as endangered due to its limited home range and numerous threats posed by humans, such as pollution, habitat loss, poaching, and boat strikes.

A number of organizations are working to protect the species, including the Australian Department of the Environment, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, and the World Wildlife Fund.

The Mary River turtle’s sighting is becoming increasingly rare, and it’s important to help the species survive for future generations to come.

The Mary River Turtle
Photo: Chris Van Wyk
The Mary River Turtle
Photo: Chris Van Wyk
Photo: Chris Van Wyk
Categories
Nature Travel

Hiking Rainbow Mountain in Peru

17,000 feet above sea level in the Andres of Peru lies one of Earth’s geological wonders, Rainbow Mountain.

Vinicunca, the rainbow mountain in Peru’s Cusco region, gets its coloration from the intermixing of oxide rust — which causes the red color — and iron sulfide — which produces the orange and yellow hues.

Discovered in 2015, the rainbow mountain emerged from leftover mineral deposits from ice sheets that once filled the area. As the ice melted, the mineral deposits were exposed to the sun, causing them to oxidize and ultimately develop their vibrant colors.

How and when to hike Rainbow Mountain

Climbing the spectacular mountain requires endurance — it takes about 2 hours to get up and another 1 hour to get down. The trek to get there is a challenge in itself! But you can also hire a horse to take you up.

The best time to visit the mountain is the dry season, from May to October. The rainy season, lasting from November to April, can make it difficult to hike.

The Rainbow Mountain is a stunning geological phenomenon and one of the most spectacular sites to see in the Andes.

Rainbow Mountain in Peru
Rainbow Mountain in Peru
Rainbow Mountain in Peru
Rainbow Mountain in Peru
Categories
Animals Nature

The Mwanza flat-headed rock agama aka Spider-Man agama

The Mwanza Flat-Headed Rock Agama is a small lizard found primarily in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania. The male lizard, which has a flattened head, is also known as the Spider-Man agama because of its bright red and dark blue coloration and its ability to climb vertical surfaces with ease.

The Mwanza Flat-Headed Rock Agama grows to a maximum length of about 12 centimeters (5 inches). Its short, rounded snout are a distinctive feature of this species and give it a unique appearance among agamas.

Although it is primarily diurnal (active during the day), the Mwanza Flat-Headed Rock Agama is also busy at night. An agile lizard, it can quickly run around and ascend up and over surfaces to chase insects, spiders, or worms.

spiderman agama 3
spiderman agama 3
Categories
Nature Space

Meet the first flower grown entirely in space, a zinnia flower

“The earth laughs in flowers,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in Nature and Selected Essays.

We, humans, spend our entire lives blistering through space on a giant rock we call Earth with flowers in abundance. It is fascinating to know that we too can pollinate the cosmos.

NASA astronaut and American engineer Scott Kelly captured the Orange Zinnia, enjoying the sunshine aboard the International Space Station in 2016.

The harvest was part of the VEG-01 experiment during Expedition 46. Nasa used the seeds from growing pillows — watered via injected syringes — delivered on ISS Cargo to foster the Zinnia flowers.

Plant research in space originally began in the 1970s to understand how plants grow in microgravity and to explore the possibility of autonomous gardening on deep space missions.

See more of Kelly’s beautiful pictures after the jump.

Meet the first flower grown entirely in space, a zinnia flower
Photo: NASA/Scott Kelly
Meet the first flower grown entirely in space, a zinnia flower
Photo: NASA/Scott Kelly
Meet the first flower grown entirely in space, a zinnia flower
Photo: NASA/Scott Kelly
Meet the first flower grown entirely in space, a zinnia flower
Photo: NASA/Scott Kelly
Categories
Animals Nature

The Tasmanian Giant Crab is the king of crabs

Add the Tasmanian Giant Crab (Pseudocarcinus gigas) to one of the animals you’ll want to see in person one day.

Weighing up to 39lbs with a shell length of up to 18 inches, the Tasmanian Giant Crab is the fifth largest crab species. Its wild geometry makes its claws appear more massive than its body — just look at it held by humans.

This monstrous “king” of crabs resides in the deep ocean of Southern Australia, mostly at depths of 460–885 feet.

Unfortunately, the crab is a prize catch among fishers where’s it’s been fished in Tasmanian waters since 1992.

The Tasmanian Giant Crab is the king of crabs
Photo: Seal Life via Twitter/@StrangeAnimals
The Tasmanian Giant Crab is the king of crabs
Photo: Courtesy of Pure South Dining
Categories
Nature

Watch this octopus change colors as it dreams

New research suggests that octopuses experience ‘quiet’ and ‘active’ sleep states like humans, even undergoing brief dreaming periods. While there’s no evidence to conclude that they dream the way people do, they do light up in different colors when they snooze.

That’s according to a marine biologist who captured this octopus snoozing away in a fish tank.

The neuroprocessing abilities of cephalopods (i.e., brain with tentacles attached) like the octopus activate their color-changing cells in response to their environments.

What does an octopus dream about?

While we don’t know exactly what the octopus dreams about, the shift to a darker color represents the octopuses movement off the seafloor. Meanwhile, the camouflage sequence mimics the change that happens when octopuses hide from prey.

Watch the snippet below and the entire clip on PBS.

Categories
Nature Travel

Jimmy Chin joins Masterclass to teach adventure photography

I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Please see the disclosure for more info.

Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Jimmy Chin is renowned for his work with National Geographic and other outdoor adventures.

His two most recent films Meru and Free Solo are some of Discvr.blog’s most favorite adventure documentary films.

Even more, the producer has now turned teacher.

Together with the education platform Masterclass, the action photographer is now offering a once-in-a-lifetime adventure photography course.

So get ready to pack the bag and camera and hit the outdoors.

Push the limits of photography with Jimmy Chin on Masterclass

If you follow the world-renowned photographer Jimmy Chin on Instagram, you’ll know he’s a daredevil climber and mountaineer with a keen eye for landscape shots.

In this course, he’ll teach you all the techniques you need to know for capturing stunning photos.

He also details his approach for more commercial and editorial shoots as well, including the daily gear he uses to work his magic. 

“Things aren’t that interesting to me unless the stakes are very high,” says Chin in the intro class video.

In addition to urging his students to get out there, move, and shoot, Chin shares many of his own creative lessons along the way.

“Sometimes, it’s easy to get trapped into one lens…and I force myself to change the lens, change the perspective, and then to move,” advises Chin. “One scenario can look dramatically different just by moving,” he adds.

If one thing is certain in this course, you’ll learn the entire process of adventure photography from the initial concept of a shoot, to gear selection, to the final edit.

About MasterClass

Jimmy Chin joins other notable creators at MasterClass offering unique online courses. photography, writing, music production, filmmaking, and even cooking.

We would also encourage Discvr.blog readers buy the Annual Membership ($180) and take astrophysicist Neil deDrasse Tyson’s five-star course on Scientific Thinking and Communication.

Invest in your future and see where your curiosity takes you.

Categories
Animals Nature

Meet the Dracula Parrot, the most metal birds on the planet

Thinking of parrots usually conjures up images of the brightly colored blue, red, and green creatures.

But with the shape of a parrot and the dark beak of a vulture, Pesquet’s parrot, commonly known as the Dracula parrot, is one of the more unique-looking parrot species.

The rare vulture-parrot hybrid found in New Guinea’s rainforests

The vampiric-looking bird from the mountains of New Guinea looks bloodthirsty but snacks on a diet of figs. Its unusual goth-like appearance, a mishmash of black and red plumes, is also quite beautiful. Male Dracula parrots have an extra red dot behind the ears.

Unfortunately, the Dracula Parrot’s mesmerizing feathers make it attractive to poachers. The bird has been listed on the endangered species list by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Pesquet's parrot aka Dracula Parrot
Pesquet's parrot aka Dracula Parrot
Categories
Animals Nature

How the Honduran white bat converts large leaves into tents

Some of the most bizarre wildlife exists in the Honduran rainforest. Take the Honduran white fruit bat (Ectophylla alba), for example.

The size of a golf ball, these tiny fluffy creatures love to snuggle together like peas in a pod in leaf tents. Polygamous, each little colony houses up to six females and one male.

The tent-making bats

These white-winged cotton-ball-looking bats create their nook by nibbling the side veins jutting out from the Heliconia plant, causing the large leaves to fold down to form a tent.

The leaf tents allow the bats to avoid parasites such as bat flies. When sunlight filters through the canopy, their white fur appears green — superb camouflage!

While most bats sleep in caves, these magic bats, also called Caribbean white tent-making bats, spend their leaves eating figs and roosting in peace.

Honduran white bat
Honduran white bat
Honduran white bat
Categories
Nature

Mount Roraima: An island in the clouds

Mount Roraima is a tabletop mountain located in the deep rainforest of Venezuela’s Canaima National Park. It serves as the tripoint of Venezuela, Guyana, and Brazil.

One of the series of Pakaraima chain plateaus that rise above sea level, Mount Roraima is the highest peak at 9,200 feet with a 12-square-mile summit area with 1,300 foot high cliffs. Roraima and the surrounding plateaus look like islands floating in the sky.

A roaring beauty that dates back two billion years to the Precambrian era, it is no wonder that Mount Roraima has become known as a lost world. It’s commonly perceived as a home for living dinosaurs to this day so high, flat, and rich in unusual species of plants and animals.

At the top of the mountain also lies rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and caves looking like a picturesque scene out of Jurassic Park.