Categories
Nature Science

Iceland’s dark and tall scree Vestrahorn mountains

The ever-so-beautiful Vestrahorn mountain in southeast Iceland is a sight to behold.

Nicknamed “Batman Mountain” for its dark and ominous appearance – it looks like the iconic Bat-signal from afar — the 1,490-foot tall scree mountain looks down at the flat black sand of Stokksnes Beach below.

Vestrahorn is composed of gabbro and granophyre rocks, which help give it the appearance of sharp spikes resembling bull horns.

The mountain is located on private property. So to access the photogenic landscape of the beach, you’ll need to make a small payment first.

The experience is worth every penny—especially if you get to see Vestrahorn mountain on a clear night under the Northern Lights.

Vestrahorn mountain
Vestrahorn mountain
Vestrahorn mountain
Vestrahorn mountain
Categories
Animals Nature

The huge neck of the East African gerenuk

The Gerenuk is an antelope often referred to as a giraffe-necked antelope or “giraffe gazelle.”

They are unique-looking creatures due to their huge necks, small heads, and big eyes and ears. In short, they look like a gazelle had a baby with a llama.

Amazingly, they can survive their entire life without ever taking a drink of water. This is because the gerenuk derives water from the leaves that it eats.

To better reach this foliage it has evolved a long, slender neck and head. It often raises its front legs and props them against a tree trunk in order to reach higher branches.

Mostly found in the Horn of Africa and the drier parts of East Africa, the gerenuk is near threatened due to trophy hunters seeking their mount.

gerenuk
gerenuk
gerenuk
gerenuk
Categories
Nature Science Travel

Natural erosion takes down famed Darwin’s Arch in the Galapagos Islands

The top of Darwin’s Arch, a rock formation located in the Galápagos Islands, collapsed into the sea from erosion.

The Ecuadorean Environment Ministry reported the destruction of the unique 141 foot high, 230-foot long rock on May 17.

“The collapse of Darwin’s Arch, the attractive natural bridge found less than a kilometer from the main area of Darwin Island, was reported,” said the ministry.

A tour group traveling with tour company Aggressor Adventures witnessed the collapse right in front of their eyes.

The natural stone bridge was named after the English biologist Charles Darwin who visited the Galápagos Islands in 1835. Among the smallest of the 19 islands in the Galápagos Archipelago, Darwin’s island is located 621 miles from the coast of Ecuador.

The island hosts a rich array of plants and wildlife, many of them endemic, including some of the largest shark communities in the world.

The rich diversity of wildlife in the surrounding areas (re: Darwin’s finches) became the cornerstone of Darwin’s theory on evolution.

Take a look back at the world-famous Darwin’s Arch before the collapse took place.

Darwin's Arch
Darwin's Arch
Darwin's Arch
Categories
Nature Photography Travel

The mushroom-shaped Kannesteinen Rock sculpted by the sea

Above the coast near Måløy, Norway exists one of the most elegant rocks you’ll ever see.

Known as the Kannesteinen Rock, the mushroom-shaped rock took thousands of years to be sculpted by the sea.

Strong westerly winds, ice, and strong waves shaped this natural wonder over time. As the waves crashed on the rock, they carved away the edges, making it look like a mushroom cloud.

The Norwegian locals, however, call the stone sculpture “kannestolen” (“stolen” means chair in Norwegian) because it resembles a one-legged chair.

The Kannesteinen Rock is quite famous, and it is not hard to see why. Although the location remains protected under Norwegian law, Instagrammers can still climb atop the rock during low tide and capture stunning photographs.

The Kannesteinen Rock is an example of how the Earth changes over time, and in this case, evolving into a more interesting and beautiful place.

Kannesteinen Rock
Kannesteinen Rock
Kannesteinen Rock
Categories
Animals Nature

The crazy face-like underside of a sawfish

You may have seen a sawfish from up above or from the side but have you ever seen one from below?

The underside of a sawfish houses their nostrils and gills. But what they look like up close is a person’s face in the midst of making some judgment.

Just look at this thing:

Take a closer look:

Photo: Twitter/@ddoniolvalcroze

The sawfish uses the 88–128 teeth in their upper mouth and 84–176 teeth in the lower jaw to grind crabs and small fish into bits. They use their “saw-like” snout, called a rostrum that juts out of their flat head to detect, stun, and manipulate prey in the murky waters they inhabit.

There are transverse teeth on the saw extension as well.

Once widespread across the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, sawfish are now classified as endangered species — commonly hunted for their liver, fins, meat, and skin.

underside of sawfish
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