Where in the world can you see an infinite beach? Try the Namib Desert in Namibia, where some of the world’s tallest dunes meet the sea.
The Namib Desert is the world’s oldest desert, going back at least 55 million years. While devoid of surface water, there are nearly a thousand miles of desert coastline on the Atlantic ocean where coastal winds have helped shape and shift massive dunes.
The contrast between the land waves and sea waves, desert and the Namib-sand sea, is simply breathtaking.
Pink sea urchins house five teeth, each supported by a separate jaw in a circular arrangement at the center of their spiked spherical bodies.
But researchers at Northwestern have discovered that the teeth of pink sea urchins are specially equipped to self-sharpen themselves.
The tooth enamel breaks off regularly to sustain precision, like a knife sharpening upon a blade.
“The material on the outer layer of the tooth exhibits a complex behavior of plasticity and damage that regulates ‘controlled’ chipping of the tooth to maintain its sharpness,” said Northwestern University Professor Horacio Espinosa.
The sea urchins continue to grow teeth throughout life, helping the sea urchins ward off predators.
Lake Hillier located off the south coast of Western Australia (Middle Island) is an iconic lake known for its vivid pink color.
Scientists postulate that the lake’s solid bubblegum color results from the intermixing of Halobacteria and a salt-tolerant algae species called Dunaliella Salina.
When mixed with salt-tolerant microalgae, the bacteria produce red pigments that create a stunning strawberry milkshake color. The chemical reactions between the salt and the microorganisms also make the lake ten times saltier than the ocean nearby. But the lake is still safe to swim in.
There are 29 other pink lakes in the world. But unlike other pink lakes that morph into different colors, Lake Hillier — 2,000 feet long and 660 feet wide — retains its pink hue all year round. The contrast between the bright pink and dark blue ocean water is stunning.
Not sure what’s more amazing about the African dung beetle, one that it rolls immaculate balls out of other animals’ dung or that it navigates from home to manure piles and back via celestial cues.
“These clever insects use the polarized light of the moon to navigate in a straight line,” writes Popular Mechanics. “Their eyes cannot see individual stars but a group of stars together, like the Milky Way, is dense enough to create a luminous line for them to follow.”
No stars, no problem! When the sun gets blocked or is directly overhead, the beetle uses its antennae to perceive wind signals. This way it can roll across the desert without getting lost.
But entomologist and photographer Piotr (Peter) Naskrecki of the Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique believes the Kheper subaeneus beetles are more interesting for what they do for mother Earth.
Few animals are as important to the African savanna ecosystem as the dung beetles and without their thankless toil the entire ecosystem would soon collapse, covered in a thick layer of waste.
Keep in mind that the gathered feces, which the palm-sized creature rolls into big balls, often weigh more than the beetle itself.
The Benagil Sea Cave, located in a small fishing village 3 hours from Lisbon, is arguably one of the most interesting tourist attractions in the world.
Accessible only by boat, the cave contains a peculiar domed ceiling and natural oculus shaped by wave attrition and Miocene limestone built-up over 20 million years ago.
Hiding under the intricate arches of the grotto is a secret beach with golden, fine sand. The only way to get to the beach is to kayak, paddleboard, or swim.
The Algarve of Portugal’s southernmost region has an abundance of sea caves, but the Benagil Sea Cave with its clash of intricate rock formations, secluded beach, and radiant shades from amber is the most spectacular.
Attenborough’s fan-throated lizard (Sitana attenboroughii) is a species of fan-throated lizards endemic to India, primarily found in the state of Tamil Nadu.
The males flaunt their colorful dewlaps — loose skin on their necks — to woo potential mates during mating season. The males also flash their fan-structured throats to ward off rivals in their territory. Females, meanwhile, have smaller white-colored dewlaps.
This superb lizard lives mainly in open ground patches and takes its name after natural historian David Attenborough.
The Japanese forestry technique for harvesting wood, daisugi (meaning “cedar table”), goes as far back as the 14th century to solve a seedling shortage in Kyoto.
The 700-year-old technique involves pruning a tree’s branches as if they were giant bonsai trees. In doing so, the mother tree provides a stable platform that supports the birth of new uniform saplings growing perfectly upward and knotless on top.
Therefore, the ancient method creates fresh timber — more than a dozen trunks — while preserving the original tree itself.
However, the ingenious forestry technique is no longer in use as it takes several years of active care and maintenance.
It’s mind-boggling to imagine how the first monks built the monasteries of Meteora in the 14th century, most notably the one in Peneas Valley located northeast of Kalabaka, Greece.
This Holy Trinity sits on top of a rocky precipe over 1300 feet, forming one of six surviving monasteries constructed on top of steep natural pillars in seemingly impossible locations. These clifftop monasteries of Meteora translate to “suspended in the air.”
Art on top of rocks
There were originally 24 total monasteries situated in central Greece. The cliffs of Meteora formed about 60 million years ago as a result of a mix of wind, rain, and earthquakes.
The first monks started building the complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in the 14th century in search of isolation, protection from the Turks, and a greater connection with God. At one point, the complexes were only reachable by rope ladder.
Today, the eremite monasteries are proof that heaven can be a place on Earth.