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Nature Science Travel

The Wave in Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona

The Wave is a sandstone rock located in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument on the Arizona and Utah borders.

The swirling formation combines water and wind eroded sandstone dunes calcified vertically and horizontally and fossilized over 190 million years.

Only 20 people are permitted to visit the natural wonder daily, which can only be reached by foot.

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Nature Travel

The edge of the Earth: Australia’s Nullarbor Cliffs

What looks like the end of the Earth is really just the end of Australia.

The Bunda Cliffs of Nullarbor Plain, Southern Australia, form part of the longest uninterrupted line of coastal cliffs (62 miles long) in the world.

These limestone sea cliffs, which are 200 feet to 400 feet high, drop off into the Great Australian Bight, one of the most pristine ocean environments on Earth.

The cliffs also head 7 centimeters north every year, thanks to continental drift.

PS: The Bunda Cliffs are not to be used as evidence for flat Earth believers.

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Animals Nature Photography

Attenborough’s fan-throated lizard

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. They also flash the fan-structured throat to challenge a potential rival in a territory. Females, meanwhile, have smaller white colored dewlaps.

This superb lizard lives mostly on the ground in open ground patches and takes its name after natural historian, David Attenborough.

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Nature Travel

Split Apple Rock, New Zealand

Split Apple Rock Tokangawhā is a rock formation located in Tasman Bay at the top of the South Island of New Zealand.

Shaped like an apple that’s been sliced in half or a giant Pacman (if you prefer), this geological wonder emerged as granite from the Cretaceous period 120 million years ago. It sits atop fellow rocks.

According to the Maori legend, the boulder split due to two feuding Maori gods fighting to own the rock.

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Architecture & Design Travel

Impossible heights: Lighthouse of Thridrangar, Iceland

Want to get away? There’s a lighthouse off the coast of South Iceland that sits 120 feet upward on the highest of three steep rocks. It is possibly the most isolated lighthouse in the world.

Built in 1939, the Thridrangar (Þrídrangar) Lighthouse is undoubtedly one of the most challenging lighthouses ever built. Given the swirling winds and crashing waves, climbing the precarious pillar must have been one Herculean task.

Today, Thridrangar lighthouse is only accessible by helicopter.

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Nature Travel

Brides Waterfall, Peru

There’s a natural waterfall in Peru that forms the shape of a bride in her wedding dress.

Known as Cascada La Novia (Bride Waterfall), the miracle of nature takes its name from settlers who believed that the waterfall formed to commemorate the tragic loss of a woman’s husband.

Below is the story according to the legend.

“In times of yore, a couple of lovers who loved each other deeply despite the rivalry of their families, decided to get married, but on the big day so special for both, the father of the bride took a rifle and shoots the groom propitiating him the death instantaneously, this act caused the bride wrapped in tears and with a huge grief to run out with her beautiful dress towards the mountains, and being there when she could not bear the sadness of losing her beloved, she made a pact with the Apu and the Pachamama, which turned it into a beautiful waterfall, so that everyone could appreciate its beauty for all eternity.”

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Animals Nature

Mary River Turtle: Punk rock turtle who can breathe for 72 hours underwater

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

It possesses specialized glands on its bottom that allow it to stay underwater for 72 hours—yes, it breathes through its genitals—two, the animal sports an algae-infused mohawk.

Named one of the world’s most vulnerable reptiles, the turtle lives in Mary River streams in southeastern Queensland, Australia. It uses the algae growing on its shell to camouflage itself from predators.

“We need to be a little bit more tortoise-y and a little less hare-ish,” best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell once said. While his message encourages people to slow down in this hyperspeed era, perhaps we need a little more punk in our lives too.

Rock on!

The Mary River Turtle
The Mary River Turtle
The Mary River Turtle
Photos: Chris Van Wyk

Of course, there’s always one band member who sports the bowl haircut (re Ringo of the Beatles). Here’s the Mary River turtle with algae strands on its body.

Photo: Chris Van Wyk
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Animals Nature

Pink sea urchins have self-sharpening teeth

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.

pink sea urchin teeth
Graphic: Cell.com

The enamel break bits off regularly to maintain sharpness, the same way a knife sharpens 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 teeth continue to grow throughout life, helping the sea urchins ward off predators.

pink sea urchin teeth
pink sea urchin teeth
pink sea urchin teeth
Categories
Animals Nature

The African Dung Beetle navigates Earth using the stars

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. 

Piotr Naskrecki

Keep in mind that the gathered feces, in which the beetle rolls into big balls, often weigh more than the beetle itself.

Categories
Architecture & Design Nature

Xavi Bou: If birds left tracks in the sky

Barcelona-based photographer Xavi Bou turns bird flight into art in a project he calls Ornitografías.

Using his degrees in geology and photography and experience as a lighting technician in the fashion industry, Bou extracts high-resolution photos from video stills to illustrate the path of birds in motion.

The result is a spectacular piece of art hinged on the physics and mathematics of flight.

Xavi Bou's 'Ornitografías': If birds left tracks in the sky...