An Egg of a Kiwi

To continue with the adorable Australians, let's talk about kiwi birds. Those are endemic to New Zealand, but that's ok, New Zealand is still closer to Australia than anything else. Also, being a size of a small cat with the feathers almost as smooth as cat's fur, they are totally adorable. And undoubtedly interesting:

  • There are few birds who can't fly. Kiwi have the smallest wings among all of them;
  • Most birds rely heavily on their vision. Kiwi are almost blind and use sense of smell to find their food;
  • In most bird species females take care about the eggs. Kiwi males take care about the eggs for the whole three months of the incubation period.

But the most interesting kiwi fact is not about the bird itself but about its egg. Kiwi eggs are huge. In fact, the kiwi keep the record of the largest egg to the body size ratio. Kiwi egg could be 20% of the size of the bird and weights as much as 450 grammes. Not bad for a creature not much heavier (the largest species weight only two kilos). And to push the degree of nature's madness higher, sometimes kiwi can have two eggs simultaneously.

Adult kiwi bird with the egg
1. Adult kiwi bird with the egg.
Skeleton of the kiwi bird with the egg
2. Skeleton of the kiwi bird with the egg.
Kiwi egg compared to the eggs of other New Zealand birds
3. Kiwi egg compared to the eggs of other New Zealand birds. Kiwi egg is the largest in the background. In front row, from left to right: the egg of a tern, egg of a kakapo, and egg of a weka.
Skeleton of a brown kiwi with the egg
4. Skeleton of a brown kiwi with the egg. Photo by Skulls Unlimited International, Inc.
The skull and egg of a brown kiwi
5. The skull and egg of a brown Kiwi. Photo by Skulls Unlimited International, Inc.
Southern brown kiwi egg
6. Southern brown kiwi egg. Image © Department of Conservation (image ref: 10051733) by Chrissy Wickes Department of Conservation Courtesy of Department of Conservation.

Square Roots

Since the down of the agriculture and the human civilization itself ten thousand years ago people are tend to constrain and contain the nature, put it into the strictly-defined limits. This is how we are transforming our area of habitat, this is what defines us as a specie.

The nature says nothing against it. It is silent. It uses all the space available for growth and proliferation. If we draw it in squares, nature will shape itself in squares even though there are no perfect squares and cubes in the wild. Nature will fit the ever changing environment not matter if it is changing due to cosmic reasons or by the will of the people.

Here are some good illustrations for this. In urban environment trees are shaping their root system to replicate the man-made patterns: squares, cubes, octagons…

square-roots-1

square-roots-2

square-roots-3

square-roots-4

square-roots-5

square-roots-6

Python Eating Goanna

Carnivores aren’t really picky about their prey. They hunting herbivores and carnivores and anyone who looks tasty enough. In nature, nobody asks what your culinary preferences are before eating you whole, with your socks on. Carnivores are eating carnivores, and reptiles eat reptiles. Like in this case in Australia. The python is eating the goanna, Australian monitor lizard.

python eating goanna

python eating goanna

python eating goanna

The whole process is taking about two hours. Look how much Australians are caring about their murderous wildlife—they put a sticks and do-not-cross tape around the scene so nobody would interrupt the lunch.

Unlicensed World of Warcraft Theme Park in China

Francesca, social network site Reddit user, has visited unlicensed theme park in China. One of the many such parks in the country. This one is based on the popular multiplayer game World of Warcraft. However, Blizzard Entertainment, the owner of the Warcraft franchise seems to be unaware of this fountain of creativity.

chinese-wow-theme-park-02

chinese-wow-theme-park-03

chinese-wow-theme-park-04

chinese-wow-theme-park-05

chinese-wow-theme-park-06

chinese-wow-theme-park-07

chinese-wow-theme-park-08

chinese-wow-theme-park-09

chinese-wow-theme-park-10

chinese-wow-theme-park-11

chinese-wow-theme-park-12

chinese-wow-theme-park-13

chinese-wow-theme-park-14

chinese-wow-theme-park-15

chinese-wow-theme-park-16

chinese-wow-theme-park-17

chinese-wow-theme-park-18

chinese-wow-theme-park-19

chinese-wow-theme-park-20

chinese-wow-theme-park-21

chinese-wow-theme-park-22

chinese-wow-theme-park-23

chinese-wow-theme-park-24

chinese-wow-theme-park-25

chinese-wow-theme-park-26

Deer Fishing in Alaska

What would you expect from a fishing in Alaska? Tons of fun, of course, if you are into fishing. But would you really expect to return from your fishing trip with the catch good enough for the most skilled hunting party?

This story is from Alaska. The Alaska Quest boat was on a usual fishing trip in the Taku Inlet, when the captain Tom Satre spotted something strange in the water. Even for Alaskan wilderness the seeing a group of deers swimming in the salt water 1.2 miles off shore was strange.

Deers were exhausted and barely saw anything behind the waves. However, Tom Satre and his fellow fishermen managed to lift the deers out of the water (and it was pretty tough task to get a 80 pound of deer with its fur fully soaked aboard) and in an hour deliver it to the closest settlement, the Taku Harbor.

Deers fished out of the water

Electrocuted python

Sometimes, dine and dash goes wrong. In the human world the failed dash attempt most commonly turns into a couple of hours of doing dishes in the restaurant kitchen or a talk with the police officer. Nature is not so forgiving. In the wild, if something goes wrong it often goes fatally wrong.

This python snuck into a sheep farm in Illinois and dined with the lamb, the whole one as the pythons usually do. The troubles (for python, not the lamb) started when the time comes to dash without a mere “thank you”. Apparently, the hungry python is much thinner than the full one. On his way out of the farm the python stuck in the electrified fence.

Python stuck in the electric fence

Such fences are designed not to kill but to detergent any leaving creature. It pulsing with the high voltage power which shocks anyone who touches the wire for a period of time. One shock does no harm but it’s extremely unpleasant, so the animals and humans alike are tend to learn from the first time.

The distance between electrified wires of this particular fence is 10 inches (25cm). It was enough for the hungry python to creep in but didn’t let him out with the lamb inside. Python stuck, got shocked, attacked the fence with his teeth, got shocked again and again…

Electrocuted python

Hell theme-park in Thailand

The Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden located on the outskirts of the Thailand’s capital Bangkok is the whole theme park depicting Buddhist hell and all the tortures over there. It’s just like your average theme-park but built upon the other imaginary universe. Instead of Mickey Mouse you will find there zombies, and people eaten alive by the not-so-friendly cattle instead of Donald Duck, and a choir of singing and dancing skeletons instead of seven gnomes.

1. Statues depicting torture by the spears and the raven in the Hell Garden park in Bangkok

2. The whole park is actually endless scenes of torture

3. And the tortures over there are morbidly imaginative

4. Thai Hell theme-park

5. Thai Hell theme-park

6. Thai Hell theme-park

7. Thai Hell theme-park

8. Thai Hell theme-park

9. Thai Hell theme-park

10. Thai Hell theme-park

Snow sculptures of Sapporo

On the northernmost Japanese island Hokkaido winters are still comparably mild but extremely snowy. After particularly fierce blizzards the whole island could be paralyzed for a several days.

If all you have in surplus is snow it’s really great idea to put it to work. In the 1950 such idea came into minds of Sapporo students. They have build some snow sculptures in the city park. Since that time every year one week of February turns the capital of the Hokkaido prefecture in Japan into the capital of snow sculpture building festival.

1. The Snow sculpture at Sapporo Snow Festival. Photo by Tony Lin

Last years hundreds of artists from all over the world are taking part in the Sapporo Snow Festival. They are building more than 400 snow statues and installations in three different locations in Sapporo. More than two million people visiting the event every year.

2. Snow sphinx sculpture at 59th Sapporo Snow Festival. Photo by Keiko S

3. Snow castle at 59th Sapporo Snow Festival. Photo by Keiko S

4. Snow Buddha. Photo by Angie Harms

5. Snow horseman and the tower

6. The World snow sculpture

7. The Power of Women snow sculpture presented by the Indonesian artists at the 63rd Sapporo Snow Festival

8. Sea mammals snow sculpture at the 63rd Sapporo Snow Festival

9. Taj Mahal built entirely of snow

10. UBH TV channel snow bas-relief depicting channel's most famous characters

11. The Leaping Dragon. Hong Kong's addition to the 63rd Sapporo Snow Festival exhibition

12. Snow Manohra from Thailand

13. Traditional Japanese house made of snow

Forgotten project: The bridge between US and Russia

After the Stalin’s death in 1953 the power in the Soviet Union came to Nikita Khrushchev. The politics inside the biggest dictatorship on Earth turned from dark paranoid witch-hunt to though still oppressive but comparably milder race to prove the advantages of the socialist economy system over the capitalism. The image of the United States inside the USSR also drifted from the arch nemesis the most powerful competitor. Nikita Khrushchev strived to beat America in its own field. Huge efforts were put into the science and technology. And these efforts started to pay off pretty quickly.

Among the thousands different projects of different scale, from village to interplanetary ones, the one deserves our special attention.

The project of the bridge-dam between USA and Russia as published in the 1961 soviet book

This is the project of the bridge between the Russia and America, to be build over the narrow and shallow Bering Strait from the Russian Chukotka region to Alaska. It was published in a popular Encyclopedia for Kids in 1961, on the verge of the Khrushchev’s era.

This is what the text in Russian says:

In fair weather you can see the American shore from the Cape Dezhnev. The Bering Strait is the only possible way to link Asia and America by land. The distance between the railroad station Big Never (sic!) and the US railroad networks would be 7200 kilometers if passing through the Bering Strait, this is one and half times shorter than the way though the Pacific. The landline USSR-USA would be permanent, reliable and economically profitable. It would have the powerful locomotives and high-capacity cars. With the cruising speed more than 300 kilometers per hour such trains would get from the Trans-Siberian Railroad to the US railroad network in almost 30 hours.

The new 4000 kilometers long road (on the Russian side) would set the reliable link with the vast expanses of the USSR North-East and all its inexhaustible natural resources.

The line USSR-USA could be almost the same length as the Trans-Siberian Railroad. It measured 7400 kilometers between Chelyabinsk to Vladivostok and it was built in 15 years from 1891—1905.

But the Trans-Siberian Road was built by one state. And the new road is the intercontinental structure which could be built by the two countries in peaceful cooperation.

Description of the project in Russian

But if it was just a bridge this project was just another one in a pile. The idea of the Bering Strait bridge is not that unique. However, Russians went further, much further. They have actually planned to place the atomic-powered pumps beneath the bridge to drive the warm ocean current to the Northern shores of Eurasia and America thus making the northern parts of Russia, US and Canada more suitable for living.

Here the translation:

Now the man tries to artificially recreate such titanic powers as the ocean currents. The visions of changing the climate of the Northern Hemisphere are not the dreams anymore. Scientists and engineers are working on this problem. The science makes the first step to the controlled redistribution of the Earth’s heat.

And here is the idea to cap the Bering Strait with the gigantic bridge-dam. In the base of the dam the thousands pumps will be installed. Those will be powered by the atomic power stations.

The pumps would create the warm current from the Pacific ocean to the Atlantic, and such current could make the climate of the Siberia and the North America milder.

Nature could look cruel

In the wild, carnivores aren’t getting their meals on a plate. They have to track their prey first, than catch it, and only if their hunt was successful, which happens in about one time out of ten tries, they have something to feast on. And this isn’t the end of their feeding efforts. Wild animals don’t own the fancy silver tupperware, nor do they have a butcher to help them with cuts. They have to tear their prey apart with their bare teeth. Not the cleanest process.

1. Blood stained lion cub

Even in the zoo, where meat comes to carnivores in a ready to consume chunks, the young lions, apparently, are not the most good natured eaters. They will learn to eat more accurately later. But just a very little bit more accurate. When the hunger’s controlling the brain there is no time for the table etiquette.

2. Two lion cubs and the mature lion are eating the same piece of meat. Photo by Tambako the Jaguar

3. Blood stained lioness. Photo by Rob Dweck

4. The lioness seems doesn't give a damn about her after-the-dinner look. Photo by Christoph Rupprecht, Focx Photography, www.focx.de

5. The female polar bear with two of her cubs are eating the seal

The polar bears are the worst eaters on the animal world. May be, because of their fur color. The fresh blood is the most noticeable on white.

6. Mature big cats aren't eating accurately too

All these pictures could look cruel but they are actually not. No predator kills its prey out of hate. They are probably even love the puny antelopes, rabbits and deers they are hunting for. In a special, gastronomic way.