palaeopedia
palaeopedia:

The giant Moa, Dinornis (= terrible bird) (1843)
Phylum : ChordataClass : AvesSuperorder : PaleognathaeOrder : DinornithiformesFamily : DinornithidaeGenus : DinornisSpecies : D. novaezealandiae, D. robustus
Extinct in 1500
3,6 m high and 240 kg (size)
New Zealand (map)
Although Dinornis wasn’t the heaviest prehistoric bird that ever lived—that honor belongs to Aepyornis, or the Elephant Bird—it was definitely the tallest, with some individuals attaining 12 feet in height, about twice as tall as an adult human. Considering its size and bulk, though, Dinornis seems to have been a relatively gentle creature, subsisting entirely on vegetation, unlike its omnivorous or carnivorous giant bird cousins.
Like other giant birds of the Pleistocene epoch, Dinornis was doomed by the fact that it evolved in a relatively isolated environment (New Zealand) without any natural predators, and thus without the need to develop natural defenses. The arrival of human beings in about the 10th century AD spelled its doom, as individuals were easily hunted down (and their eggs stolen and eaten) over the ensuing centuries.

palaeopedia:

The giant Moa, Dinornis (= terrible bird) (1843)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Superorder : Paleognathae
Order : Dinornithiformes
Family : Dinornithidae
Genus : Dinornis
Species : D. novaezealandiae, D. robustus

  • Extinct in 1500
  • 3,6 m high and 240 kg (size)
  • New Zealand (map)

Although Dinornis wasn’t the heaviest prehistoric bird that ever lived—that honor belongs to Aepyornis, or the Elephant Bird—it was definitely the tallest, with some individuals attaining 12 feet in height, about twice as tall as an adult human. Considering its size and bulk, though, Dinornis seems to have been a relatively gentle creature, subsisting entirely on vegetation, unlike its omnivorous or carnivorous giant bird cousins.

Like other giant birds of the Pleistocene epoch, Dinornis was doomed by the fact that it evolved in a relatively isolated environment (New Zealand) without any natural predators, and thus without the need to develop natural defenses. The arrival of human beings in about the 10th century AD spelled its doom, as individuals were easily hunted down (and their eggs stolen and eaten) over the ensuing centuries.

libutron

skunkbear:

Close-ups of butterfly wing scales! You should definitely click on these images to get the full detail.

I’ve paired each amazing close-up (by macro photographer Linden Gledhill) with an image of the corresponding butterfly or moth.  The featured lepidoptera* are (in order of appearance):

*Lepidoptera (the scientific order that includes moths and butterflies) means “scaly wing.” The scales get their color not from pigment - but from microscopic structures that manipulate light.

The great science youtube channel “Smarter Every Day” has two videos on this very subject that I highly recommend:

palaeopedia
palaeopedia:

The Fruita tooth, Fruitadens (2010)
Phylum : Chordata Class : ReptiliaOrder : OrnithischiaFamily : HeterodontosauridaeGenus : FruitadensSpecies : F. haagarorum
Late Jurassic (154,7 - 147,7 Ma)
75 cm long and 0,75 kg (size)
Morrison formation, USA (map)
It happens more often than you think, but the fossil specimens of Fruitadens languished for over two decades in museum drawers before being meticulously examined by paleontologists. What they found made headlines worldwide: a tiny (one or two pounds max), late Jurassic dinosaur that probably fed opportunistically on bugs, plants, and any small critters that happened across its path. Fruitadens has proven difficult to classify; it has now been pegged as an ornithopod, and is believed to have been a close (albeit much smaller) relative of Heterodontosaurus. By the way, the name Fruitadens is often mistakenly translated as “fruit tooth,” but this wee dinosaur was actually named after the Fruita fossil region of Colorado, where its bones were excavated.

palaeopedia:

The Fruita tooth, Fruitadens (2010)

Phylum : Chordata
 Class : Reptilia
Order : Ornithischia
Family : Heterodontosauridae
Genus : Fruitadens
Species : F. haagarorum

  • Late Jurassic (154,7 - 147,7 Ma)
  • 75 cm long and 0,75 kg (size)
  • Morrison formation, USA (map)

It happens more often than you think, but the fossil specimens of Fruitadens languished for over two decades in museum drawers before being meticulously examined by paleontologists. What they found made headlines worldwide: a tiny (one or two pounds max), late Jurassic dinosaur that probably fed opportunistically on bugs, plants, and any small critters that happened across its path. Fruitadens has proven difficult to classify; it has now been pegged as an ornithopod, and is believed to have been a close (albeit much smaller) relative of Heterodontosaurus. By the way, the name Fruitadens is often mistakenly translated as “fruit tooth,” but this wee dinosaur was actually named after the Fruita fossil region of Colorado, where its bones were excavated.

astronomy-to-zoology

astronomy-to-zoology:

White-headed Buffalo Weaver (Dinemellia dinemellia)

…a species of Weaver (Ploceidae) that native to Eastern Africa, occurring in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Like other weavers D. dinemellia typically inhabits savannas and shrublands, especially those with Acacia thickets and dry brush. White-headed buffalo weavers are highly gregarious, and will forage for a wide range of insects, fruit, and seeds in mixed flocks with other birds (usually starlings). True to their family name White-headed Buffalo Weavers will construct intricate nests which usually have several “rooms” and defensive thorns on the outside.

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Passeriformes-Ploceidae-Dinemellia-D. dinemellia

Images: Bob and Derek Ramsey

libutron
libutron:

Green snail - Rhinocochlis nasuta | ©Paul Bertner   (Mt. Kinabalu National Park, Sabah, Borneo)
Rhinocochlis nasuta (Dyakiidae) is an elegant land snail known from Borneo, with a compressed and small shell up to 24 mm.
The shell of this snail is levorotatory or sinistral, this means that the direction of rotation of the shell around its axis occurs in counterclockwise, so if the shell is placed with the apex upward then the opening of the shell is to the left side.
As the common name indicates, the body of the animal is of a bright green color, however, the shell is actually milky white, but is observed green because it is very thin and translucent.
[Source]

libutron:

Green snail - Rhinocochlis nasuta | ©Paul Bertner   (Mt. Kinabalu National Park, Sabah, Borneo)

Rhinocochlis nasuta (Dyakiidae) is an elegant land snail known from Borneo, with a compressed and small shell up to 24 mm.

The shell of this snail is levorotatory or sinistral, this means that the direction of rotation of the shell around its axis occurs in counterclockwise, so if the shell is placed with the apex upward then the opening of the shell is to the left side.

As the common name indicates, the body of the animal is of a bright green color, however, the shell is actually milky white, but is observed green because it is very thin and translucent.

[Source]

The Fabulous Osmylids! 
Not one of our best known insect families, though possessed of classy, photogenic larvae. From the photographer: The long projections on the head are the mouthparts and are “thought to probe for chironomid larvae in softer sediments”. They are semi-aquatic predators that have a water repellant skin. (ref Gooderham&Tsyrlin - The Waterbug Book) Check out some of the delicate, net-winged adults (order Neuroptera) these waterside hunters grow up to be: Encyclopedia of LifePhoto: Kristi (& Simon) via flickr

The Fabulous Osmylids!

Not one of our best known insect families, though possessed of classy, photogenic larvae.

From the photographer: The long projections on the head are the mouthparts and are “thought to probe for chironomid larvae in softer sediments”. They are semi-aquatic predators that have a water repellant skin. (ref Gooderham&Tsyrlin - The Waterbug Book)

Check out some of the delicate, net-winged adults (order Neuroptera) these waterside hunters grow up to be: Encyclopedia of Life

Photo: Kristi (& Simon) via flickr

libutron
libutron:

Euglena | ©Rogelio Moreno G.
Remember the classic drawings of Euglena in Biology class when the teacher explained about the flagellate protists?
Well, this is a real Euglena as seen under the microscope. In this photomicrography you can clearly see the flagellum, the stigma (red), the nucleus (blue) with the nucleolus inside, and a couple of large chloroplasts.
Protozoa - Euglenophycota - Euglenophyceae - Euglenales - Euglenaceae - Euglena [According to ITIS]

libutron:

Euglena | ©Rogelio Moreno G.

Remember the classic drawings of Euglena in Biology class when the teacher explained about the flagellate protists?

Well, this is a real Euglena as seen under the microscope. In this photomicrography you can clearly see the flagellum, the stigma (red), the nucleus (blue) with the nucleolus inside, and a couple of large chloroplasts.

Protozoa - Euglenophycota - Euglenophyceae - Euglenales - Euglenaceae - Euglena [According to ITIS]

The Pulitzer-winning author explains why he adapted his classic book “The Third Chimpanzee” for kids: because we need them to fix our mistakes.

Jared Diamond didn’t start out as the globe-romping author of massive, best-selling books about the precarious state of our civilization. Rather, after a Cambridge training in physiology, he at first embarked on a career in medical research. By the mid-1980s, he had become recognized as the world’s foremost expert on, of all things, the transport of sodium in the human gall bladder.

But then in 1987, something happened: His twin sons were born. “I concluded that gall bladders were not going to save the world,” remembers Diamond on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast. “I realized that the future of my sons was not going to depend upon the wills that my wife and I were drawing up for our sons, but on whether there was going to be a world worth living in in the year 2050.”…

Absurd Creature of the Week:

World’s Most Badass Ant Skydives, Uses Own Head as a Shield

By Matt Simon 

With a range stretching from Argentina all the way up into the southern U.S., this incredible genus of ants has also mastered the art of rainforest skydiving, leaping from the canopy to avoid predators, only to steer themselves mid-flight right back onto the trunk of their home tree. And they do it with remarkable agility.

But first: that strange head. The various species of Cephalotes have a range of head shapes. Some are almost perfectly circular, like a manhole cover. These ants typically establish their colonies in dead branches of living trees, where wood-boring beetles have conveniently left cavities. “The size of the soldier head is perfectly matched to the size of the beetles that came out of the tree,” said tropical ecologist Stephen Yanoviak of the University of Louisville.  The Cephalotes move in, and at any given time a soldier’s head serves as a door to keep the ants’ many enemies at bay.

In other species, the soldiers have to team up. Cephalotes atratus, below, occupy the hollow branches of living trees, where a longer slit in the wood acts as an entrance to their colony. “What they’ll do is the soldiers and the workers will line up basically cheek to cheek with that fairly flattened head,” said Yanoviak. “And they can collectively block the entrance that way.”..

(read more and watch em go: Wired Science)

photos: Stephen P. Yanoviak