Watching a Rattlesnake Attack in Super Slow-Mo Will Mess You Up

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Watching a Rattlesnake Attack in Super Slow-Mo Will Mess You Up

Friday 12:21pm

Video: Higham Lab, UC Riverside

Mohave rattlesnakes and Merriam kangaroo rats are currently embroiled in an evolutionary arms race, pitting wily predator against fast-acting prey. Dramatic high-speed video shows how quick and creative snakes need to be to launch an attack—and how rodents still manage to evade capture.

Surprisingly, very little is known about rattlesnake attacks. But new technological advances in high-speed cameras are making it possible to capture three-dimensional videos of these lightning-fast strikes in the wild. A team led by University of California-Riverside biologist Timothy Higham used such a setup to film Mohave rattlesnakes in action, allowing them to understand the factors that determine the success or failure of an attack or an escape. Their findings now appear in the latest edition of the journal Science Reports.

According to Higham, the team gathered footage of the rattlesnake strikes under infrared lighting in New Mexico in 2015. “The results are quite interesting in that strikes are very rapid and highly variable,” Higham said in a statement. “The snakes also appear to miss quite dramatically—either because the snake simply misses or the kangaroo rat moves out of the way in time.”

Watching the high-speed video (filmed at 500 frames per second), Higham’s team noticed that the snakes performed better and struck faster in the wild than in laboratory conditions. Horrifyingly, maximum velocities achieved during strikes ranged between 4.2 to 4.8 meters per second. For an animal that’s crouched motionless in a coil, that’s an insane amount of speed. It’s cool to watch, but for prey animals, that doesn’t leave them much time to react.

Not content to stick with speed as the lone tactic, the snakes were also observed to mix up the style of their attacks. Strikes occurred from a wide swath of distances, ranging from 1.8 to 7.9 inches (4.6 to 20 cm). When the snakes failed to capture their prey, it was either because the kangaroo rats made an evasive maneuver, or because of the snakes’ poor strike accuracy.

The performance of the kangaroo rats was equally impressive—their average response time to an attack was a mere 61.5 milliseconds (by comparison, the average reaction time for humans is about 215 milliseconds). In conjunction with their quick reflexes, the kangaroo rats amplified their jumping power during an attack via something called “elastic energy storage.”

“Elastic energy storage is when the muscle stretches a tendon and then relaxes, allowing the tendon to recoil like an elastic band being released from the stretched position,” Higham explained. “It’s equivalent to a sling shot—you can pull the sling shot slowly and it can be released very quickly. The kangaroo rat is likely using the tendons in its lower leg—similar to our Achilles tendon—to store energy and release it quickly, allowing it to jump quickly and evade the strike.”

Looking ahead, the researchers are hoping to observe other species of rattlesnake and kangaroo rat to explore any differences among the species. Until then, you can marvel—or wince—at the ferocity of these horrifying rattlesnake attacks.

[Scientific Reports]

George is a contributing editor at Gizmodo and io9.


Learn Three Magic Tricks You Can Easily Do With a Pen

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Learn Three Magic Tricks You Can Easily Do With a Pen

Thursday 7:32pm

Magic is mostly just how good you are with your hands. Here are three really easy magic tricks that you can pull with just a pen: making it disappear, making it appear out of nowhere, and making it look super small. Oscar Owenbreaks down the techniques for each and they only involve super quick finger movements. The alternate angle reveals how easy it is.

Of course, it takes a lot more practice to make it look as fluid as Owen, but with a little bit of time and some finger exercises, you might even fool yourself into believing in magic.

[Oscar Owen via BoingBoing]

The Process of Making These Rare Traditional Noodles Is Fascinating

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The Process of Making These Rare Traditional Noodles Is Fascinating

Yesterday 7:25pm

These traditional Chinese Suomian noodles have been made in Nanshan Village for over 300 years, and supposedly there are only 300 people left in the world who know how to make them. That’s because the process of making these noodles is a little bit more unique than making your typical noodles—it can sometimes look more like doing laundry or weaving tapestry than making food.

This portrait of a man who makes Suomian noodles is fascinating because you get to witness a master craftsman doing his thing. And that thing just happens to be a little bit quirky, because it involves stuff like hanging noodles outside like rope and tying the noodles around two sticks 60 times. But still, he carries a certain amount of respect for the work that only years and years experience can teach (he’s been making these noodles for over 30 years), and it’s a joy to see.

Wedge-tailed eagle

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This article special for my lovely daughter Natasha Valentina who lives in Australia… miss  and love you always .image2

Wedge-tailed eagle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wedge-tailed eagle

Aquila audax - Captain's Flat.jpg

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Aquila
Species: A. audax
Binomial name
Aquila audax
(Latham, 1801)

The wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax), sometimes known as the eaglehawk, is the largest bird of prey in Australia, and is also found in southern New Guinea, part of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It has long, fairly broad wings, fully feathered legs, and an unmistakable wedge-shaped tail.

The wedge-tailed eagle is one of 12 species of large, predominantly dark-coloured booted eagles in the genus Aquila found worldwide. A large brown bird of prey, it has a wingspan up to 2.84 m (9 ft 4 in) and a length up to 1.06 m (3 ft 6 in).



In flight, the wedged tail is clearly visible.


Taking off from its perch, the long legs of this adult female are clearly visible.


Nest site in the Barmah-Millewa Forest


At Symbio Wildlife Park, New South Wales, Australia


Wedge-tailed eagle

The female wedge-tailed eagle weighs between 3 and 5.77 kg (6.6 and 12.7 lb), while the smaller males weigh 2 to 4 kg (4.4 to 8.8 lb). Length varies between 81 and 106 cm (32 and 42 in) and the wingspan typically is between 182 and 232 cm (6 ft 0 in and 7 ft 7 in). In 1930, the average weight and wingspans of 43 birds was 3.4 kg (7.5 lb) and 204.3 cm (6 ft 8 in). The same average figures for a survey of 126 eagles in 1932 were 3.63 kg (8.0 lb) and 226 cm (7 ft 5 in), respectively. The largest wingspan ever verified for an eagle was for this species. A female killed in Tasmania in 1931 had a wingspan of 284 cm (9 ft 4 in), another female measured barely smaller at 279 cm (9 ft 2 in). Reported claims of eagles spanning 312 cm (10 ft 3 in) and 340 cm (11 ft 2 in) were deemed to be unreliable.This eagle’s great length and wingspan place it among the largest eagles in the world, but its wings, at more than 65 cm (26 in), and tail, at 45 cm (18 in), are both unusually elongated for its body weight, and eight or nine other eagle species regularly outweigh it.

Young eagles are a mid-brown colour with slightly lighter and reddish-brown wings and head. As they grow older, their colour becomes darker, reaching a dark blackish-brown shade after about 10 years (birds in Tasmania are usually darker than those on the mainland). Adult females tend to be slightly paler than males. Although it rarely needs to be distinguished from other Aquila eagles, its long, wedge-shaped tail is unique to this species.

Its range and habitat sometimes overlap with the white-bellied sea eagle, which is similar in size and shape, and also has a somewhat wedge-shaped tail, although rather smaller and less distinctive. In silhouette and poor light, the two can look somewhat similar. Closer examination reveals the belly colour or tail size to distinguish the two.

Breeding and habitat


Aquila audax egg – MHNT

Wedge-tails are found throughout Australia, including Tasmania, and southern New Guinea in almost all habitats, though they tend to be more common in lightly timbered and open country in southern and eastern Australia. In New Guinea, the birds can be found in the Trans Fly savanna and grasslands.

As the breeding season approaches, wedge-tailed eagle pairs perch close to each other and preen one another. They also perform dramatic aerobatic display flights together over their territory. Sometimes, the male dives down at breakneck speed towards his partner. As he pulls out of his dive and rises just above her on outstretched wings, she either ignores him or turns over to fly upside down, stretching out her talons. The pair may then perform a loop-the-loop. The wedge-tailed eagle usually nests in the fork of a tree between one and 30 m above the ground, but if no suitable sites are available, it will nest on a cliff edge.

Before the female lays eggs, both birds either destroy the large stick nest or add new sticks and leaf lining to an old nest. Nests can be 2–5 m deep and 2–5 m wide. The female usually lays two eggs, which are incubated by both sexes. After about 45 days, the chicks hatch. At first, the male does all the hunting. When the chicks are about 30 days old, the female stops brooding them and joins her mate to hunt for food.

The young wedge-tailed eagles depend on their parents for food up to six months after hatching. They leave only when the next breeding season approaches.


Behaviour and diet

Wedge-tailed eagles are highly aerial, soaring for hours on end without wingbeat and seemingly without effort, regularly reaching 1,800 m (5,900 ft) and sometimes considerably higher. The purpose of this very high flight is unknown. Their keen eyesight extends into ultravioletbands.


Feeding on carrion in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

Most prey is captured on the ground in gliding attacks or (less frequently) in the air. Choice of prey is very much a matter of convenience and opportunity; since the arrival of Europeans, the introduced rabbit and brown hare have become the primary items of the eagle’s diet in many areas. Larger introduced mammals such as foxes and feral cats are also occasionally taken, while native animals such as wallabies, small kangaroos, possums, koalas, and bandicoots are also preyed on. In some areas, birds such as cockatoos, bush turkeys, ducks,crows, ibises, and even emus are more frequent prey items. Reptiles are less frequently taken, but can include frill-necked lizards,goannas, and brown snakes.

They display considerable adaptability, and have been known to team up to hunt large red kangaroos, to cause goats to fall off steep hillsides and injure themselves, or to drive flocks of sheep or kangaroos to isolate a weaker animal.

Carrion is a major diet item, also; wedge-tails can spot the activity of Australian ravens (sometimes known as crows) around a carcass from a great distance, and glide down to appropriate it. Wedge-tailed eagles are often seen by the roadside in rural Australia, feeding on animals that have been killed in collisions with vehicles.

This impressive bird of prey spends much of the day perching in trees or on rocks or similar exposed lookout sites such as cliffs from which it has a good view of its surroundings. Now and then, it takes off from its perch to fly low over its territory. During the intense heat of the middle part of the day, it often soars high in the air, circling up on the thermal currents that rise from the ground below. Each pair occupies a home range, which may extend from as little as 9 km2 (3.5 sq mi) to more than 100 km2 (39 sq mi). Within this home range lies a breeding territory around the nest. The eagle patrols the boundary of this home range and advertises its ownership with high-altitude soaring and gliding flights. It may defend its territory by diving on intruders. Adults are avian apex predators and have no natural predators, but must defend their eggs and nestlings against nest predators such as corvids, currawongs, or other wedge-tailed eagles, and in Tasmania, conflict with the white-bellied sea eagle often occurs over nest sites.

The wedge-tailed eagle is the only bird that has a reputation for attacking hang gliders and paragliders (presumably defending its territory). Cases are recorded of the birds damaging the fabric of these gliders with their talons.

The presence of a wedge-tailed eagle often causes panic among smaller birds, and as a result, aggressive species such as magpies, butcherbirds,masked lapwings, and noisy miners aggressively mob eagles (see video).

Conservation status

The subspecies from Tasmania (Aquila audax fleayi) is listed as endangered by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 with fewer than 200 pairs left in the wild. Like the thylacine, the eagle was once subject to a bounty in Tasmania, as it was believed to prey on livestock.

Decreasing numbers of Tasmanian devils may be beneficial to the wedge-tailed eagles in Tasmania, as it could reduce competition for roadkill and devil predation on wedge-tailed eagle young.

As an emblem

The bird is an emblem of the Northern Territory. The Parks and Wildlife Service of the Northern Territory uses the wedge-tailed eagle, superimposed over a map of the Northern Territory, as their emblem. The New South Wales Police Force emblem contains a wedge-tailed eagle in flight, as does the Northern Territory Correctional Services. La Trobe University in Melbourne also uses the wedge-tailed eagle in its corporate logo and coat of arms.The wedge tailed eagle is also a symbol of the Australian Defence Force, featuring prominently on the ADF Flag, and the Royal Australian Air Force and Australian Air Force Cadets both use a wedge-tailed eagle on their badges. The Royal Australian Air Force has named its airborne early warning and control aircraft after the bird, the Boeing 737 AEW&C Wedgetail.

Early in 1967, the Australian Army 2nd Cavalry Regiment received its new badge, a wedge-tailed eagle swooping, carrying a lance bearing the motto “Courage” in its talons. The regiment’s mascot is a wedge-tailed eagle named “Courage”. Since its formation, there have been two, Courage I and Courage II. In 1997, while on flight training with his handlers, Corporal Courage II refused to cooperate and flew away, not being found for two days following an extensive search. He was charged with being AWOL and reduced to the rank of trooper. He was promoted back to corporal in 1998.

The West Coast Eagles AFL football club from Western Australia use a stylised wedge-tailed eagle as their club emblem. In recent years, they have had a real-life wedge-tailed eagle named “Auzzie” perform tricks before matches.

Wedge-tailed Eagle








Amazing Photos Show What Happens When An Eagle Fights A Cobra

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Ross McG Tue, Apr 19 2:28 AM PDT

Flower Photos: The Beautiful Rose

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Flower Photos: The Beautiful Rose

Many choices

Credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher
Where the genus Rosa first originated is unknown. In nature, some 150 wild species of Rosa are spread from Alaska to Mexico, from Northern Africa to China. All roses are close relatives of cherries, apples, pears, raspberries and plums and have long been cultivated and cherished for their hips, the fruit of the rose flower that has nutritional and medicinal value. A unique characteristic of the rose is its ability to flower over and over again from early summer to late autumn.

Perfection in a flower

Credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher
In many ways the rose is the perfect flower: Each flower possesses multiple ovaries that are located in a cup-like structure called a hypanthium. Leavesare located alternately on an often-thorny stem and have a serrated margin. Five petals are typically found on the natural rose while modern hybrid roses posses many more of the colorful petals. Both male and female reproductive parts are found in each flower.

Born from a myth

Credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher
Greek mythology states that it was Chloris, goddess of the flowers, who created the rose. She enlisted the help of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, to give the rose both its name and its beauty. Likewise, Dionysus, the god of wine, helped Chloris by giving the rose it sweet scent. Finally, Apollo, the sun god, flooded the flower with sunlight to make the first rose bloom.

A choice of royalty

Credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher
Roses were probably first cultivated by man in the royal gardens of ancient China some 5,000 years ago. In Ur, an ancient city of Mesopotamia (the area of modern day Iraq), 3,000-year-old Sumerian clay tablets contains the first known written reference about roses growing in gardens of the city. Ancient records confirm too that both Confucius (551-479 B.C.) and Cleopatra (69-30 B.C.) were admirers of the beauty and sweet scent of the rose.

Roman luxury

Credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher
The Romans at first believed that the rose was useful as a source of natural medicines. Soon, the beautiful flowers became necessities at Roman festivals. Roman emperors demanded that their baths be filled with rose water and they reclined on carpets of rose petals during their feasts. Perfumes made from roses became a high priority luxury for the ruling elite and resulted in hardships among the peasant class, who were forced to grow roses instead of cultivating much needed food.


War of the Roses

Credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher
During the 15th century in merry ol’ England, the rose became the symbol of conflict between two families, both of whom had laid claim to the English crown. The War of the Roses lasted for 30 years and pitted the House of York, whose symbol was the white rose, against the House of Lancaster, whose symbol was the red rose. In 1486, King Henry VII of the House of Lancaster and the first Tudor king married Elizabeth of York, uniting the families and finally bringing the English civil war to an end.

2015 Year in Pictures: Animals

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2015 Year in Pictures: Animals

A selection of images of some of the best animal photos of 2015 from photographers all around the world.–By Leanne Burden Seidel
Cats crowd the harbor on Aoshima Island in the Ehime prefecture in southern Japan, Feb. 25. An army of cats rules the remote island in southern Japan, curling up in abandoned houses or strutting about in a fishing village that is overrun with felines outnumbering humans six to one. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)
Giant panda cubs are seen inside baskets at a giant panda breeding centre in Ya’an, Sichuan province, China, Aug. 21. (Reuters)
A newborn Asian elephant is helped by his mother Farina (R) to stand up at Pairi Daiza wildlife park, a zoo and botanical garden, in Brugelette, Belgium, May 25. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)
epa05057923 YEARENDER 2015 NOVEMBER Owls are spotted sitting in hollow nest in Patan, Nepal, 18 November 2015. EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHA (Narendra Shrestha/EPA)
A gull flips a herring in order to swallow it whole while flying away with a meal robbed from a delivery truck, July 8, in Rockland, Maine. Herring is primarily used for lobster bait, with a small percentage of it going to the sardine industry. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)
The Cotopaxi volcano spews ash and vapor, as seen from El Pedregal, Ecuador on Sept. 3. Cotopaxi began showing renewed activity in April and its last major eruption was in 1877. (Dolores Ochoa/Associated Press)
A small dog peers from a car at an Ukrainian army checkpoint near Kurakhove, Ukraine, March 3, on a road leading to Russia-backed separatists held territory. (Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press)
Lemurs eat at Qingdao Forest Wildlife World in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, Jan. 27. (China Daily/Reuters)
A bee collects pollen from a sunflower on Sept. 18, in Dresden, eastern Germany. (Arno Burgi/AFP/Getty Images)
Dairy cows nuzzle a barn cat as they wait to be milked at a farm in Granby, Quebec, Canada July 26. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)
The wing of a Giant Owl butterfly is pictured at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in San Diego, Calif., March 13. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
A gosling peers out from its mother’s wings, April 15, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)
A male baboon (Papio Hamadryas) poses at the Safari Zoo in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, Israel, Sept. 9. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)
A macaw flies over buildings with the Avila mountain behind, in Caracas, March 31. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)
Buffalos escape a fire, which is spreading on a patch of land by the Yamuna river, on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, June 9. (Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters)
A stag deer covers his antlers with bracken in Richmond Park in west London, Britain, October 16. The Royal Park has had Red and Fallow deer present since 1529, and early autumn sees the rutting or breeding season begin amongst the herd of over six hundred animals. (Toby Melville/Reuters)
A flamingo and flamingo chicks are seen in a corral before being fitted with identity rings at dawn at a lagoon in the Fuente de Piedra natural reserve, in Fuente de Piedra, near Malaga, southern Spain, Aug. 8. (Jon Nazca/Reuters)
A dog wipes out during the Surf City Surf Dog Contest in Huntington Beach, Calif., Sept. 27. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
An American coot runs across the surface of the Salton Sea before taking flight near Niland, Calif. on April 29. Located on what is called the “Pacific flyway,” heavy migrations of waterfowl, marsh and seabirds take advantage of the Salton Sea during spring and fall. For them, the lake is a desert oasis from vast stretches of rock and sand. (Gregory Bull/Associated Press)
English bulldog Mack was more interested in the balloons than the official opening by The Massachusetts Port Authority of the Bremen Street Dog Park in East Boston, Sept. 14. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
A Thai veterinarian takes a picture of a 2-year-old orangutan during a health examination at Kao Pratubchang Conservation Centre in Ratchaburi, Thailand, Aug. 27. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)
A giraffe drinks at a watering hole at Melorani Safaris at Olifantsvallei, South Africa on Aug. 18. In 1986 the landowner, Stewart Dorrington, turned his family cattle ranch, a three-hour drive north east of Johannesburg, into a wildlife reserve where he hosts about two-dozen bow and arrow hunters a year. (Denis Farrell/Associated Press)
A green vine snake feeds on an Indian Forest Skink inside the Silent Valley national park in Kerala, India, Nov. 28. (Abhishek N. Chinnappa/Reuters)
A Gentoo penguin feeds its baby at Station Bernardo O’Higgins in Antarctica on Jan. 22. (Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press)
A cow stands in the middle of a busy road as auto-rickshaws pass by in Bengaluru, India, June 2. (Abhishek N. Chinnappa/Reuters)
A bird eats a fish surrounded by dead fish on the banks of the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro Feb. 24. International Olympic Committee members meeting in Rio de Janeiro will determine if its waters will be clean for the sailing events in 2016, (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)
Two saltwater crocodiles fight in a vicious duel to the death in the Lakefield National Park on the Cape York Peninsula in the country’s tropical north. Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven metres (23 feet) long and weigh more than a tonne, have become increasingly common in Australia’s north since they were declared a protected species in 1971. (Sandra Bell/AFP/Getty Images)
A hippopotamus walks across flooded street in Tbilisi, Georgia, June 14. The flood killed at least 12 people and partly destroyed Tbilisi Zoo, killing dozens of animals, while 30 more – including tigers, lions and bears managed to escape from their cages (Beso Gulashvili/Reuters)
An old male lion raises his head above the long grass in the early morning, in the savannah of the Maasai Mara, south-western Kenya on July 7. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)
A palm-sized baby ray in its ‘Kindergarten Aquarium’ at AquaDom; Sea Life in Berlin, Germany, June 17. The slots above the mouth that look like eyes are gills on the animal’s underbelly. When fully-grown these endangered animals reach a range of one meter. (Jens Kalaena/EPA)
One stork stands on the back of another as they communicate with each other on a nest on a structure in Biebesheim am Rhein, Germany, March 9. A nesting colony of the migratory birds has been present for two years here. The birds return every year for rearing their young. (Boris Roessler/EPA)
Palestinians herd sheep in the Judean desert between Jericho and Jerusalem, Feb. 6. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)
A hyena eyes a herd of zebra at Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya, Aug. 19. (Joe Penney/Reuters)
A bird flies in front of the Eiffel Tower ,which remained closed on the first of three days of national mourning, in Paris, Nov. 15. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press)
Ducks take wing in Ward’s Pond on Oct. 22. Ward’s Pond sits on the border of Jamaica Plain and Brookline within Olmsted Park in the Emerald Necklace. (Lane Turner/Globe Staff)
Starlings swirl in the sky in a phenomenon known as murmuration in the Negev Desert at dusk near the Bedouin city of Rahat, southern Israel, Feb. 5. (Ariel Schalit/Associated Press)
Brodie, a border collie, takes in the sites on his bus as he rides The Common Dog dog shuttle enroute to doggie day care in Everett, Mass., on Sept. 16. (Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff)