Behold the awesomeness that is the enormous Titan Beetle. Even its scientific name sounds awesome: Titanus giganteus.
Found in the rain forests of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, the Guianas and north-central Brazil, this massive insect can grow to an adult size of 6.5 inches long. Titan Beetles aren’t actually the longest beetle in the world (that title belongs to the Hercules Beetle), but they are the biggest. Their jaws are so strong, they can snap wooden pencils in half. But, believe it or not, they’re harmless to humans - that is, as long as you don’t say hurtful things and then stick your pinky between those mandibles.
"The Titan beetle is one of the most mysterious creatures on Earth. It lives unobtrusively deep in some of the South America’s hottest tropical rain forests and only ventures out when seeking out mates. The larvae of this amazing insect have never been found, but judging by the large boreholes found in dead trees in their natural habitat, scientists believe Titan beetle grubs feed on decaying wood below ground for several years before reaching maturity. The size of these holes suggests the grubs are around two inches in diameter and up to a foot long."
Justin sent me an email this morning with the subject line “CRITICAL INFORMATION” that just contained a link to this story of a pipe-cleaning ferret named Felicia from Fermilab.
Back in the ’70s, the scientists at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory were looking for a way to clear the tubes of their newly built particle accelerator of the bits of dust that could derail a high-energy beam of particles whipping around at the speed of light.
Some ingenious scientist remembered that ferrets were used on English estates to go down rabbit burrows and scare the critters out (hence the phrase “ferret out”) and so, Felicia the ferret was employed by Fermilab to clean out the atom smasher. They tied a piece of string with a cotton swab to her tail, set her in the tubes, and then banked on her natural curiosity to lead her around the four-mile particle collider.
Felicia is now officially my favorite animal in science history.
From the Department of Awesome Animal Anatomy comes this post by astronomy-to-zoology about Woodpecker Tongues.
“The woodpecker’s tongue can extend 2/3 its body length. Its tongue is covered in sticky saliva and barbs all over with an ear (a hearing mechanism) at the end of it. So it can listen to its prey. It detects sound. The tongue is so long that it fits its tongue in its head by wrapping around its brain and around its eye sockets. It can move its head/beak up to 15-16 times per second as it strikes a tree. This is incredibly fast. It creates immense forces, 250 more times than astronauts are subjected to. It is 1,000 G’s. The woodpecker has cartilage around the brain that keeps it from shattering.”
Monoscutidae is a genus of harvestmen found in Australia, New Zealand and surrounding islands. There are currently 32 species described that range in size from 3mm to 10mm. One subfamily that stands out is Megalopsalidinae, because the males of this group have enormous chelicerae that almost look like the claws of their crustacean brethren. Monoscutidaen harvestmen also range in color from black and brown and often have bright orange,white and gold highlights.
From the Department of Awesome Natural Wonders comes the Lake Hillier, the mysteriously bright pink lake found on Middle Island in Western Australia that looks like it’s made of Strawberry Nestle Quik or Pepto-Bismol. No one knows for sure why the lake sports such an unusual colour.
According to Wikipedia: The reason for the lake’s colour is still under investigation. A possible explanation according to some scientists involves the low nutrient concentrations and different types of bacteria and algae. The pink colouration could also be from a sea salt and nahcolite (sodium bicarbonate) deposit reaction or red halophilic bacteria in the salt crusts.
Leaf cut out illustrations by Nature’s Art - Natural leaf carving is actual manual cutting and removal of a leaf’s surface to produce an art work on a leaf. The process of carving is performed by artists using tools to carefully remove the surface without cutting or removing the veins.
Hawaii-based photographer Christy Lee Rogers specializes in creating dreamlike photos of people underwater. Her project Reckless Unbound shows people swirling around one another while wearing colorful outfits. The photos are reminiscent of the paintings of old Baroque masters, who would often paint people floating around in heavenly realms.
Rogers creates her photos in swimming pools at night. The scenes are illuminated with bright off-camera lights, and the shoots often last two to four hours each.
It’s not exactly futuristic technology, nor do I think these vessels would survive the ravages of space, but Rik’s spaceship sculptures are made from steel, blown glass and certainly look capable of traversing the 1950’s spaceways. The intricate retro industrial detail is definitely worthy of true rocket science though, especially the tiny, expertly positioned chairs Rik places inside them… because you know your ass would definitely get tired of haphazardly floating around in zero-G eventually. My love for these burns with the fiery hot passion of one million asploding suns, so I included a few more extreeeeeeeme closeup shots below: