Monthly Archives: December 2010

Nature News & Tweets for December

So, since only the primitive portion of my brain (responsible for breathing and peeing in a private facility rather than on the floor) is functioning from four days of poor nutrition and an awful lot of Netflix Instant, I thought I’d share some neato things going on in the world of.. well. The world.

A 400,000 year old tooth was discovered in Israel. One doc says “HUMAN!”, another says “Probably not, you over-zealous sonofabitch.” Typical. (According to the article, the oldest Homo sapiens tooth discovered so far is half that old so if it IS human, well, it’s a big deal.) I’d like to suggest that for just a few minutes, sit back and picture what it would be like to have another HOMINID SPECIES (not another race, culture, or other kind of group) wandering around. Another hominid species. Hominid. Mind-blowing.

Tickling may have some evolutionary benefit. Or at least, it may have used to. It may have been a way for families and friends to bond and taught youngsters to protect vulnerable parts of their bodies during play-fighting, like the neck and belly. Primates that participate in tickling pant a certain way, and the article suggests we may have the roots of modern-day laughter in this vocal behavior. Still doesn’t explain why I occasionally laugh so hard that I pee my pants.

Ed Yong reports on research that points to the absorption of marine bacteria into human guts to help process sushi. Japanese people utilize seaweed like nori in a variety of dishes, and the high prevalence of seaweed in their evolutionary diets provided for sushi-eating bacteria to enter into – and survive! – their digestive tracts. Which means that Japanese people can actually better digest seaweeds thanks to a bacteria that wasn’t originally there (and isn’t there in other groups). Unfortunately there are no cupcake-eating bacteria that can help me with my, erm, problem.

Bryan over at FieldHerper wows me again with his intense photos. It was hard to pick just one to highlight, but I’m SERIOUSLY partial to thunderstorm photos. I swear to God his photos are like naturalist porn. (Maybe that brings to mind something different than I’m thinking. That would be weird. *ponder* Super weird.)


Volcano Lightening in Iceland

This may be old news but I rediscovered these photos on NatGeo and wanted to link you. When Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, photographers caught this amazing lightning that formed in the cloud of ash. Click on the photo for a few others.

Anyone got a phonetic pronunciation of that volcano’s name??

Magic in Flight

Hummingbirds are my absolute favorite and I wanted to share this amazing photo with you guys. Taken by Christianus Fabbri in Itatiaia Nature Reserve, Brazil.

Sustainability 101: 8 Tips for Sustainable Gardening

In a society hell-bent on making everything convenient, it’s easy to forget how convenient it actually is to simplify. That’s the beauty of sustainability: simplification. It may look like more work but in reality, there are usually fewer future detriments to deal with.

We’ve already talked about composting and harvesting rainwater, so here a few more tips to make your garden/backyard/etc a happier, healthier place to be.

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The Journey of a Thousand Miles…

Sustainability 101: Rain Harvesting

Rain harvesting is the process by which rain (or other precipitation) is funneled into a catchment system for later use. Most people use their collected rainwater for gardens but if you’re adventurous enough, you can filter it for drinking water, bath water, or a number of other things.

In areas with any substantial amount of rain, it’s easy to collected hundreds or thousands of gallons of water. In drier climates, such as the one where I live, it’s still easy to collect several hundred gallons. (Think about that for a second – hundreds or thousands of gallons of free water!)

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Sustainability 101: Composting

Composting kitchen waste is one of the most well-known and easiest methods of reducing landfill space and recycling matter. If you have kids (or if you’re a kid at heart, like me), it’s rewarding to watch “waste” turn into something usable. Wasted food is one of my biggest pet peeves (and I’m such a bad cook that I end up wasting my own leftovers, so I’m not on a soapbox here), and it’s so easy to just stop doing it.

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Sustainability: Shifting Perspectives


What does that word bring up for you?

I think for some people it brings to mind eco-terrorism and dirty hippies. For me, it’s really about balance. I’m no expert in sustainable practices, but I have some pretty strong feelings about them, and since you’re unfortunate enough to be following this blog, you’re just going to have to read them.

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{Book Review} Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

Rarely does a book skyrocket into my top 5 favorites within the first twenty pages or so, but Never Cry Wolf certainly did. Farley Mowat is a Canadian-born author of several tomes, and Never Cry Wolf was written based on his purported experiences as a biologist for the Canadian government. In the late 1940s, Mowat was sent into the Arctic wilderness to research the relationship between wolves and caribou, against claims that wolves were decimating caribou populations.

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Guess That Tree! :)