Life and Nature ~ Page 2 din 11

Under the fins skin – silky shark fins

A sign in a Hong Kong market announces the catch of the day: silky shark fins. At an exorbitant price, they are the key ingredient in the popular shark-fin soup and a key item for fishermen to bring to shore. But is the silky shark fin in the market really from a silky shark? Does it matter? In order to establish a plan to protect …

Pulsars Discovered

Imagine you’re an astronomy student gathering data, and suddenly your radio telescope receives regular signals from deep space. It happened to Jocelyn Bell in 1967. This is for Wednesday, November 28. On today’s date in 1967, a new kind of star was discovered by a graduate student at Cambridge University. Jocelyn Bell was sifting through data needed for her doctoral dissertation. She noticed a strange …

The Gilboa Forest

Flash floods are hardly unheard of in the Catskills. Our mountains commonly stand in the way of weather patterns, forcing rising air masses to generate sudden thunderstorms. A heavy downpour, in the upper, narrower valleys of the higher Catskills, can quickly overwhelm the drainage system and raise the levels of the streams. Schoharie Creek has had as occasional flash flood in its upper reaches which …

Do You Whistle At Your Birds?

It’s six-o’clock and I hear a rattling sound outside my kitchen window. Nerve impulse from ear to brain make an instant identity match with the Baltimore oriole. He’s announced his arrival at my nectar feeder, giving a few clear notes of his whistle song before taking a long drink and departing. I do a little victory dance. Was it the bright orange feeder that brought …

Big Bend National Park: Water and Rocks

You can follow the War Trail of the Comanches today by driving Highway 385. If you do, you’ll come to the main entrance to Big Bend National Park. According to Dr. Gentry Steele, Professor of Anthropology at Texas A&M University, “… Big Bend National Park is part of the Chihuahuan desert, you can see the landscape, you can see the rock formations. They’re not covered …

Big Bend National Park: Ranching

Only 150 years ago, Big Bend wasn’t as harsh an environment as it is today. That was before ranchers settled the area in the late 1800s. They raised cattle to feed the U.S. soldiers stationed at the forts of southwest Texas. Forts with names like Stockton, Davis, Sumner, and Leighton. As demand for beef increased, ranchers herded more and more cattle onto the land. Periodic …

Big Bend National Park: Adaptations

If you hike from the desert floor near Panther Junction up to the Chisos Mountains, you’ll notice that the plants change quickly as the elevation increases. Big Bend elevations range from about 2,000 feet along the Rio Grande to over 7,000 feet in the Chisos Mountains. Generally, the higher up you go, the less hot and the less dry it is. Below 3,500 feet, you …

Big Bend National Park: Fossils

Big Bend is rich in fossils. Probably the most famous and awesome is that representing a winged creature called a Pterosaur. This extinct dinosaur weighed about 150 pounds and had a 36-foot wing span. In other words, the distance from one wing tip to another was about the same as the height of a four-story building. Like a huge bat, the Pterosaur had wings consisting …

Big Bend National Park: Making a Desert

In the past two million years, North America has experienced the coming and going of ice ages. During the ice ages, the Chihuahuan Desert existed only in our modern-day Mexico, in the southernmost part of its current range. Then, about 11,000 years ago, the last ice age ended. Ice was piled a mile high over the Great Lakes. The two major glaciers that covered North …

The Origin of Modern Humans: Multiregional and Replacement Theories

Overview: Early Hominids: The first fossils of erect bipeds with our general body shape (called hominids) appear in Central Africa about 6.5 million years ago (mya). Until recently, the hominids were thought to have been limited to East Africa, but a recent find from Chad, called Sahelanthropus, indicates that the early group of hominids is quite diverse, both anatomically and geographically. Sahelanthropus is so far represented only by skulls …

The Chauvet Cave – The scientific research – Part 1

The Authentication Every discovery of prehistoric art, regardless of its inherent significance, must be authenticated. Almost immediately after the discoverers of the Chauvet Cave announced their find, a “verification visit” was organized. It was conducted on 29 December 1994 by Jean Clottes, an expert on Paleolithic art, guided by the discoverers. Examination with a magnifying glass revealed that the apparently continuous lines of painted silhouettes …

Big Bend National Park: People of the Desert

The first Europeans to set foot in Big Bend were probably Cabeza de Vaca —an explorer from Spain—and his companions. In 1535, de Vaca landed on the upper Gulf coast of Texas, far from his intended destination, Mexico City. Only three or four of his original crew survived. But humans lived and died in Big Bend long before Europeans arrived. As the ice age was …