linknovate
markscherz:

rhamphotheca:

Mystery Solved! (Sort of):
We Went to the amazon To See What Was Building These Weird Web Tower Things
by Nadia Drake
After six months of speculation, we finally know what’s building these bizarre silk structures in the Amazon: a spider! But its precise identity is still a mystery that scientists are scrambling to solve as I write this.
Last week we followed these spider-hunting scientists, led by entomologist Phil Torres, deep into the Amazon rainforest as they attempted to find the tiny silk towers and figure out where they came from. It has not been an easy case to crack.
“With a lot of other weird mysteries, once you make an observation of some sort, spend enough time out there, the pieces kind of fit together,” said Torres, a graduate student at Rice University. “I’m surprised by how difficult this one is to solve.”
The bizarre structures first surfaced on the internet late this summer, when graduate student Troy Alexander posted photos to Reddit and Facebook, hoping that somebody could tell him what the structures were. He had discovered them on a small island near the Tambopata Research Center, deep in the Peruvian Amazon…
(read more: Wired Science)
photos: Courtesy Lary Reeves & Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

You guys have no idea how much suspense we, the scientific twitter community, have been in over these little structures! If you are a scientist, and you care about communication of your work and want to hear about other scientists’ work straight from them, I highly recommend you get on twitter immediately. Follow Phil and Troy (link in the quoted text above), and anyone else who strikes your fancy. You can follow my own tweets at @MarkScherz :)

Gasp!  Developments in this NATURE MYSTERY!  Still not totally solved, but it’s only a matter of time.
Further information from the article linked above:


Now, even though the team is sure that they’re looking at some kind of intricate spider nursery, they’re still confused. For starters, a spider laying only one egg in a particular spot is exceptionally rare. “Traditionally, the female will lay a bunch of eggs, wrap it up very well, sit, and protect it,” Torres said. “This is kind of the opposite.”
And the amount of parental investment in the structures is immense, considering the single spiderling inside.
Then there’s the question of the spider’s identity. It could be a jumping spider – the spiderlings’ body shape resembles the Salticidae family, and they have two giant eyes, resembling a jumping spider’s adorable head. But the rest of their eyes aren’t quite in the right place.
It’s also possible the structures could be the work of a spider with a dark side. Near some of the clusters, the team saw several spiders that camouflage their nests with the corpses of their prey, such as ants and smaller spiders. Could the small spiderlings grow into these crazy corpse spiders? We’ll have to wait and see, as Torres and his colleagues continue their investigation.

Ah, SCIENCE!

markscherz:

rhamphotheca:

Mystery Solved! (Sort of):

We Went to the amazon To See What Was Building These Weird Web Tower Things

by Nadia Drake

After six months of speculation, we finally know what’s building these bizarre silk structures in the Amazon: a spider! But its precise identity is still a mystery that scientists are scrambling to solve as I write this.

Last week we followed these spider-hunting scientists, led by entomologist Phil Torres, deep into the Amazon rainforest as they attempted to find the tiny silk towers and figure out where they came from. It has not been an easy case to crack.

“With a lot of other weird mysteries, once you make an observation of some sort, spend enough time out there, the pieces kind of fit together,” said Torres, a graduate student at Rice University. “I’m surprised by how difficult this one is to solve.”

The bizarre structures first surfaced on the internet late this summer, when graduate student Troy Alexander posted photos to Reddit and Facebook, hoping that somebody could tell him what the structures were. He had discovered them on a small island near the Tambopata Research Center, deep in the Peruvian Amazon…

(read more: Wired Science)

photos: Courtesy Lary Reeves & Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

You guys have no idea how much suspense we, the scientific twitter community, have been in over these little structures! If you are a scientist, and you care about communication of your work and want to hear about other scientists’ work straight from them, I highly recommend you get on twitter immediately. Follow Phil and Troy (link in the quoted text above), and anyone else who strikes your fancy. You can follow my own tweets at @MarkScherz :)

Gasp!  Developments in this NATURE MYSTERY!  Still not totally solved, but it’s only a matter of time.

Further information from the article linked above:

image

Now, even though the team is sure that they’re looking at some kind of intricate spider nursery, they’re still confused. For starters, a spider laying only one egg in a particular spot is exceptionally rare. “Traditionally, the female will lay a bunch of eggs, wrap it up very well, sit, and protect it,” Torres said. “This is kind of the opposite.”

And the amount of parental investment in the structures is immense, considering the single spiderling inside.

Then there’s the question of the spider’s identity. It could be a jumping spider – the spiderlings’ body shape resembles the Salticidae family, and they have two giant eyes, resembling a jumping spider’s adorable head. But the rest of their eyes aren’t quite in the right place.

It’s also possible the structures could be the work of a spider with a dark side. Near some of the clusters, the team saw several spiders that camouflage their nests with the corpses of their prey, such as ants and smaller spiders. Could the small spiderlings grow into these crazy corpse spiders? We’ll have to wait and see, as Torres and his colleagues continue their investigation.

Ah, SCIENCE!

livinginghostcolours

archiemcphee:

These photos represent an awesome mystery, a whole new wing of Department of Awesome Natural Wonders. They were taken in the Amazon rainforest in Peru by a graduate student named Troy Alexander.

Troy was in South America working on a parrot biology and conservation project called the Tambopata Macaw Project when he began noticing these remarkable and puzzling structures on tree trunks. Some sort of animal had constructed a delicate barrier around its newly-laid egg sac that looks just like a white picket fence. These structures appear to have been constructed by a spider or insect, but so far no one has been able to say for sure. They are completely new to science.

Though he had no idea what built it, he snapped a few photos, hoping that when he got home an entomologist would help him zero in on the moth or spider responsible and that would be the end of the story.

Weeks after his return, Alexander hoped for a quick ID by posting a photos to Reddit’s popular “whatsthisbug” subreddit where biologists and experts in both insects and arachnids were all stumped. He says the photos have now been viewed “by the professional entomologists moderating Whatsthisbug, but also entomologists at Cal Tech, Georgia Tech, Rice University, the Smithsonian Institute, and more… [but] still no definite confirmation.” Some suspect that it could be something similar to the
Ribbed-Cocoon Maker Moth which also builds a protective structure, but nothing so distinct as this fence.

Head over to Colossal to view more of Troy’s photos.

Damn, now I really want to skip down to the rainforests of Peru to help solve this NATURE MYSTERY, because there has never been anything more up my alley ever. 

Sometimes you have to nudge your sleepy cat aside & climb out of your blanket cocoon at 4 am to look up which end of the visible spectrum magenta falls on*, or what the collective noun for bears is**, or to find out whether there is such a thing as an alloy made from gold and silver***, or what were the early Peruvian cloud people called again****, or is lucid dreaming a natural ability or a learned skill*****?

I don’t really have a problem with living in the Information Age.

* Neither/both!
** A "sleuth" or "sloth" of bears!  How great is that? (Also: a "skulk" of foxes, a "fluther" or "smack" of jellyfish, & an "ostentation" of peacocks!)
*** There is, it’s called electrum.
**** The Chachapoya culture.
***** It seems like most sources say it’s something you can learn, though it also seems like a lot of those sources are selling something.

photolodico
(via photolodico)
Basically, a Canadian oil company, Talisman Energy, wants to drill for oil on the ancestral lands of Amazonian tribes, which would likely unbalance their ways & potentially even threaten the lives of indigenous peoples. 
Overview video + petition
Testimony from local missionaries about how bad it is
Canada, how could you?  I thought you were better than this. Life & respect & sustainability before profits, don’t you know that?
Derek Webb said/sang it well:
"I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front doorI join the oppressors of those I choose to ignoreI’m trading comfort for human lifeAnd that’s not just murder, it’s suicideAnd this too shall be made right.”

(via photolodico)

Basically, a Canadian oil company, Talisman Energy, wants to drill for oil on the ancestral lands of Amazonian tribes, which would likely unbalance their ways & potentially even threaten the lives of indigenous peoples. 

Canada, how could you?  I thought you were better than this.
Life & respect & sustainability before profits, don’t you know that?

Derek Webb said/sang it well:

"I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door
I join the oppressors of those I choose to ignore
I’m trading comfort for human life
And that’s not just murder, it’s suicide
And this too shall be made right.”

benjaminzee
i-want-tobelieve:

Peruvian SkullsThese odd elongated skulls originate from Peru. They were excavated in Nazca - close to the mysterious Nazca lines. As with the horned skull race, skeletal remains reveal that this race was extremely tall - up to nine feet in height. Similar skulls have been excavated in Mexico and are on display in museums. Some of the elongated skulls showed evidence of ancient brain surgery, suggesting an advanced knowledge and understanding of biology. Suggestions that the skulls were altered by a process of binding the skull in infancy, when the cranial bones are soft, encouraging them to grow into an un-natural shape, have been rejected.  Nevertheless, skull binding cannot increase the internal capacity of the cranial void - and evidence points to the fact that in the case of the Peruvian and Mexican skulls, the cranial void is significantly larger than in a normal skull.

WHAT IS THIS.  I have never heard of this before, and it’s very interesting & very creepy-weird. 

i-want-tobelieve:

Peruvian Skulls
These odd elongated skulls originate from Peru. They were excavated in Nazca - close to the mysterious Nazca lines. As with the horned skull race, skeletal remains reveal that this race was extremely tall - up to nine feet in height. Similar skulls have been excavated in Mexico and are on display in museums. Some of the elongated skulls showed evidence of ancient brain surgery, suggesting an advanced knowledge and understanding of biology. Suggestions that the skulls were altered by a process of binding the skull in infancy, when the cranial bones are soft, encouraging them to grow into an un-natural shape, have been rejected. Nevertheless, skull binding cannot increase the internal capacity of the cranial void - and evidence points to the fact that in the case of the Peruvian and Mexican skulls, the cranial void is significantly larger than in a normal skull.

WHAT IS THIS.  I have never heard of this before, and it’s very interesting & very creepy-weird. 

This article is a firsthand account of the rediscovery of Machu Picchu in 1911 & 1912 written by archaeologist Hiram Bingham.  He was more of an adventurer than a writer, but it’s still kind of thrilling to read about the exploration of something that ancient & cool.  Someday, I too will make it there and see it all for myself. 

And when I do, I’ll have to ask if they’re still going with the theory about the snakes in the walls:

One of the windows in this tower has several small holes near the bottom. These were found to connect, by very narrow channels, barely large enough for a snake to crawl through, with circular holes within the wall, where the snakes might have constructed their nests.

There are still many snakes at Machu Picchu. There are also snakes carved on several rocks. Lizards are not common, and the holes within the wall are much too large for lizards’ nests; but they are of the right size for a comfortable snake’s nest—for a small snake.

It seems to me possible that in this wall the priest of this clan group kept a few tame snakes and that he used their chance exits out of one hole or another as a means of telling omens and possibly of prophesying.

Ummm… that is one possible explanation, certainly.  But what if those were for something completely different & mundane?  Like, I dunno, oil reservoirs for candle wicks or something.  Would the Inca laugh their heads off at the things we guess about the place they left behind?

"Now archaeologists are making up for lost time. Combing rugged mountain slopes near Cusco, they are discovering thousands of previously unknown sites, shedding new light on the origins of the Inca dynasty."

Words written in the very greenest ink could not express the intensity of my envy.  Stupid archaeologists!  Having all the fun while I’m just here at home NOT digging up ancient, amazing stonework & pottery & mummified kings surrounded by the raw beauty of the Andes.  Mumph.