Bits and pieces

Time for another “let’s start the weekend right” post, by clearing out some bits and pieces.

First up, a video left by commenter Erik that could serve as a meditative aid: the life of a baby hummingbird, from hatching to fledging. It’s 11:30 minutes long, which is more than most folks might want, but…you’d be surprised how it sucks you in. Of course I’m a sucker for hummingbirds anyway (and miss them terribly here in the Old World), but this video is soothing in a way most are not. Not to mention that the accompanying music is one of my favorite guitar pieces, the Concerto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo.

Also: every time mama fed her baby, I cringed. How that little thing didn’t get abdominal punctures, I have no idea.

*****

Next up: I thought there was *a* peacock spider, but it turns out there is a whole raft of them, with 38 formally named so far and another 25 in the pipeline. And we know about them because of one man.

In large part thanks to Otto’s efforts in documenting them (check out facebook.com/PeacockSpider), there are now some 58 known species of peacock spider. The two most recently discovered, from south-east Queensland, are Maratus sceletus, nicknamed Skeletorus (above), and Maratus jactatus, which goes by the nickname Sparklemuffin (below).

Sparklemuffin is clearly, hands down, the BEST NAME EVER for a spider. I may also try it on my wife as a pet name just to see what happens.

The photo below is not of a Sparklemuffin. To see what that one looks like, go read the article at New Scientist and prepare to give your cute meter a workout.

Peacock spider

*****

In the category of “Holy Cow I Did Not Know That,” the anatomical structure that many fish use to suck in their prey is also the basis of the anatomical structure that tetrapods (including us) use to swallow. The all-important hyoid bone is the key, but we had to develop a muscular tongue to go with it, because while sucking in prey works great in water, it doesn’t work so well in air.

How did that original structure, dependent on a water medium, develop into what we have?

Mudskippers have one answer. They can swallow food on dry land, by creating a “tongue” made of water. Find out how here.

*****

Finally, for the map lovers, check out this bizzaro world map of Pangea, the supercontinent that formed 300 million years ago (give or take a few) before breaking apart a hundred million years later and scattering across the globe.

Modern pangea

Mapmaker Massimo Pietrobon took modern political boundaries, along with geographical formations that didn’t exist in Pangea’s time (rivers, lakes, continental and island borders), and placed them where they would have been when Pangea existed. It’s a mashup guaranteed to make your head spin.

Also, be sure to click that image, because the full-size version is marvelous. I note that we here in Portugal could just step across to Canada.

Happy weekend, all.

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
This entry was posted in biology, science, wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Bits and pieces

  1. Power Wench says:

    Sparklemuffin!?! Gotta love that! And they are all so cutecutecute!

  2. xenatuba says:

    We recently watched a “Great Courses” video of “The Geological Wonders of the World.” In one of the “lessons”, we watched as Pangea broke apart to create the view of the world as we know it. I was struck by the relative speed with which India sped from its original location before crashing into the bottom of Eurasia. Comparatively, it looked like it was fleeing from the police as opposed the the more sedately moving continents. No wonder the Himalayas are so tall!

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