Revealed – Truth Is, Zebras Don’t Have Stripes on Skin – is that Weird or Not? #nature #biology #animals #genetics

zebra_equus_quagga

Taken by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

This may not be the most important piece of news, but zebras are solid black under their striped coat.

 Skin color and hair color are controlled by different genes, hormones, and other factors, says Barsh, who studies the genetics of animal color patterns… citing domestic cats, domestic dogs, horses, zebras, and cheetahs as examples. nationalgeographic

I know that’s true with my llamas. Now, tell the truth. You’re about to go brush the hair backwards on your dog or cat to check, aren’t you? Go ahead! Be a citizen scientist.

Focus on a Sign of Spring #Haiku #poem #poetry #insect #spring

First roly poly
Creeps from the thawing compost
A true sign of spring

by Kate Rauner

 

 

 

Pill bugs, roly polies or doodle bugs – much nicer names than woodlouse

Bug images licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Limusaurus Mud Lizard Needs Dentures #poem #poetry #dinosaur #nature #fossil

limusaurus_size

I’d peck your kneecaps off – if I wasn’t dead for 160 million years

As dinosaurs evolved to birds
Their teeth reduced and disappeared,
Though some kept jaw bones jagged sharp –
A modern goose is to be feared!

Teeth seem to be so useful
To hunting and to dine
That penguins have a toothed tongue,
Some modern chicks boast oral spines.

One hundred million years ago
Limusaurs did not concur.
They dropped their teeth in adult days,
A smooth beak they preferred.

Wholly unexpected
And never seen before,
Fossils show that babies grew
And lost their teeth that tore.

More strange discoveries await
As fossils come to hand
To show us that surprising beasts
Once stalked across the land.

by Kate Rauner

Thanks to sciencemag.org for this news.

rr-3-coversAll my books, including collections of my science-inspired poetry, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.

Beauty in the Bone #Haiku #nature #Poem #poetry

Essence of the formimg_4758-300x197
Buried under flesh and fur
Beauty of the bones

Here in the forests of New Mexico’s mountains, we all come across interesting bones. Everyone has a few on their porch.

All my books, including collections of my science-inspired poetry, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.

rr-3-covers

 

Caterpillars and High-Tech #nature #tech #science #nanotech #innovation

Silkworms make beautiful moths, too

Silkworms make beautiful moths, too

Silk—the stuff of lustrous, glamorous clothing—is very strong. Researchers now report a clever way to make the gossamer threads even stronger and tougher: by feeding silkworms graphene or single-walled carbon nanotubes cen.acs.org

Silkworms may be humanity’s favorite caterpillar. For over five thousand years, silk from these bugs’ cocoons has produced a protein-based thread that is strong as well as beautiful. Can technology improve on nature’s fiber?

Fabrics can, of course, be treated with dyes or preservatives, but by spraying mulberry leaves – silkworm food – with graphene or single-walled carbon nanotubes, the silk will be even stronger and can conduct electricity. Or feed the caterpillars titanium dioxide and increase silk’s resistance to UV light.

This new material may be useful in biodegradable medical implants or ecofriendly wearable electronics.

Carbon nanotubes have extraordinary properties. Without being incorporated into silk, they’re used in resins for wind turbines, marine paints, skis, baseball bats, hunting arrows, and bicycle components.

A novel radical initiated thermal crosslinking method to fabricated macroscopic, free-standing, porous, all-carbon scaffolds using single- and multi-walled carbon nanotubes as building blocks [whew, there’s a mouthful]… may be used for the fabrication of the next generation of energy storage, supercapacitors, field emission transistors, high-performance catalysis, photovoltaics, and biomedical devices and implants… Carbon nanotubes have been identified as possibly being able to meet the specific strength requirements for an Earth space elevator. wikipedia here and here.

Under some conditions, these compounds can migrate into living cells, so safety is an evolving concern and nanomaterials probably shouldn’t be added willy-nilly to products, especially not to simply be trendy. But with so many applications, we’re bound to see more of them. It would be grand if our ancient friend the silkworm could help us understand more about a cutting edge material.

Carlsbad Cavern National Park #findyourpark #cave #travel #nature

Snapshots don't convey the scale - you've got to go.

Snapshots don’t convey the scale – you’ve got to go.

Here’s my advice. Visit Carlsbad Cavern after peak season and arrive as the Visitors’ Center opens. No guided tour for your first descent. Take the footpath that corkscrews down through the natural entrance. Let your steps rouse cave swallows lingering on their perches. Feel the depth.

Imagine ancient Native Americans setting fires every so often as they climbed, passing wood down from the surface to enter a holy place. Or the first Anglo cowboy, sliding across wet rocks, the feeble light from his candle unable to breach the darkness above.

Walk among immense slabs. Did any humans hear the cavern-features-300x225echoing thunder when they fell from the ceiling or walls? Surely that was the voice of gods.

Without the crowds – up to 5,000 visitors on a peak day – you’ll have passageways to yourself and share the big rooms with the brothers and sisters of your soul.

cavern-feature-2-225x300Down and down. On and on. Straws and curtains, stalactites and stalagmites, columns and domes, calcite lilies and cavern pearls – tinted sepia in the artfully positioned lights – decorate a gloom that, in the cavern’s natural state, is impossibly black.

The rangers say hundreds of thousands of individual features have been broken off and carried away by tourist-in-cavern-300x225souvenir hunters, perhaps starting when the last Ice Age receded but mostly since the 1800s. But the cavern is so enormous, its ceiling so high and walls so steep, that vastly more features were beyond greedy reach and remain untouched.

They say strings of adjectives betray a writer’s poor grasp of language. So be it. I am overwhelmed.

Vast. Magnificent. Spectacular. Humbling. Breathtaking. Inspiring. Mystical. Endless.

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Cavern Bats #poem #poetry #nature #findyourpark #bats

Statue in Carlsbad Visitors' Center

Statue in Carlsbad Visitors’ Center

Rising from the cavern,
As swirling clouds,
As living smoke,
Spiraling up from the pit
Come the bats.

Tourists watch, still and silent.
Bats make no sound,
No chirp nor chatter,
No flap of wings
Comes with the bats.

No group can be silent for long.
Someone coughs,
Whispers,
A baby cries.
Still the bats come.

Feet shuffle
As a few people leave
Beneath the stream of wings.
A cricket trills its evening song.
Still the bats come.

Distant city lights glow,
On a plain beyond the cliffs.
People trickle away
Until less than half remain.
Still the bats come.

I no longer see them
Circling in the pit,
Only their silhouettes
Against the evening sky.
Still the bats come.

Stars begin to shine
High overhead.
The Summer Triangle,
The Northern Cross.
Still the bats come.

Darker now.
Too dark for my eyes
To see a bat against the sky.
I rise. I leave for that city’s glow.
Still the bats come.

By Kate Rauner

R&R 3 coversCarlsbad Cavern National Park and the bats’ nightly flight from its enormous natural entrance. All my books, including collections of my science-inspired poetry, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.