In a Dry Forest #haiku #nature #poem #poetry #flower

In my yard

Agave flowers
Lift their blooms above the trees
Reaching for the sun

by Kate Rauner

Find more poetry inspired by science and nature here – every other blog or so. Or read one of my collections of rhyming poetry and a few haiku too.

Humans Slaughtered Mammoths But Can They Save Us from Climate Change? #global warming #rewilding #elephant

Feral horse

Rewilding is “large-scale conservation aimed at restoring and protecting natural processes and core wilderness areas.” In North America and Europe, projects are underway to protect and reintroduce large wildlife, including predators, and reverse habitat loss.

Pleistocene rewilding seeks to restore ecosystems from ten thousand years ago – for example, by introducing elephants, lions, and cheetahs to protected areas in the American Great Plains.

Rewilding aims to save animals and ecosystems, but a project now underway in Siberia is “a radical geoengineering scheme” with a human-centric goal: to slow climate change.

During the last Ice Age, vast areas of grasslands beyond the edges of glaciers locked up huge amounts of carbon in Siberia (not something universal in the Arctic.) As today’s permafrost melts, release of all that carbon dioxide threatens to create a positive feedback that would accelerate global warming and make climate change worse for you and me – and our progeny. But returning these areas to Pleistocene grassland could slow or prevent the change by keeping “permafrost frozen by giving it a top coat of Ice Age grassland.”

All we need are the animals that created that grassland ecosystem. Horses, bison, musk ox, and reindeer have already been moved into what was once a Soviet-era gulag of gold mining, but the project needs something bigger – mammoths.

Cloning may jump into your mind, but it’s not likely. DNA degrades even when frozen and we may never find a viable mammoth cell. But mammoths are closely related to elephants, and scientists from across the globe are working to resurrect the mammoth by turning on genes that will adapt elephants to the Arctic climate by giving them heavy coats, thick layers of fat, and smaller ears, among other changes.

That seems like the easy part. If embryos are eventually created, they can’t be placed in surrogate elephant mothers – Asian elephants are endangered. So artificial wombs are needed.

A womb isn’t just a bucket of fluid.

The mammalian mother–child bond, with its precisely timed hormone releases, is beyond the reach of current biotechnology. But scientists are getting closer with mice… [There are] hopes to deliver the first woolly mammoth to Pleistocene Park within a decade.

Even if the technical problems are solved, there’s still a cultural issue. Elephants – and, no doubt, mammoths – are highly social animals.

Older mammoths would have taught the calf how to find ancestral migration paths, how to avoid sinkholes, where to find water. When a herd member died, the youngest mammoth would have watched the others stand vigil, tenderly touching the body of the departed with their trunks before covering it with branches and leaves. No one knows how to re-create this rich mammoth culture, much less how to transmit it to that cosmically bewildered first mammoth.

It’s an amazing, overwhelming undertaking. But there are people out there working on it. Perhaps we’ll see reconstructed, de-extincted mammoths in our lifetime.

Thanks to for their article, with some help from

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


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


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 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.



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

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.