“The Red Handfish.”

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THIS IS ONE fish that will always be caught red-handed. Ok, bad pun, but it is an interesting fish.
Endemic to Tasmania’s eastern coast, the red handfish is so named because of its apparent use of its fins as hands, even using a type of walking motion on the seafloor.
It’s a benthic fish, preferring to hang around the sandy and rocky bottoms of the seafloor. They’ve been observed eating small crustaceans and worms.
There are two colour varieties – one with red embellishments (seen in the image above) and the other a right red all over. It grows from about 6cm to about 13.5cm long.
The red handfish was first discovered in the 1800s around Port Arthur.
In the 1980s a small population was found on the Actaeon Islands, south of Hobart, and the biggest population to date was found on a reef off Primrose Sands around Hobart (10 individuals) in the 1990s.
However, in a survey in 2005, no handfish were found in those areas.
They may be hanging on, because in 2010, three individuals were found in the Primrose Sands location.
Though the species hasn’t had a full, systematic survey of its numbers, it seems that populations are few and far between, and there’s likely to be not more than 1000 individuals in the wild, and likely only hundreds.
The red handfish was known as the Brachionichthys politus, but in 2009, it was re-categorised as Thymichthys politus.
Threats to red handfish include poaching for use as pets. Its low reproductive rate and low dispersal rate make is a challenge for the species’ survival. Fragmentation of the populations is also a challenge for reproductive success.
via Red handfish Thymichthys politus – Australian Geographic.

The Weird Jabuticaba Tree.

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The world is full of bizarre wonders, from flowers that look utterly alien to otherworldly landscapes and terrifying deep-sea creatures that seem to have sprung straight from your nightmares.
This particular tree might not look quite as monstrous as six-foot-tall blooms or carnivorous plants that are large enough to consume rats, but it’s certainly strange: it grows its fruit directly on its trunk.
Jabuticaba is native to the Minas Gerais and São Paulo states of southeastern Brazil, and starts off looking ordinary enough, save for the salmon-colored leaves it sprouts while it’s still young.
As it matures to fruiting age, the first sign of something unusual are the starry white blooms that appear not on its branches, as you’d expect, but on its trunk.
When uncultivated, it flowers and fruits once or twice a year, but when regularly irrigated it can produce its grape-like, thick-skinned berries year-round.
In Brazil, where it can be eaten immediately, it’s typically served fresh.
Since it starts to ferment within three days of ripening, it has to be preserved into jam, tarts, wine or liqueur to give it a longer shelf life.
Attempts to grow it commercially in North America haven’t been successful, since the climactic conditions aren’t quite right and the trees tend to grow very slowly, making it a treat you should really travel to South America to enjoy properly.
via Weirdest Tree Ever? Jabuticaba Grows Fruit Right on its Trunk – WebEcoist.

The Margay “One Clever Kitty.”

42-33051308Gerry Ellis / Minden Pictures / Corbis
The margay is among the many small, spotted cats of Central and South America, but this nocturnal hunter has a clever ability that hasn’t yet been seen in any of its neighbors.
Margays are adept at hunting among the rainforest trees, where they try to nab anything from frogs to squirrels. But the cat is also capable of setting a trap.
A 2009 study reported that a margay mimicked the call of a small monkey called a pied tamarin to lure the primate closer.
The cat’s attempt was foiled that time, but the fact that the margay tried to fool the monkeys shows that it’s a very clever kitty.
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Read more via Ten Amazing Small Wild Cats | Science | Smithsonian.

Uranus, No Place Like Home.

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The planet Uranus is spectacularly far away. Even when viewed from Saturn, the next planet in, icy Uranus is still just a few pixels of blue in an inky black sky.
This photo was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft while the probe was 2,659,800,000 miles away from Uranus.
Here, Saturn’s A and F rings arc across the foreground. Uranus is in the upper left. With the equivalent of 14.5 Earth-masses of material, the planet is considered an ice giant (its neighbor Neptune is, too) since it’s primarily made of water, ammonia, and methane ices.
It looks blue in photographs because the methane in its atmosphere absorbs red wavelengths and reflects blue.
Like Saturn, Uranus has rings and moons.
But unlike Saturn — and indeed every other planet in the solar system — the ice giant is tipped on its side. In other words, rather than spinning like a top as it circles the sun, Uranus rolls around on its side.
It’s not exactly clear why this is the case, but one of the more popular theories suggests that early on, a pair of giant impacts pummeled the planet and knocked it over.
This strange configuration isn’t the only enigma in cool, blue Uranus’ clutches, though: The planet’s moon Miranda is one of the strangest objects in the solar system, a tiny world that looks like it’s been blasted apart and put back together again.
via This Is What Uranus Looks Like From Saturn – Phenomena: No Place Like Home.

Birds ‘heard tornado coming.’

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Multiple tornadoes devastated parts of the southern and central US in April
US scientists say tracking data shows that five golden-winged warblers “evacuated” their nesting site one day before the April 2014 tornado outbreak.
Geolocators showed the birds left the Appalachians and flew 700km (400 miles) south to the Gulf of Mexico.
The next day, devastating storms swept across the south and central US.
Writing in the journal Current Biology, ecologists suggest these birds – and others – may sense such extreme events with their keen low-frequency hearing.
Remarkably, the warblers had completed their seasonal migration just days earlier, settling down to nest after a 5,000km (3,100 mile) journey from Colombia.
Dr Henry Streby, from the University of California, Berkeley, said he initially set out to see if tracking the warblers was even possible.
“This was just a pilot season for a larger study that we’re about to start,” Dr Streby told the BBC.
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 The golden-winged warblers were being tracked as part of a pilot study of their normal, seasonal migration
“These are very tiny songbirds – they weigh about nine grams.
“The fact that they came back with the geolocators was supposed to be the great success of this season. Then this happened!”
via BBC News – Birds ‘heard tornadoes coming’ and fled one day ahead.

“The Radio Controlled Lawn Mower.”

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The radio-controlled lawn mower on show at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1959. (Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
In the 1950s, a gadget emerged that allowed people to sit back and relax as their garden was trimmed by a radio-controlled lawn mower.
This ingenious lawn mower, which traveled at around two miles per hour, was first displayed to the public in Britain at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1959.
Members of the royal family, including the Queen and Prince Philip, took an interest in the gadget during their visit to the show.
Source: 6 weird inventions in history | History Extra