Image Credit: Norman Allchin/Shutterstock
Lorikeets: Things you didn’t know about them
Think you know everything about our kaleidoscopic lorikeets? Think again.
These birds are full of surprises.
LOUD, BELLIGERENT colonies of rainbow lorikeets are the soundtrack of urban Australia.
They live so close to us that we think we know everything there is to know about the iconic bird.
Here are a few facts you about rainbow lorikeets you may have missed. In some parts of Australia, they’re considered pests.
Okay, we know this is hard to believe, but even native species can be classed as pests if they extend their ranges.
And this is the case for the rainbow lorikeet. Rainbow lorikeets were introduced to Western Australia in the 1960s… by accident.
According to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, the lorikeet population in Perth was established from fewer than 10 escaped or released caged birds.
The damage wrought by the birds is extensive. They’ve had a big impact on agriculture as they feast on cherry, apple, pear, stone fruit, grape and vegetable crops.
They’re also fierce protectors of these resources, and their breeding sites, which drives out other native species native to Perth.
Read on via Source: Lorikeets: Four things you didn’t know about them
Image Credit: Orangutans rescued near a palm oil plantation in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photograph by Vier Pfoten/Four Paws/Rex
It’s the miracle ingredient in everything from biscuits to shampoo. But our dependence on palm oil has devastating environmental consequences.
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there grew a magical fruit. This fruit could be squeezed to produce a very special kind of oil that made cookies more healthy, soap more bubbly and crisps more crispy.
The oil could even make lipstick smoother and keep ice-cream from melting. Because of these wondrous qualities, people came from around the world to buy the fruit and its oil.
In the places where the fruit came from, people burned down the forest so they could plant more trees that grew the fruit – making lots of nasty smoke and sending all of the creatures of the forest scurrying away.
When the trees were burned, they emitted a gas that heated up the air. Then everybody was upset, because they loved the forest’s creatures and thought the temperature was warm enough already. A few people decided they shouldn’t use the oil any more, but mostly things went on as before, and the forest kept burning.
This is a true story. Except that it is not magic. The fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis), which grows in tropical climates, contains the world’s most versatile vegetable oil. It can handle frying without spoiling, and blends well with other oils.
It’s a combination of different types of fats and its consistency after refining make it a popular ingredient in packaged baked goods.
Its low production costs make it cheaper than frying oils such as cottonseed or sunflower. It provides the foaming agent in virtually every shampoo, liquid soap or detergent.
Cosmetics manufacturers prefer it to animal tallow for its ease of application and low price. It is increasingly used as a cheap raw material for biofuels, especially in the European Union.
It functions as a natural preservative in processed foods, and actually does raise the melting point of ice-cream.
Palm oil can be used as an adhesive that binds together the particles in fibreboard.
Oil palm trunks and fronds can be made into everything from plywood to the composite body of Malaysia’s national automobile.
Now read on via Source: How the world got hooked on palm oil | News | The Guardian
This is an excerpt from TIME magazine and the recently released book How Dogs Think: Inside the Canine Mind.
You speak dog better than you think you do.
You may not be fluent; that would require actually being a dog. But if you went to live in a dogs-only world, you’d be pretty good at understanding what they’re saying.
You can tell a nervous yip from a menacing growl, a bark that says hello from a bark that says get lost.
You can read the body language that says happy, that says sad, that says tired, that says scared, that says Please, please, please play with me right now!
Think that’s not a big deal? Then answer this: What does a happy bird look like? A sad lion? You don’t know, but dog talk you get.
And as with your first human language, you didn’t even have to try to learn it. You grew up in a world in which dogs are everywhere and simply came to understand them.
That, by itself, says something about the bond that humans and dogs share.
We live with cats, we work with horses, we hire cows for their milk and chickens for their eggs and pay them with food—unless we kill them and eat them instead.
Our lives are entangled with those of other species, but we could disentangle if we wanted.
With dogs, things are different. Our world and their world swirled together long ago like two different shades of paint. Once you’ve achieved a commingled orange, you’re never going back to red and yellow.
But why is that? It’s not enough to say that the relationship is symbiotic—that dogs hunt for us and herd for us and we keep them warm and fed in return.
Sharks and remora fish struck a similarly symbiotic deal, with the remora cleaning parasites from the shark’s skin and getting to help itself to scraps from the shark’s kills as its pay.
That underwater deal is entirely transactional; love plays no part. Humans and dogs, by contrast, adore each other.
Read on via Source: Why Dogs and Humans Love Each Other So Much | Time
Full of gas: The world’s longest aircraft – part airship, plane and helicopter – has been unveiled in Cardington, Bedfordshire.
It will be used for surveillance and aid missions… and resembles something very familiar. The 300ft-long ‘airship’ unveiled in Britain is the world’s longest aircraft.
Known as the HAV304, aircraft is being displayed at a Hangar in Bedfordshire, United Kingdom.
It is 302ft (91m) long making it 60ft (18m) longer than the biggest airliners.
It can stay in the air for 3 weeks and will be vital to delivering humanitarian aid.
Its funders include Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson.
The aircraft is 70 per cent more environmentally friendly than a cargo plane and doesn’t need a runway to take off.
The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed well over 50 million people around the world.
The image above shows people playing baseball while wearing masks.
The crowd wear masks as well. And that reflects the most terrifying and devastating aspect of the 1918 pandemic in a way the other pictures don’t:
It killed anyone. Young, healthy adults—of the sort that play baseball—normally rarely care about the flu, but the 1918 outbreak was different. It killed anyone, and we still don’t really know why.
The photo also represents a sad futility when you learn that the masks didn’t protect people.
While cotton gauze may stop bacteria, viruses are much smaller. Yet pictures record large groups wearing them, from police in Seattle, to paperboys in Canada, to soldiers in France, right down to the general public.
Not one of them was protected in any way from one of the deadliest events in human history.