The Ultimate Loner, Africa.

Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars. They live in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China.
However, many of their populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa.
The leopard is so strong and comfortable in trees that it often hauls its kills into the branches. By dragging the bodies of large animals aloft it hopes to keep them safe from scavengers such as hyenas.
Leopards can also hunt from trees, where their spotted coats allow them to blend with the leaves until they spring with a deadly pounce. These nocturnal predators also stalk antelope, deer, and pigs by stealthy movements in the tall grass.
When human settlements are present, leopards often attack dogs and, occasionally, people.
Leopards are strong swimmers and very much at home in the water, where they sometimes eat fish or crabs.
Female leopards can give birth at any time of the year. They usually have two grayish cubs with barely visible spots.
The mother hides her cubs and moves them from one safe location to the next until they are old enough to begin playing and learning to hunt. Cubs live with their mothers for about two years—otherwise, leopards are solitary animals.
Most leopards are light colored with distinctive dark spots that are called rosettes, because they resemble the shape of a rose.
Black leopards, which appear to be almost solid in color because their spots are hard to distinguish, are commonly called black panthers.
via Leopards, Leopard Pictures, Leopard Facts – National Geographic.

Micrograph of a Nit and Human Hair.

canvas Image via Wellcome Images.
by Kevin Mackenzie.
Scanning electron micrograph of a nit or head louse egg (coloured green) attached to a strand of human hair (coloured brown).
Head lice feed on human blood and live in close proximity to the scalp. Female lice lay eggs in sacs that attach firmly to individual strands of hair near the base of the hair shaft.
Most will hatch within seven to ten days, and the newly emerged immature louse (nymph) will then need to feed on blood to survive. The width of the image is 1.5 mm.
A head louse develops from an egg to an adult in 16 to 21 days. Head lice start out life as eggs, which are attached to the hair near the scalp to stay warm.
Eggs usually hatch within seven to ten days, and the newly emerged immature lice (nymphs) then need to feed on blood from the scalp to survive.
Nymphs go through three stages before maturing into adults, which can take around a week.
The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed and has six legs with claws that help it cling on to the hair.
Adult lice can live for three to four weeks, but will only survive for one or two days away from a person’s head.
Wellcome Images.

Zebras Migrate 500km in Botswana.

1-migration-zebras-runningA population of zebras undertakes the longest terrestrial migration in Africa, according to researchers who just identified the zebras’ 311-mile journey.
The discovery, published in the latest issue of the journal Oryx, provides compelling evidence that conservation efforts often require multinational coordinated support.
In this case, “The migration involves up to several thousand zebra making a return journey from the Chobe River floodplains in Namibia/Botswana to Nxai Pan National Park in Botswana,” lead author Robin Naidoo told Discovery News.
“This is a 500-km (311-mile) round trip journey along an almost direct north-south axis,” continued Naidoo, who is a senior conservation scientist at World Wildlife Fund.
The zebras spend the dry season along the Chobe River floodplains, and then when the rains begin, migrate over several weeks to the Nxai Pan National Park, where they spend several months before returning to the Chobe River floodplains.
via Zebras Travel 311 Miles in Longest Migration in Africa : Discovery News.

The “puppy sized” Goliath Birdeater Spider.


Piotr Naskrecki was taking a nighttime walk in a rainforest in Guyana, when he heard rustling as if something were creeping underfoot.
When he turned on his flashlight, he expected to see a small mammal, such as a possum or a rat.
“When I turned on the light, I couldn’t quite understand what I was seeing,” said Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.
A moment later, he realized he was looking not at a brown, furry mammal, but an enormous, puppy-size spider.
Known as the South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi), the colossal arachnid is the world’s largest spider, according to Guinness World Records.
Its leg span can reach up to a foot (30 centimeters), or about the size of “a child’s forearm,” with a body the size of “a large fist,” Naskrecki told Live Science.
And the spider can weigh more than 6 oz. (170 grams) — about as much as a young puppy, the scientist wrote on his blog. [See Photos of the Goliath Birdeater Spider]
Some sources say the giant huntsman spider, which has a larger leg span, is bigger than the birdeater.
But the huntsman is much more delicate than the hefty birdeater — comparing the two would be “like comparing a giraffe to an elephant,” Naskrecki said.
The birdeater’s enormous size is evident from the sounds it makes. “Its feet have hardened tips and claws that produce a very distinct, clicking sound, not unlike that of a horse’s hooves hitting the ground,” he wrote, but “not as loud.”
via Puppy-Sized Spider Surprises Scientist in Rainforest.

The Infinite Beauty of Maths Fractals.

The Mandelbrot Set, like its early-20th-century predecessor the Julia Set, is the visualisation of an infinitely repeating fractal: you can keep zooming into details, which reveal more details, inside which is the original image, and so on.
Its psychedelic patterns have made it a pop-culture favourite since it appeared in the 1980s, and its infinite loop gives rise to this joke about its creator:
Q: “What does the ‘B’ in Benoit B Mandelbrot stand for?” A: “Benoit B Mandelbrot.” Q: “And what does that ‘B’ in Benoit B Mandelbrot stand for? A: “Benoit B Mandelbrot.” (Repeat ad nauseam.)
Photograph: Science Photo Library
Source: The beauty of maths – in pictures | The Man Who Knew Infinity | The Guardian

Extinct Mega Penguin was two metres Tall.


Forget emperor penguins, say hello to the colossus penguin.
Newly unearthed fossils have revealed that Antarctica was once home to the biggest species of penguin ever discovered. It was 2 metres long and weighed a hefty 115 kilograms.
Palaeeudyptes klekowskii lived 37 to 40 million years ago.
This was “a wonderful time for penguins, when 10 to 14 species lived together along the Antarctic coast”, says Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche of the La Plata Museum in Argentina.
She has been excavating fossil deposits on Seymour Island, off the Antarctic peninsula.
This was a warmer region 40 million years ago, with a climate like that of present-day Tierra del Fuego, the islands at the southern tip of South America.
Now she has uncovered two bigger bones. One is part of a wing, and the other is a tarsometatarsus, formed by the fusion of ankle and foot bones. The tarsometatarsus measures a record 9.1 centimetres.
Based on the relative sizes of bones in penguin skeletons, Acosta Hospitaleche estimates P. klekowskii was 2.01 metres long from beak tip to toes.
Its height will have been somewhat less than its length owing to the way penguins stand. But it was nevertheless larger than any known penguin.
via Extinct mega penguin was tallest and heaviest ever – New Scientist.