Photo by Thangmar on Wikipedia | Copyright: Public Domain
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More of an out-of-control tree than the lilting flower the name might suggest, the Rose of Hildesheim, otherwise known as the Thousand-Year Rose, is thought to be the oldest living rose on the planet, and it looks to continue to be for the foreseeable future since not even bombs can stop it.
Growing up the side of a columnar portion of Germany’s Hildesheim Cathedral, the now-bushy flower is thought to have been planted in the early 800s when the church itself was founded.
Miraculously, the hearty plant slowly crept up the side of the apse for hundreds of years, and still continues bud and bloom each year, producing pale pink flowers once a year (usually around May).
While the rose bush looks as though it’s big enough to have been growing for a thousand years, the plant has been nearly destroyed a number of times throughout its history.
Most notably the bush was nearly completely razed during the Second World War when Allied bombs annihilated the cathedral.
Every bit of the plant above ground was destroyed, but from the rubble, new branches grew from the root that survived.
Today the the base of the Thousand-Year Rose is protected by a squat iron fence and each of the central roots is named and catalogued to protect one of the oldest pieces of natural beauty one is lucky to find.
Not long ago, a precious packet of blood traveled more than 7,000 miles by special courier, from America to Australia, to save the life of a newborn. Months before the delivery date, a routine checkup of the mom-to-be had revealed that the fetus suffered from hemolytic disease.
Doctors knew that the baby would need a blood transfusion immediately after delivery. The problem was, the baby’s blood type was so rare that there wasn’t a single compatible donor in all of Australia.
A request for compatible blood was sent first to England, where a global database search identified a potential donor in the United States.
From there, the request was forwarded to the American Rare Donor Program, directed by Sandra Nance. The ARDP had compatible frozen blood on hand, but Nance knew that a frozen bag might rupture in transit.
So her organization reached out to the compatible donor, collected half a liter of fresh blood, and shipped it across the Pacific. When the mother came in to give birth, the blood was waiting. “It was just magic,” Nance says.
You’re probably aware of eight basic blood types: A, AB, B and O, each of which can be “positive” or “negative.” They’re the most important, because a patient who receives ABO +/– incompatible blood very often experiences a dangerous immune reaction.
For the sake of simplicity, these are the types that organizations like the Red Cross usually talk about. But this system turns out to be a big oversimplification.
Each of these eight types of blood can be subdivided into many distinct varieties. There are millions in all, each classified according to the little markers called antigens that coat the surface of red blood cells.
AB blood contains A and B antigens, while O blood doesn’t contain either; “positive” blood contains the Rhesus D antigen, while “negative” blood lacks it. Patients shouldn’t receive antigens that their own blood lacks—otherwise their immune system may recognize the blood as foreign and develop antibodies to attack it.
That’s why medical professionals pay attention to blood types in the first place, and why compatible blood was so important for the baby in Australia. There are in fact hundreds of antigens that fall into 33 recognized antigen systems, many of which can cause dangerous reactions during transfusion.
One person’s blood can contain a long list of antigens, which means that a fully specified blood type has to be written out antigen by antigen—for example, O, r”r”, K:–1, Jk(b-).
Try fitting that into that little space on your Red Cross card.
A bearded vulture has been seen flying once again over Romania, for the first time in 83 years, according to a statement of the Romanian Ornithological Society.
The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is one of the four species of vultures that used to live in Romania.
However, the vulture was last seen on Romanian territory in 1933.
The vulture that is now flying over Romania is named Adonis and is one of the birds that were supposed to contribute to the restoration of the bearded vulture population in France.
The vulture was released in the Massif Central in France in 2014, but didn’t stay there.
The bird left France and flew over several countries such as Denmark, Slovakia, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, and now Romania.
A satellite transmitter tracks the bird’s route. The bearded vulture is a diurnal bird of prey, characteristic to mountain areas, being typically present at altitudes between 500 and 4,000 meters.
However, it was also found at 7,500 meters altitude, in the Himalayas. It is 105 –125 cm long and weights between 4.5 and 7.8 kg. The female is slightly larger than the male. The wingspan is between 235 and 275 cm.
A juvenile yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) pecks at a ginkgo tree at BBG. Photo by Steven Severinghaus.
by Joe Giunta.
What do the wolf, the beaver, and the yellow-bellied sapsucker have in common? Each is a keystone species, that is, a species that by its actions may affect a whole community. In many cases, other species greatly depend upon their actions for food, shelter, and habitat.
As a predator, the wolf keeps certain animal populations, like deer, from becoming overabundant and destructive to the surrounding habitat. The beaver creates habitat for songbirds, ducks, and muskrats by building dams.
The yellow-bellied sapsucker provides not only habitat but also food for other species.
This medium-sized woodpecker is what’s known as a primary cavity-nesting bird. It makes—by drilling into a somewhat decayed tree—a cavity where it can build a nest and raise young.
The next year, secondary cavity-nesting birds like swallows, chickadees, and bluebirds can then move in to nest there and raise their own young.
The yellow-bellied sapsucker is also a great provider of food. It drills many “wells” in living trees that bleed throughout the year. The sap attracts insects, and the sapsucker feeds on those as well as the sap itself.
Other small birds like warblers and hummingbirds, as well as butterflies and bats, also come to these sap wells to feed.
Sapsucker wells have been found in over a hundred species of trees, but the sapsucker seems to prefer trees that bleed more than others, such as red maple and birch.