free tailed bat

anonymous asked:

Why are there still so many people who believe that cheetahs are the fastest animals alive when it's clearly peregrine falcons?

Listen, it’s all in how you’re going to split hairs or various other integuments on this one. Without any qualifiers, peregrine falcons are the fastest animal. However, they hit their record speeds of 320km/hr+ in free-fall - so, once you start getting into “fastest animal moving under it’s own power”, things get messy. When it comes to powered flight, peregrines only hit about 65-90km/hr.

Cheetahs aren’t even a close second in the unqualified “fastest animals” category though, with their speeds of ~120km/hr; a whole slew of other speedy birds who enjoy plummeting to their deaths just haphazardly smashed their way in there with no regard for those poor earth-bound mammals

So let’s get into some qualifiers. Fastest self-powered movement? Nope; Brazilian free-tailed bats noodle around at a casual 160km/hr - and, as you may notice, this also means cheetahs aren’t even the fastest mammal. It’s only once we rule out everything that isn’t a terrestrial mammal that cheetahs finally take the crown. You tried, cheetahs.

This isn’t even going into speed options beyond our restrictive, human-sized measurements - for instance, in terms of objective body lengths per second the Southern California mite just absolutely crushes it with 322 body lengths per second (whereas cheetahs only score at about 16). To translate, this is the equivalent of a human running 2,092km/hr

wingsfreedom  asked:

This may be a dumb question, but: if ATLA characters were animals, what do you think they would be?

For comparison purposes, I’m using real world animals

Aang: Flying squirrel (literally took me two seconds to think this up)

Katara: Snow Leopard!!

Sokka: Arctic wolf (you have no idea how tempted i was to say dire wolf, but that would be unfair…and they’re extinct)

Toph: Honey badger (yeah, that one)

Suki: Sika deer 

Zuko: Japanese Raccoon dog (finally the cute trash baby we wanted)

Azula: Red fox (brilliant and beautiful)

Ty Lee: Capuchin monkey

Mai: Free-tailed Bat

Hello friends and welcome to another edition of Wacky WWII Hijinks! Get hype, today we’re gonna learn about rad spy shit



okay, first some background: the OSS, or Office of Strategic Services, was an American intelligence agency during WWII that was in charge of clandestine shit like espionage, propaganda, and counter-intelligence. It was run by a dude called “Wild Bill” Donovan, because that’s the kind of name people had back then somehow

More background: the SOE, or Special Operations Executive, was a British organization in charge of espionage, sabotage, and assisting local resistance groups in Europe. It didn’t have a director with a weird nickname, but it was sometimes called the Baker Street Irregulars, which honestly I think is even better

as you can imagine, these two organizations came up with a lot of weird shit to help their agents infiltrate into occupied Europe, so let’s get to it already dang


  • Rodent bombs


this one comes to us courtesy of the SOE and were intended for use in boiler rooms, because the british figured that anyone finding a gross dead rat while stoking a boiler would probably just chuck the corpse into the fire and be done with it. Except this time the boiler would explode.

Rat asses, as you can see from the pencil fuse in the image, could also be rigged for timed explosions instead, for those occasions when you’re on a tight schedule about raining down petrified rat entrails in your enemy’s basement

unfortunately (???), the RATS, EXPLOSIVE, never saw actual combat use, as the first box the SOE dropped into Europe was intercepted by the Nazis, who probably had a read good “what the FUCK” moment when they opened it


  • Coal bombs

along similar lines but far less fucking weird were coal bombs, which were essentially the same thing as the rat bombs but with hollowed out coal instead. Both the SOE and OSS actually used these ones

  • Poop bombs (lol)

they then went a bizarre step further and developed mule dung bombs for use in Africa- “specially sculpted” replicas of mule poop that were packed with explosives. These weren’t meant to be chucked into boilers, but rather left around for enemy forces to drive over. Here is an actual American soldier talking about collecting mule shit for war purposes, from O'Donnell’s book Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs


Mule turds were to be found in great abundance…we added a few samples of local mule dung, and this was carefully packed and sent to London. We took care to explain that the full, rich horse dung of the British countryside would not do in Morocco; it was the more watery, smaller mule type that would pass there without suspicion. Also, it was important to have it a deep sepia color, sometimes with greenish shades, the product of straw and grass, not of oats and hay. In due course of time the British London office made up explosive turds from these samples, and we used them to good effect later in Tunisia.

You do you, mule-poop-connoisseur-OSS-agent.


  • Bat bombs


this is not an actual picture of a bat bomb, but I found it while googling for images to use and I love it okay thanks

anyway are you sensing a theme here?

This one was, surprisingly, not the product of OSS or SOE, but of an American dentist named Lytle S Adams. Everyone needs a hobby I guess.

The idea behind bat bombs was that you take a bunch of bats (specifically Mexican free-tailed bats), tie some little bombs to them, and stuff them into a plane. Then the plane flies over Japan (because Japan has a lot of wooden buildings and therefore is particularly susceptible to incendiary use), and drops the bats. The bats fall down to building-level, then start flying around looking for somewhere to hide because they are having a seriously bad bat day. In theory, the bats would fly up into the eaves and roofs of the buildings, at which point the timers on their little bombs would go off, sending both bats and buildings up in flames.

This idea actually, somehow, made it into the testing phase, but was never used because honestly what the fuck


  • Aunt Jemima

guess what it’s another bomb! In this case, a plastic explosive that looked like flour (hence the name) and could even be baked into something resembling food products, although just a tad more poisonous than most food you find outside of school cafeterias. Aunt Jemima was easy to smuggle through enemy lines due to its innocuous appearance, and the OSS sent a bunch of it to Chinese resistance fighters against the Japanese


  • Silk printing

“wait what?”, I’m sure you’re saying. “finally something that doesn’t explode and it’s…just a totally normal thing?”

yeah. Here’s the thing: if you sent an agent or resistance fighter into occupied territory, there was a pretty good chance they were gonna get frisked at some point, because that was a pretty routine occurrence in places like occupied France. If said agent/resistance member were carrying, say, a map showing escape routes or a code sheet for them to use to send information, and they got searched, either that paper is gonna be found with their other papers or, if hidden on their person, make a pretty distinct crinkling noise when the Gestapo agent gets friendly with that area. Plus, you know, paper doesn’t do great when wet

the solution to this was printing stuff on silk, like this:

this is Leo Marks, the creator of the silk code keys and one time pads that SOE used for their agents, holding a one time code pad that has been printed on silk

these silk documents could be sewn into an agent’s clothing while still being totally undetectable to a pat-down, or even hidden somewhere like rolled up in a thin tube and then stuck inside a shoelace. If you went a step further and printed the document using invisible ink, agents could carry maps around in plain view as handkerchiefs or have their codebook printed directly onto their underwear, because hey why not

I know it sounds boring after all this exploding wildlife, but silk-printed documents were hugely important to covert operations during WWII


  • things that should not be guns but are, in fact, guns

tbh I’m just gonna let the pictures speak for themselves on this one

apparently there was an umbrella one too but I couldn’t find a picture of that one


  • suitcase radio

if you’re dropping people into enemy territory to gather intelligence, you need some way to communicate with them. This was a problem, since cell phones hadn’t been invented yet and radios at the time were like, fucking huge, which is not great when you’re trying to hide them from the Gestapo

SOE got around this problem by creating the suitcase radio, which is exactly what it sounds like- a big old radio disguised as a suitcase. Obviously they weren’t gonna stand up to any examination more rigorous than “yes that is suitcase shaped”, but it allowed agents to at least walk around in public with it without attracting too much attention


  • Joan-Eleanor system

keeping with the “problems with radios” theme, we have the OSS’ Joan-Eleanor system. See, normal radio frequencies were monitored by both sides in the war, which was Not Great. It meant both that radio transmissions could be intercepted by the enemy (and subsequently decoded, like Germany’s Enigma messages), and also that you could use radio direction finders to pinpoint the location of a broadcasting radio. Every time a covert agent turned on their radio to report something, they ran the risk of being located and hella murdered

the Joan-Eleanor (or J-E) system, in contrast, was a Very High Frequency (VHF) system. VHF bands couldn’t be easily monitored, unlike the frequency bands used by other radios.

Why? I actually have no idea. Listen I just read things and ramble about them on the internet, I don’t know jack shit about radios

anyway, as a result the system was hard to detect but very short range, so it worked by giving the agent on the ground a hand-held transmitter (the Joan), that talked to a bigger transceiver (the Eleanor) that was in a plane. At prearranged times the plane would fly over wherever the agent was and they could have an undetectable chat

  • compass buttons

it’s a compass! It’s a button! It’s a compass hidden inside a button!


  • The BBC

okay this one isn’t technically equipment, but it’s cool and was used by spies so you can deal with it

it turns out that during the war pretty much everyone listened to the BBC, even at risk of arrest in occupied territories. The SOE used this to their advantage by working with the BBC to broadcast seemingly meaningless words or phrases at certain times, which were actually pre-arranged coded messages  or orders to agents or resistance members

if an agent had to win over the resistance’s trust or prove they were actually spies and not just random dudes, they could ask the person whose trust they were trying to win to provide them with a personal word or phrase. Then the agent could radio the SOE, give them the word/phrase and ask it to be broadcast at a certain time, which the other person would hear, and bam best friends


  • invisible ink

is there anything more quintessentially spy? agents were often supplied with a little vial of invisible ink before being dropped into occupied territory, for communications outside radio broadcasts. the ink could be developed (made visible) by means of chemicals or exposure to ultraviolet light (some invisible inks are developed by heat, but the SOE at least avoided those because of the worryingly high risk of accidental exposure. “whoops I sat to close to the fire and now everyone can see I actually drew little devil horns on this poster of Hitler you gave me”)

REAL COOL FACT: Josephine Baker, the famous Black singer, was actually a spy for the French Resistance during the war, and smuggled information during her concert tours of Europe by writing it in invisible ink on her sheet music! wow!


okay I’m gonna stop now because I keep thinking of more shit to add and if I do this will literally never end (sorry). For further reading I recommend the O'Donnell book mentioned above and Leo Marks’ Between Silk and Cyanide. Also apparently H. Keith Melton’s OSS Special Weapons & Equipment is really good, but I haven’t read it personally (though I totally stole the pictures of the OSS guns from there, hooray the internet)


OKAY HOPE YOU LIKED IT BYE FRIENDS

Spooky Science: Bats!

While bats might make some of us squeal and squirm, they are actually an incredible success story: 

  • Of the 5,400 known living species of mammals, more than 1,000 are bats.  
  • They are the only mammals that can truly fly–an ability that arose separately in birds, insects and some extinct reptiles, but has evolved only once in mammals some 50 million years ago, when bats took to the air.
  • The smallest living mammal is a bat! Found only in Thailand and Myanmar, the bumblebee bat is no bigger than a bee and weighs only about as much as a dime. The tiny bat beats its wings so fast that it can hover in place like a hummingbird and is so rare that it was unknown to science until 1974.
  • The largest bat, the flying fox bat, can grow to have a wingspan of over 6 feet.
  • Some bats can walk. Vampire bats, for instance, often crawl undetected onto the bodies of their sleeping prey to bite them and lick their blood.
  • The Mexican free-tailed bat is the fastest flying mammal with a top speed of 60 miles per hour (97 kph).

Learn more about bats in this video from Curator Nancy Simmons:

Happy Halloween!

youtube

watch the free-tailed bat be adorable 

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How was your Friday evening? I just spent mine with the single largest congregation of mammals on Earth, 20 MILLION Mexican free-tailed bats. I can’t even put that number in perspective for you.

Without a doubt, one of the three coolest things I’ve ever witnessed. You might be seeing it on the YouTube channel before too long :)

Bat Moon Rising

Was looking through some video clips I took during last night’s supermoon lunar eclipse practice run, and saw a black splotch flash across the face of the moon. I thought maybe I caught a lucky bird or something, but it was a bat! It’s a little blurry since this wasn’t what I was trying to capture, but easily in my top 5 favorite photographs I’ve ever taken.

I had my camera pointed to the east, up above Austin’s famous Congress Avenue bridge/urban bat roost. The 1.5 millionMexican free-tailed bats who live there can fly up to 10,000 feet high every night in search of insects (mostly moths) to echolocate and chow down on. 

I did a video for It’s Okay To Be Smart last year all about one incredible population of MFT bats that lives in a cave south of Austin. Explore the largest (non-human) congregation of mammals on Earth:

Watch on scientiflix.com

Bracken Cave: Home to the world’s largest bat colony

As many as twenty million Mexican free-tailed bats spend their summer months in Bracken Cave, Texas making it home to the largest congregation of warm-blooded animals in the world. Join journalist Millie Kerr as she captures the unforgettable sight of these bats emerging at dusk to feed, and spends some time with leading bat expert and photographer, Merlin Tuttle to discuss the threats facing these often misunderstood mammals.

Uploaded by: Earth Touch.

astromot  asked:

ddt also seems to have really affected mexican free-tailed bats, which is especially upsetting because there are entire cave ecosystems that depend on bat guano for energy

Oh jeez, yeah. I didn’t even think about that but looking at the research it’s really sad. It accumulates in the fatty tissue of the bats as pretty much sleeping death, and then when they metabolize those fat stores for migration they get a lethal dose really really quickly. Which actually helps mosquito populations boom - by killing off their main predators - rather than reducing them.