science from nature


2 Extinctions, 1 New Species, and… chess?
Natural News from The Field Museum | Ep. 5

You win some, and you lose some: this is true in games of chess, and sometimes in science, too. A newly discovered species can never replace the loss of another - but we persevere. 

Also. ‘Chicago’ is named after the Menominee word Shikako, or skunk place - where smelly onions grow. I love that our city is named after a foul odor. <3 


The theme is…… THE VIEW FROM ABOVE (Moth caterpillars seen from the dorsal aspect)

Click on and scroll through individual images for IDs in captions.

by Sinobug (itchydogimages) on Flickr.
Pu’er, Yunnan, China

See more Chinese caterpillars on my Flickr site HERE…..

These swirling clouds captured by NASA’s Terra Satellite above Jeju-do, South Korea, are known as Von Karman vortices.

They are created when a mass of fluid, such as water or air, encounters an obstacle and creates swirls going in alternating directions. The obstacle in this instance is Mount Halla, which rises to 6,400 feet-high enough to affect cloud patterns.


Photograph: MODIS/Terra/NASA

So in case nature hasn’t blown your mind yet today.. Here you go! This is a Pyrite Cube that has emerged from a limestone matrix. 

This particular piece was found in Navajun, Spain. Pyrite is pretty common around the world, but the Pyrite Cubes from this area are pretty rare because they are almost perfect 90 degree angle cubic formations. Not to mention how incredibly awesome they look.

Honestly, how amazing is this?? Gotta love Pyrite! This specimen is ready for its new home. You can find it here.

A patchwork quilt

These towns and fields set below a winding river valley in Ethiopia resemble a psychedelic quilt from the 1970’s, while revealing some of the constraints geology and physical geography put on human landscapes. The towns are set in the river valleys, where water is easy to obtain and they won’t encroach upon increasingly valuable agricultural land, while the multicoloured fields are in the surrounding highlands.


Image credit: Digital Globe

Fly through the southern lights

The Sun goes through cycles of activity every 11 years or so. When it is more active, more sunspots appear on the surface and more charged particles are ejected, while at the other end the sun is quieter, with fewer sunspots and less ejection. Since these charged particles, when they are caught up in Earth’s magnetic field, are what drive outbreaks of the Aurora, the sky tends to light up the most during active periods for the sun and aurora outbreaks are more rare when the sun is less active.

Keep reading

When volcanoes die

Once the heat from below that fed the magma chamber dies down, the volcano cools and its rocks get denser and contract, the entire structure begins to sink back into the underlying crust. When this happens to a volcanic island in the tropics, coral reefs begin to ring the sinking peak since it provides a perfect environment for growth in the middle of the deep ocean, as they require shallow illuminated seas. These phenomena are called atolls, and Darwin was the first to come up with this ingenious solution to their formation.

Bora Bora in the Leewards Islands (part of French Polynesia) is a textbook example. Around the outside is a barrier reef, shielding the main island from storms and separating the pearly blue lagoon from the deep dark depths all around. The centre is the extinct peak of a volcano, that was at its most active some 3 to 3.5 million years ago, peaking at 750 metres. Now a major tourist spot, it was first settled some 1600 years ago, and discovered by Europeans in 1722.

We also recently shared an agate that resembles this atoll seen from space at


Image credit: CNES/PLEIADES satellite

The Japanese Himawari-8 weather satellite captured this video off the coast of Korea, China, and Japan. Note the “cloud streets” over the water on both sides of the peninsula - linear cloud paths being blown out over the ocean by fairly consistent wind directions. They break up a bit more out to sea as the weather pattern changes, but a really cool shot.

Watch on

Astronaut Terry Virts returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Thursday and is now back in the United States. While he was up there, he collected some incredible videos of Earth below him and shared him through Vine - I think this is a good weekend to share a few. 

This is a view he had of a nighttime lightning storm over the Ozarks. That’s a lotta electricity.

Watch on

Watch the aurora borealis dance up and down as the ISS flies over some spectacular coastal terrain (maybe western Canada)?

After last week’s comparison between an aerofoil and a tuna fish and yesterday’s post from FYFD I couldn’t help but put this one up. Designers increasingly are taking inspiration from nature and the comparison in this image between a B-2 bomber and a Hawk show a distinctive similarity. Although I believe the B-2 took this shape more for stealth reasons than aerodynamic it is amazing how similar a shape is reached in the end.

(via Eagles are being trained to take out illegal drones)

In collaboration with raptor training company Guard From Above, Dutch police taught an eagle to recognize a DJI drone. Once in sight, the bird flies toward its mechanical prey, snatches it with its enormous talons and then takes it to safe place. The eagle is one of the two “physical” methods the force are trialling – the other being a safety net – but a trained bird of prey gives officers more control over where the offending drone is brought down to earth.

What makes eagles effective drone hunters? Their feet have four powerful toes that are strong enough to grip and carry heavy objects, whether it’s a wild animal or a heavy UAV. But even though they have toughened talons, drone rotors could still damage the bird. A spokesperson says the force will look at ways to better protect their flying counterparts while they conduct trials over the next few months.

protect their talons


What are these odd marks in the Caspian Sea?

Earlier this month a NASA oceanographer was checking out some LANDSAT images and spotted many strange multi directional lines seemingly gouged into the algae and weeds growing in the shallow waters around the Tyuleniy Archipelago. The lines were not temporary, and remained with repeated image acquisitions, showing that they were not a passing feature of the surrounding waters. The second image, snapped in January shows the reason behind them, the keels of ice floes pushed into hillocks and refrozen by the wind dragging through the weeds on the sea bottom beneath.


Image credit: NASA

This video is a series of frames from the European Eumetsat weather satellite system. It shows the skies over the eastern mediterranean, photographed in infrared light where clouds typically stand out at night (different temperature and composition from the surface). The colored blob that shows up is hot material released from something in the middle of the island of Sicily - an eruption column from Mt. Etna.

The glow of sunset, from above

We often share photos of dawn and dusk, when the rays of the sun paint the sky in many ever shifting colours as the light path interacts with more and more atmosphere and then fades, but I have never seen a sight like this one, the same shimmering glow, but playing across the land as seen from the space station with the shining blue of the thin layer of atmosphere that shields us from the cold radioactive vacuum beyond playing above it. While I will never see this sight for myself, I delight in the fact that others can, and even more in the fact that they share the view with us down here, as best they can around their hectic work schedule.


Image credit: Scott Kelly

The Japanese Himawari 8 weather satellite captured these images/this video of weather systems moving over the coast of China and over the Korean Peninsula as the sun set over the weekend. The color changes as the sun sets because the satellite switches the way it takes the image - we go from seeing visible light to seeing through the clouds and lights on the surface as the sun goes down.