Amazing camouflage from the orchid mantis.
CNN has a fascinating story on the world’s smallest republic, the Pacific island of Nauru:
In a lot of ways, Nauru is something like a canary in a coal mine: It’s a tiny place with more than its share of troubles, most of them the kind that might have been prevented.
Nauru is battling a failed economy, widespread poor health and a natural environment ruined from the inside. They’re the kinds of things that aren’t altogether different from what’s facing many of the rest of us, but they’re magnified in a place that’s only a tenth the size of Washington, D.C.
If the Pacific took Nauru, it’d wash away one of the strangest and most troubled places on Earth. In my three days there, I met a cast of characters who would introduce me to the place.
If you’re in the mood for a rather more disturbing take on Santa Claus check out Finnish director Jelmari Helander’s short films, Rare Exports, which document a group of Santa Claus hunters who track down and capture Father Christmasses for export abroad. The second film (below) gives instructions for the safe training and handling of a Father Christmas, and is intended strictly for importers and distributors.
The films would have it seem that the training of a potential Santa Claus is rather more difficult than it would appear. Perhaps it helps to know that Santa Claus has his origins in Finland as the joulupukki, or Yule Goat, which was (in pagan times) a horned demon who frightened children and instead of giving gifts, he demanded them.
The Tube-Nosed Fruit Bat, a.k.a. the ‘Yoda Bat’ is one of the ten weirdest animals newly discovered in 2010, according to the editors of National Geographic magazine. Others include the T.Rex Leech, the Sneezing Snub-Nosed Monkey and the Pink Handfish.
Ten Weirdest New Animals of 2010: Editors Picks [National Geographic]
The Montana property owned by the Unabomber has just seen a massive price reduction, from $154 500 to $69 500. It doesn’t, however, include the shack he lived in, which is currently a museum piece in Washington, D.C.
This 1.4 acre property located in Lincoln, Montana was once owned by the Unabomber. A lot of history goes with this location. Close to the Bob Marshall and Scape Goat Wilderness Areas, as well as the Blackfoot and Missouri Rivers where you can enjoy great fishing and hunting. This is a one of a kind property and is obviously very secluded. Power and water not on the property but are available. Don`t miss this one! Call John at 406-899-8723. $69,500.”
Apparently, it’s a type of spider called a Cyclocosmia. Wikipedia sez:
The abdomen of spiders in this genus is abruptly truncated and ends in a hardened disc which is strengthened by a system of ribs and grooves. They use this to clog the entrance of their 7 to 15 cm deep vertical burrows when threatened, a phenomenon called phragmosis. Strong spines are located around the edge of the disc. The four spinnerets are found just anterior to it, with the posterior, retractable spinnerets particularly large. C. ricketti females are 28 mm long, with a disc diameter of 16 mm. Only the bottom portion of the burrow is silk lined.
A really interesting bit about hand models, including head shots so you can see what they really look like. I never knew that one could be a full-time hand model. Apparently it means using lots of lotion and wearing gloves all the time. Pictured above is Elizabeth Barbour:
During a photo shoot in 1983, Elizabeth Barbour says she “tilted her hand in such a way” that the photographers captured the perfect shot of her hand grazing a glass. The shot was the basis for the redesign of the Palmolive soap label, which is still around to this day. She was paid $650 for the shoot and calls the experience “one of the funniest things I’ve ever done.”
The Faces Behind the Famous Hands [BigMoney]