Sea Pigs

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You’ve probably never before seen these strange slug-like creatures called sea pigs, but they are actually very abundant all over the world, especially in the northern Atlantic Ocean, eastern Pacific Ocean and in central and south America. These sea pigs, also called sea cucumbers or scotoplanes, live on the deep sea floor around 3.7 miles under the ocean surface. They tread water using their tube-like feet, of which they have from five to seven, and shove food into their mouths with their tentacles. They usually have around ten of these. Their name is most likely connected to their fat, gelatinous body.  

These unusual creatures travel in groups. The larger the group, the smaller the sea pigs, and the smaller the groups, the larger the sea pigs. A very sociable species, they make up the majority of the deep-sea population.

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A Truly Anti-Social Tree

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This is the Sandbox tree. Its trunk is covered in strong pointed spikes that come in varying degrees of size depending on the tree. It’s also sometimes called “Monkey-no-Climb” because, well, obviously, it would be inadvisable for a monkey to climb it. You might also hear it referred to as the Dynamite tree. This name is derived from the fact that its seeds are enclosed in pumpkin-like capsules (the fruit) that explode loudly shooting the seeds with enough force to injure anyone or anything foolish enough to be standing too close. (And by “too close” I mean less than 100 yards away.)

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While the fruit of this tree is reportedly tasty, its seeds, if eaten, will make you very sick. If all of that weren’t enough, this tree also comes with poisonous sap that is used by some natives of Central and South America, where this tree can be found, to incapacitate fish and even some mammals.    

I really don’t see how the Sandbox tree could be any clearer in its desire to be left alone. It seems to me that the wisest course of action would be to accede to its wishes and leave it be.  

The Mary River Turtle

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This is the Mary River Turtle. They’re called that because they live in the Mary River in Queensland, Australia. They’re great lovers of sunbathing, and because of their large feet, they’re incredibly fast swimmers. They have barbels under their chins that they use as feelers when searching for food along the riverbank. They also have long tails, webbed hands and feet with claws, and get this, when they’re underwater, they can breathe through their butts! Well, actually, they have gill-like structures on their bottoms called bursae. Because of these, they’re sometimes known as “bum-breathers.”

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This adorable turtle is probably the largest freshwater turtle, but unfortunately, it’s endangered. They used to be such popular pets that thousands of them were sold and separated from others of their kind. As a result, not as many baby Mary River Turtles were born.

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Not all have opted for the punk rock hair style that the one in the top picture sports. Some prefer buzz cuts, and some like to go bald, but whether they choose an algae hairstyle or the simple smoothness of their bare heads, you have to admit they are all pretty cute.

Diamonds, a Neptunian’s Best Friend

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Diamond rivers, diamond icebergs, diamond rain: some scientists believe that all of these can be found on the planet Neptune (and Uranus). Scientists have done experiments recreating the pressure and temperature that can be found on Neptune and discovered that when diamonds are liquefied and then re-solidified, they act much like water. The solid diamonds will float in the liquid diamond like an iceberg in water. Of course it wasn’t easy to melt the diamonds. It took pressure that is 40 million times greater than what is felt at sea-level on Earth. Coincidentally, that’s the level of pressure that diamonds would encounter on Neptune.

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As for the diamond rain, apparently, with enough heat and pressure, tiny diamonds can form in the methane in the atmosphere of Neptune. Based on research done at UC Berkeley, if pressurized liquid methane is heated to over 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, diamond dust can form and rain down on the planet.

Isn’t that cool? So, when’s the next rocket to Neptune? I want to book my ticket.

The Monkey Orchid

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I know it may be hard to believe, but this is actually a flower, not a monkey. Really! :) It’s called a “Monkey Orchid” or more scientifically “Dracula Simia.” And yes, the name Dracula comes from the infamous Count. It’s called this because of the two long spurs that resemble teeth.

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This monkey orchid grows mostly in high elevations of the Ecuadorian forest. They can also be seen in the forests of Peru and Columbia, in high elevations, of course. If you’re ever lucky enough to get near one, take a big sniff. Apparently, it smells like a ripe orange and is quite pleasant. 

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The Sheep Pig

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This is the Mangalitsa or the “sheep-pig.” It originated in Austria and Hungry. Technically a pig, its full, curly coat can cause some to mistake it for a sheep. This thick covering comes in three different colors: blond, brunette, and red. Unfortunately, it is now considered an endangered species. This is partly due to the fact that, according to people with experience in this area, it tastes really, really yummy.

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