Natural World

The Last Passenger Pigeon

August 24, 2014
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The Last Passenger Pigeon

In the Spring of 1860, a flock estimated at 3.7 billion Passenger Pigeons flew over Ontario. Eleven years later, some 136 million breeding pairs nested in Wisconsin, with birds landing in such large numbers that limbs were often sheared off the trees. With numbers like that, it’s hardly surprising that the bird was a staple…

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America’s Loneliest Road

August 8, 2014
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America’s Loneliest Road

Running from Ocean City, Maryland on the U.S. east coast all the way to Sacramento in California, U.S. Route 50 cuts an impressive swathe through alpine forests, desert valleys, ghost towns and petroglyphs. It’s the bit that crosses a 287-mile stretch of Nevada, from Ely to Fernley, that prompted the author of a 1986 Life…

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Bouvet Island – ‘The Last Place on Earth’

October 10, 2013
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Bouvetøya

It seems fitting that the most isolated spot on the planet should be an inhospitable, glacier-covered rock sitting smack in the path of the ‘furious fifties’ storm winds. More than 1700 and 2500 kms respectively from nearest neighbours Antarctica and Cape Agulhus (South Africa) Bouvet Island is so remote that, even after its initial discovery…

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The World’s Loneliest Tree

July 31, 2013
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The World’s Loneliest Tree

At 400kms from its nearest neighbour, L’Arbre du Ténéré (The Tree of Ténéré) was once considered the most isolated tree on earth. A lone landmark for caravan routes through the Ténéré region of the Sahara desert, it guided travellers en route to Algiers towards a 40m deep well nearby. The tree, an Acacia, was a…

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The Alfred Denny Museum

February 22, 2013
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The Alfred Denny Museum

Since opening its doors to students in 1905, the Alfred Denny Zoology Museum at Sheffield University remained a largely unknown cabinet of curiosities in the north of England – Until September 2012, when it opened to the public, and delights such as Arthur the Half-Hedgehog, fossilised flying dinousaurs, the Terror Bird and a model skull…

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The world’s oldest pot plant

January 25, 2013
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The world’s oldest pot plant

When Francis Masson brought this giant cycad from South Africa to Kew Gardens in 1775, it didn’t get to shrivel up in a small pot on the windowsill next to the sink. On the contrary, when the world-famous gardens opened its Palm House in 1848, it was one of the first plants to be moved…

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Chaunacops colaratus

January 25, 2013
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Chaunacops colaratus

First described from a dead specimen in 1899, Chaunacops colaratus was not seen alive in its natural habitat until August 2002, when researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarian Research Institute caught it on video… A member of the angler fish family, the fish attracts prey using a mop-like lure (called an ‘esca’) dangling from its…

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The Manchester Moth

January 24, 2013
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One of only three known examples of a Manchester Moth

                  A scientific conundrum that survives to this day…

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