Thursday, 31 December 2009

Quote of the Week - Rosalind Franklin- Science and everyday life

"Science and Everyday Life cannot and should not be separated" - Rosalind Franklin, British Scientist, 1920-1958

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The trials of life as a plant....

We hear a lot about the suffering of animals but it is rare that anyone talks about those of plants. This clever article talks about the amazing lengths plants go to, to avoid being eaten and their sophisticated biology-

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The Best of the Web- Today’s Link- Fish Parasite

Today I just have one link for you- to this very engaging, informative (and simultaneously disturbing) essay entitled "it pays to be nice to your tongue-eating isopod, unfortunate weaverfish"-

Monday, 28 December 2009

Link of the day- animals in utero

Some lovely pictures of elephant-, dog- and dolphin- foetuses in utero and of a duck embryo/"foetus" developping in its shell. The elephant, dog and dolphin pictures were widely publicised a while back, but I have not seen the duck pictures before.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Cheering-up bird 16- Vulturine Guineafowl

The cheering-up bird this week is the Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum).It is an African bird and the largest species of guineafowl still alive (i.e. extant). This image was taken in the Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna by Manfred Werner/Tsui. The source file and the licence [=Creative commons attribution share alike 3.0]can be found here- The wikipedia article on this weird creature- contains another picture showing the rest of this strange beast.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

distant Birds in the snow
(c) V. Neblik, 2009

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Resplendent Quetzal Link

I have an extra link for you this week- the link below will take you to a whole host of fantastic images of the resplendent quetzal, which must, surely, be the most magnificent of all birds-

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Best of the Web- Today's Links- Getting Brain Injuries, treating them and the wonders of ice

Good morning!

I have three links for you today, as usual- the first is a news story summarising research on brain injuries that shows that protein-rich drinks can help recovery from brain injuries. I always feel very 'depressed' about [posting about] this kind of animal-experiment, which is a huge debate, all by itself. In this case, I really just want to say that the biology behind it is interesting-

The second link is to a tabloid news story about what boxing and "wrestling" (WWE-style) does to the brain - the article talks about "chronic traumatic encephelopathy" and the finding of Tau proteins (associated with Alzheimer's disease) in the brain of a 33-year old wrestler-

Today's final link is more upbeat- I would like to highlight a blog with a series of pictures and an essay (for want of a better word) about some bizarre, hair-like ice formations (also known as "hair ice"). The more I learn about water and ice and their strange properties, the more impressed I am- sometimes, it seems, that the things right under our noses and all around us-like water- are just as interesting and weird as the world's more obscure and exotic substances:

Monday, 21 December 2009

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Cheering-up bird 15- Ornate Hawk Eagle

Good morning, Monday-Greetings to you!
Today's cheering-up-bird is an Ornate Hawk Eagle, Spizaetus ornatus. A powerful raptor, the ornate hawk eagle is found in tropical South America, where it lives in the crown of the rain forest.

This is an immature individual photographed in Darien National Park, Panama by "Mdf"- the original file and the licence (creative commons attribution share alike 3.0) is here- .

Friday, 18 December 2009

Image of the day

Two male apes....
(c) V. Neblik, 2009

Usually, when taking pictures of captive animals, the glass/bars/cage mars the photograph- in this case, it makes it...

The ape on the left lives in Antwerp Zoo, the ape (man) on the right (a zoo visitor) was standing behind me and to my right.

I've spent an interesting morning working through my photograph archives for the first of the Weridbeautiful postcard books, which is where I found this image. Finally seeing your (one's) ideas take shape into an end-product, as I am doing at the moment, is a wonderful feeling.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Quote of the Week- Shakespeare on dawn

"The gray-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night, Checkering the eastern clouds with streaks of light."- William Shakespeare.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Best of the Web- Today's Links- Robotic Hands, Hooded crows and bald parrots

The first of today's links is to a short story about an amputee being fitted with a robotic hand and learning to move it with his mind. This was the stuff of science fiction just a short time ago.

The second link is to a lovely image of a stand-off between a cat and one of my favourite bird species: a hooded crow, Corvus cornix. Actually, I have just spent this afternoon writing about the hooded crow for a feature in the "weirdbeautiful" book. Found across Eurasia, not only are they elegant, but, like a lot of the crow family, they are highly intelligent birds. The image is here-

Finally, thanks to the tabloids (in this case the British newspaper "The Sun") , we have a heart warming story about a bald parrot .... so, if you have ever wondered what a parrot would look like without any feathers (odd and more than a little ungainly, it has to be said), the images and story are here-

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Image of the day- Kingfisher

(c) V. Neblik, 2009.
This is an image of a Kingfisher amongst a bed of reeds that I took in Jerusalem Botanic Gardens back in October (there's an article about that trip, [here] ). Anyway, the point of this picture is really just that an apparently really brightly coloured animal - like a kingfisher- can sometimes all-but disappear into the background in its native environment. The bird is almost exactly in the centre of this image.

Best of the Year's Science

Good Afternoon! Welcome to Weirdbeautiful.

Lately I have been posting quite a few links, quotes and images, rather than longer articles. I seem to have come across a lot of relevant links for some reason recently.

In that spirit, then, I have 2 links today- the first is yahoo's list of "top 10 scientific discoveries of the year" (yes, it's that time of year again) -

and the second is this astronomy article, also on yahoo, talking about the discovery of some new planets in a solar system a little like our own-

Interview with Dr. Phil Bishop

One of the really wonderful things about my job is that I get to talk to people who interest me about things that interest them the most. This week, I got to interview New Zealand-based amphibian expert Dr. Phil Bishop for Practical Reptile Keeping magazine. So far, all of my interviews have been interesting experiences for me and proof- (if such a thing is needed)- that it is not just the fluffy and "cute" animals in the world that have "fans". The interview should be on sale in January but I'll post more about that nearer the time. In the meantime, you can find more information on amphibian conservation work in New Zealand [here] and Dr Bishop's work [here]

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Quote of the Week - Samuel Butler on "The Selfish Gene"

"A hen is only an egg's way of making another egg"
- Samuel Butler (British poet, 1835-1902)

This pithy quotation expresses one of the most important ideas that was to feature in Richard Dawkins' famous book, "The Selfish Gene", over 70 years later.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Best of the Web- Today’s Links

The first of today's links is the blog of Vermont-based wildbird enthusiast Chris Petrak : "Tails of Birding"
which is an entertaining read.

As an arachnophobe it is rare that I have anything positive at all to say about spiders and I certainly never expected to be encouraging people to look at pictures of them, but here is a picture of a very small (4mm) and extremely colourful spider that is as close as an arachnid may ever get to "cute" or beautiful-

- the beast in question is an Australian Peacock Spider- one of a group of highly coloured spider species- you can find a little more information and several more photographs of it here-

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Cheering-up bird 14- Gentoo Pengiun

Good morning and Happy Monday to you!

Today's cheering up bird is a Gentoo Pengiun- image here-

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Tiger Butterfly

The Plain Tiger Butterfly, Danaus chrysippus Image (c) V. Neblik, 2009. photographed near Caesaria, Israel.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Quote of the Week- Fred Hoyle- the way things are

"Things are the way they are because they were the way they were."
- Fred Hoyle, British Scientist (1915-2001)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Stunning Landscape- snow-capped mountains

Today I just want to post this link to this stunning image of snow-covered mountains in the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the Far East of Russia. The photographer is Natalie Fed.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Best of the web: Today’s links

It is not hard to find good wildlife images on the internet, but there are some really magnificent pictures of birds and flowers on this flikr photostream-

There’s a lovely picture of the truly ridiculous-looking “Madagascan leaf-nosed snake” (Langaha madagascariensis) here-
Generally, in the animal kingdom, it is the males who have the more outlandish ornaments – horns, headwires, peacock’s tails and so on- but in this case, the males have a comparatively discrete thin, pointed snouts, making them look like twigs, whilst the females have the more elaborate leaf-shaped noses for which the species is famous. These weird creatures live on tree-living animals, such as lizards, frogs and bird nestlings and grow to around a metre long.

This week’s educational link is to this article on snakes of Madagascar -