Category: Science

Face of a Hummingbird Resembles a Baby Octopus 

As part of a fascinating courting behavior, this Costa’s hummingbird flares the feathers around its face to create a poof of iridescent pink that bears an uncanny resemblance to the shape of a cartoonish baby octopus. The near complete lack of interest from the female bird in this video is almost comical, there’s a metaphor here. (via Geyser of Awesome)

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A Macro Timelapse Highlights the Micro Movements of Spectacularly Colored Coral 

Interested in documenting one of the oldest animals on Earth, Barcelona-based production company myLapse set to capture the minimal movements of brightly colored coral, recording actions rarely seen by the human eye. The short film took nearly 25,000 individual images of the marine invertebrates to compose, and photography of species, such as the Acanthophyllia, Trachyphyllia, Heteropsammia cochlea, Physogyra, took over a year.

The production team hopes the film attracts attention to the Great Barrier Reef, encouraging watchers to take a deeper interest in one of the natural wonders of the world that is being rapidly bleached due to climate change. You can see more up-close images of the coral species featured in this film on Flickr. (via Sploid)

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A “Quick Perspective” on the Scale of the Manmade and Natural Marvels That Surround Us 

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If the Willis Tower (1,729 ft) was placed into Russia’s Mir Mine, the tip would only stick out 7 feet past ground level. (All images via Kevin Wisbeth)

College student Kevin Wisbeth, creator of the Youtube series “A Quick Perspective,” puts size in layman’s terms for those who might not be able to conceptualize the true width of a B-2 Bomber’s wings, or understand the immense depth of Russia’s largest mine. Wisbeth digitally composes manmade structures and natural wonders to put into context each of their sizes, seamlessly fitting the world’s largest oil tanker into New York’s Central Park and hovering the M-1 Rocket motor just above a Smart Car.

You can watch the digital presentations of Wisbeth’s comparisons on his Youtube channel. (via Quipsologies)

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If the Seawise Giant (1,504 ft), the largest oil tanker ever produced, was placed into the main lake in New York City’s Central Park, it would only have 350 feet of extra room in the front and back of the tanker.

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The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest standing structure in the world (almost measuring 2,722 feet tall). If placed in New York City, it would stretch almost 1,000 feet past the One World Trade center and almost 1,300 feet taller than the Empire State Building.

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If the Titanic (882 ft) was placed on the deck of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, the ship would have 210 feet of deck room left.

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The B-2 Bomber is one of the most advanced and most expensive airplanes in the world. The wingspan of a B-2 is 172 feet, which is 12 feet wider than an NFL football field.

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Prehistoric bugs were larger than average day bugs due to the higher oxygen levels. The Pulmonoscorpius kirktonensis was a species of scorpion that grew to 24 inches long, or the size of a normal house cat.

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The M-1 Rocket motor was designed back in the 1950s for the NASA space program and would have been the biggest motor ever built had it been constructed. It’s designed diameter was 14 feet, or wide enough to fully cover a Smart Car with 2 feet to spare on either side.

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The Death Star’s estimated width is around 99 miles across, or around 1/4th the length of Florida.

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Photographer Nicky Bay Documents Mirror Spiders Adjusting their Silver Plates to Appear More Reflective 

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All photos © Nicky Bay.

For the last several years Singapore-based photographer Nicky Bay (previously here and here) has been documenting the life of the mirror spider, an unusual arthropod whose abdomen is covered in bright reflective panels that appear almost metallic. Bay recently noticed that some of the spiders exhibit unusual behavior in addition to their shiny appearance: apparently the spiders are able manipulate the mirrors in situations where they might feel threatened. In some instances the gaps between the silver plates almost completely disappear creating a larger reflective surface.

Bay continues to update his original post about the mirror spiders on his blog with new photography, and you can see a massive archive of macro insect photos on Flickr.

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A Caiman Wearing a Crown of Butterflies Photographed by Mark Cowan 

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Photograph by Mark Cowan

While traveling through the Amazon to study reptile and amphibian diversity with the Herpetology Division at the University of Michigan, photographer Mark Cowan happened upon a strange sight: a caiman whose head was nearly covered in butterflies. The phenomenon itself isn’t particularly unusual, salt is critical to the survival of many creatures like butterflies and bees who sometimes drink tears from reptiles in regions where the mineral is scarce (we’ve seen the same thing happen with turtles). What made this sight so unusual was seeing the butterflies organize themselves into three different species groups atop the caiman’s head.

Uh, also, that side eye!

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Cowan’s photograph received special commendation from the 2016 Royal Society Publishing photography competition, you can see the rest of this year’s finalists here.

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A Dramatic Roll Cloud Briefly Overtakes Chicago 

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Last night a cold front rolled through Chicago, and lucky for us art consultant Amy King was on the lakefront and stopped to shoot an amazing 5-second timelapse as a low-hanging roll cloud moved ominously down the shoreline. So, what’s a roll cloud? Meteorologist Cheryl Scott explains:

What is a Roll Cloud and how does it form? It’s a low, horizontal, tube-shaped cloud. It is formed by winds changing speed/direction when the air temperature reverses its state (resulting in warm air on top of cool air). The shear in the atmosphere sets up a rolling motion, think [of a] rolling pin used in a baking.

You can read a bit more about roll clouds—also called an Arcus Cloud—on Wikipedia. (via @kingartcollective)

A video posted by Colossal (@colossal) on

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