The Rose of Jericho (Selaginella lepidophylla) is a species of desert moss that has the amazing ability to ‘resurrect’ itself after bouts of extreme dehydration lasting months or even years. After just a few hours of exposure to moisture the plants burst to life, uncurling from a tight ball of dry leaves to a green flower-like shape. Videographer Sean Steininger shot this timelapse of several plants as he exposed them to water. (via Cause, Science!)
Nestled in Northeast India next to the Brahmaputra River sits Majuli Island, a giant sandbar that happens to be the largest river island on Earth, home to some 150,000 people. It is also the location of the 1,360 acre Molai Forest, one of the most unusual woodlands in the world for the incredible fact that it was planted by a single man. Since 1979, forestry worker Jadav Payeng has dedicated his life to planting trees on the island, creating a forest that has surpassed the scale of New York’s Central Park.
While home to such a large population, rapidly increasing erosion over the last 100 years has reduced the land mass of Majuli Island to less than half. Spurred by the dire situation, Payeng transformed himself into a modern day Johnny Appleseed and singlehandedly planted thousands upon thousands of plants, including 300 hectares of bamboo.
Payeng’s work has been credited with significantly fortifying the island, while providing a habitat for several endangered animals which have returned to the area; a herd of nearly 100 elephants (which has now given birth to an additional ten), Bengal tigers, and a species of vulture that hasn’t been seen on the island in over 40 years. Gives you more than a little hope for the world, doesn’t it?
Filmmaker William Douglas McMaster recently wrote and directed this beautiful documentary short titled Forest Man from the perspective of Payeng’s friend, photographer Jitu Kalita. The project was funded in part last year through Kickstarter. The video is a bit longer than what we usually see here on Colossal, but completely worth your time. (via Gizmodo)
Earlier this year we were thrilled to feature the work of Venezuelan artist Rafael Araujo who works with rulers and protractors to create fascinating drawings of shells, butterflies, and other natural objects supported by a fictional geometric framework. With a strong background in architectural drafting, he renders each piece without the the aid of a computer using pen and ink on canvas with acrylic paint.
After appearing here on Colossal and several other publications, Araujo was barraged with requests for prints, and we immediately began to discuss the possibility of bringing his work to the Colossal Shop. I’m extremely excited to announce that we have teamed up with iolabs to print several of his pieces for the first time, with additional works coming in the near future. Head over to the Colossal Shop to learn more.
The Badlands are a type of parched, sunbaked terrain characterized by jagged rock, cracked earth and, of course, minimal vegetation. It’s a harsh environment of lifeless wasteland but there is also good news to be found in the badlands. For the patient observer, like photographer Guy Tal, there is a delicate beauty that reveals itself only so often. “On rare years,” says Tal, describing his series of photos taken in the American West, “wildflowers burst into stunning display of color, transforming the desert into a veritable garden for just few precious days.” The reason, apparently, is that vegetation in the region has adapted to the climate. With just a tiny bit of moisture the desert can transform into a colorful garden of bright purple and yellow. You can see more photos on Tal’s website, or purchase his book More Than a Rock. (via Bored Panda)
Update: According to @happyhillers these are Scorpionweed and Beeplant flowers.
Leratiomyces sp. / Found in Booyong Reserve, Booyong, NSW
Cyptotrama aspratum or Gold tuft
Mauve splitting waxcap
Marasmius sp. / Marasmius haematocephalus
To think any one of these lifeforms exists in our galaxy, let alone on our planet, simply boggles the mind. Photographer Steve Axford lives and works in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales in Australia where he spends his time documenting the living world around him, often traveling to remote locations to seek out rare animals, plants, and even people. But it’s his work tracking down some of the world’s strangest and brilliantly diverse mushrooms and other fungi that has resulted in an audience of online followers who stalk his work on Flickr and SmugMug to see what he’s captured next.
Axford shares via email that most of the mushrooms seen here were photographed around his home and are sub-tropical fungi, but many were also taken in Victoria and Tasmania and are classified as temperate fungi. The temperate fungi are well-known and documented, but the tropical species are much less known and some may have never been photographed before. Mushrooms like the Hairy Mycena and the blue leratiomyces have most likely never been found on the Australian mainland before, and have certainly never been photographed in an artistic way as you’re seeing here.
It was painfully difficult not to include more of Axford’s photography here, so I urge you to explorefurther. All photos courtesy the photographer. (via Awkward Situationist)
You know when you’re horsing around at the beach and accidentally swallow a nasty gulp of salt water? Well I hate to break it to you but that foul taste wasn’t just salt. Photographer David Littschwager captured this amazing shot of a single drop of seawater magnified 25 times to reveal an entire ecosystem of crab larva, diatoms, bacteria, fish eggs, zooplankton, and even worms. Read more about what you probably don’t want to know at Dive Shield. We do admit the little crab larva in the lower right-hand corner is pretty darned cute. (via Lost at E Minor)
Update: Prints of this photograph are available at Art.com.
Update #2: Via JellyWatch, Littschwager offers a bit of clarification about the image.
Marine Microfauna – part of the contents of one dip of a hand net. The magnification was 2x life size, meaning that the actual frame size was a half inch high, so depending on how big the image is on your screen you can calculate the magnification as you see it. To keep as much focus as possible the sample is in as little water as possible just covering the bottom of a 60mm petri dish. That takes about 15 drops of water, but you are only seeing a very small portion of the total sample.
La Llareta (up to 3,000 years old; Atacama Desert, Chile)
Spruce Gran Picea #0909 – 11A07 (9,550 years old; Fulufjället, Sweden)
Welwitschia Mirabilis #0707-22411 (2,000 years old; Namib-Naukluft Desert, Namibia)
Antarctic Moss #0212-7B33 (5,500 years old; Elephant Island, Antarctica)
Jōmon Sugi, Japanese Cedar #0704-002 (2,180-7,000 years old; Yakushima, Japan
Underground Forest #0707-10333 (13,000 years old; Pretoria South Africa) DECEASED
Since 2004, Brooklyn-based contemporary artist Rachel Sussman has researched, collaborated with biologists, and braved some of the world’s harshest climates from Antarctica to the Mojave Desert in order to photograph the oldest continuously living organisms on Earth. This includes plants like Pando, the “Trembling Giant,” a colony of aspens in Utah with a massive underground root system estimated to be around 80,000 years old. Or the dense Llareta plants in South America that grow 1.5 centimeters anually and live over 3,000 years. This is the realm of life where time is measured in millennia, and where despite such astonishing longevity, ecosystems are now threatened due to climate change and human encroachment.
Sussman’s photographs have now been gathered together for the first time in The Oldest Living Things in the World, a new book published by the University of Chicago Press. Sitting at the intersection of art, science, and travelogue, the book details her adventures in tracking down each subject and relays the valuable scientific work done by scientists to understand them. It includes 124 photographs, 30 essays, infographics and forewords by Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Carl Zimmer.