The frog with hairs that has the power of Wolverine

Rana peluda

It looks like this frog (Trichobatrachus robustus) has its body wrapped in tufts of hair. These hair-like filaments are very fine, highly vascularized extensions of the skin actually. Their function is to increase the surface area of the skin to increase gas exchange (O2-CO2). Only males possess these extensions and they appear on the hind … Read more

Solenodon and almiquí: small but tough

Solenodonte de la española - almiqui de cuba-solenodon cubanus-solenodon paradaxus-mamiferos venenosos

These tiny mammals are endemic to the island of Hispaniola (Solenodon paradoxus), where they are known as solenodonts, and to Cuba (Atopogale cubana), where they are called almiquí. They are considered living fossils. They resemble shrews. In fact, they are one of their closest relatives along with moles. They measure about 30 cm (plus about … Read more

A stinky plant that produces heat? The strange case of Amorphophallus titanum

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It is one of the most peculiar plants in the world. For example, it has the largest known unbranched inflorescence in the plant kingdom. Discovered in 1878 by the Italian naturalist Odoardo Beccari, it is popularly known as titan arum or “bunga bangkai”. The latter term, meaning “corpse flower”, is Indonesian, which gives us some … Read more

Amanita phalloides: the most poisonous mushroom in the world

amanita phalloides - seta mas venenosa del mundo - veneno - hongos - fungi

It is popularly known as death cap. Despite its harmless appearance, Amanita phalloides is considered the most poisonous mushroom in the world (or at least one of the most dangerous), and this is no exaggeration. In fact, more than 90% of fatal mushroom poisonings are attributed to it. A small portion of this mushroom can … Read more

The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis): the Godzilla of lizards

dragon de komodo-varanus komodoensis-godzilla-reproduccion por partenogenesis

DIET AND LIFESTYLE The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), a truly imposing animal, is the largest saurian in existence today. Adult males can exceed 3.5 meters and their weight can exceed 90 kg. At birth they measure 45 cm and are exclusively arboreal. They feed mainly on carrion, but also hunt and ambush their prey, mainly … Read more

Tear drinkers. The mystery of lachryphagy

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When we come across horses or cows, we often see them trying to get rid of the annoying insects that flutter around their eyes. What are they doing there? Are they looking for something? The next time you witness this phenomenon, remember this term: “lachryphagy”, because you are probably witnessing these insects trying to feed … Read more

The esoteric passions of Alfred Russel Wallace, the father of natural selection.

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The exciting biography of the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection together with Charles Darwin is, in general, little known, since he is usually associated only with this scientific milestone. However, other equally important scientific contributions are usually forgotten, as well as his adherence to mesmerism and Spiritualism, issues that would end … Read more

Human echolocation: the real BATMEN

daniel kish-ben underwood-brian bushway-ecolocalizacion humana-ecolocacion humana-murcielagos-delfines-ciegos-invidentes

Who hasn’t ever imagined enjoying the “superpower” of bats? These animals (as well as dolphins, various species of whales and some birds) emit sounds in the form of clicks that bounce off surfaces and bodies in the environment. The returned echo is picked up by specialized organs and processed by the brain. In this way, … Read more

What does The Great Wave off Kanagawa really represent?

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The superstitions and the great respect that sailors show to the unfathomable ocean are understandable. It remains that great unknown containing unexpected surprises and dangers. It is true that some phenomena can be predicted in advance thanks to known physical patterns and processes, but others may manifest themselves more abruptly and unexpectedly. Ernest Shackleton, the … Read more

The nakedness of Lady Godiva

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The monks Roger of Wendover, in his 12th century Chronicle, and Mathew Paris, in the early 13th century, relate that an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman of exuberant beauty and greater goodness rode naked  on a beautiful snowy steed with her hair as her only covering with the mission of persuading her husband to lower the abusive taxes … Read more

The legend that inspired the Jägermeister logo

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Jägermeister is a herbal liqueur which has become quite popular for some time now, especially among the young public. There are some enigmas surrounding the famous brand, starting with its ingredients, jealously hidden by the company. As with Coca Cola, only some of the 56 herbs, roots and flowers that make up its formula have … Read more

The crown of Saint Wenceslas: the great Czech relic

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Each nation has its own particular treasures, so considered for their symbolic and patrimonial value rather than for the superficial monetary value they may have (which is often invaluable). They are symbols that harbor the pride and historical essence of a country and, for this reason, are revered by the population. The crown of St. … Read more

The Carrington event: the great solar deflagration

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It was the end of August 1859. Those who looked at the sky from certain latitudes saw strange lights, unusual northern and southern auroras that should not be there, while, at the same time, the Sun was progressively filling with “small” moles. The inhabitants of Cuba or Honolulu could see the spectral lights of the … Read more

West Ford Project: Wrapping the Earth with needles

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The neurotic fear during the Cold War against enemy attack led the world powers to develop all sorts of extravagant projects to defend themselves and outdo each other. Hypocritically cloaked under the umbrella of scientific research, these preventive measures actually responded to a military emergency. It was in this context that the West Ford Project … Read more

The end of a myth: Medieval armors allowed for agile movements

armaduras permitian movimientos agiles-armaduras de placas-edad media- jean le maingre boucicault-ciencia hiistorica-arqueologia

It is overwhelming to see medieval knights in the movies, loaded with their heavy plate armor and fighting to the death in some crude battle. Canned in kilos of steel, they could at best move around like clumsy robots, right? Well, it’s time to abandon this distressing vision, because these armors were made to provide … Read more

The Spanish Chernobyl: a silenced negligence

accidente nuclear 1970 - Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas - CIEMAT - madrid - españa - junta de energia nuclear - franquismo - ocultacion de informacion - francisco franco-manzanares jarama y tajo - contaminacion radiactiva - Centro Nacional de Energía Nuclear

Social panic is a great excuse, a subterfuge used by cowards to avoid disclosing sensitive information. Data that, if known, rather than generating collective fear, would help to save lives. From Saturday, November 7, 1970 onwards, one of these informative censorships spread, as much or more than the trail of harmful radioactive isotopes that leaked … Read more

The crusade of Cerro Belmonte: the Madrid neighborhood that became independent from Spain

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1990 was a tremendously turbulent year for Madrid and, more specifically, for one of its neighborhoods: Cerro Belmonte. The residents of the humble but tenacious neighborhood were unwilling to comply with a speculative plan supported by the Madrid City Council to expropriate and evict 125 families in exchange for building luxury villas. Thus, the first … Read more

Lukasa: the ancestral African memory boards

lukasa-mbudye-sociedad secreta-tarjeta de memoria africana-africa-conocimientos perdidos-mensajes secretos-pueblo luba

Human beings need to archive information. This may be due to his innate curiosity and his unstoppable desire to know and not to forget. This is why we invented data storage media, designed to replace the oral transmission of knowledge, which is imperfect and subject to alterations. We quickly think of hard disks or USB … Read more

Asteroids, meteors, bolids, meteorites, comets… What are their differences

diferencias entre asteroide, meteoro, meteoroide, meteorito-astronomia-oumuamua-la daga de tutankamon esta hecha de meteorito-bolido de chelyabinsk-cometa Halley

Although space may seem a distressing and empty place, the truth is that it is full of millions of roaming travelers that, from time to time, can be seen from Earth. There are several types of them, and you’ve probably wondered more than once how to distinguish them. Here are some clues: Asteroids: rocky masses … Read more