Dendrocnide moroides. The plant that causes excruciating pain

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Australia has become an Internet meme because of the unique creatures that live there, including some of the world’s most venomous and lethal species. This danger has arisen in response to evolutionary pressures and the particular biotic and abiotic conditions of Terra Australis. Even the most adorable animal could pose a serious threat to our … Read more

Is it dangerous to sleep with plants? Here’s what science says

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The belief that sleeping with plants is dangerous because they deprive us of oxygen or gas us with the carbon dioxide resulting from their respiration is widespread. Many people do not want to have plants in their bedroom to avoid competing against a living being considered a relentless monopolizer of the breathable air of the … Read more

Discovering ambergris, the scent of the oceans

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You may not be aware of it, but while strolling along the beach you might inadvertently come across one of the most valuable substances in the ocean: ambergris, also known as “floating gold”. It is an amorphous mass of variable size and waxy texture reminiscent of vegetable amber, with colors that can range from black … Read more

The Nizaris (Part 2). Debunking the legends of the Assassins


The Nizaris have managed to perpetuate themselves to this day along with the myths and the black legend that corrupt their true history. All these fables arose in the Middle Ages, first from rival Muslim groups and then from Crusaders and European chroniclers. Fueled by fascination, fear, ignorance or, merely, the desire to discredit, these … Read more

The Nizaris (Part 1): The Muslim group that inspired Assassin’s Creed


Sheltered in impregnable mountain fortresses, the Nizaris, a mysterious Muslim group spread throughout Iran and Syria, aroused the fear and respect of their enemies in the Middle Ages. It is said that the most loyal devotees complied unquestioningly with the commands of their leader, the enigmatic “Old Man of the Mountain,” who dispatched them on … Read more

The places with the longest names in the world

“Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch”. No, it’s not that the cat took a walk on my keyboard. It is the name of a small village on Anglesey island, Wales, and is the longest place name in Britain and the longest (accepted) village name in the world. Few dare to pronounce it. Most people usually prefer to use one of … Read more

The island governed by Spain and France on which Velázquez organized a wedding


Interrupting the course of the Bidasoa River and located practically at its mouth is this modest and small oval-shaped islet, whose jurisdiction is divided between the city of Irun (Basque Country, Spain) and the French commune of Hendaye. So it belongs to two countries simultaneously? Yes, it does. In fact, it is the smallest condominium … Read more

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

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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

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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

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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

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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