and watch the summer waste away: Atmosphere over the Pacific, photographed by GOES-15, autumn 2014.
16 frames over 48 hours, 30th September-1st October 2014. Each frame composed of 2 images; 1 in visible light, 1 in infrared. Infrared coverage is continuous; the visible light coverage moves from right to left as sunlight sweeps across the ocean, illuminating the cloud tops.
In the right light, you can just see a ghostly image the west coast of North America toward top right.
"In British-ruled, cobra-infested India, a bounty was offered for cobra-skins, so enterprising folks started breeding cobras, leading to the program’s cancellation, whereupon all those farmed cobras were released into the wild, a net increase in cobra population. That’s not the only example, either.”
Comet 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko, imaged by the Rosetta spacecraft in August 2014. Rosetta is the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, it has been traveling for more than 10 years to reach 67P, which is currently between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Later this year Rosetta will deploy a lander named Philae to the surface of the comet to determine its composition. Observations of 67P will continue through its closest approach to the Sun in August 2015, revealing the changes that occur as the temperature of the comet increases.
Meet Anoxycalyx joubini, an Antarctic volcano sponge (it’s the one not wearing a wetsuit). It’s estimated that some slow-growing specimens may be up to 15,000 years old, making them the oldest living animals on Earth. Most live in such deep, frigid waters that they will never be seen face-to-face by human divers, whose entire known history has occurred in less than one spongy lifetime.
Don’t trust your ears, because this bird’s a lyre.
An Australian lyrebird to be precise, one of nature’s most unbelievable vocal mimics. In the above video, narrated by David Attenborough, a lyrebird mimics a vast array of human sounds, including a camera shutter and a chainsaw. Here’s another lyrebird from the Adelaide zoo mimicking construction sounds. Although this sort of mechano-mimicry is very rare in the wild, it showcases the incredible ability of this bird (and others) to learn and recreate sounds.
This aptly nicknamed “superb lyrebird” has perhaps the most complex syrinx (the birdy version of vocal cords) of any songbird. When males are wooing females during the mating season, they use their mimicry of other bird calls (and occasionally power tools) as a means of vocal competition. If you added a balcony to the mix, it’s almost like something from a romantic Shakespeare scene. But I doth anthropomorphize too much…
One notable example: In 1969, an Australian park ranger recorded a lyrebird singing a rather flute-like tune. He sent that recording to songbird researcher Norman Robinson. Here he is in a radio interview with Australian Broadcasting Corp. sharing some lyrebird flute mimicry:
From the park ranger’s original recordings, Robinson was able to pick out two separate popular songs from the 1930’s, “Keel’s Row” and “The Mosquito Dance.” Turns out that decades earlier, a flute-playing farmer had taken that lyrebird as a pet, and the bird “downloaded” the tunes of its human companion into its neural songbook.
Decades after it was released to the wild, that lyrebird sang lost pop songs, a feathered minstrel of the forest. Sure, it didn’t know what it was mimicking, but I’d say it’s a case of culture… for the birds.