Boing Boing 

Watch ibex herds use a near-vertical dam as a salt lick

Lake Cingino in the Italian Alps has a near-vertical dam that attracts ibex herds, who climb out on the dam hundred of feet up to lick minerals from the rocks. More acrophobia-inducing footage below:

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Watch the northern lights captured in real time in 4K

Ronn Murray braved knee-deep snow and bitter Alaska cold to capture this pulsating green-hued aurora in 4K definition. Crank the resolution way up to 4K and enjoy a beautiful wintry nighttime hike with Ronn, Marketa, their dog Angus, and the universe unfolding above, then check out his highlight reel below.

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High winds blow waterfall back up

The River Kinder, in England's peak district, meets such high winds the flow is blasted back into the plateau. On better days, the Kinder Downfall drops 80 ft. Wikipedia:
Although usually little more than a trickle in summer, in spate conditions it is impressive. In certain wind conditions (notably when there is a strong west wind), the water is blown back on itself, and the resulting cloud of spray can be seen from several miles away. The Pennine Way crosses the River Kinder above Kinder Downfall.
waterfall-2 waterfall [via Reddit and This is Colossal]

Houses with roof trees

House_For_Trees_07 Devised by Vietnam's Vo Trong Nghia Architects as a response to the nation's rapid development: "only .25 percent of the land in Ho Chi Minh City is covered in vegetation," writes Wired's Margaret Rhodes. House_For_Trees_01

The new life of dead trees

Dani Tinker, with the National Wildlife Federation, on the wonderful weird things growing in that felled log out back.

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Wonderful 1970s educational documentaries

Robin Lehman is an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker who created a beautiful collection of 1970s educational films for young (and old) people, including "Wings and Things" about flight (clip above). Below, a clip from "Ocean Life." DVD collections of Lehman's films are available from Phoenix Learning Group. (via toys and techniques)

Integrating the great outdoors

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Black and hispanic Americans are chronically underrepresented in their use of the National Park System. Geographer Carolyn Finney is trying to change that.

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The Opal's Fire

Opals, a rainbow of fire locked in rock, are among the most wonderful of nature’s gifts. Maggie Koerth-Baker returns with the light truth about weird silica.

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The Honey Hunters of Nepal

Photo: Andrew Newey.


Photo: Andrew Newey.

Here's a stunning series of images by photographer Andrew Newey of Nepalese honey hunters. Newey spent two weeks among the Gurung ethnic group in central Nepal, documenting their traditional beekeeping practices.

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Video of bison running out of Yellowstone ≠ "OMG supervolcano eruption"

[Video Link] There's a video going around that shows a long line of bison trotting down a road in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park. Some people are pointing to this as a sign that the animals are hightailing it out of the park because the Yellowstone volcano is about to blow its top. But in the video above, Yellowstone Park Public Affairs Chief Al Nash explains that the bison and other animals are simply migrating to a lower elevation where they can find food, which they do every year in the dead of winter.

My takeaway from this video was a reminder that I have a box of mouth-watering Bison Bacon Cranberry Bars in my kitchen cabinet.

You are invited to Iowa to witness the dance of the prairie chickens

Come to Kellerton, Iowa this Saturday (just off I-35, near the Missouri border) and you can watch prairie chickens engage in elaborate mating dances. The action starts just before dawn and the chickens will probably be, *ahem*, spent by 9:30 am.

Snow leopard takes down a sheep

Check out this series of photos from India's Hemis National Park, where photographer Adam Riley watch a snow leopard stalk and hunt a pack of sheep. The real awesome part of these photos: Getting a look at just how effective that spotted camouflage can be. In a few shots, the leopard all but disappears against a background of rocky outcroppings.

Frog vocalization considered awesome

(via Seanan McGuire)

Friendly seals off the coast of England

"We've been visiting here for the last six years to say hello to the seal pups and we've never had this much interaction before," writes Jason Neilus, of a visit to the Farne Islands. "They were everywhere and all over us!!!! After a nightmare drive there with the worst traffic coupled with the imminent arrival of the St. Jude storm we didn't think this trip was going to be worth the effort but once again the seals made every second worthwhile." [Video Link via Arboath]

When ice attacks

This incredible video shot at Izatys Resort at Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota shows an "ice shove," where currents, winds, or temperature differences push chunks of lake ice onto land like a drifting iceberg. (via karenstan, thanks Sean Ness!)

And here is a CNN story from last year about this phenomena destroying homes in the Minnesota region. (Thanks, Jason!)

One of the last known photos of the Formosan Clouded Leopard is a picture of a vest

It's a nice-looking vest, but it does make a rather strong point about humans' role in animal extinctions. The Formosan Clouded Leopard was one of the animals declared extinct in 2013.

Penguins chasing a butterfly

[Video Link via Arbroath]

Venomous crustacean discovered

Dr Bjoern von Reumont: "This is the first time we have seen venom being used in crustaceans and the study adds a new major animal group to the roster of known venomous animals. Venoms are especially common in three of the four major groups of arthropods, such as insects. Crustaceans, however, are a glaring exception to the rule." [BBC]

Headline of the week concerns genitalia

"Being Around Predators Changes the Shape of This Fish’s Penis", by The Smithsonian Magazine's Rose Eveleth.

Excellent blog about backpacking the John Muir Trail

Tom Fassbender, an active member of Boing Boing's G+ community, hiked the John Muir Trail solo last year. It's over 200 miles long, and he's been writing entertaining and informative articles about his adventure on his blog, Ford's Basement. Tom writes about gear, food, clothing, maps, tents, water purification, footwear and foot care, trash, batteries and solar recharging, photography, first aid, sun protection, and crapping in the wilderness (and what do do with your crap).

Anyone thinking about embarking on a backpacking trip of similar length (or even weekend trips) will benefit from reading his posts. If you aren't, the posts are still great travel writing, and you'll learn about gadgets and other gear that might be useful in your daily life.

Backpacking the John Muir Trail

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What's inside the stomach of a mako shark?

Psst, hey kid. You wanna see some clips from the dissection of one of the largest mako sharks ever caught? Sure you do.

This NOAA video has amazing footage of the shark's stomach — so big it fills a tall Rubbermaid tub — and the even more amazing footage of scientists lifting an almost completely intact sea lion head out said shark's stomach.

What's the benefit? Studying the stuff in a shark's stomach helps us understand how different species are interrelated — which helps scientists figure out how to better manage the conservation of whole ecosystems. Essentially, write the good folks at Smithsonian.com, this is an example of scientists making valuable use out of a not-exactly-ideal situation. The shark was legally caught and killed by fishermen filming a scene for a reality TV show.

Video Link

Even the most adorable parts of nature can mess you up

This Shark Week, the seals of the world would like to take a moment to remind you that appearance isn't everything. Scary-looking creatures might not actually be that much of a threat to you. Adorable ones are not necessarily as cuddly as they let on.

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Why do mosquitoes prefer to eat some people over others?

If you seem to be the target of bloodsucking attention, there are two biological systems you can blame — your microbial flora, and/or your immune system. Your particular mix of skin bacteria play a big role in determining how well mosquitoes can smell you (and whether you smell delicious). Meanwhile, your immune system controls your allergic response — or lack thereof — to mosquito bites. If you never get red welts to go with the biting, it's easy to think that you're not getting bitten as often as someone who does.

Leeches vs. poisonous water snakes

Please enjoy this dispatch from a beautiful summer day in central Alabama — where babbling brooks are home to both poisonous cottonmouth snakes and metric crap-tons of leeches. Intrepid writer Jim Godwin manages to make the experience of wading in one such creek seem weirdly idyllic and is rewarded with photos of an almost Syfy-worthy showdown, in which a pack of leeches go after one of the snakes. Thanks leeches. Theeches.

A hunk o' burnin' lamprey love

New research shows that male sea lampreys (that's a sea lamprey mouth pictured above) entice females into reproduction with the help of a special bump of tissue. No, not that. Get your mind out of the gutter. The lamprey's "rope tissue" is fascinating, writes Science Codex, because it's made of heat-generating fat cells similar to the kind found on mammals that maintain their own internal body temps — something the lamprey can't do.

Image: Sea Lamprey Mouth, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from usfwspacific's photostream

Tapir penis: Almost as horrifying as echidna penis

In this not-exactly-safe-for-work video, two tapirs (a jungle-dwelling mammal, related to the rhinoceros) go at it with verve, while a nice family watches and makes what I assume to be amusing commentary.

As Matthew Cobb at Why Evolution is True discovered, this is only one entry in a whole genre of tapir sex videos and tapir penis photos.

Previously: The truly horrific penis of the echidna

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Meet the "Mad Hatterpillar"

This is Uraba lugens, a caterpillar that wears a bunch of its old heads on top of its current head like the world's most ridiculously macabre hat. The part of this photo where the otherwise horizontal caterpillar goes vertical? That's a pyramid of exoskeleton head capsules, stacked in descending order from smallest to largest.

The venerable Bug Girl has some better shots of this phenomenon at her blog, along with lots of great information explaining how the heck Uraba lugens ends up making this questionable fashion statement. She also offers this helpful advice:

If you do happen to see one of these, you should not touch it! Apparently these caterpillars are covered with highly itchy and irritating spines–which seems to make their chapeau of old heads a bit redundant.

Image: Uraba lugens, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from dhobern's photostream

Dolphins on acid (and other bad ideas)

How dosing dolphins with LSD (and giving dolphins hand jobs) helped shape our modern pop culture beliefs about dolphins as sources of healing — beliefs that, according to neuroscientist Lori Marino, can endanger both dolphins and the humans who come to them for help.

Why raindrops don't kill mosquitoes

For a mosquito, every summer storm is like a million Volkswagen Beetles falling from the sky. How do they survive the deadly deluge? Meghan Cetera explains at Popular Science.

How atheists find meaning and joy in nature

There doesn't have to be a pre-ordained meaning to the universe in order for it to mean something. That's one of the fun things about being human — we get to make meaning for ourselves. With that in mind, please read this lovely essay by Brian Switek about finding wonder and joy in the oft-denigrated idea of being "just" a product of time and chance.