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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Sierra Magazine posted their picks of "Earth's Weirdest Landscapes." Some I was familiar with, like the Fly Geyser in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, California's Mono Lake, and Hawaii's Kilauea volcano. But others are new-to-me strange spots that I would be delighted to explore. For example, above is Lake Hillier in Western Australia's Recherche Archipelago. Yes, it really is pink. According too Sierra, "some believe (the hue) comes from a dye produced by two microorganisms called Halobacteria and Dunaliella salina, while others suspect the red halophilic bacteria that thrive in the lake's salt deposits." Earth's Weirdest Landscapes (Thanks, Orli Cotel!)