As a kid, I was fascinated by the photos of the extinct quagga that were bolted to the sides of the zebra pen at the Topeka Zoo. I knew about extinction, of course. Dinosaurs were extinct. And I knew that buffalo had been shot by the 1000s a long time ago and might have become extinct, if they hadn't been protected.
But I remember the quagga being a little shocking, nonetheless. Here was an animal, that had been alive recently enough to be photographed—not just drawn, like some imaginary beastie—but which no longer existed. Not even one. Not anywhere. It probably didn't hurt that the quagga looked just different enough for little me to feel it as a loss. It wasn't quite a horse. Not quite a zebra. And I would never see one, except as a photo.
It was a weird, existential sort of feeling, which I felt again while watching this video of a thylacine, also called Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf. This animal is actually a marsupial, not directly related to wolves (or big cats). Any similarity you see is purely convergent evolution at work—different species adapting to similar environmental niches. Not surprisingly, like the wild dogs they resemble, thylacines were hunted with abandon in the 19th and 20th centuries, because of the threat they posed to domesticated herd animals. The last confirmed* wild thylacine was killed in 1930. The last captive one died six years after that. That's him, a male sometimes referred to as "Benjamin" in this video, shot in 1933.
Thirty years ago today, the Voyager 1 spaceprobe had completed its ncounters with the outer planets and was careening out of our solar system. The time came to shut off the probes’ cameras to preserve power and memory for the other onboard scientific instruments. But before engineers flipped the switch, one last photo opportunity was […]
While scientists have studied Moon rocks for 50 years, researchers have for the first time conducted deep analysis on a single grain of lunar dust, atom by atom. Using a common materials science technique called atom probe tomography that’s not widely used by geologists, the Chicago Field Museum’s Jennika Greer and colleagues probed the grain […]
This is so amazing. Watch what happens when a blacksmithing anvil is lowered into a large vat of pure liquid mercury. Update: One of our readers posted the link to the original video in the comments. I have replaced the animated GIF. Thanks, Crispy75. [H/t Alberto Gaitán via Bryce Lynch] Image: Screengrab from GIF
You hear the stories all the time. You know the ones about how a new vehicle instantly loses hundreds, even thousands of dollars in value the second a new owner drives it off the lot. Depreciation is a killer, especially when the item itself works just as well — or maybe even better than all […]
Spring cleaning time is right around the corner, and, if we’re being honest, the whole thing is kind of a drag. But keeping your home clean in any season is necessary for both health and happiness, so why not make it a little less daunting? The correct tools help make any work easier, and that’s […]
Quality knives matter — and in more ways than you might expect. At the most basic level, having a functioning set of proper kitchen knives means you can actually get in a kitchen, start putting together a meal and have the right tools to handle all tasks. From the blunt force of the clever to […]