Giant string-like creature composed of "millions of interconnected clones" found off the coast of Australia

I'm currently re-discovering Jeff Van Der Meer's Area X / Southern Reach Trilogy via Audible, because I thought a familiar Weird Sci-Fi story about an invisible lifeform that kind of ambiently inhabits the world around us, changing things in imperceptible ways until it's too late, would be a relaxing respite from the chaotic news of COVID-19.

That may have been a bad decision. I'm even more terrified now. Then I learned about this in Newsweek:

A team aboard the RV Falkor—the flagship research vessel of the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI)—spotted the organism, a type of siphonophore known as Apolemia, using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in a deep-sea environment known as the Ningaloo Canyons.

[…]

Resembling a long piece of string, siphonophores—a group of creatures related to jellyfish and corals—may look like one organism, but they are actually made up of many thousands of individual, specialized clones that come together to form a single entity.

With the help of lasers mounted onto their ROV—known as SuBastian—the Falkor scientists estimated that this siphonophore's outer ring measured 49 feet in diameter, suggesting that this section alone is 154 foot in length, or about as tall as an 11-story building.

As I've now learned, these things are in fact "colonial organisms," rather than individual beings. Read the rest

'Are you real?' Putin swears he doesn't have a body double

Sure, Jan.

Ancient redwoods cloned and replanted

The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has been cloning giant redwoods from genetic material still living in their stumps, and planting them around the world.

e360@Yale reports:

Today, giant stumps of ancient redwoods dot the landscape from Oregon to northern California, reminders of the old-growth forest that used to stretch across the Pacific Northwest. Many arborists assumed these stumps were dead, but Milarch and his son, Jake, discovered living tissue growing from the trees’ roots, material known as baseless or stump sprouts. The Milarchs collected DNA from stumps of five giant coast redwoods, all larger than the largest tree living today. These included a giant sequoia known as General Sherman with a 25-foot diameter.

They then used this genetic material to grow dozens of saplings, clones of the ancient trees, a process that takes approximately two-and-a-half-years. The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has already planted nearly 100 of these saplings in the Eden Project garden in Cornwall, England, a couple hundred in Oregon, and is organizing further groves of saplings in nine other countries.

“These saplings have extraordinary potential to purify our air, water, and soil for generations to come,” Milarch said. “We hope [the San Francisco] ‘super grove,’ which has the capability to become an eternal forest, is allowed to grow unmolested by manmade or natural disasters and thus propagate forever.”

(Thanks, John Stewart!) Read the rest

Bizarre photos from the East German spy archives

Wired posted a selection of photos from Simon Menner's new book, Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives, and they're so very bizarre.

During the Communist era, East Germany employed 300,000 spies to observe its own citizens; more per capita than any other totalitarian government in recent history. First opened in 1992, the archives of the Stasi contain 1.4 million photographs and over 50 miles of documents

The set contains far weirder images than the above. But this one contains Stasi Clones of Mark Frauenfelder and Steve Jobs practicing martial arts, so it is the one that I have chosen. Read the rest

Spot the difference: jewelry edition

On the left, a jewelry design by TattyDevine. On the right, one sold by Claire's. I suspect that it's a fairly generic motif, but that really is very close to an exact rip, isn't it? Except that it's pink, of course.

Claire’s Accessories rip-off Tatty Devine designs [Handbag.com via] Read the rest

These are not the clones you're looking for

Photo: Kalexanderson via the BB Flickr pool. Read the rest