Orangutan

Orangutans are disappearing like wildfire.

  • Orangutans are a genus of large primates, of which there are two extant species, and they are endemic to the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • ‘Orangutans’ are also known as ‘orangutangs’, ‘orang-utans’ and ‘orang-utangs’; while the two species of the animal are commonly known as ‘Bornean’ and ‘Sumatran’.
  • The scientific name of an orangutan is Pongo – Pongo abelii (Sumatran) and Pongo pygmaeus (Bornean), and it is from the family Hominidae, the family of great apes.
  • Orangutans generally grow to be 1 to 1.8 metres (3.3 to 5.9 feet) in height and they weigh 30 to 90 kilograms (66 to 198 pounds).
  • Orangutans are quite hairy and are an orange-red colour with a brown-black face; and their long arms can span up to 2 metres (6.6 feet).
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An Orangutan
Image courtesy of Dupan Pandu/Flickr
  • The diet of orangutans consists primarily of fruit, although insects, eggs, new shoots, bark, and leaves are also eaten.
  • Orangutans seldom set foot on ground, rather they travel in the treetops, mostly alone, and make and sleep in nests there; spending more time in trees than any other great ape.
  • Orangutans have been observed using tools, solving problems, and comprehending symbols for communication purposes with humans.
  • Both orangutan species are critically endangered, due to severe deforestation, illegal trade, hunting, forest fires, and habitat fragmentation.
  • Orangutans produce loud howls that are audible up to a distance of 2 kilometres (1.2 miles); and they can have a lifespan between 30 to 5o years or more.
Bibliography:
Orang-utans, 2016, World Wildlife Fund, http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/great_apes/orangutans/
Orangutan, 2016, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/mammals/orangutan/
Orangutan, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orangutan

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Bagan

Someone must have been really dedicated to building all those temples at Bagan.

  • Bagan is a highly religious, historical city located in central Myanmar (Burma) in Southeast Asia, in the region of Mandalay.
  • ‘Bagan’ was also known as ‘Pagan’, both pronunciations of the native term ‘Pugan’, and the site is formally known as the ‘Bagan Archaeological Zone’.
  • Bagan was the capital of the Pagan Empire (which covered most of modern day Myanmar) until 1297, as well as a centre of Buddhist thought and activity, and it was visited by many scholars from other civilisations.
  • At least 2200 temples and pagodas can be found in Bagan today, although it is thought more than 10,000 once existed, with each monument dedicated to Buddha.
  • The historical record known as the ‘Burmese chronicles’, documented that the Bagan civilisation was established circa 100 AD, although many historians refute this source and rather cite 800 AD as the founding century, as evidence for a kingdom prior to this time is scarce.
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Bagan
Image courtesy of Dieter Timmerman/Flickr
  • The total zone of Bagan covers an expanse of around 104 square kilometres (40 square miles), and at its peak, the city had a population of between 50,000 to 200,000 individuals.
  • The construction of the temples of Bagan were authorised by various kings of the Pagan Empire, and they were mostly built of stone, between 1044 and 1287 AD.
  • Bagan’s collapse occurred in 1287 AD, after Mongols invaded the Kingdom of Pagan for political reasons, which resulted in a drastic decrease of the number of residents living in the city.
  • Among other factors, a large number of earthquakes have contributed to the destruction of Bagan’s many temples, including the devastating 2016 Myanmar Earthquake.
  • In 1996, Bagan was considered by the UNESCO World Heritage Convention to be listed as a World Heritage Site, however it was declined, said to be due to the poor and inaccurate restoration of many temples; though a resubmission date in 2018 is planned, at which time it will be reconsidered.
Bibliography:
Bagan, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagan
The Many Thousand Temples of Bagan, Myanmar, 2013, Amusing Planet, http://www.amusingplanet.com/2013/04/the-many-thousand-temples-of-bagan.html
The Temples of Bagan, 2016, Pegu Travels Company Limited, http://www.go-myanmar.com/the-temples-of-bagan

 

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Quince

Who would have known that a sour quince could become so sweet?

  • Quinces are a variety of fruit that originated in south-western Asia and the Middle East; and they contain a large proportion of pectin, enabling the cooked fruit to easily set into jellies and jams.
  • The scientific name of the tree that quinces grow on is Cydonia oblonga, from the family Rosaceae, the family of roses, and it is a close relative of pears and apples.
  • Quinces grow to an irregular shape spanning 7 to 12 centimetres (2.8 to 4.7 inches) in height, commonly with a slightly smaller diameter.
  • Most quinces are extremely bitter until being cooked, and combined with their tough texture, the fruit is generally quite impractical to eat raw.
  • The skin of quinces is a bright yellow, with flesh of a cream colour that generally becomes pink when cooked.

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  • Quinces are often made into preserves, baked desserts, sauces or jellies, as they are flavourful, and with a small quantity of sugar or other sweetener added, they develop a sweet taste.
  • Consuming a large quantity of quince fruit seeds at one time can cause a toxic gas to develop in the stomach, as the seeds react with stomach acids.
  • Quinces are scented with a pleasant fragrance and flavour, that is described as a combination of citrus, apples and vanilla.
  • Each hectare (2.5 acres) of quince trees typically produces from 25 to 35 tonnes (27.6 to 38.6 tons) of fruit, and Turkey was the largest producer in 2012 with around 135,000 tonnes (149,000 tons), which was more than 20% of the world’s production.
  • Quinces are good source of vitamin C and have significant quantities of copper, fibre and potassium.
Bibliography:
Campbell J, Quince Growing, 2001, NSW Government – Agriculture, http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/content/agriculture/horticulture/pomes/quince-growing
Durand F, Quince: The Tough Fall Fruit With a Secret Reward, 2014, Kitchn, http://www.thekitchn.com/quince-tough-fall-fruit-with-a-secret-reward-ingredient-intelligence-73041
Quince, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quince

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Reed Flute Cave

Caves just don’t get any more colourful than the Reed Flute Cave!

  • The Reed Flute Cave is a subterranean complex located in the Guangxi Zhuang province of China’s south, in the city of Guilin.
  • The ‘Reed Flute Cave’ is also known as the ‘Guilin Reed Flute Cave’, the ‘Palace of Natural Art’ and ‘Nature’s Art Palace’.
  • The Reed Flute Cave covers a distance of 240 metres (262 yards) in total, and is believed to have formed by erosion due to the movement of water.
  • A variety of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, pillars and other rock formations are featured in the Reed Flute Cave, as well as stunning pools of water.
  • The name of ‘ Reed Flute Cave’ was inspired by the abundance of reed prominent at the cave entrance, which has been used to create flutes and pipes.
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Part of the Reed Flute Cave
Image courtesy of Bernt Rostad/Flickr
  • Writing can be found inside the Reed Flute Cave, dated to circa 792 AD, from Ancient China’s Tang Dynasty.
  • After being forgotten for some 1000 years, the Reed Flute Cave was rediscovered by the area’s inhabitants in World War II, who sought protection from the Japanese military.
  • The year of 1962 marks the date of official opening of the Reed Flute Cave to visitors, and millions of people have since toured the cave.
  • The Reed Flute Cave contains many rock formations that take an appearance comparable to many objects of nature, including animals and a human, some of which have been given a unique name and legend.
  • Man-made neon lights illuminate the Reed Flute Cave, colourfully enhancing the rock formation; and a fee is payable to enter the cave.
Bibliography:
Guilin Reed Flute Cave, 2004, Guilin China, http://www.guilinchina.net/attraction/reed-flute-cave.htm
Reed Flute Cave, 2016, Atlas Obscura, http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/reed-flute-cave
Van Hinsbergh G, Reed Flute Cave, 2016, China Highlights, http://www.chinahighlights.com/guilin/attraction/reed-flute-cave.htm

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Tufted Deer

Tufted deer are masters at fleeing with a hair to spare.

  • Tufted deer are a species of small mammal, native to the mountainous forests of southern to central parts of China in Asia, and they are also thought to exist in northern parts of Myanmar.
  • The scientific name of the tufted deer is Elaphodus cephalophus and it is from the family Cervidae, the family of deer.
  • Tufted deer grow to be 50 to 70 centimetres (1.6 to 2.3 feet) in height to the shoulder, and weigh 17 to 50 kilograms (37 to 110 pounds).
  • The rough hair coat of a tufted deer is mainly dark brown to dark grey in colour; with white on the underside, on part of the ears and mouth; and the deer has a tuft of hair on the front of its head, that hides the short antlers that a male has.
  • Male tufted deer have a pair of long, protruding, tusk-like teeth, reaching up to a length of 2.6 centimetres (1 inch), that they use to defend their territory.
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Tufted Deer
Image courtesy of Heather Paul/Flickr
  • Female tufted deer produce one to two young each year, which are expected to reach an age of around 10 to 12 years in the wild; and the deer tend to live alone, or in pairs.
  • Tufted deer tend to be shy, and avoid being seen by camouflaging themselves in their natural surroundings or hiding among the foliage, however they bark when disturbed.
  • The diet of tufted deer consists primarily of grass, twigs, fruit and leaves; while their predators are primarily dholes, leopards and humans.
  • Tufted deer are listed as near threatened, with consideration to relist the deer as vulnerable, due to over-hunting and habitat loss, that is causing significant population decline.
  • To escape from predators, tufted deer point the white underside of their tail upwards, and then move it back down to display the brown side, and as such, create confusion.
Bibliography:
Harris R & Jiang Z, Elaphodus cephalophus, 2015, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/7112/0
Lundrigan B & Oas R, Elaphodus cephalophus, 2003, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Elaphodus_cephalophus/
Tufted Deer, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tufted_deer

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Flame Lily

If you have a burning passion for someone, give them a flame lily.

  • A flame lily is a species of perennial flower, native to a variety of habitats of south Asia, and south to south-eastern Africa.
  • Flame lilies’ are also known as ‘creeping lilies’, ‘fire lilies’, ‘climbing lilies’, ‘glory lilies’, ‘tiger claws’ and ‘gloriosa lilies’.
  • The scientific name of the flame lily is Gloriosa superba and it is from the family Colchicaceae, a family of plants that flower.
  • As flame lily plants tend to be climbers, they grow upwards or along the ground to 4 metres (13 feet) in length, while the flowers have a diameter of 4.5 to 7 centimetres (1.8 to 2.8 inches).
  • Typically, flame lily flowers are predominantly red or orange, transitioning into a yellow colour towards the centre, and they flower in summer and autumn.
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Flame Lily
Image courtesy of Miltos Gikas/Flickr
  • The consumption of any part of flame lily plants can be fatal, with symptoms including numbness, vomiting, dizziness and breathing difficulties, and it is also toxic for most animals.
  • Flame lilies are considered an invasive weed in many countries outside of their native region, including Australia, a number of Pacific Islands and parts of the United States.
  • Flame lilies has been used in traditional medicine to treat cuts, worms, snakebites, skin issues and other health conditions.
  • By creating both seeds and having rhizomes that multiply, flame lilies are efficient at reproducing, and spreading.
  • Flame lilies grow best in partial shade, and they are commonly grown as cut flowers or for other ornamental purposes.
Bibliography:
Gloriosa Superba, 2016, Queensland Government Weeds of Australia, http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Html/gloriosa_superba.htm
Gloriosa Superba, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloriosa_superba
Gloriosa Superba (Flame Lily), n.d, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/gloriosa-superba-flame-lily
Gloya Lily (Gloriosa Superba), 2014, NSW Department of Primary Industries, http://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Details/62

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