“Just keep swimming”, says the blue tang.
- Blue tangs are a species of reef fish native to the tropical Indo-Pacific waters of Australia, South-east Asia, Pacific Islands and East Africa.
- ‘Blue tangs’ are also known as ‘blue surgeonfish’, ‘doctorfish’, ‘regal tangs’, ‘common surgeons’, ‘flagtail surgeonfish’ and ‘hippo tangs’, along with a number of other names.
- The scientific name of the blue tang is Paracanthurus hepatus and it is from the family Acanthuridae, the family of tangs, surgeonfishes and unicornfishes.
- Blue tangs are a vivid blue colour, with darker blue and black markings and a brilliant yellow tail.
- A blue tang has a number of spines, one of which is extendable and very sharp and poisonous, and this spine can be used to attack smaller animals by piercing them with it, and it can cause humans significant pain.
- The length of blue tangs ranges from 12 to 38 centimetres (5 to 15 inches) and weigh roughly 600 grams (21 ounces).
- The heart of blue tang larvae can take as many as five hours after hatching to first produce a heartbeat.
- Male blue tangs establish dominance by showing their bright colours and fighting aggressively with their spine, and the fish also evade predators and other threats by ‘playing dead’.
- A blue tang’s diet consists primarily of algae, but also the occasional plankton, and by eating the algae, they help to clean the coral.
- Particularly due to their depiction as ‘Dory’ in the Finding Nemo film, blue tangs are in high demand as pets, despite them being somewhat difficult to keep.
Walking along a track in the Tunnel of Love is (apparently) quite romantic!
- The Tunnel of Love covers a portion of an industrial railroad track, found in the north-west of Ukraine in Europe, near the town of Klevan.
- The Tunnel of Love railway passes through arches of lush vegetation, particularly trees.
- The length of the Tunnel of Love is disputed, although most cite between 3 to 5 kilometres (1.9 to 3.1 miles) of the total 6.4 kilometres (4 miles) of track.
- The train track along the Tunnel of Love was initially used in the Cold War to transport military equipment to a nearby secret military base, and the trees were planted beside the track to provide ample coverage so the operation would remain secret.
- The Tunnel of Love is popular among lovers, and they will sometimes walk, or have photographs taken, along the track.
- Up to three or more trains per day may pass through the Tunnel of Love, carrying loads of plywood from a nearby factory, although some days there are none.
- Incidents have occurred in the Tunnel of Love, one of which was in 2015 when a Japanese women was hit by a train and as a result was injured.
- The Tunnel of Love was made and is maintained by the trains clipping the forest trees when they travel along the railway.
- When the Odek plywood factory removed some trees from the Tunnel of Love, many objections were made by the local people, and the factory hasn’t interfered with the trees since.
- The Tunnel of Love was relatively unknown to the general public until it became widely popular on the internet in 2011, and as a result of its publicity through social media, it has since been visited by people from all over the world, and tourist numbers have significantly increased during the past few years.
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.
- 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.
Kazoos are not just for the casual amateurs!
- A kazoo is a small apparatus that can produce music by a person humming, singing or speaking into the mouthpiece.
- The shape of a kazoo is often compared to that of a submarine, and it features holes at both ends, with another in what is generally a raised cylinder on the top.
- To produce a good sound, a user should hum into the kazoo or make the sounds ‘rrr’, ‘doo’, ‘who’ or ‘brrr’ and avoid blowing, and in doing so, a buzz-like sound is added to those made by the user.
- Kazoos distort the sound entered by the user, due to the vibration of the membrane that is located at the bottom of the hole in the top of the instrument, and this is caused by the changing air pressure made by the sound.
- It is thought that the earliest form of kazoo was used by traditional African tribes to manipulate one’s voice, made of a cows’ horn and spider egg casings.
- There is a museum dedicated to the kazoo, located in South Carolina’s Beaufort in the United States, which opened in 2010.
- By the late 1870s, patents for buzzing musical instruments with similar functionality to the modern kazoo surfaced, however it was not until 1902 that the modern style shape was patented, by George D Smith from New York, in the United States.
- The name ‘kazoo’ is believed to have been given to the instrument in 1883 by inventor Warren Frost, and the word is possibly an onomatopoeia (a word that imitates a sound) of the noise that the instrument makes.
- Quality kazoos are commonly made of metal, while other variants typically produced are made of plastic or wood; and not only have they been used as musical instruments, but also as toys.
- Kazoos were first used in a professional music recording in 1921 by the Original Dixieland Jass (or Jazz) Band, in the song ‘Crazy Blues’.
History of the Kazoo Through Patents, 2013, Association of American Kazoologists, http://kazoologist.org/history.html
Jakkalskos have their own unique way of getting things done.
- Jakkalskos is a species of parasitic, leafless plant, native to areas mostly in the south of the African continent.
- ‘Jakkalskos’ is an Afrikaans term for the plant, which is also known as ‘bobbejaankos’ in Afrikaans, with respective literal meanings ‘jackal food’ and ‘baboon food’ in English.
- The scientific name of the jakkalskos is Hydnora africana and it is from the family Hydnoraceae, a family of parasitic plants that flower.
- Jakkalskos plants lack an above ground stem and develop almost entirely in the soil, only bursting forth from the ground to reveal their bloom once ample rain has occurred.
- When mature, the height of the jakkalskos plant above ground, is simply the size of the flower, which typically grows to be 10 to 15 centimetres (4 to 6 inches) tall.
- The bloom colour of a jakkalskos ranges from orange to pink or red, while the plant’s outer body is brown to black in colour, depending on the age of the flower.
- Jakkalskos flowers emit a pungent smell, comparable to that of animal waste, which allures its pollinators, mostly carrion and dung beetles.
- As a parasite, the jakkalskos plant’s thick root-like system will attach itself to the roots of a host plant of the Euphorbia genus, from which it leeches the other plant’s nutrients.
- Filaments connect the sepals of the jakkalskos flower before it fully opens, and these serve as an obstacle to somewhat trap a beetle inside the flower to cause effective pollination, and once the flower develops and opens, the beetle is released.
- After flowering, a jakkalskos plant usually produces a fruit in the soil, up to 8 cm (3 inches) in diameter, that contains roughly 20,000 seeds, and the fruit is edible and commonly eaten by some animals including jackals and baboons.
What does the aye-aye remind you of?
- Aye-ayes are a species of primate, the largest extant nocturnal one on earth, and they are endemic to rainforests and other forest areas on the island of Madagascar, off the coast of Africa.
- The scientific name of the aye-aye is Daubentonia madagascariensis and it is a type of lemur from the family Daubentoniidae, of which it is the only living member.
- Aye-ayes grow to be 36 to 44 centimetres (14 to 17 inches) in height, with a tail of even greater length, and they weigh from 2 to 2.7 kilograms (4.4 to 6 pounds).
- The long fingers of aye-ayes are quite fragile and cannot hold much weight, with the third finger being particularly thin and used specifically for feeding purposes.
- The diet of an aye-aye consists primarily of fruit and grubs, the latter retrieved by tapping trees to find a cavity, then gnawing into the tree with its teeth and collecting prey using its third finger.
- The colour of the hair of an aye-aye ranges from brown to black, with a partially white to grey head and orange or yellow eyes.
- Aye-ayes seldom descend to the forest floor, rather resting and foraging among the treetops; and they typically sleep in covered nests during the day, made from leaves and tree branches, though they will generally move to a different nest each day.
- Aye-ayes are listed as an endangered species, threatened by deforestation as well as locals killing the animal, as they believe the primate can cause misfortune.
- Sounds produced by aye-ayes include eerie screeches, hisses and the noise ‘hai-hai’; and it is thought that the mammal is named for the latter sound.
- The aye-aye has been – and still is- compared to a rodent primarily due to its teeth, and it was mistakenly classified as one for a significant time after its discovery.