Although this charismatic spider is scientifically named Theridion grallator (Theridiidae), certainly is better known as the Happy-face Spider because of the interesting color pattern on its abdomen, which closely resembles a smiley face.
Endemic to Hawaii, this species is found in the rainforest from O’ahu to the Big Island. However, they are very hard to find due to its extremely small size (about 0.6cm long).
Theridion grallator is highly variable for color and shows diverse morphs, the frequencies of which are very similar among populations, although the genetic basis for them differs between islands. The most common color morph is yellow, which makes up about 70% of any population. The other 30% is composed of “patterned” morphs generated by patches of red, white, or black pigments superimposed on a yellow background. The common name happy-face spider comes from the pattern of red and black shown by the color morph named “Red front”.
The yellow background of any morph can be modified through ingestion of highly pigmented prey.
The “Yellow” morph, the most abundant, is highly cryptic and very difficult to see against the filtered green light that penetrates the leaves under which the spider lives. This, in conjunction with morphological and behavioral attributes, suggests that predators do represent an important selective agent in the species.
This spider exhibits behaviors that are extremely rare amongst spiders. One of the more interesting is maternal care, a behavior that is exhibited by less than 1% of all the spiders species on the planet.
Photo credit: ©Stuart Wilson | Locality: Hawaii
Silver leaf langurs hugging their kiddo
These spiders are a couple of Epeus flavobilineatus (Araneae - Salticidae) showing some of the features that allow to distinguish females and males (sexually dimorphic characteristics) in this species (the top image is a mature female, and bottom is a mature male).
In addition to the coloration of the head (cephalothorax), that is different between sexes, the appearance of males is remarkable by a prominent conical comb of upright setae (long hairs) on the posterior half of the eyes, arising from a semicircular base that is absent in females, which gives the males a mohawk style.
The species occurs in Singapore and Indonesia
Electric Aliens? Bacteria discovered that exist on pure energyPublished time: July 19, 2014 18:24
Microbiologists based in California have discovered bacteria that survive by eating pure electrons rather than food, bringing an entirely new method of existence to awareness and raising questions about possibilities for alien life.
The ‘electric bacteria’ – as they have been dubbed by the team that discovered them – take energy from rocks and metal by feasting directly on their electrons. The hair-like filaments the bacteria produce carry electrons between the cells and their environment.
The biologists from the University of Southern California (USC) found that the new discovery joins more than ten other different specific type of bacteria that also feed on electricity – although none in quite the same way.
“This is huge. What it means is that there’s a whole part of the microbial world that we don’t know about,”Kenneth Nealson of USC told New Scientist.
Nealson explained the process by which the bacteria function. “You eat sugars that have excess electrons, and you breathe in oxygen that willingly takes them,” he said. Human cells break down the sugars in order to obtain the electrons – making the bacteria that only absorb the electrons that much more efficient.
“That’s the way we make all our energy and it’s the same for every organism on this planet,” Nealson said. “Electrons must flow in order for energy to be gained.”
Some of the bacteria even have the ability to make ‘bio-cables’ – a kind of microbial collection of wires that can conduct electricity as well as copper – renowned for its high electrical conductivity.
Such ‘nanowires’ were first discovered in a separate study conducted by researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark. Their presence raises the possibility that one day bacteria could be used in making subsurface networks for people to use.
“Tens of thousands of bacteria can join to form a cable that can carry electrons over several centimeters,” the New Scientist video on the subject points out.
read more from RT
Arturo is a 29-year-old male polar bear currently living in Argentina’s Mendoza Zoo. He is suffering in 40C (104F) heat in an enclosure that has just 20 inches of water for him to swim in and has as a consequence been displaying worrying behavior.
Please sign this petition or at least spread the word in order to have Arturo transferred to a zoo in Canada which has better facilities for an animal that is used to polar conditions.
Natal Midlands Dwarf Chameleon (male)
This is Bradypodion thamnobates (Chamaeleonidae), commonly known as the Natal Midlands Dwarf Chameleon.
Bradypodion thamnobates reaches up to 17cm in total length. It has a casque well-defined and rounded at the back. The gular crest is formed by large, overlapping dermal lobes covered in small scales and numerous throat grooves in the gular pouch. The dorsal crest is formed by large conical scales extending onto the tail. The limbs and tail exhibit numerous enlarged tubercles with a couple present on the flanks.
This species is endemic to the Natal Midlands, in particular Nottingham Road, South Africa, and is regarded as a Near Threatened species on the IUCN Red List.
Photo: ©Tyrone Ping
Locality: Nottingham Road, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Cortinarius violaceus (Cortinariaceae) is entirely violet, purple or blue, sometimes so dark that it appears to be black and, viewed from above, can easily be mistaken for a blackened dead leaf. At up to 12cm in cap diameter, this is a very striking mushroom indeed.
This mushroom is regarded as rare, but occurs in America and Europe.
Photo credit: ©Thomas O’Keefe
Locality: Baker River Trail, Mt. Baker Noisy Diobsud Roadless Area, Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington, US
Today the Department of Awesome Natural Wonders follows photographer Michael Nichols to the Sequoia National Park in California where he and his team captured an awe-inspiring photo of the The President, a giant sequoia tree believed to be over 3,200 years old. Standing 247 feet (75 m) tall and measuring 27 ft (8.2 m) in diameter at the base, The President is the third largest tree in the world.
Stop and consider this for a moment - how periods of human existence an world events have taken place while this tree has simply been growing and growing. And it’s still growing!
"The tree is one of the fastest growing trees ever measured, accumulating more new wood each year than much younger trees, proving that ancient trees still have plenty of life and energy left."
For the December 2012 issue of National Geographic, Nichols and team spent 32 days using a rigging system to take 126 photos which were later stitched together to create a complete portrait of the tree. By including members of their team in some of the shots, they helped convey just how huge and majestic The President is.
Visit My Modern Metropolis for additional photos of this truly awesome tree.
Sequoias#3 by dadoll on Flickr.
Morning Sunrise on the Sequioas | California (by Stephen Moehle)
Fungi in the Atlantic Forest, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“Finca Bellavista" treehouse for a self-sustaining community in the costa rican rainforest canopy.
Little Gecko by LMSeebeck
Probably the greatest group of pictures I’ve ever taken. 💙
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