"Why am I always sick?" I ask, sitting in my room for days having forgotten to eat or bathe or change clothes. "A mystery of medical science." I say, being around chemicals most of the time and staring at a computer screen the rest of the time for days. "This couldn’t possibly be any of my doing"

There is a spider on my lap top. I don’t want to get up to move it, and I don’t want to kill it. This laptop is the warmest place in the room I can’t exactly blame him.

Snakes lost their legs long ago in the Vietnam War.


Middle Assyrian Red Sard Cylinder Seal, South Mesopotamia, 12th-11th century BC

Showing a griffin-demon (apkallu) tearing a branch from a tree.

This is an unusual seal with regards to the typical griffin-demon and tree motif in ancient art. In Neo-Assyrian glyptic and monumental art, griffin-demons are often portrayed in the action of fertilizing the female blossoms of the date palm.  On this seal it seems like the apkallu is picking off a branch instead of fertilizing it.


Black-headed Python 

The Black-headed Python, Aspidites melanocephalus (Pythonidae), is an Australian species of python with an average length of 155cm.

These distinctive pythons have a glossy jet black head that ends abruptly just behind the neck. The eyes are also black and the pupils are almost invisible. The body is light brown to dark caramel with dark cross bands along the entire body. The bands are darkest dorsally and fade towards the ventral scales. The belly is light cream speckled with darker spots.

Unlike other pythons, this one lacks heat sensing pits, probably due to a large percentage of their prey being cold blooded.

The scientific name comes from Aspidites, meaning ‘shield-bearer’, in reference to the large scales on the head; and melanocephalus, meaning ‘black head’.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Ryan Francis

Locality: Lena Creek, Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia


The Utatsu lizard, Utatsusaurus (1978)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Superorder : Icthyopterygia
Family : Utatsusauridae
Genus : Utatsusaurus
Species : U. hataii

  • Early Triassic (245 - 250 Ma)
  • 3 m long and 200 kg (size)
  • Miyagi prefecture, Japan (map)

Utatsusaurus is what paleontologists call a “basal” ichthyosaur : the earliest of its kind yet discovered, dating to the early Triassic period, it lacked later ichthyosaur features such as long flippers, a flexible tail, and a dorsal fin. This marine reptile also possessed an unusually flat skull with small teeth, which, combined with its small flippers, implies that it didn’t pose much of a threat to the larger fish or marine organisms of its day. (By the way, if the name Utatsusaurus sounds strange, that’s because this ichthyosaur was named after the region in Japan where one of its fossils was unearthed.)


Indian giant squirrel  (Malabar giant squirrel)

You will excuse me if I overwhelm you with giant squirrels, but I have a strange fascination for them. Not only their great size (measuring up to almost 46 cm in length, half of which is tail), and their beautiful color (red, black and white), or even their charming name, Ratufa indica; but also their behavior.

These squirrels are solitary and territorial. The sexes occupy separate territories that may overlap, but yet they share food. Squirrels with neighboring territories utilize common resources by a system of time-sharing and encounter avoidance…. they don’t fight! 

Sadly, the total population is estimated at less than 5000 individuals occurring in fragmented subpopulations and the decline in population is expected to continue.

Reference: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Aaru

Locality: unknown


The japanese Gharial, Toyotamaphimeia (1965)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Superorder : Crocodylomorpha
Order : Crocodila
Subfamily : Tomistominae
Genus : Toyotamaphimeia
Species : T. machikanensis

  • Pleistocene
  • 8 m long (size)
  • Japan (map)

Toyotamaphimeia is an extinct genus of tomistomine, a crocodylian from the Pleistocene era of Japanese prehistory. It is closely related to the false gharial, and lived 400,000 years ago. This relationship is reflected in its original description as a member of the same genus, Tomistoma. It was a fairly large crocodylian with a 1 m skull and a total length up to 8 m.


Manuscript of the Apocalypse, ca. 1330


Because this is a fun sentence one rarely gets to use: Here’s an awesome example of nature imitating terrifying candy. This giant earthworm bears a remarkable resemblance to the World’s Largest Gummy Worm we first posted about a couple years ago.

This colossal creepy-crawly was found by Project Noah member Hoppy4840 in rich, wet forest soil in the foothills of the Sumaco Volcano in Ecuador. It measured approximately 1.5 meters (~4.9 feet) long and weighed at least 500 grams (~1.1 pounds). Funny thing is, we can’t help but think that, while it’s quite likely the earthworm is more nutritious, there’s no way it’s as tasty as the gummy version.

[via Geekologie]