12 cocoon-shaped shelters connect visitors with nature in a Mexican biosphere reserve

July 20, 2016 by  
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Sian Ka’an, a UNESCO World Heritage site , is home to mangroves, a huge barrier reef, and tropical forests. Arqmov’s proposed project designed to stimulate introspection would allow visitors to experience the natural beauty of Mexico. According to the architects, they want visitors to experience an “awakening” through connection to nature. Related: Escape into nature with Greenland’s off-grid Amaroq cabins Each cocoon dwelling includes a living area and sleeping area, and the cocoons could be connected by suspension bridges. Notably, as the cocoons taper off where they connect to the earth, the dwellings would take up minimal ground space. The architects say this would minimize the impact on the site, protecting nature and endangered species – like the black-handed spider monkey and the Central American tapir – found in Sian Ka’an. The organic lines of Awakening’s buildings are based on geometry found in the “natural form of shelters” like cocoons, nests, shells, caves, and burrows. A swimming pool shaped like an “open bird nest,” reception desk shaped like a “hummingbird nest,” restaurant shaped like a seashell, and multipurpose building shaped like a turtle’s shell would all enhance the natural feel of Awakening. Rainwater collection systems would provide the cocoons with water. Renewable energies such as solar and wind would power Awakening. Water could be treated on-site as well; the architects describe the system as a ” complete water cycle and zero discharge to the aquifer .” Food would also be prepared on location, using healthy, local ingredients to promote sustainable eating. Via ArchDaily Images © Carlos Verón

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12 cocoon-shaped shelters connect visitors with nature in a Mexican biosphere reserve

8-year-old’s fossil discovery reveals how turtles got their shells

July 20, 2016 by  
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If you ask most people to guess why turtles first developed shells, you’ll usually get one answer: the hard shells protect them from predators. That’s the theory scientists have been working with for decades, however a new study suggests everything we know about the evolution of the turtle is probably wrong — and it’s all thanks to a fossil discovered by one 8-year-old boy from South Africa. The study examines the remains of 47 different ancient proto-turtles from a species called Eunotosaurus africanus which had developed partial shells. One fossil in particular helped crack the case: a 6-inch-long specimen uncovered by 8-year-old Kobus Snyman. Compared to the other fossils in the collection, this 260-million-year-old specimen was remarkably complete, containing almost all of the skeleton, as well as the hands and feet of the ancient reptile. After discovering the fossil, the boy immediately turned it over to his local museum in Prince Albert, South Africa. It was this discovery that allowed scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to finally understand the purpose of the proto-turtle’s broadened ribs and stiffened torso. It wasn’t for protection, as first thought: rather, these reptiles developed partial shells in order to more easily burrow underground. The modified ribcage gave these creatures a more stable base when digging. Related: Amphibious Ichthyosaur Fossil Found in China Fills Evolutionary “Missing Link” This explains one of the most enduring questions that’s puzzled researchers for decades: why would turtles evolve shells in the first place? While it’s true they offer protection, they also make the turtle much slower and make it more difficult for the animals to breathe. Most other species on the planet have maintained narrower, more flexible ribs for exactly these reasons. Now that scientists know the early versions of shells served a very specific purpose, the adaptation makes more sense. The full finding have been published in the journal Current Biology . + Denver Museum of Nature and Science Via LiveScience Images via the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

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8-year-old’s fossil discovery reveals how turtles got their shells

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