Scientists discover five new species of the beautiful Peacock spider

September 14, 2017 by  
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Even those who despise arachnids can’t help but admire the gorgeous peacock spider . And now there are even more of them to admire. Researchers from Australia have just announced the discovery of four new species and one subspecies, bringing the total number of peacock spider varieties to 65. Dr. Jurgen Otto in Western Australia has been studying peacock spiders for about a decade. Reportedly, four of the species are completely new to science and one is believed to a be a sub-species. “Each new species is a complete surprise — the patterns and colours of each species are so different and so unpredictable, you never know what the next one and its display and courtship dance will look like,” Otto told ABC News . Otto and Hill named 39 of the species and sub-species that have been discovered. Reportedly, the latest species were found in Western Australia , but the peacock spiders are more native to the southern part of the continent. Related: First spider-silk garment to hit the market is this necktie from Bolt Threads To help people easily identify the spiders, Otto has shared incredibly detailed photographs on his YouTube channel . “In most peacock spider species — and the new ones are no exception — the males are strikingly coloured, and the patterns and colours are very distinctive, making it easy to distinguish one from another,” said Otto. “Cristatus has a pattern on its back that resembles the Union Jack and in addition has eight plumes of white setae (hairs) at its back that no other peacock spider has.” “Electricus stands out by its striking pattern of parallel red lines that make it look like a circuit board, and trigonus can be easily recognised by the white crown at the tip of its abdomen that is not present in any known species ,” Otto added. “One could think that the novelty of this would all have worn off by now, but people still get excited when they see them.” These findings were published in the journal Peckhamia . + Peckhamia Via ABC News Images via Dr. Jurgen Otto

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Scientists discover five new species of the beautiful Peacock spider

Elephants rescue 600 people from floods in Nepal

August 16, 2017 by  
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Heavy rains in India and Nepal have killed 15 people and displaced 2.3 million in just the past few days. Fortunately for approximately 600 foreigners who were visiting Sauraha, no additional lives were lost when the nearby Rapti River overflowed its banks. This is because elephants at the Chitwan National Park transported them to safety. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10″; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Elephants to the rescue Elephants helped rescue 600 people after floods in Nepal. Posted by Al Jazeera English on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 Said Suman Ghimire, head of a group of Sauraha hotel owners, “Some 300 guests were rescued on elephant backs and tractor trailers to (nearby) Bharatpur yesterday and the rest will be taken to safer places today.” The unconventional mode of transportation was necessary, as the flash floods left hotels and restaurants completely inundated. The Chitwan National Park, which cares for 605 rhinoceros , is in better shape than Assam’s Kaziranga national park, which is home to the world’s largest population of the endangered one-horn rhinoceros. According to Reuters , nearly 90 percent of the Kaziranga park is under water. Fortunately, the animals have moved to higher ground. Nepali relief workers say that 26 of the country’s 75 districts were either submerged or had been hit by landslides as a result of the heavy rains. Information and Communications Minister Mohan Bahadur Basnet added the death toll was expected to increase with at least 50 people reported missing. The loss of infrastructure has also been devastating. Basnet said that more than 60,000 homes were underwater, predominantly in the southern plains bordering India. “The situation is worrying as tens of thousands of people have been hit,” said Basnet. Related: Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold As a result of the natural disaster, regions in India and Nepal now face food shortages due to crop losses. This is exactly what climate change scientists said would happen as a result of increasing carbon emissions, which are fueling global warming. If humans fail to adopt sustainable habits, natural disasters such as this will only become more common. Via Reuters Images via The Kathmandu Post , India Live Today

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Leonardo DiCaprio launches a new fund to save the lions

August 11, 2017 by  
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Lions are in trouble – there are around 20,000 today, down from 200,000 around 100 years ago. But everyone’s favorite eco-warrior, Leonardo DiCaprio , isn’t going to sit by while the big cats’ populations plummet. His foundation, together with the Wildlife Conservation Network , is starting the Lion Recovery Fund (LRF), a nonprofit with a lofty goal: double the amount of lions by 2050. Lion populations have plunged as they suffer from habitat loss , and the loss of prey to sustain them. The animals are gone from 80 to 90 percent of their range in the past, and the lion populations of 26 countries have vanished. But it’s not too late for lions – if African parks were effectively managed while nearby communities were supported, there could be three to four times the number of lions, according to the LRF. The fund will support groups working for lion conservation in Africa – and 100 percent of every dollar given to the fund will go to partners. Related: West African Lion Alarmingly Close to Extinction, New Study Finds (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10″; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Lion Recovery Fund In just the last 25 years alone, half of the wild lion population has been lost. Proud to launch the Lion Recovery Fund today on #WorldLionDay- an initiative of Wildlife Conservation Network and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Find out how you can help #savelions at: www.lionrecoveryfund.org Posted by Leonardo DiCaprio on Thursday, August 10, 2017 The LRF has already allocated over $800,000 to partners like Panthera in Senegal, the Wildlife Crime Prevention Project in Zambia, and the African Parks Network in Benin. Money will go towards efforts to combat poaching , secure space for lions to recover, and lower conflict between the big cats and humans. Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation executive director Justin Winters said in a statement, “With the population of Africa expected to double by 2050, this is an opportunity to show the world that development does not have to come at the expense of wild landscapes and species. Humans and the natural world can coexist and thrive.” DiCaprio called for people to get involved. In a statement, he said, “We’re losing our planet’s wildlife – even such iconic species as the African Lion – at a dangerously rapid pace. An astonishingly small amount of philanthropic dollars go towards protecting wildlife, but together we can turn that around.” You can donate to the fund here . + Lion Recovery Fund + Wildlife Conservation Network + Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Via the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Images via Bram Vranckx on Unsplash and Christine Donaldson on Unsplash

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World’s longest mountain bike route could be extended 400 miles

August 11, 2017 by  
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Bicyclists can explore North America from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico on the longest mountain bike path in the world. Sprawling across 2,700 miles, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR), completed by Adventure Cycling Association , could soon have several hundred miles added to it. In honor of the GDMBR’s upcoming 20th anniversary, the association is fundraising to improve and extend the landmark trail. The GDMBR has been thrilling mountain bikers since 1997. Now the association wants to make the trail even better: they say cyclists have requested more off-road options and destinations. Adventure Cycling Association aims to extend the route to connect with Jasper National Park, around 100 miles north of Banff, and add a spur to their headquarters in Missoula, Montana. Related: New bike “greenway” stretching from Florida to Maine is 31% complete The association says bicyclists of all skill levels can enjoy the trail, from a family with six children ages 10 to 17, the Todds, who like to spend part of their summer vacation riding the trail, to endurance cyclists like Jay Petervary. It takes around 37 days to cycle the GDMBR in its entirety, according to Bikepacking.com , who rate the trail’s difficulty 5.5 on a scale of one to 10. They describe the route as “the most recognized and important off-pavement cycling route in the United States, if not the world.” Cyclists on the route experience Grand Teton National Park, the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming, and the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico, to name a few sights. If you’d like to donate towards the GDMBR extension, and the creation of a new off-road Arkansas route of 1,400 miles, you can do so here . A group of Adventure Cycling members will match each donation until September 30. With the money, the association also plans to redesign and produce paper and digital maps . + Adventure Cycling Association Via GearJunkie and Adventure Cycling Association Images via William Hook on Unsplash and Wikimedia Commons

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New Orleans doesn’t need a hurricane to be inundated with water

August 11, 2017 by  
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Almost $15 billion went towards flood protection in New Orleans in the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. But the city once again battled flooding this week – with no hurricane in sight. Several feet of water covered much of the city’s central area as the pump system was overwhelmed. The crisis prompted Governor John Bel Edwards to declare a state of emergency. A heavy storm battered New Orleans this past weekend: in four hours, around nine inches of rain fell, leaving parts of the city flooded. And the city’s drainage system failed to manage the deluge. According to CNN, 16 of the city’s 121 pumps failed, and the overworked system struggled to keep up. The situation worsened as the week went on as a Wednesday fire hit a turbine that powers pumping stations. The governor’s state of emergency declaration pointed to the malfunction of the New Orleans Sewage and Water Board’s power plant, which houses generators that power the pumps. Related: New Orleans’ $14.5 billion rebuilt levees won’t fight a Category 5 hurricane With more rain in the forecast in upcoming days, schools were closed Friday. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for the resignation of four officials, including the municipal water utility’s director and top engineer, and the public works department’s director. It took 14 hours to drain several feet of water in areas of the city. City records reveal 200 “life-threatening” emergency calls. City residents watched the flood with worry. Local Ronald Williams – who told The Washington Post he finally returned home after Hurricane Katrina just seven months ago – said, “I came home because I believed what they said about the new system and that it was supposed to be the best in the world. But now it seems if we get hit by another Katrina, the city will be gone.” Via The Washington Post and CNN Images via David Fischer on Facebook and screenshot

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New Orleans doesn’t need a hurricane to be inundated with water

Worlds longest pedestrian bridge opens in the Swiss Alps

August 1, 2017 by  
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If you’re afraid of heights, look away. The world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge has finally been completed in Switzerland , and it’s a whopping 1,620 feet long. 300 feet above an Alpine ravine, the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge forms part of the Europaweg — a two-day mountain trail which connects the towns of Grächen and Zermatt. The new installation saves hikers a long detour after a previous bridge was damaged by falling rocks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8iuwWHduKQ CNN reports that the bridge is comprised of steel yet is only 25 inches wide. Because the footstep surface is grated, it is possible to look below and view the Grabengufer ravine as one walks. The bridge, which opened Saturday, is specifically “for hikers with no fear of heights,” according to a news release by local travel agency Zermatt Tourism. “The thrill of traversing the precipice is indescribable,” the agency wrote. Though it might be scary walking across the world’s longest bridge, captivating views of the 14,783-foot Weisshorn Mountain and the Bernese Alps are sure to make the crossing a worthwhile one. And, considering the passing saves hikers three to four hours of walking, it’s a shortcut most people will be more than happy to take advantage of. + Zermatt Tourism Via CNN Images via Valentin Flauraud

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Madrid’s new ‘Desert City’ is a spectacular home for over 400 species of cacti

August 1, 2017 by  
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Madrid’s dry heat may not bode well for lush flower gardens, but the hundreds of cacti in the city’s new cactus park are sure to thrive. Designed by GarciaGerman Arquitectos , the massive 54,000-square-feet Desert City is an educational, sustainable , and ecological complex aimed at educating visitors about the vibrant world of the xerophytic plants. Located on a formerly vacant lot in the Madrid suburb of San Seastián de los Reyes, the expansive complex includes a large garden space as well a massive indoor greenhouse . The park – one of Europe’s largest spaces dedicated to cacti – grows over 400 xerophytic species. The complex also includes exhibition space as well as a shop and a restaurant. Related: Cactus Park in Taiwan draws architectural inspiration from prickly succulents At the heart of the complex is an extended glazed “billboard building,” which is elevated over the ground level. It connects the greenhouse space to a cloister-like outdoor garden with a shallow water pond. Additional spaces located in the greenhouse will be used for presentations, exhibitions, workshops, etc. The architects used a number of green building strategies in the park’s construction such as prefabricated materials, photovoltaic glass, and geothermal power. The greenhouse and gardens were also installed with a high-tech water recovery system that helps the park reduce its water usage. + Desert City + GarciaGerman Arquitectos Via Curbed Images and video courtesy of Imagen Subliminal

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Madrid’s new ‘Desert City’ is a spectacular home for over 400 species of cacti

The Tesla Model 3 is now on the road! Here’s everything we know

August 1, 2017 by  
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Tesla delivered the first batch of Model 3 sedans Friday night, finally revealing many of the big details we’ve been waiting to hear about. For example: the cheapest Tesla Model 3 still starts at $35,000, but a new Long Range version gives the Model 3 a Chevy Bolt -beating range of 310 miles. While Tesla has received over 500,000 reservations for the Model 3, many buyers may be disappointed to learn that many of the first Model 3 sedans will have a higher starting price than the base $35k the company originally boasted about. The “ electric car for the masses” will initially only be offered with a long-range battery, which carries a $9k premium over the base Model 3. This brings the starting price to $44,000 – before you add any other options. Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof Want an exterior color other than black? That will cost you an extra $1,000. The price will keep going up from there with the $5,000 Premium Upgrades package that adds power front seats, a tinted glass roof, plus a few other options. Enhanced Autopilot adds another $5,000 and “Full Self-Driving Capability,” adds another $5,000. With all the available options and even the fact that you have to pay a hefty premium for a color other than black, most Model 3 buyers will easily spend more than $35,000. Either way, the Model 3 is one of the most significant new entries in the EV segment. The base Model has a driving range of 220 miles, which is longer than any other EV currently on the market (besides its brother, the Model S). Just like the Model S, the Tesla Model 3 is no slouch. The base Model 3 will reach 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, while the Long Range version is even faster with a 0-60 mph time of only 5.1 seconds. If you want an even faster Model 3, a performance version will arrive in about a year, which will feature dual motors and a 0-60 mph time closer to three seconds. While Tesla delivered 30 Model 3 sedans, it will be a while until production is fully up and running. Over the next few months, production of the Model 3 will slowly ramp up to Tesla’s goal of producing 5,000 units a week, which should happen by December. If you place a reservation now, Tesla predicts that you’ll get your Model 3 in the second half of 2018 or by early 2019. Of course, if you already own a Tesla, you’ll get priority. Images @Tesla + Tesla

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The Tesla Model 3 is now on the road! Here’s everything we know

Cecil the lion’s son shot and killed by trophy hunter

July 20, 2017 by  
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In 2015, Cecil the lion was reportedly lured out of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park to be slaughtered by American dentist Walter Palmer. But lion hunting in the area hasn’t stopped. A group that calls themselves Lions of Hwange National Park recently said Cecil’s son, Xanda, was shot on a trophy hunt . Xanda was just over six years old and was the father of multiple cubs. Lions of Hwange National Park said Xanda was shot a few days ago. Professional hunter Richard Cooke of RC Safaris was part of the shoot, and Lions of Hwange National Park said Cooke killed Xanda’s brother around two years ago, when the brother around four years old. Related: U.S. dentist will not be prosecuted in Zimbabwe for killing Cecil the lion Cooke’s hunt was legal, according to researcher Andrew Loveridge of Oxford University , who is part of a team that monitored the national park’s lions with electronic collars. Cooke apparently returned the collar, cluing researchers in to Xanda’s demise. Loveridge told The Telegraph, “I fitted it last October. It was monitored almost daily and we were aware that Xanda and his pride was spending a lot of time out of the park in the last six months, but there is not much we can do about that. Richard Cooke is one of the ‘good’ guys. He is ethical and he returned the collar and communicated what had happened. His hunt was legal and Xanda was over six years old so it is all within the stipulated regulations.” He said he hopes for a five kilometer, or 3.1 mile, exclusion zone around the park so collared lions that wander out won’t be shot by hunters anymore. The Telegraph reported Cooke did not answer his phones the day they published their article. It’s unclear who his client was, although the publication said most lion shooters hail from the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, or Germany. The client could have forked over around £40,000, or close to $52,000 for the hunt and the lion’s head for mounting where they live. Via Lions of Hwange National Park and The Telegraph Images via Bert Duplessis/Lions of Hwange National Park on Facebook

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Cecil the lion’s son shot and killed by trophy hunter

Trump administration ‘declares war’ on West Coast turtles, dolphins, and whales

June 13, 2017 by  
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Environmentalists say President Donald Trump’s administration has declared war on California marine animals after an announcement this week from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The administration canceled proposed limits on the amount of endangered whales, sea turtles , and dolphins that can be hurt or killed on the West Coast by sword-fishing nets. The proposed limits were backed by the fishing industry and environmentalists. But NOAA said other protections have helped slash the amount of marine creatures that get trapped in the nets – called gill nets – like better training for fishing boat skippers and sound warnings so creatures can leave the area. NOAA Fisheries spokesperson Michael Milstein told the Los Angeles Times, “The cap would have imposed a cost on the industry to solve a problem that has already been addressed.” Related: Unusually high number of humpback whale deaths prompts NOAA inquiry NOAA statistics reveal injuries and deaths for protected whales dropped from over 50 in 1992 to one or two every year by 2015. For common dolphins, the numbers fell from nearly 400 to just a few. But environmentalists disagree. Turtle Island Restoration Network director Todd Steiner said the Trump administration has declared war. He said the drop in numbers is due to the decline in the gill-net fishing fleet in California. He told the Los Angeles Times, “The numbers caught per set have not gone down. The California gill-net fishery kills more marine mammals than all other West Coast fisheries combined.” The restrictions were strong: if two endangered sea turtles or whales were seriously harmed or killed during two years, the gill net fishery would be shuttered for as long as two years. If any combination of four bottlenose dolphins or short-finned pilot whales were hurt or died, the fishery would also be shut down. Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Catherine Kilduff said rare species are still being killed. And the numbers of some species are so small that the death of just one can be devastating. She told the Los Angeles Times, “Government scientists have said that West Coast fisheries can’t catch more than one leatherback every five years. They estimate that four times that have caught just in the gill-net fishery alone.” Via the Los Angeles Times Images via Salvatore Barbera on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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