Obvious

2014 was the warmest year on record

Wallace’s flying frog

wallaces-flying-frog

Odd Creatures is a recurring column about the world’s weirdest species written by award-winning science writer and author Bec Crew, and illustrated by the super-talented Aiyana Udesen

Why hop when you can fly? Meet Wallace’s flying frog (Rhacophorus nigropalmatus), a large, pretty species found in tropical jungles of Malaysia, Borneo and western Indonesia.

Just a bit smaller than the length of an iPhone, the species sports a bright, shiny green colouring with a yellow underbelly and black webbing between its yellow fingers and toes. It might be called a flying frog, but technically what it does is glide. Flying needs to be powered by something like regular wing movements or a motor, whereas gliding is more like… falling with style. Just as if it were parachuting, a gliding animal will make a slow descent to where it needs to be at an angle of no more than 45 degrees relative to the ground below.

Wallace’s flying frog is so good at this, it can glide as far forward as the distance it’s falling. This means that if one is launching itself from a height of 15 metres (49 feet), it’s capable of gliding at least 15 metres away from that spot, aided by some weird, aerodynamic skin flaps on its sides, and its enormous and extensively webbed feet and hands. These things are literally bigger than its head.

The thin black membrane that forms the webbing on a Wallace’s flying frog’s hands and feet stays folded up when the frog is at rest, and stretches out like a parachute when it launches itself into the air. When the frog is ready to land, its enlarged toe pads help it to grip instantly onto the surface of a tree, or will cushion its landing once it reaches the jungle floor.

Wallace’s flying frog was first discovered in 1855 and named by British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace. At the time, it was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. In fact, the existence of a frog that had grown beyond leaping and into something far more effective helped Charles Darwin form the beginnings of his theory of evolution by natural selection. Poor old Wallace had been in the process of formulating his own very similar theory, but threw the towel in once Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859.

[Read more]

The “Goldilocks” Zone

goldilocks-zone

The ideal distance of a planet’s orbit around its star to allow for conditions where liquid water can exist on the planet’s surface. Astronomers recently found eight such planets in the “Goldilocks” zone.

“You have a very diverse group of personality traits that are maladaptive on the individual level”

psy-feld

Using the 6 p.m. episode of Seinfeld on TBS as homework, “Psy-feld” is part of a class at Rutgers medical school that helps psych students “identify and discuss psychiatric disorders”.

Frostbitten Flamingoes

flamingo-frostbitten

Flying the wrong way due to “unusual climactic conditions,” four different flamingoes flapped their way into Siberia last week.

Great Topic.

What are those floaty things in your eye?

Imagining a Mars 3.5 to 4 billion years ago

life-on-mars

As the search for life on Mars continues, the Curiosity rover is gathering up more evidence for proof of some type of Martian existence.

This Is Your Spine on Texting

spine-texting

All that looking down is equivalent to hanging a 60-pound weight around your neck.

“Parts of the brain that have never connected, suddenly join together.”

magic-mushrooms-brain-order

This is your brain on ‘Magic’ mushrooms

The Cutest Remote-Controlled Car. Ever.

penguin-remote-controlled-car

Instead of just walking into a flock of emperor penguins to identify those birds tagged with RFID chips, researchers in the Antarctic drive this adorable lil’ remote controlled dude into the huddles, so that the penguins won’t get stressed.

Turbulence

The unexpected math behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

“Pay attention, this is an important experience that is worth remembering.”

matt-leines-adhd

Having A.D.H.D. characteristics in the Paleolithic era made you a success. Now, in the instant gratification-heavy 21st century, those carrying traits of this novelty-seeking behavior need to—in a sense—become digital nomads to be effective and keep their surrounding world interesting.

Illustration by Matt Leines

Page 2 of 3112345...10...Last Page »