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How to Mount a Horse in Armor and Other Chivalric Problems

Just how heavy and cumbersome was medieval armor? Who wore it? What did it look like? To find out, watch How to Mount a Horse in Armor and Other Chivalric Problems, an entertaining, informative, and deliciously snarky presentation by Dirk H. Breiding, assistant curator of the Department of Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Aug 2, 2014 - 16 comments

OK: Now explain midichlorians.

With growing fascination for the large land vertebratomorphs that are so startlingly diverse on Tatooine, I secured Imperial funding for an expedition to Tatooine, to survey the exotic megafauna and search for fossils of Tyrannodraconis that might further illuminate their evolution. My ensuing report summarizes my trilogy of investigations and discoveries from this “holiday in the suns." [more inside]
posted by ChuraChura on Jul 22, 2014 - 5 comments

Pablo Escobar’s hippos: A growing problem

A herd of hippopotamuses once owned by the late Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar has been taking over the countryside near his former ranch
posted by T.D. Strange on Jun 26, 2014 - 36 comments

Egg sucking...

How to eat a raw egg... if you happen to be an Arctic Wolf. Bonus feature: Wolf pup with hiccups. Brought to you by the Wolf Conservation Center's social media effort.
posted by HuronBob on Jun 16, 2014 - 14 comments

Colorado River once again--briefly--flows to the sea

On March 23, the floodgates of the Morelos Dam, near Yuma, Arizona opened, unleashing a three-day "pulse" into the dry Colorado River delta. The waters recently reached the Sea of Cortez, and a group of scientists and journalists were there to raft it. [more inside]
posted by MoonOrb on Jun 14, 2014 - 18 comments

"You're all slightly mad, aren't you?"

Loafing with puffins. RSPB staff can be isolated for up to three weeks at a time on tiny Coquet Island, home to approximately 44,000 nesting seabirds, including rare terns, and puffins. Wardens Paul Morrison and Wesley Davis showed the BBC's Helen Mark around, and described their conservation work and what they get up to on rainy days.
"They look very Glam Rock but I have a suspicion it's going to be Abstract Jazz."
posted by Catch on Jun 5, 2014 - 10 comments

.

"Elephants are obviously amazing, or rather, they are obvious receptacles for our amazement, because they seem to be a lot like us. They live about as long as we do. They understand it when we point at things, which our nearest living evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee, doesn’t really. They can unlock locks with their trunks. They recognize themselves in mirrors. They are socially sophisticated. They stay with the same herds for life, or the cows do, anyway. They mourn their dead. They like getting drunk. When an elephant keels over, its friends sometimes break their tusks trying to get it to stand up again. They bury their dead. They bear grudges against people who’ve hurt them, and sometimes go on revenge campaigns. They cry. So why would you want to put a bullet in one?" ... Journalist Wells Tower accompanied one of Botswana's final elephant hunts. This article contains graphic content of an elephant hunt which some may find disturbing.
posted by zarq on Jun 5, 2014 - 36 comments

The Moral Question Of Our Time: Can We Share The Planet?

UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy - "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 23, 2014 - 50 comments

The Canadian Beaver & Our Furry Heritage

Out in the field with one of Alberta's few female trappers. Emily the Trapper is smart, loves animals, and thinks your ideas about fur trapping are all wrong. [more inside]
posted by arcticseal on Mar 21, 2014 - 14 comments

When a tree falls in the forest..

Global Forest Watch uses satellites to monitor forest loss in near real-time (videos+images). It is now possible to see when forests (or even a couple big trees) are being cut down at the the time it happens, allowing officials and the public to notice and possibly take action. There is also a timeline showing forest loss/gain over time - how has your neighborhood fared?
posted by stbalbach on Feb 20, 2014 - 14 comments

When Artworks Crash

In 1994, Douglas Davis [personal blog] created The World's First Collaborative Sentence. Last summer, The Whitney Museum faced a new challenge: what happens to digital art when the technology becomes obsolete? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 19, 2014 - 31 comments

Bears Bears Bears. Too many bears

Special Report: BEARS! [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Dec 13, 2013 - 31 comments

Missing

What Is Missing? is artist and architect Maya Lin's (previously) last memorial, this one to vanishing species and habitats. [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Nov 10, 2013 - 10 comments

The forests blotted out memories of what had gone before.

Accidental Rewilding - In places once thick with farms and cities, human dispossession and war has cleared the ground for nature to return
The forest had entered a cycle Tomaž had not seen before, in which many of the giants had perished. Some had died where they stood, and remained upright, reamed with beetle and woodpecker holes, sprouting hoof fungus and razor strop. They looked as if a whisper of wind could blow them down. Others now stretched across the rocks and craters, sometimes blocking our path, sometimes suspended above our heads. Among the trunks lying on the ground, some were so thick that I could scarcely see over them. Where they had fallen, thickets of saplings crowded into the light. Seeing the profusion of fungus and insect life the dead wood harboured, I was reminded of the old ecologists’ aphorism: there is more life in dead trees than there is in living trees. The tidy-minded forestry so many nations practise deprives many species of their habitats.
by George Monbiot [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 25, 2013 - 30 comments

Game behind gamed: your narrative programming for the day

How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio[1] actually makes a case against austerity[2] and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 25, 2013 - 28 comments

Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand intervening)

A case currently before the International Court of Justice has Australia (supported by New Zealand) seeking to either stop the flagrant abuse of a loophole in the International Whaling Commission's rules by Japan, or a nasty cultural imperialist "moral crusade" attempt to suppress a sustainable, ancient tradition of killing whales with factory ships around Antarctica. You can watch Court arguments here.
posted by wilful on Jul 8, 2013 - 39 comments

“…our buddy cheerful hostess…will instantly make you feel ateas..."

A Burlingame, California restaurant, Monkutanya, that serves grilled exotic meats has announced on its facebook page that it has added lion to the menu, stirring up some controversy and publicity.
posted by agatha_magatha on May 17, 2013 - 79 comments

One: Singular Sensation

Last summer, the Museum of Modern Art took one of its best-known paintings off the wall, Jackson Pollock's One: Number 31, 1950, so that it could be conserved. They've been blogging about the process of restoring this dense, multi-layered work, including closeup photos that reveal an earlier restoration in the mid-60s before it came to MOMA.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Apr 21, 2013 - 26 comments

“who’s managing our fisheries?”

Blood and Brains - can vampires survive a zombie apocalypse? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 9, 2013 - 7 comments

"This is the Amazon as one imagines it as a child"

"Hi, my name is Paul Rosolie. I'm a naturalist based out of southern Peru and today I'm headed into the jungle to show you a place that very few people have gotten to see. I'm in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, this is the far western Amazon and some of the deepest jungle on earth."
posted by stbalbach on Feb 20, 2013 - 10 comments

Freedom From Famine - The Norman Borlaug Story

A documentary film about Norman Borlaug, the Iowa farm boy who saved over a billion people from starvation. (1:06:47) Americans have little knowledge of one of their greatest sons. Why do schoolchildren in China, India, Mexico, and Pakistan know the name and work of Nobel Peace Prize winner [His speech] Norman Borlaug while so few of his countrymen have never heard of him? How did a dirt-poor farm boy from rural Iowa grow up to save a billion people worldwide from starvation and malnutrition and become the father of the Green Revolution? What were the inherited traits and environmental factors that shaped his astonishing journey and led to successes that surprised even him? What can we learn from his life and views that might help the human race survive the next critical century? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Jan 28, 2013 - 84 comments

See Monkeys

Thousands of illustrations and photographs for all your primate picture needs. [more inside]
posted by ChuraChura on Jan 18, 2013 - 2 comments

Subspecies Extinction Alert

DNA analysis has confirmed the death, by poaching, of the last Javan rhino in Vietnam. This marks the official extinction of the Vietnamese subspecies of Javan rhinoceros. The entire species is now represented by just 35 individuals from the Indonesian subspecies, all of whom reside in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia.
posted by Scientist on Jan 16, 2013 - 52 comments

Meet Michael Forsberg, Conservation Photographer

I think it is high time that MeFites meet Michael Forsberg, a Lincoln, Nebraska based Conservation Photographer who works primarily in the Great Plains of North America, once one of the greatest grassland ecosystems on Earth. (His bio.) His goal has been to try to capture the wild spirit that still survives in these wide-open spaces and put a face to the often overlooked native creatures and landscapes found there. His hope is that the images can build appreciation and go to work to inspire conservation efforts on the land far into the future. Here is a great 48 minute presentation that Michael gave at the California Academy of Sciences after completing his most recent book simply entitled "Great Plains". In the video he unselfishly shares not just his photographic images but also his equipment and techniques. [more inside]
posted by spock on Jan 10, 2013 - 9 comments

A Look at the Bushmeat Crisis in Central Africa

"Decades ago, the Mbuti typically sold about half the meat they captured; now they sell nearly every carcass, saving only the prized entrails and heads for themselves. The hunt, in essence, has devolved into an all-out commercial endeavor, staged not for subsistence, but to feed growing regional markets. And the impact is clear."
posted by Scientist on Nov 13, 2012 - 20 comments

Another Mustachioed Hipster Moves to Brooklyn

A Fat Mustachioed Orphan Finds a Home. (NYT, MLWP, video within*) [more inside]
posted by spitbull on Oct 21, 2012 - 27 comments

World Rhinoceros Day!

"In March 2012, following the brutal attack of three rhinos by poachers seeking horn, Dr. William Fowlds, the wildlife veterinarian treating the rhinos, contacted WitmerLab for insight into the anatomical structure of the horn, skull, and nasal cavity of rhinos. The poachers had used machetes to hack off the horns, leaving deep wounds in the face and exposing the delicate mucous membranes of the paranasal air sinuses and nasal cavity." The result of this partnership was the Visible Interactive Rhino. For more rhinoceros anatomy, check out photos from a rhinoceros dissection from What's in John's Freezer? (previously). [more inside]
posted by ChuraChura on Sep 22, 2012 - 16 comments

The Iron Gall Ink Website

Presenting your source for all things iron gall ink. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Aug 28, 2012 - 8 comments

The Longest Time (Coral Triangle Edition)

Billy Joel has now officially endorsed - The Longest Time (Coral Triangle Edition), by the Barber Lab Quartet [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Jul 18, 2012 - 17 comments

Blue will speak for the trees

Blue trees are to be seen in cities around the world, a colorful plea to save the trees. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Jun 7, 2012 - 27 comments

The Dry Earth

The Earth has less water than you might think. [via]
posted by cashman on May 13, 2012 - 68 comments

"You've got another tortoise that's so small, it's vanished?"

In 1962, Yorkshire man Brendon Grimshaw bought the island of Moyenne in the middle of the Indian Ocean for £8000. He has since dedicated his life to turning it into a tropical paradise; including planting over sixteen thousand trees, building nearly five kilometers for nature paths, and reintroducing over 100 land tortoises. It's now the world's smallest National Park. [more inside]
posted by quin on May 7, 2012 - 27 comments

Law and Order: Yellowstone Style

A Death in Yellowstone: On the Trail of a Grizzly Bear. a gripping story and a well written article in Slate, by Jessica Grose. Includes a similarly remarkable photo feature. [more inside]
posted by spitbull on Apr 2, 2012 - 51 comments

(◡ ‿ ◡ ✿)

The Fungarium & The Millenium Seed Bank Partnership:
A Pair of 5-minute Documentaries on the Research Institutions at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London. (Previously 1 , Previously 2)
posted by lemuring on Mar 23, 2012 - 4 comments

There is no law in France, it turns out, against the improvement of clocks.

This stealthy undertaking was not an act of robbery or espionage but rather a crucial operation in what would become an association called UX, for “Urban eXperiment.” UX is sort of like an artist’s collective, but far from being avant-garde—confronting audiences by pushing the boundaries of the new—its only audience is itself. More surprising still, its work is often radically conservative, intemperate in its devotion to the old. Through meticulous infiltration, UX members have carried out shocking acts of cultural preservation and repair, with an ethos of “restoring those invisible parts of our patrimony that the government has abandoned or doesn’t have the means to maintain.” The group claims to have conducted 15 such covert restorations, often in centuries-old spaces, all over Paris. - Wired.com "The New French Hacker-Artist Underground"
posted by The Whelk on Jan 24, 2012 - 20 comments

The ObserverTree

On Dec 14, 2011 Miranda Gibson climbed 200ft up a tree in Tasmania. She hasn't yet come down. [more inside]
posted by Kerasia on Jan 17, 2012 - 30 comments

Fish protection finally

"Probably the most important conservation statute ever enacted into America’s fisheries law".. as of 2012, all 528 federally managed fish species now have imposed catch limits. The US is arguably the first country in the world to do it. This means every species has a hard limit of how many fish can be taken - not just how many per-boat or angler - an absolute cap on the total number (actually by weight). The law was enacted in 2006 under a policy forged under President George W. Bush and finalized with President Obama's backing.(previously)
posted by stbalbach on Jan 9, 2012 - 51 comments

The Western Soundscape Archive

"The Western Soundscape Archive [...] features audio recordings of animals and environments throughout the western United States." "The project's geographic focus includes eleven contiguous western states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming - as well as baseline sound monitoring in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska." [more inside]
posted by OmieWise on Dec 14, 2011 - 4 comments

Tortoises all the way down

"Richard Lewis is director of Durrell's Madagascar programme. Here he speaks about how the team and the local villagers are working to protect the world's rarest tortoise. This includes the drastic measure of "defacing" the beautiful shells in order to make the animals worthless on the black market."
posted by vidur on Dec 13, 2011 - 6 comments

Island exterminators

Islands make up only about 3% of the earth's land area but host about 20% of all species and 50 to 60% of endangered species. The biggest threat to islands are invasive species, mainly rats, but also pigs and cats, who feed on nesting birds and native plants. New Zealand has been the innovator in clearing islands of rats because of its endangered populations of flightless birds which are vulnerable. One species of flightless parrot, known as the kakapo, has only 131 individuals left in the "wild" - they are closely guarded 24x7 on Codfish Island, their nests surrounded by rat traps and cameras vigilantly on the lookout for invaders. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Nov 27, 2011 - 39 comments

The amphibian plague

"There is a parallel between what amphibian taxonomists do these days and what homicide detectives do. Both arrive at scenes of mayhem. Maybe they solve the crime, but they are powerless to undo it." A fungal plague is killing the world's amphibians. Hundreds of species are already gone. There is no vaccine and no cure. There is, however, an ark.
posted by escabeche on Nov 17, 2011 - 29 comments

Bridge of Signs

Most people know that Venice has long been threatened by chronic flooding, but in recent years the Queen of the Adriatic has faced a rising tide of a different sort: advertising. From the Doge's Palace to St. Mark's Square to the bittersweet Bridge of Sighs -- named for the grief its splendid views once inspired in crossing death row prisoners -- immense billboards lit late into the night now mar the city's most treasured places. Allegedly built to cover the cost of restoration work in the face of government cutbacks, the ads have brought in around $600,000 per year since 2008 -- a fraction of the shortfall -- and show no sign of going away any time soon. Their presence prompted a consortium of the world's leading cultural experts led by the Venice in Peril Fund to air an open letter demanding the city government put a stop to the placards that "hit you in the eye and ruin your experience of one of the most beautiful creations of humankind." Mayor Giorgio Orsoni, for one, was not moved, saying last year "If people want to see the building they should go home and look at a picture of it in a book."
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 4, 2011 - 59 comments

Here, kitty, kitty. Or maybe not.

Cats are apparently the culprits behind several avian extinctions worldwide. So, are cats bad for the environment?
posted by peripathetic on Jul 11, 2011 - 138 comments

I think I'll call him Rusty.

The red-crested tree rat (Santamartamys rufodorsalis), not seen in over a hundred years, made an unexpected, nonchalant appearance at the El Dorado Bird Reserve in Colombia a couple of weeks ago. Witnesses are unavailable for comment, being too busy with squeals of "Awwwwwww" to respond to questions. Press release here; high-res photos heEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
posted by Gator on May 19, 2011 - 25 comments

Urban Nature

I drive past the Meadowlands every day now for the past 2 years on the NJ Turnpike. I kept seeing construction equipment and this area of dead dumping land slowly transform into one with actual streams like out of some plan. Turns out, there was. [more inside]
posted by rich on Apr 29, 2011 - 19 comments

Burt's Bees Co-Founder Wants to Donate National Park

In 1975, with $3,000 in savings Roxanne Quimby and her boyfriend moved to Maine. They bought a tract of land on which they built a cabin and an outhouse. Near her Guilford homestead, Quimby later met beekeeper Burt Shavitz and used his beeswax to create candles (making $20,000 in her first year selling at local crafts fairs) -- and later their (yes, the two cofounded a company together) best selling product Burt's Bees Lip Balm (it's Burt's image that still graces many of the company's products). With the phenomenal success that followed, she sold 80 percent of her shares in the company to New York investors in 2003 (eventually the company was sold to Clorox) to help fund significant land purchases. For years Maine sportsmen have been outraged with Quimby for forbidding hunters, loggers, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles on the 120,000 acres of woodlands she now owns. Quimby has recently offered a compromise. She wants to donate 70,000 acres to help create a new national park (Maine Woods National Park) while "setting aside another 30,000 acres of woodlands ... to be managed like a state park, with hunting and snowmobiling allowed." [more inside]
posted by ericb on Mar 28, 2011 - 49 comments

I Need the Darkness Someone Please Cut the Lights

At 830 pm local time on March 26 the world celebrated Earth Hour 2011 by turning off the lights.
posted by Glibpaxman on Mar 28, 2011 - 97 comments

The Definitive Look at the Diversity of Our Planet

Five years ago this week, the BBC started broadcasting one of the most extraordinary documentaries ever to grace television: Planet Earth. The culmination of five years of field work, it employed the most cutting-edge of techniques in order to capture life in all its forms, from sweeping spaceborne vistas to shockingly intimate close-ups -- including many sights rarely glimpsed by human eyes. Visually spectacular, it showcased footage shot in 204 locations in 62 countries, thoroughly documenting every biome from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the lifegiving waters of the Okavango Delta, a rich narrative tapestry backed by a stirring orchestral score from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Unfortunately, the series underwent some editorial changes for rebroadcast overseas. But now fans outside the UK can rejoice -- all eleven chapters of this epic story are available on YouTube in their original form: uncut, in glorious 1080p HD, and with the original narration by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Click inside for the full listing (and kiss the rest of your week goodbye). [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Mar 7, 2011 - 69 comments

Birds of Prey

You didn't much like Raptorize and were hoping for something about real raptors (not F-22 fighters), therefore I am pleased to give you the goods on Birds of Prey. Raptors are birds that hunt (or scavenge) for meat, not plant life, and share several physical traits (although they can vary in size from miniature (pygmy) owls to Andean condors). Eagles and hawks (accipitridae), among the largest birds of prey in the United States), falcons (falconidae), condors, harriers, kites, ospreys (pandionidae), owls (tytonidae and strigidae), secretary birds (sagittariidae) and vultures (cathartidae) are all raptors; all have hooked beaks, fantastic visual acuity and sharp talons. The word raptor comes from the Latin rapere (to seize), apt description of their hunting style. Raptor breeders abound, as do raptor associations (quite a list at the Global Raptor Information Network). Rescue and rehabilitation organizations nurse injured raptors back to health; you can Adopt-a-Bird, and even donate regularly to help the birds via your very own Raptor Center Credit Card. Failing that, you can always help others learn more about conservation of these magnificent and beautiful creatures. And if you are super keen, you can attend the Winter Raptor Fest 2011. [more inside]
posted by bwg on Dec 14, 2010 - 22 comments

au naturel

The Great Unwashed: "Some people have all but abandoned the idea of soap, shampoo or deodorant and yet still have friends, relationships and jobs." Slate disagrees that this is even a trend, but The Village Voice notes it has been covered elsewhere, including The New York Observer and Hairpin. In response, The Week asks, "Can you succeed without showering?"
posted by zarq on Nov 3, 2010 - 176 comments

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