Archive for February, 2017

Seven Alien ‘Earths’ Found Orbiting Nearby Star

February 23, 2017

Astronomers announced today the discovery of an extraordinary planetary system: seven Earth-sized planets that could all have liquid water on their rocky surfaces. The planets circle a tiny, dim, nearby star in tight orbits all less than 2 weeks long.

TRAPPIST-1 system.jpg

Although it isn’t possible today to say whether the planets harbor life, astronomers are excited because each planet’s orbit passes in front of—or “transits”—its parent star. What’s more, the system’s proximity to Earth means that answers to questions about whether the system is habitable may come in just a few years’ time with the launch of a powerful new space telescope.

The planets, which circle a star called TRAPPIST-1 just 39 light-years away, are tucked together so tightly that they routinely spangle each others’ skies, sometimes appearing as shimmering crescents and at other times as orbs nearly twice as large as the full moon.

Learn more here, here, here, here, here or here.

Red Octopus vs Swimmer Crab

February 20, 2017

In the tradition of ‘Killer Whale vs Seal‘, ‘Lion vs Buffalo vs Crocodile‘, ‘Shark vs Octopus‘, ’Leopard vs Porcupine‘, ‘Hornets vs Honey bees‘, ’Salmon vs Grizzly Bear‘, ‘Hippopotamus vs Crocodile’, ‘Polar Bear vs Walrus Colony’, ‘Giraffe vs Giraffe‘, ‘Caterpillar vs Frog‘, ‘Frog vs Poison Newt’, ‘Rubber bands vs Water Melon’,  ‘Sarcastic fringehead vs Sarcastic fringehead’, ‘Jaguar vs Crocodile‘, ‘Snake vs Crocodile‘, ‘Centipede vs Snake‘, ‘Moray Eel vs White Tip Reef Shark‘, ‘Rabbit vs Snake‘, ‘Octopus vs Octopus‘, ‘Rat vs Snake’, ‘Iguana vs Snakes‘ and ‘Eel vs Octopus vs Human‘ here is ‘Red Octopus vs Swimmer Crab’:

Be warned, this sparring match does not end the way either of the opponents had intended.

This Gecko Detaches its Scales to Escape Predators

February 8, 2017

How do you escape a grabby predator? Many lizards shed their tails. But a newly described species of gecko has another trick up its scales: When grabbed, it can shed patches of skin and scales from most of its body, making it look more like a boneless, skinless chicken breast than a scaly beast.

Geckolepis megalepis.png

Geckolepis megalepis is a kind of fish-scale gecko, a group of nocturnal lizards found only on Madagascar and the nearby Comoros Islands whose outsized scales overlap like those of a fish. So far, the new species has been found only in a small nature reserve in northern Madagascar. Besides being easy to shed, its scales are the largest of any gecko—the biggest measure more than 8% of the creature’s body length.

Learn more here, here or here.