That’s Bloody Expensive!

One of the most expensive substances on the planet comes from one of it's unlikeliest -- and ugliest -- sources: the horseshoe crab. The bright blue blood of the of these inhabitants of shallow ocean waters fetches an astonishing $60,000 per gallon. With one gallon containing 75,708 drops, this equates to each drop of blood being worth... Continue Reading →

Today’s Forecast: Cloudy With a Chance of Amphibians

Parents routinely tell their children to dress appropriately for the weather. How should a child dress to be properly prepared for an onslaught of amphibians? On July 12, 1873 residents of Kansas City, Missouri were astonished to find frogs falling from the sky. Scientific American reported the event, noting that the "shower of frogs darkened the... Continue Reading →

Building an Empire, One Bird-Dropping-Covered Island at a Time

The next time you are tempted to complain about birds using your freshly-washed car as a toilet, consider the important role bird droppings have played in the history of the United States. Prior to the development of artificial fertilizer, bird droppings (more politely referred to as guano) were in high demand as a natural fertilizer.... Continue Reading →

The Seeds of Death

Castor oil has been used for centuries as a laxative and all-purpose curative. Ironically, the same plant that makes possible this healthful oil also happens to be the world's deadliest plant. The Guinness Book of World Records bestowed this title upon the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis) because of its seeds. They contain the ultra-toxic... Continue Reading →

Fast-Growing Marvels

We are used to thinking of the rate of tree growth as being similar to that of continental drift. Surprisingly, the fastest-growing lifeforms on the planet include trees. Consider some of these fast-growing examples: The fastest-growing tree in North America, the Eastern Cottonwood can grow 10-15 feet per year. Given that it can be dormant... Continue Reading →

Yet Another Reason Why Growing Up Is Not Fun

Transitioning from child to adult is frequently painful -- particularly when it involves a rite of passage centered around pain. Boys in the Sateré-Mawé tribe in Brazil's Amazon become men upon reaching age 13 and successful completion of the Bullet Ant Initiation. Bullet ants are notorious for having the most painful sting of any ant.... Continue Reading →

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