Listen to the heartbeat of a stone spire near Moab

❝ Castleton Tower is one of many culturally significant desert rock formations that Jeff Moore, a geologist, and his team at the Geohazards research group at the University of Utah have been monitoring with audio recordings. Like a doctor listening to the beating of a human heart, they hope to learn about the structural health of these arches, bridges and towers and how their environments affect them…

❝ …Castleton Tower taps into the earth’s natural vibrations, finding that it pulsates at about the rate of a human heartbeat.

Way cool. Makes you want to lean up against this critter and listen…even if all you get to hear is the wind.

A pocket-size addition to Shark Week

❝ Sharks are known to stalk and sniff out prey before they attack. But all this newly discovered shark species has to do is glow in the dark, and the prey comes to them.

The 5 1/2-inch American Pocket Shark is the first of its kind to be discovered in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a new Tulane University study. It’s less fearsome than it is wondrous…

❝ According to the paper, the shark secretes a glowing fluid from a tiny pocket gland near its front fins. It’s thought to help attract prey, who are drawn to the glow while the tiny predator, practically invisible from below, stealthily attacks.

Looks more like bait than predator. Though – come to think of it – ever been bitten by a New England coastal sandworm? Flatfish always loved ’em. I don’t know why.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Ancient tree recorded Earth reversing magnetic field


Nelson Parker

An ancient tree that contains a record of a reversal of Earth’s magnetic field has been discovered in New Zealand. The tree—an Agathis australis, better known as its Māori name kauri—was found in Ngawha, on New Zealand’s North Island, during excavation work for the expansion of a geothermal power plant…

The tree, which had been buried in 26 feet of soil, measures eight feet in diameter and 65 feet in length. Carbon dating revealed it lived for 1,500 years, between 41,000 and 42,500 years ago…

❝ The lifespan of the kauri tree covers a point in Earth’s history when the magnetic field almost reversed. At this time, the magnetic north and south went on an excursion but did not quite complete a full reversal.

Looking forward to a polished picture of the tree rings.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

“Flying salt shakers of death” are heavy; but, they ain’t metal


Click to enlargeMatt Kasson

❝ If cicadas made horror movies, they’d probably study the actions of their counterparts plagued by a certain psychedelic fungus.

West Virginia University researchers have discovered that a cicada fungus called Massopora contains chemicals similar to those found in hallucinogenic mushrooms.

The fungus causes cicadas to lose their limbs and eccentric behavior sets in: Males try to mate with everything they encounter, although the fungus has consumed their genitals and butts.

❝ You’ve heard of “The Walking Dead.” This is “The Flying Dead.”

A bit of cross-pollination with zombie movies – and some truly interesting consideration of a species infected with multiple funguses.