Tag Archives: science

Frogs

We’re here today to shine a good light on yet another F subject that is often overlooked, disparaged, undervalued, and sometimes even stepped on* by accident. Yes: frogs are for the most part what one might consider gross. No doubt their wild, unpredictable hopping can be unsettling. And yes, some are so butt ugly they may make you want to vomit. They have the dubious distinction of being on the short list of animals that have been used as Plagues.

But you know what? Frogs are also pretty awesome. A vastly underrated species if you ask me.

Let’s celebrate our amphibian friends by pointing out some of their more flattering features.

FANCY FROGS

Holy cow have you seen some of these poison dart frogs? These crazy-colorful beauties that mostly live in Central and South America got their name from the heyday of when people were using the frogs’ poison in their blowdarts** to settle various scores.

Have a look at some of these punams! But don’t touch, lest you end up looking like Martin Short in whatever terrible 80s movie that was with Danny Glover when he gets stung by all those bees.

Cobalt Dart Frog

Cobalt Dart Frog

Green & Black Poison Dart Frog, highly dangerous due to its striking resemblance to a delicious Andes Mint.

The Green & Black Poison Dart Frog, highly dangerous due to its striking resemblance to a delicious Andes Mint.

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Fourteen Freds

Last year we had a post honoring the world’s Franks. The time has now come to celebrate another workmanlike, perfectly adequate name that for some reason has fallen on hard times: Freds of the world rejoice!

In doing a bit of research for this post, we stumbled upon a delightful/simpatico resource that honors the Freds of the world in a worthy manner: The Fred Society. There may be some overlap here of the Freds we highlight, but I hope our combined efforts can build more Fred-respect and perhaps create a resurgence of kids named Fred.

Here’s to you, people named Fred!

Fred McGriff – There have been a slew of notable baseball Freds (Fred Lynn, Freddy Garcia, Freddie Freeman, Freddie Sanchez, and of course my friend JD’s favorite manager, the much beloved Fredi Gonzalez), but the Crime Dog is the best of the bunch. The Tampa native managed to smash 493 career dingers despite his awful swing that looked like an old left-handed man swinging a cane at a mosquito.

Fred 'Crime Dog' McGriff pointing with authority.

Fred ‘Crime Dog’ McGriff pointing with authority.

Fred Astaire – Outside of MC Hammer, maybe the best dancer of the 20th century.

Fred Astaire, born Frederick Austerlitz, the pride of Omaha.

Fred Astaire, born Frederick Austerlitz, the pride of Omaha.

Fred, Right Said – The 60s gave us Civil Rights and Dylan, the 90s gave us Pokemon and Right Said Fred; the creators of the timeless tribute to unmerited braggadocio I’m Too Sexy. Continue reading

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Filed under F Athletics, F Commentary, F Lists

Frightening Fish

Under the sea, under the sea… Life is de bubbles, under the sea.” – Sebastian the Crab

Despite Sebastian the Crab’s misleading portrayal in The Little Mermaid of life under the sea being some sort of delightful Calypso paradise; the reality is not quite so idyllic. The truth is that there are many alarming things lurking under our waters. Let’s have a look at some of the creatures you should be aware of.

Sebastian the Crab: Delusional or purposely creating misleading perceptions of life under the sea?

Sebastian the Crab: Misleading us about life under the sea?

Lungfish (freshwater) – This living fossil is a true horror monster brought to life. Certain kinds of lungfish are able to bury themselves in mud for months on end to survive a drought. That’s right, this little freak show doesn’t even need to live in water, it can just sit there waiting and lurking… eager for the chance to chomp you with its razor teeth. Oh yeah they can also walk on land and live for like a CENTURY.

lungfish

lungfish

Lungfish are found in Africa, Australia and South America, and despite being so awful looking, are actually eaten by some people. I’ll gladly leave them alone if they pledge to do the same for me.

Oarfish – Whenever something washes up on a beach that is even slightly reminiscent of a sea monster, it is always an oarfish. Every time. The next time you see one of those “Sea Monster Found?!” stories on Yahoo, don’t get your hopes up it’s totally just a dead oarfish.

wow, just wow.

Oarfish: wow, just wow.

These mysterious, elusive creatures can grow to more than 50 feet in length, fueling speculation that they were probably the “sea monsters” spotted by early navigators… OR WERE THEY???

No you’re right they probably were just oarfish.

Ocean Sunfish – These are so weird aren’t they? They look like those bullets from the original Super Mario Brothers with little flippers attached.

Look out Mario!

Look out Mario!

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Friday Fungus! Full-Figured Fungi

Back by popular demand (upwards of 3 people), it’s the return of everyone’s favorite quarterly, mushroom-focused series! Today we’re talking about fungi that are big, beautiful and fabulous.

Pop Quiz: Do you know that the largest living organism on earth is? If you would have asked me this last week, I would have guessed blue whale, a redwood tree, or maybe something like a giraffe riding on a blue whale. All would have been incorrect; as I’ve learned this week that the world’s largest living thing is none other than a fungus! Fungi never cease to amaze!

In the Malheur National Forest in Oregon lives a full-figured fungus so large it is hard to comprehend. Apparently the extensive ‘honey mushroom’ mass covers an area of about 3.5 miles, or more than 2,200 acres. Most of which is underground but my mind is still blown. (I was way off on my original guess. You’d have to stack an incredible amount of giraffes on top of a blue whale to come close to matching this formidable organism.)

In other large fungus news, just this week a real beauty was discovered in China’s Yunnan Province. Coming in at a whopping 33 pounds, this glorious heavyweight has over 100 caps; or according to my calculations, enough to complement 500 dishes of General Tso’s.

There are many more big & tall fungi out there that deserve recognition. The Fomitiporia ellipsoidea species can grow up to 35.5 feet long and weigh 800-1,000 pounds, while the Giant Puffball’s not so shabby either. We could go on for days but let’s go ahead and call it here to allow time for reflection.

I encourage you all to spend some time this weekend and marvel at how great fungi are. Especially the large ones! I don’t know about you, but I haven’t thought about how awesome huge mushrooms are since level 4 of Super Mario 3. I’m grateful for this reminder today.

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Florida Manatee Fights Forced Ridings

An open letter from a manatee upset with the recent trend of people trying to ride manatees. 

Greetings humans and other land-based creatures. I come to you today with a heavy, four-chamber heart. I want to address a delicate issue that demands the immediate attention of the international community – including those above the water and those under it as well.

We manatees unequivocally condemn and formally denounce all attempts to ride on us, and demand you stop this degrading practice at once.

Is it not enough to mercilessly run us over with your massive boats, hunt us for our precious body parts, or throw tantalizing non-food items at us that look just enough like lettuce to be confusing? Must you humiliate us further with this abhorrent behavior of trying to ride us? We will tolerate this no longer.

Perhaps you are thinking, “What are you gonna do about it manatees? You’re so big and slow we can do whatever we want to you.”

Yes, we are generally speaking a lumbering, peaceable species. But we should not be provoked. We are far more patient than your hot-tempered, destructive race, but we can only be pushed so far.

How will the manatee community respond if this shameful practice continues, you ask? While nature has neglected to give us a substantive means of self-defense in terms of brute force or physical combat, we do have options available to us that we will not hesitate to mobilize, should our hand (we say “flippers” but I’m using your language here for clarity) be forced.

Our serene countenance and adorable looks have endeared us to many of our aquatic brethren; some of whom are quite protective, vengeful and ill-tempered. We have friends who are highly venomous or pointy-billed, and some who have large, sharp teeth. We have developed excellent relations with the infamous candirus of South America, who delight in swimming into human bodies and exiting in shall we say, the most sensitive, painful way you can imagine.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

These are not threats. We manatees have been backed into a corner and pushed to the brink by your hurtful, gross conduct; much of which seems to take place in the region you call “Florida,” but we call “Warm Grass Munch World.” If the attempts to ride or mount us in any unauthorized manner continue, we will respond with swift, immediate action. We will respond with “ocean justice,” which is like your “street justice” or “prison rules,” but much more brutal. Do not be surprised when shark attacks increase, sailfish impalings become more commonplace, or your hospitals begin to fill with wailing, crotch-bandaged candiru victims.

You have been warned.

We are a simple species. We basically just float around and eat vegetation. We’re not hurting anyone. It is true that we produce a shocking amount of horrific gas — but does that make us unworthy of basic respect or decency?

I end with saying we are not so different. I have learned much about your ways. We both wean our young on milk, breathe air and struggle with body image issues, we both enjoy swimming and munching on lettuce – and dare I say we both want generally the same things for our young. Mammal to mammal, I ask for an immediate end to this undignified, uncalled for practice of trying to ride the noble manatee. I assure you we will afford the same respect in return.

 — Grassman the Manatee

Sad manatee photo via manatee.net

Sad manatee photo via manatee.net

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Filed under Flora + Fauna, Florida

Firmament

Let’s get heavy! Today we’re going to engage the formation and structure of the universe – no big deal. Strap on your helmets and gird your loins, it’s gonna get opinionated in here!

Before we get into this, it should be noted that my personal worldview is essentially “Judeo-Christian” in nature. That said, there are many big questions surrounding life/death/the universe/things of the supernatural realm I am tremendously confused by or undecided about, so I try to keep an open mind. How exactly the world came into existence and how the universe is structured would certainly fall into this category.

In that spirit of open-mindedness, let’s chat about a controversial* word featured in the Genesis account of creation that begs some explanation. Continue reading

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Filed under F Abstract Concepts, F Commentary, Faith

Flora + Fauna

Stumbled upon a fantastic resource the other day – the BBC Nature section. For those of us who like to use collective nouns the correct way (the team IS vs. the team ARE), and spell diarrhea the way God intended (not “I’ve got the diarrhoea, guv’na”), the BBC can be a bit much. If you’re strong enough to stomach a healthy dose of Britishness, I highly recommend this tremendous resource for all things flora + fauna.

Last week’s segment about cockroaches was a must-read, and the Dino Section, don’t get me started! They’ve created these vivid, intense dinosaur videos that will knock your socks off and give you night terrors for months.

Here’s a direct link to the Nature section so you can avoid the homepage which is always full of the BBC’s classic passive-aggressive, insulting headlines; where they use those sarcastic quotes to make someone else’s words convey what they really want to say without actually saying it themselves.

Americans ‘Fat Like Walruses’

Americans ‘Ruining Everything’

Yanks ‘Dumber Than Bags of Rocks’

would be some pretty typical examples.

Don’t let those headlines get you down! Go learn something and share your newly acquired flora + fauna knowledge with others today.

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