Thursday, January 08, 2015

Daily 2 Cents: Green UFO Over Caribbean -- Rare Butterfly Is Half Male, Half Female -- Want A Used Popemobile?



Green UFO Over Caribbean

1/2/2015 - On a cruise ship traveling from Florida to Caribbean island (near Puerto Rico). Took back to back photos almost 30 seconds from each other and saw on the second photo this green object. Then I looked at photo and then look up and it was gone. - MUFON CMS

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Vatican Raffling Off Used Popemobile

Pope Francis is holding a raffle to raise money for the poor, and the grand prize will put your own paltry Church Bingo Night winnings to shame: it’s a used Popemobile!

Yes, rather than just selling his old 4×4 Fiat Panda on craigslist like the average, fallible motorist might, Pope Francis has decided to raffle off his supermini to raise money for some of the charities that he supports. Unfortunately, to buy one of the 10 euro tickets, participants will have to make a pilgrimage all the way to the Vatican, since they’re not being sold online.

According to CNN, the Pope is also donating to the raffle several of his bicycles, a camera, an espresso machine, a leather suitcase, and a panama hat (which is disappointing, because usually when you hear that the pope is raffling off one of his old hats, you imagine something a bit more unique). Apparently, all of those items were actually presents that Pope Francis has decided to re-gift, which is something a lot of us do in the month following Christmas (although, again, not always for such a worthy cause).

There will be 13 main prizes given out in Thursday’s drawing, along with 30 unspecified consolation prizes.

And if you’re wondering why the pope drives a Fiat, it’s because the famously frugal pontiff prefers compact cars (it’s the same reason he drove a Kia Soul when visiting Korea last August). And if you’re wondering why James Bond drives a Fiat, we’re afraid we still don’t know the answer to that question. - The News Wheel

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Spiny monster from the depths of world's oldest lake

Lake Baikal is a paradise of biodiversity, "the Galapagos of Russia". Thousands of species of plants and animals live there, and some 60 per cent of them, including the photogenic Baikal seal, are found nowhere else. This little beauty is also unique to the lake.

I say little, it's actually a giant. It looks to be the giant spiny amphipod, Acanthogammarus victorii, which is about 70 millimetres long. The typical freshwater shrimps found in Europe (Gammarus pulex) grow only to about 20 mm. Gigantism in the lake is thought to be fuelled by high levels of dissolved oxygen.

Baikal has more than 350 species of amphipod, occupying the full range of lake habitats. This one feeds on the organic matter, like dead insects and fish, that drifts down through the water. Amphipods are the trash collectors of Baikal, and help maintain its exceptional purity.

Kamenskaya has been photographing the lake's wonders for years but can't see her love waning. "One can never end the dialogue with Lake Baikal. The feeling of satisfaction will never come." Despite having walked hundreds of kilometres on the lake's frozen surface and taken thousands of shots, she says she has only touched upon its mystery. - More photos and credits - New Scientist

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Rare Butterfly Is Half Male, Half Female

An unusual butterfly that is half male and half female recently caught the eyes of a volunteer at a butterfly exhibit at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Chris Johnson, a retired chemical engineer from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, was volunteering at the exhibit when he stumbled across the unusual sight.

Johnson noticed that the insect's two right wings were typical of the females of its species — they were larger, and brown with yellow and white spots. But its two left wings were smaller and darker, with splashes of green, blue and purple, a pattern characteristic of males.

Johnson spotted the creature while emptying out the butterfly exhibit's pupa chamber, where the insects hatch from their chrysalises and cocoons. "It slowly opened up, and the wings were so dramatically different, it was immediately apparent what it was," he said.

Johnson and his supervisor, exhibit coordinator David Schloss, isolated the butterfly and contacted Entomology Collection Manager Jason Weintraub.

A butterfly expert later confirmed that the remarkable insect was a Common Archduke butterfly (Lexias pardalis) with a rare condition called gynandromorphy, which means outwardly having both male and female characteristics. (This is distinct from hermaphroditism, in which an organism has both male and female reproductive organs, but has external characteristics of one gender.)

The condition is most commonly noticed in birds and butterflies, whose two sexes can have very different coloration, Weintraub said. It can occur when the sex chromosomes fail to separate during cell division in early development, a process known as nondisjunction. As a result of this failure, some of the animal's cells have a female genotype, and others have a male genotype, giving rise to an animal with both male and female characteristics.

Because gynandromorphy can be easily overlooked in species in which the two sexes look similar to each other, scientists don't know how rare the condition is.

The butterfly that Johnson found is a member of a species belonging the family Nymphalidae, commonly known as "brush-footed" butterflies, and it lives in tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. It was shipped in October 2014, in a group of pupas from a sustainable butterfly farm on Penang Island in Malaysia, according to the academy staff.

Differences between the males and females of any species result from a process called sexual selection, in which one gender (usually females) select mates of the other gender based on the presence of certain traits, which become passed from generation to generation over thousands of years.

The rare butterfly was preserved and pinned, and will be on display at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University for visitors to see from Jan. 17 through Feb. 16, the academy staff said. - Live Science

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Teenage boy nearly dies after live EEL gets trapped in his throat for 5 hours

A teenage boy nearly died after swallowing a live eel that lodged in his
 windpipe for five hours, doctors have revealed.


The unnamed 16-year-old boy had been fishing in Bangladesh when he caught
 a 6.5 inch long Guchi Bail - Indian spiny eel - and placed it between his
 teeth.


Unfortunately the eel slipped out of his mouth and down his throat,
 according to the UK-based science journal BioMed Central.


The youngster ran back to his house where his family saw the fish inside
 his throat and frantically tried to pull it out only for it to slip further
 down.


He began having breathing problems and was taken to Dhaka Medical College
 Hospital where doctors examined his throat but could not see the fish.


They decided to carry out an emergency operation in which they cut a hole
 in the front of his neck and inserted a tube into his windpipe to help him
 breathe.


Five hours after the accident had occurred, doctors spotted the tail fin of
 a fish through the hole they had created in his windpipe.


They were able to grab it with a pair of forceps and pull the fish out
 which by now was dead.


The boy's surgeon Kanu Sana later said: "This is the second case I have
 come across to date.
"

The other was a 45-year-old man who came from a rural village about 300
 kilometres away.


'It was 12 hours after he swallowed the fish. Unfortunately he didn't
 survive."
 - Irish Mirror

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