mental_floss Blog » 6 Animals That Show Mother Nature’s Sense of Humor

Miss Cellania

You’ve heard jokes like these all your life: What do you get if you cross an octopus with a cow? An animal that can milk itself. I didn’t find such an animal, but the world has plenty of strange species that at first glance appear to be hybrids of unrelated species because they have attributes that surprise us. However, we are only surprised because our personal experiences don’t encompass all that nature offers.

1. Turtle + Hedgehog = Armadillo


Rudyard Kipling wrote the story The Beginning of the Armadillos, in which the animal came from a tortoise and a hedgehog. They didn’t join to give birth to armadillos; instead, they taught each other their talents. The hedgehog helped the tortoise learn to curl into a ball, and the tortoise taught the hedgehog to swim, which toughened up his spines into armor. Before they knew it, both had turned into armadillos.

Here in the real world, armadillos are related to both sloths and anteaters and are native to Latin America except for the nine-banded armadillo we see in the US. In certain states they are called “speed bumps”. Armadillo image by Flickr user Ben Cooper.

2. Giraffe + Zebra = Okapi


The okapi (Okapia johnstoni) appears to be a short giraffe with a zebra’s legs tacked as an afterthought. The animal, which lives only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (and in zoos), is actually related to the giraffe but was “shorted” in the neck department. To make up for that oversight, the okapi has a tongue long enough to lick its own ears! The zebra stripes are thought to be used as camouflage, and to make it easy for okapi young to follow their mothers through the rain forest. Okapi image by Raul654.

hehe... To see the other four you'll have to go to the site: http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs//archives/43622#

Posted via web from TweetingDonal's Temporary Insanities

Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change. - Pew Social & Demographic Trends

Pew Social Research has brought us yet another informative study of the demographics in the United States and how the population and priorities are evolving.

Check out the sample below, and if it's your "cup of tea" then check out the whole article at pewsocialtrends.org.  There is also a detailed .pdf available at their site.

Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.

Executive Summary

Generations, like people, have personalities, and Millennials -- the American teens and twenty-somethings who are making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium -- have begun to forge theirs: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change.
They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults. They're less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history.
Their entry into careers and first jobs has been badly set back by the Great Recession, but they are more upbeat than their elders about their own economic futures as well as about the overall state of the nation.(See chapter 4 in the full report)

They embrace multiple modes of self-expression. Three-quarters have created a profile on a social networking site. One-in-five have posted a video of themselves online. Nearly four-in-ten have a tattoo (and for most who do, one is not enough: about half of those with tattoos have two to five and 18% have six or more). Nearly one-in-four have a piercing in some place other than an earlobe -- about six times the share of older adults who've done this. But their look-at-me tendencies are not without limits. Most Millennials have placed privacy boundaries on their social media profiles. And 70% say their tattoos are hidden beneath clothing. (See chapters 4 and 7 in the full report)
Despite struggling (and often failing) to find jobs in the teeth of a recession, about nine-in-ten either say that they currently have enough money or that they will eventually meet their long-term financial goals. But at the moment, fully 37% of 18- to 29-year-olds are unemployed or out of the workforce, the highest share among this age group in more than three decades. Research shows that young people who graduate from college in a bad economy typically suffer long-term consequences -- with effects on their careers and earnings that linger as long as 15 years.1 (See chapter 5 in the full report)


For the Record: Fighting Climate Change is Patriotic

America, listen up! Climate Change will do more to destroy our country, and our way of life, than anything that bin Laden or Al Queda can even dream of doing!

The people who have been telling you that Global Warming is a "hoax" or a "liberal conspiracy" are lying to you!

“Many nations and businesses across the globe are moving to respond to climate change in innovative ways. How the United States participates in these efforts will profoundly affect our diplomatic standing, our economic potential, and our national security.”
--U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)
We will pay for this [climate change impacts] one way or another. We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we’ll have to take an economic hit of some kind. Or we will pay the price later in military terms…and that will involve human lives
—General Anthony C. Zinni

You may have missed the memo: We must fight climate change. The people who have your interest at heart, those that care more for what happens to us as people than whether they maintain political power, have come out and stated it very clearly. Climate Change is the single biggest threat to us all.

Take a look at The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate to get a better understanding of why this is so important. Check out the Issues, read the News, and when you're ready to roll up your sleeves and do something about it, then take a look at the "What You Can Do" page from the Union of Concerned Scientists.


Katharine Hayhoe on Climate Change

Wonderfully balanced, down to earth explanation from Katharine, this should be shared with your friends! This is one of several interviews conducted over at OurBlook, please follow the link back to OurBlook for the rest of the posts in this series.

OurBlook interview with Katharine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe
In 2007, 489 members of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union were surveyed for the Statistical Assessment Service at George Mason University. 84% said that they personally believed human-induced warming is occurring and it poses a very great danger, 74% believed that currently available scientific evidence substantiates its occurrence. Do you agree with the views of these scientists? Why or why not?

KH: Global warming is not something we should "believe" in. Belief, so the Bible tells us, "is the evidence of things not seen." Science, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite of belief. Science is about accumulating the evidence of things that can be seen. And that's what global warming is about.

As scientists, we are trained to question every piece of evidence we are offered. If it holds up, we are then taught to find the explanation that best accounts for the evidence that we are presented with.

So rather than being something that we scientists "believe" in, human-induced global warming is simply the only explanation that can account for the overwhelming number of changes scientists have seen, recorded, and tested. Today, there are more than 25,000 documented records from glaciers, birds, trees, plants, and other "natural thermometers" around the world, all of them pointing towards a rapidly warming world.

Not only that, but all other natural explanations for these changes that have been proposed fail to hold water. For example:
  • if our climate were being controlled by the sun right now, as it has been in the past, our world would be cooling--not warming!
  • if our temperature change were due to natural cycles internal to the earth's climate system, the whole world wouldn't be heating up, as it is now; rather, we would see some parts of the world getting warmer, while others would be getting cooler.
  • if the temperature change was due to urban heating, we would see the greatest warming around cities; whereas in fact, the largest warming is happening over the largely uninhabited expanses of Siberia, Alaska, and northern Canada. (see figures here to illustrate how natural causes fail to explain the warming over the last 50 years: http://www.notbluenotred.com/humans.html )
No, the only explanation that can accurately account for the changes that have been happening in recent decades is the fact that human emissions of heat-trapping gases have been building up in the atmosphere. These gases are artificially increasing the earth's temperature by trapping additional heat that would otherwise escape to space.

Why do you believe that such radically different opinions exist regarding an issue that should ideally be gauged by scientific data?

KH: A recent (2009) study from the University of Illinois-Chicago surveyed active climate researchers as to whether they believed human activity was a significant factor in changing global temperatures. More than 97% of those surveyed replied that they agreed, and the survey concluded, "It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely non existent amongst those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes." So in other words, among those familiar with the scientific data, there is little debate regarding the reality of this issue.

This is certainly not the case outside the scientific community, however. It seems that we can turn on the TV and within one minute hear two completely different opinions on climate change, both from people who are convinced they know what they are talking about. Why is that?!

Well, it's hard for anyone not in the field to take the time to wade through the scientific literature on climate: it's often technical, usually boring, and overwhelmingly difficult to decipher. The fact of the matter is that most of us don't have the time to familiarize themselves with the sources of our information on climate change.

Instead, we find ourselves at the mercy of other, much more easily understood communicators: the media, the internet, our colleague next door. And we have no basis for judging which of their opinions may be accurate, and which may be misinformed.

That's why it's very important to examine the legitimacy of our information sources. And on climate change, there are a number of excellent sources to choose from: the U.S. National Academy of Science as well as the national academies of 31 other nations around the world have all issued statements agreeing that climate is changing and humans are primarily responsible for that change. All major scientific organizations whose members include experts in climate science have made similar statements.

Among legitimate sources of information on climate, there is widespread agreement that our climate is changing, that these conditions are highly unusual in the context of the last century and beyond, and that human production of heat-trapping, or greenhouse, gases is primarily to blame for the observed increase in global temperature.

There has been record-breaking cold weather across the northern half of the earth so far in 2010. Do you see greater scientific skepticism toward the global warming concept, greater support building, or about the same?

KH: When we hear something in the news about record cold temperatures, or massive snowstorms, it's tempting to scoff, "So where's that so-called global warming now? I could use a bit of that!"

Here's the truth, though. At the same time that we may be having record snowfalls or cold temperatures, Earth's temperature continues to creep upward. We just don't notice it. That's because weather is very different from climate. They are not one and the same.

Weather is what our minds are designed to remember. It describes conditions from day to day, week to week, and even from year to year.

Weather is that one sweltering week in July, or the coldest November on record, or the snowiest winter ever.

Climate, on the other hand, is nearly impossible for us to remember. It describes the average weather conditions over tens, hundreds, and even thousands of years. Climate is the average temperature or rainfall in a certain place, based on what it's been like for decades.

So it's no wonder, if we aren't aware of the fundamental differences between weather and climate, that some might think that a single cold winter calls into doubt a climate warming that has been happening over decades.

What are your views of the US participating in a multilateral agreement with other countries?

KH: I'm a scientist, not a politician, so my opinion on this question is no more valid than any other layperson. What I do know, however, is that we only have one planet, and we are all depending on this one planet for our future. So it just makes sense to try and figure out the best way to take care of our planet, to ensure a better life for ourselves and our children.

Do you believe that green efforts are necessary or a waste of time?

KH: There are many other good reasons for taking positive action, completely independent of concerns about climate change. By using our resources more efficiently, reducing our reliance on coal, gas and oil, and looking to clean, renewable sources for our energy, we would:

  • save money
  • clean up our air and water
  • reduce our dependence on foreign oil
  • invest in our own economy and our people
  • preserve our natural resources for future generations
Opportunity lies in every crisis. And here, we have an unparalleled opportunity to re-think the way we live: to transition from the constraints of coal and oil to the freedom of endlessly renewable, homegrown solar and wind energy; to replace outdated, wasteful technologies with the most efficient state-of-the-art alternatives; and to better our environment and, with it, our own welfare as inhabitants of this unique planet. Doesn't that just make sense?

Some experts argue that climate change will hit developing countries the hardest. Regardless of your current opinion), do you believe that first world nations have a responsibility to help those countries?

KH: When we add up each nation's production of heat-trapping gases over the last century, it is obvious that developed or industrialized nations have contributed more than developing nations. The United States alone produced nearly one-third of global emissions from 1900 to 2004.

It is also true that those with fewer resources and who live in more fragile circumstances are most vulnerable to change. Climate change threatens their homes, their livelihoods, and even in some cases their very lives.

And although there are poor and vulnerable in every country, including the United States, more of these people tend to live in developing nations.

These are the facts. In terms of responsibility, each one of us has different values that we use to assign responsibility, so I can't speak to how others should feel in response to these facts.

Personally, however, I believe that God has commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Today, it's the poor, and people who may be strangers to us, who are most vulnerable to harm from climate related impacts. I believe I am called to love my global neighbors as myself; not to simply look the other way, or even worse, perpetuate the idea that this problem is not really happening.

(Katharine Hayhoe is a climate scientist and professor in the Dept. of Geosciences at Texas Tech University. She participated in the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and served as Lead Author on the definitive report of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.")



Grabbing the baton from  Hyperlocavore
The ever erudite Frank Schaeffer has a few good ideas on what 
We the People can to do take on the corporacrats in the age of
Citizens United
There’s only one real answer (legislative parsing aside) to the Supreme Court’s attack on democracy by its ruling that big business can spend its billions to support or oppose candidates.
You’re looking at it right here. Trust me, we have the power– it’s called corporate fear of losing money, time and privacy.
I’m a blogger and writer. There are thousands like me. Together we have the power to keep corporate America from destroying our democracy. We can unleash the righteous anger of the population in a way that will make the “Tea Parties” look like a Sunday school picnic!
Here’s how–
Let us bloggers, writers and activists – of all political positions — promise corporate America that the first corporations to make use of this Supreme Court ruling will pay a price so steep that no one else will ever want to try it again.
Here’s what I propose:
Let all bloggers who agree that democracy is at risk because of this decision unite here today to preemptively declare that any corporation that takes advantage of the Court ruling will:
  • Have its directors, named and outed– inclusive of office addresses of the person posted widely and repeatedly with calls to picket them 24/7
  • It’s executives named and outed– inclusive of office addresses of the person posted widely and repeatedly with calls to picket them 24/7
  • It’s major stock holders named and outed– inclusive of office addresses of the person posted widely and repeatedly with calls to picket them 24/7
  • That there will be agitation for the corporate headquarters to picketed
  • That the PR firm, add agency and creative people who work on any such add campaign (and media firm, TV and/or radio station’s executives that sell them the time) be outed — inclusive of office addresses of the person posted widely and repeatedly with calls to picket them 24/7
    …And that all this will be done by all bloggers to the best of their investigative abilities… and we promise to do this regardless of the content of the add and even if in some individual instance we agree with the candidate (or cause) being helped.
    Yes, this is a threat and a promise, actually a sacred vow to sustain our democracy.
    Let the first corporation to try stripping the rest of us actual individual citizens of our free speech — by overwhelming us with their money at the behest of the election-stealing Court — become a cautionary tale that will not soon be forgotten.
    Do you agree?
    Will you promise to make this happen?

    Then say so! Sign this statement, post it on your blog and pass it on

    Signed, posted, and will pass it on!


    NOAA Climate Services Website Launch #350 #climate

    For those of you who missed the very very quiet launch of NOAA's Climate Services website at http://www.climate.gov, a site intended for general use by everyone.

    Go take a look, it's well done, and I have high hopes for its future!

    Take a little field trip, bring your friends :)


    URGENT ! HELP NEEDED on PINE RIDGE Reservation !!!!!!!!! Come on People !!! I know Haiti is a big

    Qorianka Kilcher

    On Monday 1st February 2010, @Qorianka said:
    URGENT ! HELP NEEDED on PINE RIDGE Reservation !!!!!!!!!
    Come on People !!! I know Haiti is a big mess and I personally have done several PSA and fundraisers for Haiti.... because they do need our help.... but Despite the emergency in Haiti , there are many other IMPORTANT issues which are being neglected and forgotten by all the media coverage and by volunteers and people willing to donate.

    people !!!!........ A State of Emergency has been declared on the Pine Ridge Lakota "Sioux"Indian Reservation. People have died. Many more people are at risk of freezing to death. Another cold front is coming in, yet where is the national media coverage?
    Kids and Elders are getting their Electricity turned off by the electric company and gas companies are not delivering heating propane to those who are hit by the bad economy and cant afford the bill.

    Does the 'Lacreek Electric Company' - a non-Indian utility often thought to be prejudiced, care that people are suffering, since they are pulling meters every day? (which is illegal throughout the rest of the U. S. during the winter months).

    What will Obama and the federal government do about this? While they dig out Haitians, indigenous people right here may freeze to death. What are we going to do about it?

    Help put this message out for help. The children and families of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation need our help now. It is urgent that all 40,000 residents of the Oglala Nation have electricity and propane.

    Call LaCreek toll free at 800-655-9324 or (605)685-6581 to see how you can help pay into a customer’s account, example $5 into ten customers would require a $50 donation by you. Tell LaCreek to make sure tanks are full for ALL area residents between the months of November to March – and to collect any delinquent payments between April and October.

    Also, check out this non-profit to see if it is appropriate for you:
    Arlene Catches The Enemy
    605-867-5771 Ext 13.
    Tax Deductable, Non-Profit (501-c-3). She can take credit cards over the phone: Pine Ridge Emergency Fund, C/O Economic Development Administration PO Box 669, Pine Ridge, SD 57770-0669
    And call Lakota Plains Propane at 605-867-5199 and find out what homes have elderly or children and if they need money put down on their account to be able to have a warm home tonight.
    List to assist Elders at Pine RidgeShare
    Below are several Elders in the Kyle Community of Pine Ridge that are in immediate need of assistance. The contact information has been confirmed and permission has been granted to share their information with you.
    There are several ways I will mention where assistance is needed and I'll share here before I begin the information for where you can assist in paying for Propane for those who need it or to contact a local grocery store to pay for food for families who need this. Other ways of assisting the individual families will be listed with their contact information below.
    To pay for propane for any individuals listed below use the information here and be sure to make your payment to the account of the individual(s) you choose to help. The propane
    company requires a minimum order of $120 of fuel before they will make a delivery to the individual. You can also pay for a persons propane and they will credit the individuals account so that when they do run out of any fuel they may have at the moment they can simply call and the company will deliver more.
    Lakota Plains Propane (will take credit card)
    Highway 407
    Pine Ridge, SD 57770
    Be sure to request a receipt and use the contact for the person you are helping to call and followup to be certain they received the help you paid for.
    Kyle Grocery (will take credit card)
    Owner: Liz May
    Again be sure to follow up with the person you make a donation for to be sure they received the appropriate credit for purchasing food.


    As Weed Resistance Grows, GM Herbicide-Tolerant Crops Fast Becoming Useless // Current

    It's fascinating to see how the last 50 years of history have had no impact on a profit making strategy, even when it threatens the industry that's supposed to make all the profits.

    Much like we've found with overuse of antibiotics, we are getting graphic demonstrations of what happens when you over use herbicides.

    "Weeds in GM cotton fields in the US have developed resistance to the herbicide glyphosate to such an extent that this could threaten the sustainable use of glyphosate-resistant crop technology, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal..."

    Go check out the whole article.

    Posted via web from TweetingDonal's Temporary Insanities