Thimmamma Marrimanu – The Biggest Tree Canopy on the Planet

Thimmamma Marrimanu in India is world’s largest banyan tree. It appears to be an entire forest, with Its canopy covers 19,107 m2 (4.721 acres). In 1989 it was recorded as the largest tree specimen in the world in the Guinness Book of World Records . According to a local myth, the tree is named after Thimmamma, a woman who committed sati (suicide by throwing herself on the funeral pyre of her husband’s dead body). The tree is said to have originated from one of the poles used in the funeral pyre. Thimmamma Marrimanu contains a small temple at its base and is still worshiped to this day by the local community.

Satellite view of Thimmamma Marrimanu MAP DATA © 2017 Google (CREATIVE COMMONS)

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Mysterious ‘fairy circles’ built by grasses

Fairy circles are circular patches of land barren of plants, varying between 2 and 15 meter in diameter, often encircled by a ring of stimulated growth of grass. Until 2014, the phenomenon was only known to occur in the arid grasslands of the Namib desert. In that year, ecologists were alerted to similar rings of vegetation outside of Africa, in a part of the Pilbara in Western Australia.
The cause of fairy circles has long been a puzzle and the investigation has proved challenging. One favored theory is that the distinct vegetation patterns are a population-level consequence of competition for scarce water, as the plants “organise” themselves to maximise access to scarce resources. The circular barren patches capture water which then flows to the outer edges of the ring. More water available increases biomass and roots which leads to the soil becoming looser. The less dense soil allows more water to penetrate and feed the vegetation, creating a feedback loop supporting the plants at the edge of the circle.
info: wikipedia

By Stephan Getzin via CC BY 2.5, Link

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Onekotan Island

Onekotan is an uninhabited volcanic island located near the northern end of the Kuril Islands along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” Onekotan consists of two stratovolcanos connected by a relatively flat isthmus.
Krenitsyn is the prominent caldera at the southern end of the island. The mountain rises from a depth of from 600 to 900 meters, and contains a deep central caldera lake with a diameter of 7 kilometers, called Tao-Rusyr Caldera. The central peak of this “island within the island” is actually the highest point on Onekotan Island
Nemo is the peak to the north. It has two nested subsidiary calderas, with the cone of Nemo Peak rising in the southwest end of the youngest caldera and a crescent-shaped crater lake, named Lake Chernoye, partially filling the northeast part.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA / Public domain

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The Sculptural Rock Formations Of White Desert

White Desert National Park in Egypt, is the site of large white chalk rock formations, created through erosion by occasional sandstorm in the area. Some of them have developed nicknames over the years. The most famous are called “chicken and mushroom”, “camel” and “whale”, among other things. Arguably, the best way to experience the wonders of the White Desert is to camp overnight because these sculptural formations look most impressive at sunrise or sunset.

By Christine Schultz (Link

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Giant Honeybees Use ‘Shimmering’ Waves To Repel Predatory Wasps

Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee, is a honey bee of  South and Southeast Asia, found mainly in forested areas. Since their nests are fairly exposed and accessible to predators, built in exposed places far off the ground, these giant honeybees exhibit strong and aggressive defense strategies. A method that Apis dorsata utilizes against wasps is referred to as “shimmering” behavior or defense waving. Bees in the outer layer thrust their abdomens 90° in an upward direction and shake them in a synchronous way. This may be accompanied by stroking of the wings. The signal is transmitted to nearby workers that also adopt the posture, thus creating a visible — and audible — “ripple” effect across the face of the comb, in an almost identical manner to an audience wave at a crowded stadium. These wave-like patterns repel wasps that get too close to the nests of these bees and serve to confuse the wasp. In turn, the wasp cannot fixate on capturing one bee or getting food from the bees’ nest, so the wasp will seek to find easier prey and leave this nest alone.
info source: wikipedia

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Þrídrangaviti – An Isolated Lighthouse in Iceland

Perched a top one of 4 rock pillars sticking out of the sea off Westman, around six miles from Iceland’s mainland, Þrídrangaviti Lighthouse is known as one of the loneliest lighthouses in the world. The remote lighthouse was built in 1938. At that time the only way to get to the top was climbing. Builders had to kneel down and stand on their back because there where nowhere to get a grip.
Nowadays, the lighthouse is accessible by helicopter and even features a small helipad.

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Author eats mushrooms sprouting from his own book about mushrooms

Biologist Merlin Sheldrake found a surprising way to promote his book entitled Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Future. He dampened a copy of the book and seeded it with spores, eating the oyster mushrooms that sprouted from its pages on camera.

Initially I was flattered that the fungus seemed to have consumed the book so eagerly, but on reflection I don’t think that I can take this as a vote of confidence,” Sheldrake admits, “But I think it’s still a reassuring sight. Given it’s the ultimate omnivore it would’ve been a bit bruising if the fungus hadn’t eaten the book at all. Anyway now it’s the fungus turn to get eaten.

Al Naslaa Rock Formation – Two stones split in half with laser like precision

Al Naslaa Rock is the most photogenic petroglyph in Tayma about an eight-hour drive out of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.. The uniform slit between the two standing stones and the flat faces are completely natural. A perfect slit between the rocks seems like a machine work, but it is astonishingly natural. The small pedestals have provided additional support to boulders. Archaeologists don’t know how rock formation remains balanced and how did the rock cut in the middle. Most likely movement in the ground below triggered the split but  the exact cause of the split has yet to be determined .

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Indonesia’s Silver-Painted Beggars

Beggars have been around for as long as anyone can remember, and Indonesia is no exception,  but a new type of beggar, the so-called Silver Men, has recently sprung up in the South East Asian country. Known as Manusia Silver or “Silver Men,” they are a special kind of beggar inspired by the street performers. They use metallic paint to turn themselves into living statues. The beggars have opted for this look because it makes them stand out and therefore increases the chances of people giving them money.
To get the look, Silver Men just spray-paint themselves with the metallic pigment, grab a cardboard box and walk among the cars on busy roads.
According to recent articles in Indonesian press their numbers have recently soared, and police have been cracking down on Manusia Silver, arresting and fining them in order to discourage them from annoying people for money.