Dirt is Good :)

Remember this slogan by Omo? or was it Sunlight? Okay… by Unilever? Much as I don’t enjoy soil science much, thanks to an interesting experience a few years ago, here are some facts proving that dirt/soil (will use them interchangeably) is not just good but amazing.

  1. soillayersMost soil has 6 layers. It’s also known as the ‘Soil Profile’.
  2. Soil consists of 50% water and air. The other 50% is made up of broken rock and minerals from decaying flora and fauna.
  3. It takes 500 years to produce just under an inch of topsoil, this is the most productive layer of soil.
  4. The amount of sand, clay and silt is what gives different soil types their various textures. Most soils are a mix of all three as can be seen in the image below:
    soil-type
  5. There are more microorganisms in a handful of soil than the world population. For example, there are approximately 5,000 different types of bacteria in just one gram of soil.
  6.  Soil acts as a sink/ storage /sequestrator  of approximately 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
  7. It stores approximately 0.01% of the Earth’s total water.
  8. Soil acts as a pollutant filter for underground water
    and finally,
  9. About 1.4 Million earthworms can be found in an acre of cropland. WOW. 1.4 Million! o_O. They enrich the topsoil by feeding on organic material and converting it into nutrients. They also make soil more absorbent and aerated.

    Isn’t dirt great?

    Read more about soil here, here, here and here.

Squirrels

I once had a colleague who would play every hit song loudly, in the chipmunk version. So think of any hit song, then imagine Alvin and the Chipmunks singing it. At first, it was cute then, after a few weeks, it got tiring…. really tiring.I just had to let that out…:|

But aren’t squirrels adorable? With their little paws, large eyes and bushy tails… so so cute. Squirrels (Tree, Ground and Flying), Chipmunks, Marmots and Prairie Dogs are all part of the Sciuridae family.

Some interesting facts about them include:

  1. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa.
  2. There are over 250 species worldwide. The smallest being the African Pygmy at around 13cm and the largest being the Indian giant at 3 ft from head to toe.
  3. Females have a gestation period of 29 to 65 days depending on their size. Their kittens are born blind and rely on their mothers for 2-3 months.
  4. They have four front teeth that never stop growing; this is to ensure that they don’t wear out to stubs as they are constantly gnawing.
  5. Unlike Hammy in “Over the Hedge’, they are quite intelligent. In cold regions, they store nuts and seeds in preparation for winter. They also have fake burials to deceive potential thieves into thinking that they’ve stored their food there. The potential thieves then focus on the fake site allowing the squirrels to bury their stash elsewhere.
  6. They run in erratic paths to deceive potential predators
  7. Squirrels don’t dig up all of their buried nuts, which results in more trees… 😀 😀
    Scrat_Ice_Age
    Scrat

    Read more about these cuties here, here and here.

Glimfeather

The Silver Chair, the second last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis got me interested in Glimfeather’s species. Glimfeather is an owl. I’ve always found owls a bit creepy and cute. I know, weird combination… I mean they have lovely eyes but in many communities, they are a superstitious bird species because of their nocturnal activities. Here are 7 interesting facts about them. Some have been accompanied with excerpts (in italics) from the Silver Chair.

1.Owls are part of a group of birds called raptors. Raptors are birds of prey that feed and hunt insects, small mammals and other birds. Some owl species hunt fish.

The Owl snapped at something which Jill couldn’t see.

“Oh, don’t, please!” said Jill. “Don’t jerk like that. You nearly threw me off.”

“I beg your pardon,” said the Owl. “I was just nabbing a bat. There’s nothing so sustaining, in a small way, as a nice plump little bat. Shall I catch you one?”

“No, thanks,” said Jill with a shudder.

2.There are more than 100 owl species. See here.

3. Owls are nocturnal.

“You see,” explained Glimfeather, “most of the creatures in Narnia have such unnatural habits. They do things by day, in broad blazing sunlight (ugh!) when everyone ought to be asleep. And, as a result, at night they’re so blind and stupid that you can’t get a word out of them. So we owls have got into the habit of meeting at sensible hours, on our own, when we want to talk about things.

4. Owls have pretty unique eyes.

First, they have 3 eyelids to protect their eyes. A normal upper eyelid which closes when an owl blinks, a normal lower eyelid which closes up when the owl is asleep and a thin layer of tissue known as a nictitating membrane that closes diagonally to clean and protect the eye surface.

Second, they don’t really have eyeballs but instead have elongated tubes that are held in place by bony structures in the skull known as sclerotic rings. These eyes provide binocular vision which allows them to focus on their prey and increases depth perception. So owls can only look straight ahead. They cannot move their eyes.

However…their necks make up for this…

5. Owls can rotate their necks up to 270 degrees in either direction! A blood-pooling system collects blood to power their brains and eyes when neck movement cuts off circulation.

6. Many owl species have asymmetrical ears. When located at different heights on the owl’s head, their ears are able to pinpoint the location of sounds in multiple dimensions

And finally:

7. A group of owls is called a parliament of owls.

“Now,” said Glimfeather, “I think we’re all here. Let us hold a parliament of owls.”

Have a hoot 😀 reading more about owls here, here and here.

Just Imagine

Studies show that the sex of turtles is determined by the temperature of the eggs during a certain period of development. With rising global temperatures, there is a concern that male turtles will become rare.

surprised

Just Imagine!

Just Imagine

In 1936, there was a skiing competition on the slopes of Mount Kenya!

In the last few decades, the 17,057-foot (5,199 metres) mountain which is located along the equator, has lost more than half of its glaciers. In addition to that, scientists say that its ice is thinning and may all disappear by 2050. This is proof that mountain environments are vulnerable to the effects of global warming, climate change and unsustainable human activities.

Just Imagine!

surprised