– The largest and heaviest organism on earth is dying. A stand of aspen in Southern Utah covers 106 acres and is known as Pando. Pando means “I spread” in Latin. Pando has been recognized as a single organism by biologists. Consisting of trees which are genetically identical, the first Pando aspen likely germinated from a small seed about 13,000 years ago. An ecologist (Paul Rogers) is diligently working with the U.S. Forest Service to save the Populus tremuloides treasure.
– A recent study has indicated that children under age 5 that average fewer than 10 hours of sleep daily are prone to have shorter lifespans.
– Most likely you have heard of black widow spiders. It was news to me that there exist brown widow spiders, a totally separate species. It is thought that the brown widow was first imported from South Africa to North America (Los Angeles area) in 2002. Both species of arachnids can render painful, toxic bites. What has alarmed some arachnologists is that the introduced species is rapidly supplanting native black widows and the brown reproduces in greater numbers than does the Lactrodectus mactans.
– Meanwhile, you may have enjoyed some Tasmanian Devil Cartoons from the past. The comical animations were based on one of the fiercest animals incarnate on earth. The aggressive, combative creatures are now living in the wild exclusively in regions of Tasmania. Supposedly named as a result of its shrill unnerving shrieks, the T. devil is said to have the strongest bite (proportionally) of any extant mammal – and is capable of easily crushing most large bones encountered in common prey and carrion. Some of these powerful beasts (max out at about 20 lbs) have been observed to consume more than 40% of their body weights in one day. The species is known scientifically as Sarcophilus harrisii, should you desire to investigate for more info.
– Have you ever watched a sporting event that was decided by a “sudden death” conclusion? The expression “sudden death” was purportedly first used by author Mark Twain when he wrote a newspaper article explaining effects of “rot gut whiskey.”
– For centuries, an intestinal whale excretion named ambergris was prized as an ingredient in some fine perfumes. Ambergris is still a highly sought-after product, but it is now internationally legal only in its synthetic form. Caveat: No matter how flattering you may intend to be, I do not recommend whispering to your special someone that he/she smells like an outstanding whale intestine. Wouldn’t do it. Have a great week.
James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.