The Namibian Fog Basking Beetle

The Namibian Fog Basking Beetle lives in the Namibian Desert, where water is scarce. Seeing as water is necessary for the survival of any form of life, this poses a challenge to organisms. The Namibian Fog Basking Beetle has an extremely innovative method of obtaining moisture in its harsh environment.

The Namib Desert is the site of a remarkable natural phenomenon. The cold Benguela current causes a fog to roll into the desert, serving as a source of water. This fog occurs roughly 30 days every year and in a single day can deposit up to 1 litre of water per square meter (on the mesh of an artificial fog screen).

The Fog Basking Beetles exploit this rare occurrence by climbing to the top of sand dunes and face the wind with their backs in the air. They then turn their bodies into literal water collectors. Water droplets form on their elytra* and roll down into their mouths. In some varieties of Fog Basking Beetle, it is thought that their elytra are hydrophobic surfaces. This causes the water in the fog to bead up and slide down into their mouths.

This resource exploitation is extremely successful. Other similar beetles that do not exhibit such fog basking behaviour have serious decline in population during times of drought. However, the fog-basking beetle is still present in large numbers at such periods of scarcity.

*Elytra: The forewings of the beetle

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World’s Biggest Dinosaur Discovered

May 17, 2014 | by Lisa Winter

A farmer in Chubut, Argentina made an incredible dinosaur discovery about three years ago. While working out in his fields, he stumbled across some fossilized dinosaur remains. Paleontologists from the nearby Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio excavated the area and found about 150 incredibly well-preserved bones from seven individuals of a species that is likely the largest to ever walk the Earth.

The remains come from a newly-described species of titanosaur, which are large herbivorous sauropods. It lived in the late Mesozoic about 95 million years ago. This behemoth will not have a name until the findings are published in a scientific journal, but the researchers have claimed they will choose a title that pays tribute to the region, the farmer, and the dinosaur’s incredible size.

It is estimated to be an astonishing 40 meters (130 feet) long from head to tail and 20 meters (65 feet) tall. A creature this large would have likely weighed in at a hefty 77 tonnes (85 short tons), which is over eleven times more than Tyrannosaurs rex.

Researchers are currently comparing this species to Argentinosaurus, which is currently regarded as the largest dinosaur ever. However, Argentinosaurus is believed to weigh about 7 tonnes (7.7 tons) less than this new species, and has likely been officially dethroned as the largest terrestrial animal ever.

Understanding the true size of the dinosaurs is always open for some debate when there isn’t a complete skeleton. Assumptions must be made about the size and shape of missing bones, based on what they know about related species. However, there may be many more clues that have not yet been surfaced at the dig site.

José Luis Carballido, who is leading the dig has said in a press release on the museum’s website that the team is “[s]till working on this extraordinary site. We estimate that one fifth of the excavation process is completed, so there is still much work to do and probably much to discover.”

The researchers also found more than 60 teeth belonging to carnivorous species, who likely scavenged on the dead titanosaurs. Carballido claims that this opportunity came at a price, as the giant herbivores likely had incredibly thick skin that would have broken the carnivores’ teeth, though the teeth would have grown back.

Other fossils from the site indicate that when this giant dinosaur lived, the local landscape was quite green and lush with flowers and trees. The titanosaurs likely gathered near a source of water, and may have died after getting caught in mud.

The researchers note that the farmer’s family has been very accommodating during the excavation process as many pieces of large digging equipment have been brought in onto the land.

[All images credited to: Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio]


The Cosmos E3 Reflection: Nathalie

COSMOS: Episode 3

Posted by Nathalie Istanto in Biology SL on Sunday, May 18th, 2014 at 3:47 pm

The third episode of COSMOS was on how we have tried to map out our galaxy and tried to make sense of it from the very beginning of time. I didn’t really find much of the episode that interesting, but there were some parts that I think were important and also quite interesting.

My favorite part was at the beginning of the episode, which was when the narrator begins talking about how we, humans, try to find connections that might not really be there. An interesting example was how we tried to map out the comets and marked them as ill omens, when they are actually just rocks from outer space. However, comets are what created a revolution in the way we viewed our skies, through a discussion of two very important people, Isaac Newton and Edmond Haley.

I think that Edmond Haley was a really great guy. He had many different inventions, including the diving bell and the weather map. I always thought he was the man who found Haley’s comet, but as it turned out, he did many other things. He was also a good friend of Newton, and kept him from locking himself away in his room. Haley helped Newton published his book, which helped changed people’s minds that they might actually be able to learn more about what is up there.

Isaac Newton was more of a surprise to me. Previously, I only knew him as the guy who came up with the theory of gravity. Now, I know that we apparently share the same birthday, and that he was a brilliant, and slightly mad genius. He was able to figure out calculations that no one as could, but his one major flaw was that he didn’t want to publish anything else after how Robert Hooke accused him of stealing his work. It was only through Haley’s efforts that Newton was able to go and publish his work. This shows how important having friends and being nice to other people is.

I think that I want to watch the next episode of COSMOS. The whole series is very much interesting on how the galaxy and our earth work.

The Cosmos E3 Reflection: Christy

EPISODE THREE: When Knowledge Conquered Fear (14/05/14)

In this third episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the narrator Neil deGrasse Tyson introduces viewers to the contribution of pattern recognition in the advancement of humanity’s understanding of the universe. It was told that, as timely as the early civilization, humans utilized patterns in the sky to predict weather and seasons. At present, we understand that comets are celestial objects that heat up and outgas to display tails when their nucleases are exposed to solar radiation. In the past, however, humans perceived comets as omens for the future. Such gesture, in my opinion, reflects that, even since the first civilization, a part of human nature is designed to nurture the desire to believe in the existence of something bigger than ourselves – whether it’d be an all-encompassing God or destiny.

After an introduction on the basics of pattern recognition, the episode transitions to a story of Edmond Halley and Isaac Newton. Before watching this episode, I didn’t know that both Halley and Newton lived in the same time period (woops), let alone collaborated to produce Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematicathe first scientific work that examines the laws of physics through mathematics. I learnt that the publication of the work faced an array of hardships including the claim of plagiarism by Robert Hooke and lack of funding. Not surprisingly, the work was also deemed controversial as it challenges the notion that God designed and created the entire universe.

Left to right: Robert Hooke ("Hooke"), Edmond Halley ("Halley"), Isaac Newton ("Newton") and the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Philosophiæ")

To conclude, the episode focuses on Edmond Halley and his achievements – which were largely possible due to his ability to recognize and interpret patterns. I instinctively correlate the surname “Halley” to the famous Comet Halley, and instantly assumed that Edmond Halley was the one who pinpointed the comet’s characteristics. Nevertheless, I was surprised to discover that Halley’s work with Comet Halley is, in the words of Tyson, “his less significant contribution to the field of astronomy.” As it turns out, Halley was also the first person to determine the distance between the Earth and the Sun, chart motions of the stars and map out the Earth’s magnetic field!

All in all, through this episode, I mainly learnt about the role of pattern recognition in supplementing our understanding of the universe through case studies of humans in the early civilization, Robert Hooke, Edmond Halley and Isaac Newton.


“Halley.” Pinpoint Weather Blog. Web. 17 May 2014. <;.

“Hooke.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 May 2014. Web. 14 May 2014. <;.

“Newton.” Flash Sul Mondo … Di Tutto, Di Più: Isaac Newton: Primo Scienziato O Ultimo Alchimista. Web. 14 May 2014. <;.

 “Philosophiæ.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 May 2014. Web. 14 May 2014. <;.

The Cosmos E3 Reflection: Liam

Cosmos (Space-Time Odyssey), “3rd Episode”

Posted by William Sugiharto in Biology 11 on Saturday, May 17th, 2014 at 7:15 am

What can I say, the newest episode of “Cosmos, Space time Odyssey” dove into all things small and big comprising of the modern history of science. And again, it took me to the edge of my seat, thrilled and intrigued by the special effects that are comprised in this episode which is exceedingly superb and original. The musics that are utilized throughout the 3rd episode of cosmos matches very well to the context that are being presented thus, drawing my attention throughout the whole 3rd episode of the space time Odyssey.

The 3rd episode of the, “Cosmos: A personal Voyage”, really took me to the edge of my seat. It explicitly explains the understanding of how comets, gravity’s work and also not to mention, the solar system that has altered the way on how human gazes at the stars and science.

From what I can refer back from the 3rd episode of the cosmos is: “Edmond halley did not discover Halley’s comet and that Isaac newtons “Principia” which is newton’s three laws of motion, almost wasn’t published”.

Presently today, comets are usually refereed and named for the people who have stumbled on discovering them, however, this isn’t the same identical occurrence with Halley’s comet, the most prominent periodic comet. Halley’s comet as refereed back at the 3rd episode, become visible at the skies during night about once, approximately every 75 or 76 years, and during the time Edmund Halley (the comet’s namesake) didn’t discover it, nevertheless he was able to predict the orbits of comets that are all around the sun for the very first time. By identifying a system of pattern in his investigation research,  Halley was acknowledged as the first person to trail the tracks of the comet’s period. A very persistent person which ultimately leads to his success of his discovery.

“Halley also chase down every aspect of the astronomical observations of the comet recorded inside Europe between the year of 1472 to 1698. And quite ironically, this will be an intense work for Halley since there are no computers and search engines available during that period of time to aid his observations, since everything was not as advanced as today. Everything that Halley had were only his mind and the numerous amount of books that he owned. Halley had to gather all of the observations presented for each comet and identify the shape’s appearance of it actual path through space. I couldn’t say less, he was a mathematical genius and brilliance who was determined of his observations. Soon after, he discovered that the comets were bound to the sun in a long, oval orbits.”

What really shocks me most in the 3rd episode of the cosmos is that Isaac Newton’s “Principia” almost wasn’t published. The Royal society in the science area, accumulated most of their money for only one purpose and that is on, printing books of “The History of Fish,” leaving very little funding for Isaac Newton to produce his very scientific masterpiece which is, “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which is basically the three laws of motion of the universe, explaining why the planets revolves around the sun the way they do. But here’s the good news, Edmond Halley came to the rescue and that came to the publication of Isaac newton’s book  :)

Overall, I think that the 3rd episode comprised with cool special effects and it is indeed really captivating throughout the whole episode just like the 1st episode and the 2nd episode. Once again, I really enjoyed both the information context and the sparkling graphic 3D effects that the Cosmos Odyssey Adventure put up.


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