Tropical Storm heading for the Dutch Caribbean Islands and Venezuela

A tropical rainstorm that has been designated as Potential Tropical Cyclone Two by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is forecast to travel across the southern Caribbean Sea while remaining very close to the shores of Venezuela and Colombia in South America this week.

Tropical storm warnings and watches were in effect Tuesday for several Caribbean islands ahead of the developing system’s approach. The storm is fore-casted to pass over the southern Windward Islands Tuesday evening on its track through Venezuela.

While waters are quite warm, dry air is absent and wind shear is low; the rainstorm will struggle with proximity to the large landmass of South America for the balance of this week. In simple terms, wind shear is the presence of strong straight-line breezes that can prevent or limit tropical development.

A hurricane hunter aircraft investigated the storm Monday and satellite images Tuesday morning did not show a strengthening system. Tropical-storm-force wind gusts of 40 mph have been indicated by aircraft in thunderstorms, but satellite images have barely shown any circular motion to the cloud cover thus far.

The northern portion of South America, as well as islands in the southern Caribbean, will be subject to localized heavy rainfall that can lead to flash flooding, as well as gusty winds from strong thunderstorms that can trigger sporadic power outages.

The governments of Venezuela and Colombia issued Tropical Storm Watches for the respective northern coastlines, while warnings remained in effect for Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Islas de Margarita, Coche and Cubagua, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba.

Southern Caribbean islands in the direct path of the tropical rainstorm’s downpours and gusty thunderstorms this week include Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Magarita, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba.

During June, there has never been a named tropical system in more than 150 years of records near the coast of South America during La Niña conditions.

During a La Niña, cool waters over the eastern part of the tropical Pacific tend to alter weather patterns and knock down wind shear over much of the Atlantic basin. This tends to assist with tropical storm development over the Atlantic.

Since record keeping of Atlantic tropical systems began in the mid-1800’s, only 25 storms have passed within 50 nautical miles of Aruba, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Of those 25 storms, only one brushed by the country during the month of June — an unnamed hurricane on June 29, 1933.

AccuWeather Forecast / Crickey Conservation Society


Was the Ark of Noah found in the Biblical Garden of Eden

There are many wonders of the ancient world which boggle our minds and inspire the heart, but what happens when a site of such precision and magnitude proves beyond a scientific doubt the existence of man to be older than anything known before?

Such is the case of Gobekli Tepe which puts human history as we know it into question. First uncovered in 1994 by a local shepherd in Turkey, Gobekli Tepe contains megaliths weighing 7 to 10 tons and stands 18 feet high.

Biblical history is commonly accepted and dates humanity at a mere 4,000 years old. Linda Moulton Howe proclaims that this discovery literally doubles the age of human history. But now, carbon dating firmly establishes its age at 12,000 years old – 7,000 years older than Stonehenge.

What is Gopekli Tepe? In the time of cavemen, just before the Ice Age, without the wheel, tools or agriculture, Gobekli Tepe appears with advanced technologies, detailed architecture and astronomically aligned with the cardinal directions.

Lying in the very heart of the cradle of civilization, this exquisite preservation is a gift of epic proportions.

Buried for 10,000 years, the sacred site was discovered quite by accident in 1994. German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt was called in for his expertise and what he unearthed created a quandary of our understanding of humanity.

The level of technique and detail is what first stands out. Richly carved in limestone, animals of the world are captured in both intricate carvings and sculptures. The impressive scope of wildlife depicts foxes, birds, boars and snakes.

The T-shaped megaliths soaring some 18 feet tall stand boldly in place. The carvings on these are carefully crafted with hands, arms and clothing. These towering beings all face each other in a near perfect circle.

Klaus Schmidt’s belief was that Gobekli Tepe was a sanctuary site, dubbed the World’s First Temple. No bones, no cooking utensils nor tools lie among the ruins. It appears that this was not a place where people lived. Only pristinely preserved structures standing in glorious contrast to the desert they now inhabit.

Gobekil Tepe appears out of the primitive beginnings of civilization when brutish humans gathered berries and hunted as nomads.

From these crude origins, a site that questions all accepted history appears out of nowhere. Did these neolithic men stumble into sophisticated craftsmanship? Or was there are a spark that inspired their skill?

Graham Hancock suggests there must be an outside influence that taught advanced masonry to humans. He calls this a Transfer of Technology.

Whether descended from the stars or a lost civilization which the world has forgotten, it is these lines of inquisition that inspire the greatest possibilities for the creation of Gobekli Tepe.

We must re-examine those stories and myths believed to be mere allegory to understand the implications of Gobekli Tepe . Atlantis, the Niphilim, the Annunaki and the Garden of Eden all are often connected to theories of what Gobekli Tepe could have been.

What was once believed to be mythology now becomes a valid line of inquiry. All doors of pseudo-science are now open to explore as a plausible hypotheses as we seek to recalibrate what we know of human origins.

If, as Hancock suggests, the achievements of Gobekli Tepe were a gift from an advanced civilization, we must explore the possibilities of Ancient Alien visitations which kick started humanity.

Resting in the fertile crescent, at exactly the birth of humanity, Andrew Collins reminds us of the Watchers (a race of Angels documented in the Book of Enoch) who guarded the Garden of Eden. Urfa (just miles from Gobekli Tepe) is said to be the legendary Garden of Eden, a terrestrial paradise rich with flora and fauna.

Though the Book of Enoch was omitted from the Bible, several versions found throughout the world legitimize it’s apocryphal legacy.

These Angels came from the heavens and laid with the wives of man to create the Nephilim. Known as the Annunaki to the Babylonians, Collins suggests the terms may be interchangeable documenting the simultaneous arrival of reptilian giants on the planet.

These advanced races came to assist humanity with arts and knowledge. Gobekli Tepe appears in this same moment and marks a huge leap in knowledge and skill that didn’t exist on the planet before. / Crickey Conservation Society 2022.

Germany moves on with plan to legalize Cannabis sales

The German government is setting in motion plans to legalize the sale of cannabis for recreational purposes, aiming to have legislation ready later this year.

The Health Ministry said Monday that it will start holding expert hearings on various aspects of the issue Tuesday. It said that more than 200 representatives from the medical, legal and other fields will take part, along with officials from various levels of government and unidentified international experts.

The pledge to legalize controlled sales of cannabis to adults in licensed shops is one of a series of reforms outlined in last year’s coalition deal between the three socially liberal parties that make up Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government.

They said the plan would ensure quality control while also protecting young people, and agreed that the social effects of the new legislation would be examined after four years.

Scholz’s coalition took office in December. In early May, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said that he planned to draw up draft legislation in the year’s second half following the hearings with experts.

The five hearings, which will be held through the end of this month, will address what measures are needed to ensure the best protection for young people and of health and consumers, government drug czar Burkhard Blienert said.

Like many others, I have worked for years toward us in Germany finally ending the criminalization of cannabis consumers and beginning a modern and health-oriented cannabis policy, he said in a statement.

Among other liberalizing plans, the government has launched a drive to remove from Germany’s criminal code a ban on doctors “advertising” abortion services.

It also wants to ease the path to German citizenship, lift restrictions on dual citizenship and reduce the minimum age for voting in national and European elections from 18 to 16.

The government also wants to scrap 40-year-old legislation that requires transsexual people to get a psychological assessment and a court decision before officially changing gender, a process that often involves intimate questions. It is due to be replaced with a new self-determination law.

WP / Crickey Conservation Society 2022.

Arizona Collected more Tax Revenue from Marijuana than Alcohol and Tobacco Combined

Arizona generated more tax revenue to the state general fund from legal marijuana sales than from tobacco and alcohol combined last month, state data released last week shows.

Tax deposits to the state general fund from medical and adult-use cannabis reached about $6.3 million in March, compared to $1.7 million from tobacco and $3.7 million from alcohol sales, according to the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC).

Beyond that $6.3 million in cannabis tax dollars for the general fund, marijuana excise taxes separately exceeded another $11.9 million last month, for a total of $18.2 million in marijuana revenue—most of which goes to the state, with smaller portions being distributed to cities and counties.

Advocates and stakeholders are touting the March figures. Not only do they underscore the economic opportunity of legalization, but the hope is that providing regulated access to cannabis means fewer people will use more dangerous drugs like alcohol and tobacco.

To that end, alcohol tax revenue did fall short of the JLBC’s projections by $1.4 million, but the analysis did not attempt to provide an explanation or suggest that a substitution effect was in play.

The numbers are a clear indication that Arizonans have fully embraced legal cannabis, Samuel Richard, executive director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association, told Marijuana Moment.

And despite overly constrictive regulation and decades of wrong-headed social policy as barriers, tax revenue far outpaces other recreational categories like tobacco and alcohol.

The state Department of Revenue (DOR) reported earlier this year that Arizona saw more than $1.4 billion in cannabis sales during the first year of adult-use implementation. That figure includes total sales for both recreational and medical marijuana.

While it’s unclear to what extent marijuana legalization might impact alcohol use or sales, Arizona isn’t the only state seeing significant shifts in so-called “sin tax” revenue post-reform.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released an analysis last week that looked at 11 states that have legalized marijuana for adult use and found that, on average, cannabis revenues outperformed alcohol by 20% in 2021.

Massachusetts is also collecting more tax revenue from marijuana than alcohol, state data released in January shows. As of December 2021, the state took in $51.3 million from alcohol taxes and $74.2 million from cannabis at the halfway point of the fiscal year.

Illinois also saw cannabis taxes beat out booze for the first time last year, with the state collecting about $100 million more from adult-use marijuana than alcohol during 2021.

For what it’s worth, a recent poll found that more Americans think it’d be good if people switched to marijuana and drank less alcohol than think the substance substitution would be bad.

When asked in the YouGov survey, twenty-seven percent agreed that it’d be ideal if people used more cannabis instead of booze, whereas 20 percent said that would be a bad idea.

Marijuana Moment / Crickey Conservation Society 2022.

The Human Brain builds Mathematical Structures in 11 different Dimensions

The brain continues to surprise us with its magnificent complexity. Groundbreaking research that combines neuroscience with math tells us that our brain creates neural structures with up to 11 dimensions when it processes information.

By dimensions, they mean abstract mathematical spaces, not other physical realms. Still, the researchers found a world that we had never imagined, said Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project, which made the discovery.

The goal of the Blue Brain Project, which is based in Switzerland, is to digitally create a biologically detailed simulation of the human brain.

By creating digital brains with an unprecedented level of biological information, the scientists aim to advance our understanding of the incredibly intricate human brain, which has about 86 billion neurons.

To get a clearer vision of how such an immense network operates to form our thoughts and actions, the scientists employed supercomputers and a peculiar branch of math.

The team based its current research on the digital model of the neocortex that it finished in 2015. They probed the way this digital neocortex responded by using the mathematical system of algebraic topology.

It allowed them to determine that our brain constantly creates very intricate multi-dimensional geometrical shapes and spaces that look like sandcastles.

Without using algebraic topology, a branch of mathematics that describes systems with any number of dimensions, visualizing the multi-dimensional network was impossible. 

Utilizing the novel mathematical approach, researchers were able to see the high degree of organization in what previously seemed like chaotic patterns of neurons.

Algebraic topology is like a telescope and microscope at the same time. It can zoom into networks to find hidden structures—the trees in the forest—and see the empty spaces—the clearings—all at the same time.

The scientists first carried out tests on the virtual brain tissue they created and then confirmed the results by doing the same experiments on real brain tissue from rats.

When stimulated, virtual neurons would form a clique, with each neuron connected to another in such a way that a specific geometric object would be formed.

A large number of neurons would add more dimensions, which in some cases went up to 11. The structures would organize around a high-dimensional hole the researchers called a cavity. After the brain processed the information, the clique and cavity vanished.

The appearance of high-dimensional cavities when the brain is processing information means that the neurons in the network react to stimuli in an extremely organized manner. 

It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc.

The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates.

The significance of the discovery lies in allowing us greater understanding into one of the fundamental mysteries of neuroscience – the link between the structure of the brain and how it processes information, elaborated Kathryn Hess in an interview with Newsweek.

The scientists look to use algebraic topography to study the role of “plasticity” which is the process of strengthening and weakening of neural connections when stimulated – a key component in how our brains learn.

They see further application of their findings in studying human intelligence and formation of memories. 

Big Think / Crickey Conservation Society 2022.

What Animals & Bugs Eat Mosquitoes?

Bugs are widespread insects on the earth. We can find them in locations all around the globe, and they come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.

Bugs have many different habitats, but some prefer to live near humans because we provide them with food. Unfortunately, they come in various colors, making it hard to spot them in the wild sometimes.

One of the most common and deadliest bugs in the world is the mosquito. These biting creatures can spread diseases worldwide, and they tend to be highly annoying to most people.

Mosquitoes live in various habitats, including rain forests, deserts, swamps, and Arctic tundra. You will find them near water sources such as lakes, rivers, or ponds and next to damp vegetation such as bogs or marshes that provide them with food and shelter.

They are tiny insects, but they can do much damage once entering homes or camping sites. Most folks would think that mosquitoes only live near water sources, but that is not always the case.

As stated above, mosquitoes can be found in locations worldwide, including near human dwellings. They can lay eggs without water or a blood meal and can see all of the nutrients they need from animal sweat, skin moisture, and pools of water.

Mosquitoes feed on blood, so it’s not surprising that other animals eat them too. However, there are many different kinds of bugs that eat mosquitoes. The most common bugs’ mosquito eaters are the dragonflies, and they make excellent mosquito control in your backyard or pond area.

The dragonfly is a bug that lives in freshwater ponds. Unlike most other bugs, the dragonflies have wings that help them fly from one place to another. When they spot mosquitoes flying around the water near them, they swoop down to eat them.

The dragonfly and the mosquito have a relationship that works in a way for both of them. The dragonflies can eat mosquitoes because they have good vision. They also hover over water to catch their prey, having excellent reactions, so they don’t miss out on any chance to eat.

Spiders hunt mosquitoes, and also they can eat them! Spiders are good at this because they have many legs, so the mosquito can’t escape with them. Tarantulas, orb weavers, and crab spiders all love to catch a blood-lusting mosquito.

So if you see small webs on your deck or around your house, it is very likely that they can catch something for dinner in those tiny webs. Other types of spiders don’t make these webs. Instead, they hang from the underside of leaves and wait for a mosquito to come by so that they can eat it.

Lizards are one of the common bugs that eat mosquitoes. They are fascinating creatures because they have big, green tongues covered in sticky saliva. The lizard will catch the mosquito and then stick its tongue out and hold it there for a second while the saliva takes effect.

Adult and larval aquatic beetles will eat mosquito larvae, pupae, or pretty much any insect that lives in water. The predaceous diving beetle and the water scavenger beetle are two types of beetles that love eating mosquitoes. 

Most snakes have a good sense of smell and will chase down an area where they smell the scent of blood. There are two specific breeds of snakes that eat only mosquitoes.

The first is the rhinoceros viper, which can grow to be almost 5 feet in length. The second is the meter-long desert cobra, which preys on small amphibians and rodents in addition to mosquitoes.

One of the most well-known mosquito eaters is the Grey Plover in southeast Africa. These birds compete with other birds for territories where they can find more mosquitoes for food.

Birds are amongst the most effective predators of adult mosquitoes. Over 500 birds on the record consume mosquitoes, including robins, herons, and other songbirds. A bird such as a swallow can consume up to 5,000 mosquitoes per day without harming its health.

Some species of frogs will eat almost anything, including insects and even other smaller frogs. The grey tree frog is one of the only species in the USA to include mosquitoes on their regular menu.

Adult frogs (such as the spade-foot frog, the green tree frog, and the giant tree frog) don’t often waste their time on something so small as a mosquito. But younger frogs aren’t too picky about what they eat. Tadpoles are another major predator of mosquito eggs.

When tadpoles are very young, they will eat nearly any kind of particle that floats by them in water. Then, as they mature, they focus more on smaller creatures such as mosquito larvae.

Muddy waters can be a breeding ground for millions of mosquitoes, so it makes sense that fish would benefit from eating them. That’s one reason why mosquito control agencies explicitly breed mosquito fish to eat the insects in local ponds and lakes.

Bats are an effective way to kill off the population of mosquitoes. They can eat many mosquitoes in a single hour because they are nocturnal creatures (they sleep during the day and come out at night). They catch and eat them at night when they are unable to fly.

You can build a habitat to lure the mosquitoes away from your home using plants that ward off mosquitoes, such as lemongrass or citronella, which is one of the primary ingredients in candles and sprays. You can also plant marigolds in your yard or garden to get rid of mosquitoes.

Pest Management / Crickey Conservation Society 2022.

Scientists discover Skull of Marine Monster in Peru

Paleontologists have unearthed the skull of a ferocious marine predator, an ancient ancestor of modern-day whales, which once lived in a prehistoric ocean that covered part of what is now Peru.

Rodolfo Salas, chief of paleontology at Peru’s National University of San Marcos, told reporters at a news conference that the roughly 36-million-year-old well-preserved skull was dug up intact last year from the bone-dry rocks of Peru’s southern Ocucaje desert, with rows of long, pointy teeth.

Scientists think the ancient mammal was a basilosaurus, part of the aquatic cetacean family, whose contemporary descendants include whales, dolphins and porpoises. Basilosaurus means King Lizard, although the animal was not a reptile, though its long body might have moved like a giant snake.

Scientists believe the first cetaceans evolved from mammals that lived on land some 55 million years ago, about 10 million years after an asteroid struck just off what is now Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, wiping out most life on Earth, including the dinosaurs.

Salas explained that when the ancient basilosaurus died, its skull likely sunk to the bottom of the sea floor, where it was quickly buried and preserved.

Reuters / Crickey Conservation Society since 2006.

Chili Fish Contamination

Shocking footage of thousands of dead sardines and anchovies washed up on the Coliumo peninsula in Chile’s Bio Bio region are doing the rounds on the internet and has left scientists baffled.

A similar incident was reported last year in Chile when “low amounts of oxygen in the water” pushed a large number of fish to the shores in search of nutrients.

The incident reportedly took place on Sunday when several morning walkers were shocked to see that the beach had apparently turned silver with thousands of dead fish lying on the shore.

Agricultural waste products such as pesticides flow into the ocean every day contaminating entire coastlines in the American, especially Florida has experienced the red algae many times over the past years.

Describing it as an unexplained natural phenomenon, environmental officials are investigating what could have caused the fish to die and are testing the water quality in the region. Several workers have been assigned to conduct a massive clean-up operation on the beach.

Locals believe that the death of so many fish could be because of the low oxygen levels in deeper water that might have driven them to swim close to the shore for oxygen.

We can’t bring down earth-movers (tractors) to clear the dead fish, as is usually the case when there is a clean up of seaweed on our coast. Here we can’t do it. It has to be done with workers. A clean-up operation is currently underway.

The incident, which happened in the country’s Biobío Region, covered the shorelines of Coliumo with a colorful array of dead marine animals.

Euronews Green / Crickey Conservation Society 2022.

Jellyfish now officially known as the only Immortal Creature

The good news is that you can be immortal. The bad news is that you have to become a floating blob of jelly to do so. Scientists have discovered a jellyfish which can live forever.

The Immortal Jellyfish known scientifically as Turritopsis dohrnii is now officially known as the only immortal creature. The secret to eternal life, as it turns out, is not just living a really, really long time. It’s all about maturity, or rather, the lack of it.

The immortal jellyfish (as it is better known popularly) propagate and then, faced with the normal career path of dying, they opt instead to revert to a sexually immature stage.

Immortal Jellyfish Lifespan :

It turns out that once the adult form of the 4.5 mm-wide species Turritopsis dohrnii have reproduced, they don’t die but transform themselves back into their juvenile polyp state. Does immortal jellyfish turning into a baby again? Simply explained, yes. Here is what actually happens.

Their tentacles retract, their bodies shrink, and they sink to the ocean floor and start the cycle all over again. Among laboratory samples, all the adult Turritopsis observed regularly undergo this change.

And not just once: they can do it over and over again. Thus, the only known way they can die is if they get consumed by another fish or if a disease strikes the jelly.

However, there are still many mysteries surrounding the turritopsis dohrnii. While the process of reverting from its adult-phase to a polyp was observed several times, it hasn’t been observed yet in nature, only in laboratory environments.

There was a lot of confusion even inside the scientific community between the three types of turritopsis jellyfish: the dohrnii, the nutricula and the rubra.

Simply put, the turritopsis genus can be found in many parts of the world and it it is not an easy task to differentiate between these tiny jellyfishes.

The nutricula was for a long time mistakenly the one referred to as the immortal jellyfish, while the jellyfish used in the lab observations was the turritopsis dohrnii, as they were collected from the Mediterranean, where the dohrnii is found.

Piraino et al. 1996, 2004) was published, the difference between the dohrnii and nutricula wasn’t clear yet and afterwards the media distributed the information that the nutricula would be the immortal one.

It’s also an increasingly aggressive invader. Marine species have long been known to hitch rides around the world in the ballasts of ships. Researchers have recently identified the immortal jellyfish as an “excellent hitchhiker,” particularly well-suited to surviving long trips on cargo ships.

And finally the rubra is a turritopsis that can be found next to New Zealand waters.

Its photos can be found all over the web describing the nutricula, but the rubra wasn’t even observed to be immortal. Its shape is similar to that of the nutricula, but it is bigger (it can reach 7 mm versus the 4.5 mm of the nutricula).

So chances are that if you ever hear about the nutricula being immortal, it is in fact the dohrnii but a picture of a rubra will be attached.

Copyright © 2022 Immortal Jellyfish / Crickey Conservation Society Blog.

US Wildlife Officials hunting down rare Florida Panther?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency formed to protect wildlife, has taken an unprecedented step and marked for death a rare Florida panther known as FP 260. The wild panther is still alive, but has been targeted for capture and euthanasia, Craig Pittman reports for the Florida Phoenix.

Because of an Immokalee rancher’s persistent complaints that FP 260 was killing her calves, the federal agency decided the endangered panther should die, despite protests from biologists to relocate the panther.

FP 260 is the renegade panther with a taste for veal, unfortunately,” one state biologist wrote, per Pittman, who reviewed some 400 agency emails about the panther.

The endangered Florida panther has been in decline in the last half century or so, from hunting before it was illegal, then from development and cars.

There are around 200 Florida panthers left on the southern tip of the peninsula, a rebound from fewer than 30 in the 1990’s.

FP 260 first caught biologists’ attention after it was struck by a car in 2020 and crawled off the road and onto the Immokalee ranch of Liesa Priddy.

FP 260 was treated by veterinarians, fitted with a tracking collar, then turned loose a few weeks later in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.

But Priddy, a former state wildlife commissioner, has complained about panthers killing her cows for a decade. She said FP 260 killed 10 of her calves in a matter of months. Annual losses to panthers topped $25,000, she reported.

Wildlife officials tried everything, from hazing the animal to firing “shell crackers” to scare it off. They eventually relocated the panther 18 miles south, but it returned to the ranch.

In late December, federal panther coordinator David Shindle wrote that his agency had determined FP 260 should be “permanently” removed from the wild after Priddy said she feared the panther would attack a human.

Shindle wrote that the law “provides for removing animals that constitute a demonstrable but non-immediate threat to human safety, but now Calving season has ended at Priddy’s ranch and the panther has gone back to the wild

Axios / Crickey Conservation Society 2022.

Teotihuacan the City of the Gods

Teotihuacan is the oldest ancient Mesoamerican city located 30 miles (50 km) northeast of modern-day Mexico City. The city, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, was settled as early as 400 B.C. and became the most powerful and influential city in the region by 400 A.D.

By the time the Aztecs found the city in the 1400s and named it Teotihuacan (meaning “the place where the gods were created”), the city had been abandoned for centuries. Teotihuacan’s origins, history, and culture largely remain a mystery.

Teotihuacan (also written Teotihuacán) is arranged in a grid layout that covers about 8 square miles (20 square kilometers). It contains around 2,000 single-story apartment compounds, as well as various pyramids, plazas, temples and palaces of nobles and priests.

The main buildings of Teotihuacan are connected by the Avenue of the Dead (or Miccaotli in the Aztec language Nahuatl). The Avenue of the Dead is a 130-foot- (40-meter-) wide, 1.5-mile- (2.4-km-) long road that’s oriented slightly east (15.5 degrees) of true north and points directly at the nearby sacred peak of Cerro Gordo, an extinct volcano.

The city contains several large, important structures: The Pyramid of the Moon, the Pyramid of the Sun, the Ciudadela (“Citadel”) and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (the Feathered Serpent).

Pyramid of the Sun

Surrounded by smaller pyramids and platforms, the Pyramid of the Moon is situated at the northern end of the Avenue of the Dead and faces south. Standing at 140-feet (43-meters) high with a base measuring 426 by 511 feet (130 by 156 meters), the Pyramid of the Moon is the second largest structure in Teotihuacan.

Less than half a mile south of the Pyramid of the Moon stands the largest structure in Teotihuacan, the Pyramid of the Sun. Facing west, the pyramid stands at 216 feet (66 meters) with a base measuring approximately 720 by 760 feet (220 by 230 meters).

The Ciudadela is situated at the south end of the Avenue of the Dead. The 38-acre (15-hectare) courtyard contains multiple elite residential complexes and is dominated by the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, a kind of truncated pyramid that is adorned with numerous stone heads of the Feathered Serpent deity.

Who Built Teotihuacan?

It’s unknown who built the ancient city. Scholars once believed the ancient Toltec civilization may have built the massive city, based largely on colonial period texts. But the Toltec culture (900-1150 A.D.) flourished hundreds of years after Teotihuacan peaked.

Other scholars believe the Totonacs, a tribe from the east, built and inhabited the city.

Another theory holds that immigrants flooded into the Teotihuacan valley following the eruption of a volcano, and those immigrants built or augmented the city. Teotihuacan appears to contain features of various cultures, including the Maya, Mixtec and Zapotec.

Whatever the case, Teotihuacan was founded as early as 400 B.C., though the largest structures of the city weren’t completed until about 300 A.D. However carbon dating can be inaccurate if it was affected the by proven radiation.

It’s thought that the city reached its peak around 100 years later, with a population as high as 200,000 people. Little is known about the language, politics, culture and religion of the Teotihuacan people. They had a glyph-based written language, but it may have been limited to dates and names.

The art and architecture of the city shows it was a polytheistic society, with the primary deity being the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan, which is depicted as a spider goddess.

Other deities include Quetzalcoatl (a vegetation god whose meaning changed in subsequent civilizations), the rain god Tlaloc, and the god of spring Xipe Totec, among others. The Teotihuacan priests practiced ritual sacrifices of animals and people to these gods.

In 1989, researchers discovered 18 sacrificial victims buried in a long pit just south of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Other sacrifices at the pyramid include five canines (wolves or coyotes), three felines (jaguar or puma) and 13 birds (many thought to be eagles)—animals believed to be symbols of warriors.

Artifacts found in the city and sites across Mexico suggest Teotihuacan was a wealthy trade metropolis in its prime. Teotihuacan had a monopoly on obsidian trade—the most important deposit in Mesoamerica was located near the city.

Ceramics, such as pottery and other luxury goods, were also highly prized export goods because of their elaborate decorations. Other goods coming into and out of the city likely included cotton, cacao and exotic feathers and shells, among other things.

Local harvests included beans, avocados, peppers and squash, and the city farmers raised chickens and turkeys. The art and architecture styles of Teotihuacan are found widely throughout Mesoamerica, suggesting the city had far-reaching influence.

Around 600 A.D., major buildings were deliberately burned and artworks and religious sculptures were destroyed. By 750 A.D., the remaining inhabitants of the city had all abandoned their homes to join neighboring cultures or return to their ancestral homes. / Crickey Conservation Society 2022.

Spiders use Earth’s Electric Field to Fly Hundreds of Miles

On October 31, 1832, a young naturalist named Charles Darwin walked onto the deck of the HMS Beagle and realized that the ship had been boarded by thousands of intruders.

Tiny red spiders, each a millimeter wide, were everywhere. The ship was 60 miles offshore, so the creatures must have floated over from the Argentinian mainland. All the ropes were coated and fringed with gossamer web.

Spiders have no wings, but they can take to the air nonetheless. They’ll climb to an exposed point, raise their abdomens to the sky, extrude strands of silk, and float away. This behavior is called ballooning.

It might carry spiders away from predators and competitors, or toward new lands with abundant resources. But whatever the reason for it, it’s clearly an effective means of travel. Spiders have been found two and a half miles up in the air, and 1,000 miles out to sea.

It is commonly believed that ballooning works because the silk catches on the wind, dragging the spider with it. But that doesn’t entirely make sense, especially because spiders balloon only during light winds.

But Erica Morley and Daniel Robert have an explanation. The duo, who work at the University of Bristol, has shown that spiders can sense Earth’s electric field, and use it to launch themselves into the air.

Every day, around 40,000 thunderstorms crackle around the world, collectively turning Earth’s atmosphere into a giant electrical circuit. The upper reaches of the atmosphere have a positive charge, and the planet’s surface has a negative one.

Even on sunny days with cloudless skies, the air carries a voltage of around 100 volts for every meter above the ground. In foggy or stormy conditions, that gradient might increase to tens of thousands of volts per meter.

Ballooning spiders operate within this planetary electric field. When their silk leaves their bodies, it typically picks up a negative charge. This repels the similar negative charges on the surfaces on which the spiders sit, creating enough force to lift them into the air.

And spiders can increase those forces by climbing onto twigs, leaves, or blades of grass. Plants, being earthed, have the same negative charge as the ground that they grow upon, but they protrude into the positively charged air.

This creates substantial electric fields between the air around them and the tips of their leaves and branches—and the spiders ballooning from those tips.

This idea—flight by electrostatic repulsion—was first proposed in the early 1800’s, around the time of Darwin’s voyage. Peter Gorham, a physicist, resurrected the idea in 2013, and showed that it was mathematically plausible. And now, Morley and Robert have tested it with actual spiders.

In response, the spiders performed a set of movements called tiptoeing—they stood on the ends of their legs and stuck their abdomens in the air. That behavior is only ever seen before ballooning.

Many of the spiders actually managed to take off, despite being in closed boxes with no airflow within them. And when Morley turned off the electric fields inside the boxes, the ballooning spiders dropped.

It’s especially important, says Angela Chuang, from the University of Tennessee, to know that spiders can physically detect electrostatic changes in their surroundings. That’s the foundation for lots of interesting research questions.

How do various electric-field strengths affect the physics of takeoff, flight, and landing? Do spiders use information on atmospheric conditions to make decisions about when to break down their webs, or create new ones?

Air currents might still play some role in ballooning. After all, the same hairs that allow spiders to sense electric fields can also help them to gauge wind speed or direction.

And Moonsung Cho from the Technical University of Berlin recently showed that spiders prepare for flight by raising their front legs into the wind, presumably to test how strong it is.

Still, Morley and Robert’s study shows that electrostatic forces are, on their own, enough to propel spiders into the air. This is really top-notch science. It seemed very clear that electric fields played a central role, but we could only speculate on how the biology might support this.

The Atlantic / Crickey Conservation Foundation

Melting Glaciers threaten Wildlife in Asia

Kyrgyzstan is one of the most bio-diverse areas of central Asia, but species are in danger from global warming. Kyrgyzstan’s glaciers are receding at what scientists say is an alarming rate, fueled by global warming.

And while experts warn of a subsequent catastrophe for energy and water security for Kyrgyzstan and neighbor states downstream reliant on its water flows, devastation to local ecosystems and the effects on plant and wildlife could be just as severe.

Animals and vegetation will not be unaffected and the risks for some species will be great. More than 4% equal to – 8,400 square kilometers – of Kyrgyzstan’s territory consists of glaciers.

A natural process of water release from summer melting of the glaciers, which freeze again during the winter, feeds many of the country’s rivers and lakes. Up to 90% of water in Kyrgyzstan rivers comes from glaciers, local experts claim.

This flow of water is not just important to energy needs and farming, it also feeds interconnected ecosystems providing habitats for some of the world’s most diverse flora and fauna.

Kyrgyzstan’s biodiversity is among the greatest in the region and stretches through a variety of climatic habitats, ranging from glaciers to subtropical and temperate ecosystems.

Although it only covers 0.1% of the world’s landmass, Kyrgyzstan is home to 1% of its species, according to reports submitted by the government to UN bodies.

A number of species are found only in Kyrgyzstan with endemic species and subspecies including over 200 plant species, more than 3,000 invertebrate species and 17 vertebrate species, as well as a further 47 sub-endemic vertebrates.

The country is home to some of the world’s rarest animals, such as the Marco Polo sheep, the Himalayan brown bear and the Siberian ibex, as well as the endangered snow leopard, whose habitat is closely linked to the glaciers.

These glaciers are part of often unique mountain ecosystems. In some places one can go from a dry desert to lush green pastures in the space of two hours’ drive. Glaciers are driving much of that.

But scientists in Kyrgyzstan and at international climate monitoring bodies say that the glaciers have receded by as much as 35% in the 20th century and the melting is becoming more rapid.

According to the Institute of Hydro Energy at the National Academy of Sciences in Bishkek the glaciers are now receding at a rate more than three times as in the 1950’s. Some groups say they have observed glaciers shrinking by 50 meters a year. Local experts say glaciers have their own ecosystems.

Their melting water flows into the soil which affects vegetation which acts as food for animals at lower altitudes, some of which are prey for other animals and so on. Certain animals are deeply connected to the glaciers, such as the snow leopard, and they will be affected by the rapid melting.

What will happen is that in the short term the level of underground water will rise but in the long term it will actually fall as glaciers disappear and this will have an impact on ecological systems around rivers.

There are other serious threats to ecosystems from the process. As glaciers melt large deposits of sediment are deposited in valleys below. This affects the local land and rivers and their existing ecosystems.

Glacial melting can also lead to huge floods as natural dams formed by the ice burst, sending lethal torrents down mountains and destroying entire forests.

There have also been warnings from local experts that the melting of the glaciers, combined with a predicted rise in temperatures, will lead to an increase in desertification.

The BIOM group told IPS studies it had been involved in predicted that climate change behind glacial melting could see a shifting of entire ecological belts with the altitudes of deserts, steppes, meadow-lands and mountain regions shifting between 100 and 400 meters.

One of the country’s most prominent areas of biodiversity is the Issyk-Kul Lake. At an altitude of 1,600 meters in the Tien-Shan mountains in the north of Kyrgyzstan it is the world’s second largest high mountain lake.

It has no water outlets and the rivers which flow into it are fed primarily by glacial waters. It has over 20 species of fish in the lake alone.

A host of species live in the diverse landscapes around the lake which range from arid semi-deserts to the Tien-Shan mountain range – which is home to an estimated over 4,000 different native plant species.

The lake itself is also an important stop for migrating birds and as many as 80,000 water birds gather around it for wintering. Farmers say rivers once fed by glaciers have begun to dry up and plants are dying out from lack of water in some areas.

Shepherds have told local media that they can no longer see some glaciers on mountains. In Kyrgyzstan’s submission to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, published last year, it was predicted that the country’s glaciated area would recede by up to 95% over the next century.

Some of the glaciers will have gone by the end of our lifetimes. We must accept a degree of global warming now whatever we do because of all the CO2 in the atmosphere. All we can do is hope that it can be limited.

Al Jazeera / ABC Flash Point News 2021.