Nature Hub

'Fallstreak Hole' Cloud Formation Causes 'Oohs' and 'Aahs' in British Columbia: VIDEO


Skywatchers in British Columbia are freaking out about two separate intense cloud formations seen there in the past two days.

"Fallstreak holes" or "hole punch" cloud formations happen when cloud layers made of supercooled water droplets get disturbed by something (most often an airplane) causing their center to drop out the middle as ice crystals.

Sacramento meteorologist Mark Finan explains one which appeared in that area a few years ago, AFTER THE JUMP...



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Scientists Hope an AIDS Vaccine Hides in Llamas

(sklmsta - wikimedia commons)


The cute Andean animal’s antibodies are nearly 100 percent effective in stopping the deadly virus from spreading, researchers say.

LIMA, Peru — Fluffy, photogenic and super hardy at altitude, llamas have it all. They’re ideal for schlepping backpackers’ luggage over the high Andes or as a picturesque companion for that once-in-a-lifetime Machu Picchu selfie.

But now they may have an addition to their list of undoubted qualities: Llamas appear to be immune to AIDS and HIV.

The discovery, experts say, just might lead to a vaccine against the deadly virus or a treatment for those already infected. That’s according to new research by a team of experts from around the world, including University College London, Harvard Medical School and Argentina’s Center of Animal Virology.


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Niagara Falls Speaks For Everyone Freezing Right Now: DRONE VIDEO


Frozen, encased in ice, with no thaw in sight, Niagara Falls are a site to behold at the moment.

Check out some stunning drone footage, AFTER THE JUMP...

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At the Dublin Zoo, Love Comes in Many Shapes and Sizes, Gay and Straight: VIDEO


Irish Independent reporter Patricia Murphy stopped by the Dublin Zoo earlier this week to find out how the animals would be spending their time on Valentine's Day. Just like with humans, the rest of the animal kingdom hosts a wide variety of pairings - with monogamy, polygamy, and polyandry on display.

There's also gay flamingos and commitment-phobe tigers.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...


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Jimmy The Groundhog Doesn't See His Shadow But Has a Taste For Blood: VIDEO


Apparently not all oracular rodents can be as well-mannered as Punxsutawney Phil. While delivering the news of his shadow-sighting to the mayor of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Jimmy the Groundhog was overcome with an insatiable thirst for blood and launched his incisors at the tender cheek of Mayor Jonathan Freund, claiming what was owed for the foreknowledge of the plans of Winter herself.

The incident should stand as a harsh reminder of the cost of delving into climatological prognostication...and of shoving one's ear into the face of a wild woodchuck.

The incident was caught on tape and can be seen AFTER THE JUMP...

[h/t jmg]

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South Africa's Rhino Population May Be in Decline for the First Time in Nearly a Century



Authorities have started to relocate dozens of rhinos from poaching “hot spots” to safer locations.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The situation for South Africa's rhinos just keeps getting worse.

On Thursday, the government announced rhinoceros poaching statistics for 2014, and it was another record year: 1,215 rhinos slaughtered illegally for their horns, a 21 percent increase from 1,004 in 2013.

3_rhinoAs in previous years, hardest hit were the rhinos at South Africa's famed Kruger National Park, home to the world's largest rhino population and the top target for organized crime groups, some of which operate from across the park’s open border with Mozambique.

More than two thirds of the animals poached in 2014 were killed in the park — a shocking 827 rhinos, according to South Africa's environmental affairs ministry.

In 2007, just 13 rhinos were killed by poachers. That number has increased dramatically every year since, fueled by lucrative demand in Vietnam and China where rhino horn is considered “traditional medicine,” and used to treat everything from cancer to a hangover despite no proof of any medicinal effect.

Out of desperation, South Africa has started to relocate dozens of the Kruger park's rhinos from poaching “hot spots” to safer locations, and last year even moved more than 100 to neighboring states for protection.

The reasons for the continuing rise in poaching — despite increased efforts to combat the problem — are complicated, but include corruption, institutional turmoil and judicial delays in key prosecutions, according to TRAFFIC, which monitors international trade in wildlife.

The number of animals being killed raises concerns that South Africa's rhino population may be in decline for the first time in nearly a century, the group said in a statement, meaning that more rhinos are dying than are being born.

“The lack of strong political will and active leadership from the government, neighboring Mozambique and key Asian countries remains a serious impediment to turning this crisis situation around,” said David Newton, TRAFFIC’s director in east and southern Africa.

(photos: andy towle)


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