The Biodiversity Heritage Library

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The Biodiversity Heritage Library has a wonderful collection of resources about our shared biodiversity online. What is “biodiversity”? Wikipedia explains it as follows:

Biodiversity, a contraction of “biological diversity,” generally refers to the variety and variability of life on Earth. One of the most widely used definitions defines it in terms of the variability within species, between species and between ecosystems. It is a measure of the variety of organisms present in different ecosystems.

The goal of the Biodiversity Heritage Library is to improve “research methodology by collaboratively making biodiversity literature openly available to the world as part of a global biodiversity community”.

A Sperm Whale

It is a remarkable resource, especially for school projects and for all you science geeks. One of the best parts of the Library is its extensive Flickr collection which has an enormous collection of scans and imagery.

The Library “serves as the foundational literature component of the Encyclopedia of Life” which you can find here. What is the Encyclopedia of Life?

Our knowledge of the many life-forms on Earth – of animals, plants, fungi, protists and bacteria – is scattered around the world in books, journals, databases, websites, specimen collections, and in the minds of people everywhere. Imagine what it would mean if this information could be gathered together and made available to everyone – anywhere – at a moment’s notice.

Its mission:

To increase awareness and understanding of living nature through an Encyclopedia of Life that gathers, generates, and shares knowledge in an open, freely accessible and trusted digital resource.

Between the Library and the EOL, these are wonderful biodiversity resources. Definitely worth bookmarking for all those school projects and personal exploration. I’ve added both sites to our Sources page.

Image credit: Biodiversity Heritage Library

Have you met the tough Tardigrade?

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One of the strangest creatures I’ve come across (although not first-hand) is the Tardigrade. I first found about these tiny creatures on COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey (highly recommended) and they are really amazing. According to Wikipedia:

Tardigrades are notable for being perhaps the most durable of known organisms; they are able to survive extreme conditions that would be rapidly fatal to nearly all other known life forms. They can withstand temperature ranges from 1 K (−458 °F; −272 °C) to about 420 K (300 °F; 150 °C),[7] pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, and the vacuum of outer space.[8] They can go without food or water for more than 30 years, drying out to the point where they are 3% or less water, only to rehydrate, forage, and reproduce.

National Geographic has a great article titled “5 Reasons Why The Tardigrade Is Nature’s Toughest Animal” which includes clips from COSMOS imagining what Tardigrades may look like in a waterdrop.

What fascinates me about them is that they are so resilient. I couldn’t help but imagine a possible future where humans are long gone and these little creatures become the dominant species on this planet after growing a little and developing technology.

SciShow has a video about them and why space agencies are so interested in them:

Other resources:

Image credit: “SEM image of Milnesium tardigradum in active state” by Schokraie E, Warnken U, Hotz-Wagenblatt A, Grohme MA, Hengherr S, et al. (2012) and submitted to Wikipedia. Licensed Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic

Killer Whale vs Great White Shark

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I stumbled across this video, “Great White shark Vs Killer Whale“, on the National Geographic Wild channel on YouTube and it is just incredible. It is apparently very rare to see a Killer Whale kill a Great White Shark:

What is very cool for kids is that the Nat Geo Wild channel has full length episodes freely available on YouTube. This is a terrific educational resource for parents!

Fascinating fact: if you can turn a shark upside down, it calms down. Its apparently a phenomenon called “tonic immobility“.

Image credit: Jump by Christopher Michel, licensed CC BY 2.0


This post was originally published on my blog on 2015-09-15 as “Watch a Killer Whale hunt and kill a Great White Shark