February 5th, 2008


The Quagga

Those zonkey posts reminded me of something way cooler.

The quagga is an extinct subspecies of the plains zebra, which was once found in great numbers in South Africa's Cape Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State. It was distinguished from other zebras by having the usual vivid marks on the front part of the body only. In the mid-section, the stripes faded and the dark, inter-stripe spaces became wider, and the rear parts were a plain brown. The name comes from a Khoikhoi word for zebra and is onomatopoeic, being said to resemble the quagga's call. The only Quagga to ever have been photographed alive was the Regent's Park Zoo mare in London (pictured above).

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Stylidium turbinatum

When plants attack...

(Image source: Ray @ gdaywa.com)

Folks from Australia might consider this post about one of their common wildflowers to be quite dull, so I'll try to keep it interesting, I promise. Above you see one of the species of triggerplant (genus Stylidium), a rare 3-lobed corolla mutant (they typically have four corolla lobes–or "petals"–with a fifth highly reduced). It's column, the fused male and female reproductive organs, has been triggered by the pollinator rooting around in the corolla tube, searching for nectar. The column, which normally rests underneath the flower, springs forward in milliseconds, dusting the unsuspecting pollinator with pollen (or picking it up from an already dusted insect as the stigma takes over the column once pollen has been shed). This aids in cross-pollination.

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Who said plants aren't motile?!