No, that rainbow-colored spiky-looking squiggle isn’t in your imagination or plucked from some mythical land. It’s actually a spoon worm, an annelid that lives on the seafloor. (Earthworms are part of the same classification.)
That you can see its strange, beautiful body up close is thanks to Ross Piper, a zoologist and entomologist. It’s one of more than 500 color illustrations in his new book, Animal Earth, released in early November.
“I’ve been fascinated by animals for as long as I can remember. Most people grow out of it, but I never did,” Piper said. So he took his interest a step further, using it to create a forum to show off some of the animal kingdom’s finest and strangest. We’re not just talking megafauna like elephants and rhinos — he briefly covers vertebrates — but rather those small, hidden creatures we humans rarely encounter.
“We just show people, even people with a casual interest in natural history and science, that the animals are just so fascinating in their diversity, not only in terms of how they look but also the way they live,” he added.
The close-up shots of animals from photographers like Alexander Semenov (whose jellyfish and sea slugs have been featured previously on Weather.com) and Arthur Anker really draw you in. Once there, there’s the chance for as much or as little learning as you please. Animal Earth is broken down by what Piper calls lineage, with number of known species, habitat, size range and much more for each. If all that seems too science-heavy, there are plenty of full-spread images to keep the pages turning, like the macro starfish tube feet or the robber fly with its gigantic orange eyes.
“We’re the only species that can marvel at and appreciate our fellow animals,” Piper said. “Far from being above nature, we’re just another part of it, and we’re utterly dependent on the other creatures that surround us.” Marvel away.
The slideshow above offers some of these enigmatic creatures. Below, a slideshow of macro coral and other interesting animals.
August 2014 and the summer of 2014 were Earth's warmest since records began in 1880. Global ocean temperatures during August 2014 were the warmest on record, and the 0.65°C (1.17°F) ocean temperature anomaly was the highest ever measured, beating the record set just two months previously in June 2014. The first eight months of 2014 (January–August) were the third warmest such period on record for the globe.
August featured a record heat wave in the Baltics and Belarus, record cold in Northern Ireland, extreme rainfall events along the U.S. East Coast and in Michigan. Deadly flooding in Nepal and India killed at least 200 and Typhoon Halong hit Japan. A rare tropical storm struck the Big Island of Hawaii. Perth, Australia had its warmest August on record while Darwin measured its coldest August temperature on record.
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Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.
Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.