Sunday, November 23, 2014

Things I Never Thought I Would Say In One Sentence: Communism, Aardvark, Death Cap and Lyrebird


Communism, the political and economic doctrine that aims to replace private property and a profit-based economy with public ownership and communal control of at least the major means of production (e.g., mines, mills, and factories) and the natural resources of a society. Communism is thus a form of socialism—a higher and more advanced form, according to its advocates.


Aardvark is the only member of the order Tubulidentata (tubule toothed), so named because of a permanent set of twenty teeth that have tubular pulp cavities extending through them from top to bottom. The teeth are rootless. Dutch farmers who first encountered the animal in South Africa called it an aardvark, which means "earth pig" in the Dutch language. It looks like a giant, hump-backed rat with the head of an anteater, the nose of a pig, and the ears of a rabbit. It is unrelated, however, to any other mammal.

The typical aardvark is about 7.5 feet long and weighs between 110 and 150 pounds, though the largest may weigh up to 180 pounds.

During most of the day, aardvarks live in burrows in the ground. They live singly or in small groups. They usually come out only at night, when they begin searching for termites and ants, which are the major part of their diets.

Death Cap

Amanita phalloides, commonly called the Death Cap, is a strikingly beautiful mushroom and the number one cause of fatal mushroom poisonings worldwide. Originally found only in Europe, it has proved to be highly adaptable to new lands and new mycorrhizal hosts. Death Caps now occur around the world, from Australia to South America, but nowhere have they found a place more to their liking than in the oak-strewn State of California.

Death Caps are not merely an ecological quandary. They produce the most serious types of mushroom poisonings, which can result in liver failure or even death. Amanita phalloides, as well as their deadly native California relative, Amanita ocreata, contain acutely toxic amatoxins, a highly stable protein that the body has great difficulty in completely eliminating. Modern medical treatments have reduced the death rate for these types of poisonings to around 15%, but even if you survive, it is an excruciatingly painful type of poisoning, and can cause permanent damage to your health and liver.


The superb lyrebird lives in forests east of the Great Dividing Range. 
The male superb lyrebird is 80-100 cm long, including his 55-cm-long tail. Females of the species are smaller than the males, with similar colouring, but without the lyre-shaped tail.

Lyrebirds feed mainly on ground-dwelling insects, spiders, frogs, and other small invertebrates that they find by scratching among the leaf litter. They have powerful legs with long toes and claws, which are ideal for raking over dead leaves and soil.

Lyrebirds are capable of imitating almost any sound. Mixed in with their own calls, clicks and song, you will usually hear them mimicking loud clear sounds made by other birds and mammals - including humans. They have been heard to mimic the sounds of chainsaws, horns, alarms and even trains. They sing throughout the year, and scientists think that the mimicry helps them to vocally set out their territory and defend it from other lyrebirds.

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