Thursday, May 12, 2011

Nature's Secrets

I am really behind on blogging. I'll try to do better as the summer goes by. Speaking of summer, how many of you are ready to enjoy the planet and its natural wonders? Do you plan on going to the beaches or to a faraway place? Will you see mountains or deserts? Well, be sure to keep your eyes open because you never know what the planet could be hiding from you.

How many of you have heard of a Snipe? If you have seen Up, you'll know that it was told by Carl Fredricksen to be something that doesn't exist. Boy scouts, on the other hand, sometimes take younger scouts Snipe hunting when they're just going exploring. Well, here's a little surprise: Snipes are real!
I learned this year that a snipe is a type of water bird commonly found in wet places like marshes or rivers. They use their long beaks to probe for food in the mud. The reason why snipes are so hard to spot is that the coloring of their feathers makes them appear to be shrubbery. So the next time someone tells you snipes don't exist, you know better.

Of course, some creatures from stories can actually be real. In Africa there were tales of a creature that were related to the giraffe called the okapi.The okapi was known to the Egyptians thanks to the Ethiopians they conquered. However, it was unknown to the Europeans until the Twentieth Century, when they came to what is now the Republic of the Congo. There they heard stories of a giraffe like creature that lived deep within the jungles. Of course, most people didn't believe this and wrote off the okapi as the "African Unicorn." However, as time went by, explorers obtained skin samples (and a skull eventually), and some saw the creature fleeing into the forest. Eventually the first live animal arrived in Europe in the year 1918, proving once and for all that the okapi is a real animal. To this day many people (called Cryptozoologists) search for animals that may be hidden somewhere in the world.

Of course it's not just swamps or forests and jungles that could be hiding animals. The vastness of the ocean could also have a few secrets. One of the most exciting discoveries was the coelacanth.The coelacanth was a prehistoric fish that swam in the seas of the Devonian era, about 400 million years ago (give or take a few hundred years). Coelacanths were related to the modern day lungfish, and were known for having hard scales and lots of fins. They were thought to have died out in the Cretaceous period with the dinosaurs. In the early 1900s, fisherman began to catch strange fish in their nets. Scientists began to offer a reward for the production of a live specimen. This was granted in 1938, when a live coelacanth was brought before the scientific community. The coelacanth is one of the most famous creatures of cryptozoology to this day because it shows that it is possible for creatures to survive for long periods of time by changing so little. So be sure to keep an eye out this summer. You might be the one who finds Sasquatch, or a giant squid, or maybe something else we had no idea existed.

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