A group of scientists has rediscovered the world's rarest fly in a cave in Kenya, collecting the first "terrible hairy fly" specimen since 1948.
Dr Robert Copeland and fellow dipterist Dr Ashley Kirk-Spriggs found the fly, known as Mormotomyia Hirsuta, in its only known habitat, a cave-like rock cleft in Ukazi Hill east of Nairobi, Kenya.
"The re-discovery of the species, which has been collected on only two occasions before, in 1933 and 1948, has caused excitement in insect museums world-wide," a statement said.
The mission was led by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe), an organisation which aims to reduce poverty and improve health and food security by enhancing tropical African countries' ability to harness their natural resources through the study of insects.
The spider-like fly is described as "strange, due to its relatively large size, the males of which can stretch over one centimetre its long legs and covering of yellow hairs, reduced eyes and its non-functional wings."
"Since Mormotomyia cannot fly, there is a strong possibility that it is really restricted to this tiny habitat," Dr Copeland said.
"If that is the case, it would be wonderful if the entire Ukazi Hill, on which it is found, were declared a national heritage area and given suitable conservation protection," he added.
.With the Geminid space shower expected to light up Britain's night skies next week, here is a run-down of everything you need to know about meteors.
What is a meteor?
A meteor is a meteoroid – or a particle broken off an asteroid or comet orbiting the Sun – that burns up as it enters the Earth's atmosphere, creating the effect of a "shooting star". Meteoroids that reach the Earth's surface without disintegrating are called meteorites.
Where do they come from?
Meteors are mostly pieces of comet dust no larger than a grain of rice. Meteorites are principally rocks broken off asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and can weigh as much as 60 tonnes.
Why can we see them?
When Meteors enter the Earth's atmosphere from outer space, the friction caused by air particles heats them so that they glow, leaving behind them a trail of gas and melted particles as they disintegrate 30 to 60 miles from the ground. Most glow for about a second, but others leave a trail that lasts for several minutes.
Why do they come in showers?
Millions enter the Earth's atmosphere each day but at certain times each year a trail or cluster of meteoroids will arrive at once as Earth passes through the remnants of a comet that passed long ago while orbiting the Sun.
What are they made of?
Meteors are no more than dust and ice from the trail of comets. Meteorites can be "stony", made up of minerals rich in silicon and oxygen, "iron", consisting mainly of iron and nickel, or "stony-iron", a combination of the two
.Over the coming week the 2010 Geminid meteor shower gets underway, building up to a peak which is expected on the morning of 14 December. I thought now would be an ideal time to repost a few excerpts from the blog post I wrote about the shower last year.
The best time to look for the meteors will be on the night of the 13/14 December. How many you’ll see depends on several factors, such as your local light pollution levels and the cloud cover. Steve Owens has a great post about this here, where he explains how to calculate the number of Geminids you can expect to spot from your viewing location. Meanwhile, here’s what I had to say about the Geminids this time last year:
If you go out over the next few nights and see any meteors you’ll know you’ve spotted a Geminid if it appears to come from a point in the constellation of Gemini. This point is known as the ‘radiant’. The constellation that the radiant is located in gives the meteor shower its name; so the Geminids come from Gemini, the Orionids come from Orion etc.
In terms of where to look, my advice would simply be to look up. Gemini is high in the sky over the next few nights at around 1:30am, and with the Moon out of the way later on in the evening, we’ve got some good observing conditions for this year’s shower. Wrap up warm and sit back in a sun-lounger if you can, as this should stop your neck from getting tired and give you a better, more comfortable, view of the sky.
.The Biodigital Human app can be found on this link
The BioDigital Human is a 3D platform that simplifies the understanding of anatomy, disease and treatments. Interactive tools for exploring, dissecting, and sharing custom views, combined with detailed medical descriptions provide an unprecedented new visual format to learn about your body.
This app uses the exciting new web standard for 3D - WebGL. At this time not all graphics cards are supported. To verify your computer supports WebGL a quick test is available at: http://get.webgl.org/.
Please note, the BioDigital Human anatomy and conditions will continue to evolve. Recommendations on what conditions you would like to see are welcome!
Links to the attachments:I am not home educating, but I do have an interest in my local branch to whom I give occasional presentations.
I was a teacher of Science in main stream education for over twenty years, with a major interest in developing methods for reducing difficulties caused by the use of jargon in Science.
I therefore wrote and published William's Words in Science - The JARGON BUSTER ; a dictionary that has been built for ease of use, with the advantages given on the attachment.
Your book is Excellent! It is really educative and rich book for everybody AIY
The dictionary has been brilliant. I've had people picking it up just to thumb through it and saying 'I never knew that!' JL
I'm really impressed with the quality of it's writing and production, and have already used it for reference several times. However, to do so, I had to go and steal it back from my 12-year-old son who was utterly delighted when I showed him, saying it was 'exactly what he needed’ GW
William's Words is a superb resource for any learner of Science, not only defining 13,000 science words and phrases, but also providing historical development and clear explanations for fifty of the great ideas of Science; individual copies cost £20 (including a protective plastic cover and p&p), but prices reduce for higher numbers eg order ten for £14.50 each ( total cost of £145 )
I know that books are rarely bought on an email, or by advertising! But I do enjoy teaching, and have recently given presentations at HESFes, and at my local (Cambridge) branch of home educators - these presentations concurrently give me the opportunity to entertain young people, to advertise my book, and for people to examine the book.
I would happily give one (or more) presentations - eg the Human Body Project (attached) is a fun way of learning about the organs of the body; discussing objects found in the day & night sky; making fossils; or magnetism & electricity - to any group that is within a reasonable distance of Cambridge.
The last two attachments are my latest development of ideas for increasing the familiarity of the words of Science - please use them and see how learning Science can be fun.