The photo shown below was taken at a market in Shanghai, China.
Can you guess what they are?
If you guessed, water caltrop 菱, you're right!
Water caltrops (Trapa natans) are the seeds of a floating annual aquatic plant that's native to warm temperate parts of Eurasia and Africa. The plant grows in slow-moving water up to 5 m deep, and bear an ornately shaped fruit that resembles the head of a bull or the silhouette of a flying bat. Each fruit contains a single very large, starchy seed. T. natans and T. bicornis have been cultivated in China and the Indian subcontinent for at least 3,000 years for the edible seeds that are used in pastries, served steamed or boiled from street vendors, and even as a remedy for inebriation.
When it comes to genome size, a rare Japanese flower, called Paris japonica, is the current heavyweight champ, with 50 times more DNA than humans. It is a slow growing perennial that sports a rare, showy white star-like flower above a single whorl of about eight stem leaves. The exceptionally large genome of P. japonica is due to the fact that it's an octoploid, meaning it has four sets of chromosomes - on the contrary, humans are diploid (two sets). Its 40 chromosomes consist of 150 billion base pairs of DNA per cell, therefore making its genome the largest known genome of any living organism. In fact, the DNA from a single cell could theoretically stretch out to be longer than 300 feet (91 m). [ ... ]
Mad honey is a rare hallucinogenic honey that is made by the Giant Bee of Himalayas (Apis dorsata laboriosa) in Nepal. The bee lives and nests at altitudes between 2 500 and 3 000 meters, where it builds very large nests under overhangs on the south-western faces of vertical cliffs. The honey possesses hallucinogenic properties because it contains an ingredient from rhododendron nectar called grayanotoxin - a natural neurotoxin that, even in small quantities, brings on light-headedness and hallucinations. Since it is difficult to harvest and has special properties, this kind of honey is expensive and sells for about five times the price of normal honey in the foreign market. So, the honey hunters take absurd risks to get the honey from over [ ... ]
An old fishing village on the island of Shengshan on the Yangtze River was abandoned for economic reasons, only to become one with nature.
The island, a few hours east of Hangzhou Bay, is a stark contrast to the vibrant metropolitan skyline of nearby Shanghai - an image conjured up in many westerners' minds when imagining populous China. Some of the islands at the mouth of the Yangtze river are popular tourist destinations and have been described as a paradise for seafood lover, while others are inhabitable. The stunning scenery on Shengshan Island is the result of the houses and outbuildings being slowly consumed by nature. The seaside village now lies empty because it was more economical for the fishermen to move and work on the mainland [ ... ]
Meet the Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), a euryhaline species of oceanic dolphin found in discontinuous subpopulations near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia. Genetically, the Irrawaddy dolphin is closely related to the killer whale (orca). As evident in the collage, its forehead is high and rounded, and unlike most dolphins, the beak is lacking, giving it a you know what appearance - don't get any funny ideas now! [ ... ]
Apparently, walking across this glass pedestrian bridge in Zhangjiajie’s Grand Canyon, China is meant to make you feel like you're floating in thin air. The bridge seems to float 1,300 feet above the ground, almost as though it were part of the clouds. The bridge will be open later on this year!
These brightly colored crayfish are found in Indonesia. While colored crayfish have been sold commercially in Asia since the early 2000s, this recently-discovered sub-species has a distinctive body shape and color from others in the Cherax family.
Eucalyptus deglupta, commonly called rainbow eucalyptus, is a very large, fast-growing, broadleaved evergreen tree that is native to moist humid tropical forested areas with high rainfall in New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippine Islands (Island of Mindanao).
It is perhaps best noted for its smooth orange-tinted trunk bark which peels in summer to reveal a unique and sometimes stunning multi-colored bark (as described by the common name of rainbow eucalyptus) consisting of streaks of pale green, red, orange, gray and purple-brown. [ ... ]
On the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, you might be lucky to find a black flamingo. Normal flamingoes are born white and grey, and turn their iconic shade of pinky orange around the age of two, as a result of the high carotenoid content of the algae and crustaceans that they eat.
Experts believe that this individual (and potentially the other bird spotted in Israel) has a genetic condition that causes it to overproduce melanin, changing its feathers to black.
Cherry blossom stones are entirely natural, containing complex mineral deposits that look just like gold and pink flowers when they're broken in half. And believe it or not, these incredibly rare stones are only found in one place on Earth - Japan.
This is a full-disk image of Mars, showing nearly an entire hemisphere of the Red Planet. It was captured this week by India's Mars Orbiter Mission and shows a storm brewing in the north (around the 11 o'clock position).
Nature likes to be a little fabulous sometimes. That's why it makes hot pink animals including: fluorescent slugs from Australia; poisonous shocking pink dragon millipedes from Thailand; pink-bryozoan munching nudibranchs from California; and hairy squat lobsters.
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