Whenever I visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, I have to pry myself away from the cuttlefish, nautilus and octopus exhibits. The intelligence, curiosity, and unique body plans of these cephalopods mesmerize me. So it is a big thrill to see these creatures in their natural habitats.....
The faces of our ancient ancestors are fascinating. Andean art includes portrait head vessels of high-status men created by the Moche culture that flourished along the north coast of Peru some 2,000 years ago. There is careful rendering of nose shapes, chins and other distinctive details of appearance and personality.
Can you think of an animal living today whose relatives, some of them gigantic, ruled the seas for hundreds of millions of years – but then became extinct along with the dinosaurs? This survivor, the chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius), is little changed from ancestors that flourished more than 400 million years ago.
Did you know that complex behavior and intelligence developed on two very different evolutionary branches? In a fascinating book, Peter Godfrey-Smith* writes that the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien is an octopus.
The ancient Andeans revered shiny gold -- but there are dark sides to gold also. During my first trip to Peru I was chagrined to see numerious illegal gold mining operations. I recently found good articles discussing some of the associated environmental problems on a website written by Barbara Fraser (http://barbara-fraser.com/ ).
The Qhapaq Ñan, or Great Inca Road, that united the Inca Empire in the Andes Mountains was a tremendous engineering achievement. The Incan road designers took advantage of many pre-existing roads and trails. They expanded [...]
When I hiked to Machu Picchu along trails built by the Incas in the Andes Mountains, I was traveling on what was once part of the largest monumental system ever built in the ancient world [...]
I was finally on my way to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, fulfilling a longtime dream to see the Andes Mountains and the archaeological wonders of Peru. While hiking along the steep paths and [...]
The winter solstice is just ahead for the Northern hemisphere – in California it will occur at exactly 8:19 PM on Saturday December 21. On that date and at that time, the Sun will reach [...]
When mammoths, mastodons, ground sloths, horses and other Pleistocene megafauna became extinct in the Americas some 12,000 or so years ago, what happened to the plants those animals were eating? It’s an interesting story, especially [...]