Posted: August 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Animals and Nature | Tags: | No Comments »

Opposing thumbs have long been praised as that inimitable human trait by which we alone can use tools and manipulate our environment. But elephants aren’t too far behind. A group of six elephants in Thailand have been trained by artists to paint a variety of pictures, including self-portraits, by holding regular paint brushes in their trunks. They complete their paintings in just 5 to 10 minutes in front of an audience, several of which have gone on display in the Edinburgh gallery in Scotland.

Inimitable (pronounced “ih-NIM-ih-teh-bul”)

Defying imitation; matchless.


From Latin imitari, “to copy, imitate”, which is also the root of image, imitation, and imitable.


unparalleled, incomparable, nonpareil


Photo by: YuvalH | BBC News

Opposing thumbs have long been praised as that inimitable human characteristic which allow us to use tools and master our environment like no other species


Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Animals and Nature | Tags: | No Comments »

Sand dune in Sahara

Few places are more torrid than the Sahara Desert of North Africa. The air is so hot and dry that a person can lose a gallon of water per hour just by being there—two if walking. The sand gets hot enough to fry an egg. Still, it does not compare with Dallol, Ethiopia, whose inhabitants endure an average daily high of 106 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the hottest inhabited place on Earth.

Torrid (pronounced “TOR-id”)

1. *Parched with the heat of the sun; intensely hot.
2. Scorching; burning: the torrid noonday sun.
3. Passionate; ardent: a torrid love scene.
4. Hurried; rapid: set a torrid pace; torrid economic growth.


From Latin torrere, “to parch”. Torrere is also the root of terrain, torrent, and toast.


blistering, arid, parched, sweltering


Earth’s Natural Wonders, Wikipedia: Extremes on Earth |   Photo by: Espirit de Sel


Posted: August 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Animals and Nature | Tags: | No Comments »

Rainforest in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Rainforests exist only through an interdependence of multifarious flora and fauna. They cover less than 2% of  Earth, yet they are home to 50% of its plants and animals. A typical four square-mile patch of rainforest contains up to 750 species of trees, 400 species of birds, and 150 species of butterflies. Even so, rainforests are being leveled at the rate of one football field per second, despite providing a livelihood for over 1 billion people.

Multifarious (pronounced “mult-əh-FAIR-ee-əs”)

Having great variety; diverse.


From Latin multi, “many”, plus fariam, “parts”. Fariam is also the root of omnifarious, meaning “all parts”.


sundry, multiform, manifold

Source Rainforest Facts |   Photo by: baxterclaus


Posted: August 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Animals and Nature | Tags: | 1 Comment »

Unusually colorful sea cucumber

Sea cucumbers are deep sea-dwelling animals that owe their shape to endoskeletons below the skin. These endoskeletons have the peculiar property of being liquefacient; when a sea cucumber is in danger, it can essentially liquefy itself and slip through minuscule spaces, then re-harden when safe from harm’s way. Its transmutable nature presents a special challenge in containing it within aquariums that have large pumps or filtration systems.

Liquefacient (pronounced “lik-wih-FAY-shent”)

1. a substance that liquefies or causes liquefaction
2. *becoming or causing to become liquid


From Latin liquere, “be fluid”, plus facere, “to make”.


Wikipedia: Sea Cucumber |   Photo by: laszlo-photo


Posted: July 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Animals and Nature | Tags: | No Comments »

Baobab Tree in the Serengeti Desert of Africa

The baobab tree stores an incredible amount of water, earning it the nickname, ” the bottle tree”. If it could be drained, it would disgorge up to 25,000 gallons of water. This would weigh 100 tons, and surpass the amount that most U.S. households use over an entire year.

Disgorge (dis-GORJ)

To discharge or pour forth contents.


From Old French desgorgier, “to pour out”, which forms from des (“apart, away”) and gorge (“throat”).


effuse, discharge, disembogue


Botanical Record Breakers |   Photo by: Telethon