Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Encore! 10 Extinct Lifeforms Worth Resurrecting

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Encore! 10 Extinct Lifeforms Worth Resurrecting: [ By Steve in Animals & Habitats & Nature & Ecosystems & Science & Research. ]



Gone before their time? These 10 extinct species are certainly gone but they’re not forgotten, and they may not even be gone for good if biological technology continues to advance. Could we bring them back? Should we even try? If the answer to the former is “yes”, then the question of the latter is moot.



Woolly Mammoth


(images via: BBC, Loyal K.N.G and Real Simple)


Great herds of Woolly Mammoths roamed over huge swathes of the northern hemisphere for tens of thousands of years, and you’d better believe they left their mark – among other things – on the frozen tundra. It’s impossible to calculate the beneficial effect of dropped dung by the megaton year after year, millennium after millennium, on the arctic environment but we can assume those vast, empty plains would be much more fertile after our shaggy pals resume dumping much more fertilizer.


(image via: DesignerAnimals2011)


Mammoths haven’t been extinct for too long, geologically speaking, with the last dwarf population on Siberia’s isolated Wrangel Island finally biting the permafrost around 1650 BC. Speaking of permafrost, hundreds of mammoths remain preserved to an astonishing, er, degree in what’s been called “nature’s freezer”, and their DNA is perhaps the least degraded of any ancient extinct creature.


Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger)


(images via: Rainforest Info, Haunted America Tours and Retrieverman’s Weblog)


Plagues of introduced invasive rabbits, starving kangaroo herds needing to be culled – if only Australia had a native apex predator that could naturally curb animal population booms… oh wait, they did, but it’s extinct.


(images via: Convict Creations and University of Melbourne)


Though the Thylacine (or Tasmanian Tiger) hasn’t roamed Australia itself for thousands of years, the species managed a last stand on the island of Tasmania along with its relative, the Tasmanian Devil. Pressure from humans (Europeans, not the native aborigines) led to the last Tasmanian Tiger dying in captivity at the Hobart Zoo in September of 1936.


(image via: Australian Government)


Sightings of what are said to be wild thylacines are reported every so often these days but more solid evidence such as hair, scat or even footprints haven’t been forthcoming. The world’s museums contain a number of thylacine remnants, however, including stuffed specimens and pups preserved in formaldehyde. Experiments to ascertain the existence of viable thylacine DNA are ongoing and it’s likely the complete Tasmanian Tiger genome will be sequenced in the very near future.


American Chestnut Tree


(images via: Shady Rest and Mother Nature Network)


A century ago, huge stands of American Chestnut trees made up as much as 25 percent of forested lands in the eastern United States. From Maine to Mississippi, as many as 3 billion Chestnut trees standing up to 45 meters (150ft) tall and as much as 3 meters (10ft) wide provided food, shelter and pollen to an ecosystem much more diverse than today’s. In 1904, however, an accidentally introduced, airborne chestnut blight was noticed in trees at New York’s Bronx Zoo. The fungus spread rapidly and within a few short decades the American Chestnut tree was functionally extinct.


(image via: Treehugger)


American Chestnuts are not “extinct” in the pure sense of the word. Less than 100 mature trees survive in its former range, and trees planted in western North America by 19th century pioneers and settlers have thrived without being infected by chestnut blight. Efforts are underway to impart immunity to American Chestnut trees, ironically from the related Chinese Chestnut trees that have naturally evolved resistance to the fungus.


Dunkleosteus


(images via: Club des Monstres, Satori Smiles and Esoriano)


380 million years ago our primitive vertebrate ancestors were taking their first tentative steps onto dry land. What would compel these early proto-amphibians to leave the warm confines of earth’s primeval oceans? Dunkleosteus, perhaps. Measuring up to 10 meters (33ft) in length, weighing roughly three and a half tons and possessed of the strongest bite of any creature EVAR, this so-called “hypercarnivore” conducted a 20 million year reign of terror without stopping for a lunch break. Actually, the 20 million years WAS its lunch break.


(image via: Taburin)


Times have changed since then, and Dunkleosteus is no longer the terror of the sea… it’s no longer, period. Maybe it’s due for a revival, however. The warming oceans are rapidly being depleted of fish by the descendents of Dunkleosteus’ former prey and fisherman are finding their nets clogged with humongous jellyfish instead. If a reconstituted population of “Dunkies” could be induced to chow down on the jumbo jellyfish, what would the result be? Less jumbo jellyfish and more gigantic fish to feed those hungry hungry humans. Sounds like a plan!


Aurochs


(images via: The Sixth Extinction, Andrew Isles and Telegraph UK)


Domestic cattle provide beef for our dinner tables but at what cost? Overused antibiotics and veterinary growth hormones like BSE are contaminating groundwater supplies, while standardization of beef cattle may lead to a depleted gene pool vulnerability to new diseases. One possible solution is to get back to basics by bringing back Bos Primigenius, also known as the Aurochs.


(images via: Canadian Content, Andrew Isles and Ertai’s Lament)


This ill-tempered ancestor to today’s cattle breeds, holdover from the Eurasian Ice Age megafauna, and star of many magnificent paleolithic cave paintings thrived in isolated areas of central Europe up until the late Middle Ages. The last recognized purebred Aurochs died in Poland, in 1627.


(image via: Dididumm)


As the Aurochs is an ancestral species with living descendants, it should be possible to “backbreed” and eventually produce an animal very close to the ancient Aurochs. In fact, the brother Heinz and Lutz Heck began back-breeding experiments in the 1920s that resulted in today’s Heck Cattle. Approximately 2,000 Heck Cattle now exist and biologists are continuing efforts to increase the size of the cattle to match that of the formidable Aurochs.


Meganeura (Giant Dragonfly)


(images via: Multi.fi, Amici-in-Allegria and OSU Geology)


Ancient Earth wasn’t quite a Garden of Eden, though 300 million years ago in the Carboniferous period the land was very green indeed. The air was different as well, being generally warmer with a higher ration of oxygen. It’s the latter characteristic that allowed several species of gigantic insects to survive and thrive, including Meganeura, the Giant Dragonfly. Fossil specimens display wingspans of over 75cm (2.5ft) and its estimated the creature’s diet included small amphibians.


(image via: Animal Pictures Archive)


Reintroducing Meganeura would be problematic to say the least: today’s atmosphere likely isn’t sufficiently oxygen-rich and the creature would quickly suffocate. As to WHY Meganeura should be revived, let’s recall that today’s dragonflies are potent predators of mosquitoes. Considering the damage done by mosquito-borne diseases and the fact that these illnesses are spreading, I’m willing to give Meganeura a shot at squishing the skeeters.


Smilodon (Saber-Toothed Cat)


(images via: Amazing Data, Science Blogs and Pathfinders)


Smilodon existed from about 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago, and in its heyday was the most deadly predator North and South America had seen since T Rex. The species’ most terrifying member had to have been Smilodon Populator, which translates from Latin to “Smilodon the Devastator”. Standing 4 feet (1.22m) high at the shoulder and weighing up to half a ton or 470kg, this resident of eastern Brazil sported signature “saber” canine teeth a foot (30cm) long and ate… well, pretty much anything it wanted.


(image via: AVPH)


We may see the extinction of wild tigers in our lifetimes and lions are in decline as well. Shouldn’t we concentrate our efforts on conserving these existing species, you ask? We should and we are – and their populations are still shrinking. Bringing back saber-toothed cats, on a very limited basis, might serve as a swan song to the planet’s most majestic felines. If it doesn’t work out, well, we’ve still got the La Brea tar pits.


Steller’s Sea Cow


(images via: Seapics, Hancock House and Exposea)


Steller’s Sea Cows once peacefully browsed kelp beds in the western Pacific ocean. Said to be completely tame and showing no fear of humans whatsoever, these relatives of Dugongs and Manatees were toothless having flat plates of bone instead of a regular dentition. The placid creatures were also huge: adults grew up to 9 meters (30 ft) in length and weighed up to 10 tons.


(image via: It’s Nature)


Discovered and named in 1741, Steller’s Sea Cow became extinct in 1768 – it took us a mere 27 years to wipe out a species that took countless millennia to evolve. Somehow that just doesn’t seem fair. These big boys (and girls) deserve another chance and if biology can find some way to reconstitute them as a species, it should be done.


Lepidodendron (Giant Club Moss)


(images via: BBC, Carl’s Corner and WN.com)


Soaring 30 meters (100ft) high with massive trunks over a meter (3.3ft) in diameter, the Giant Club Moss was the undisputed giant of the Carboniferous forest. Packed several thousand to the acre, great stands of Lepidodendron rose and fell quickly: it’s estimated these early trees only lived 10 to 15 years. We owe our huge reserves of coal to the fallen forests of the Carboniferous, which coincidentally owes its name to the very beds of coal it produced.


(image via: Science Buzz)


Restoring Lepidodendron could be a tremendous boost to our energy resources. Not to produce coal – that would take millions of years – but instead as biofuel. Giant Club Moss forests could be re-established on marginal wetlands and swampy areas not used for farming; their fast growth and rapid turnover allowing for bountious harvests every decade. What’s more, Earth’s ancient Coal Forests helped sequester enormous amounts of carbon, reducing atmospheric CO2 and boosting oxygen levels… the revived Giant Dragonflies are gonna love it!


Neanderthal Man


(images via: Big Ideas Blog, The Independent and Esquire)


“Flintstones, meet the Flintstones…” and some day, maybe we will! The complete Neanderthal genome was successfully sequenced in 2009 and subsequent analysis indicates between 1 and 4 percent of the genes of non-African modern humans is of Neanderthal origin. Neanderthal Man may be extinct as a distinct species, however he (and she) lives on within us. Looking for a “cave man”? Try looking in the mirror.


(image via: Feminine Beauty)


Since “breeding back” isn’t a realistic option where people are concerned, possibilities of resurrecting Neanderthals revolve around preserved DNA. The last true Neanderthals walked the Earth approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago and such DNA which has been found is greatly degraded. It will depend on advanced gene sequencing technology available sometime in the near future whether Neanderthal DNA can be repaired sufficiently to be viable… and the next step would be finding a willing surrogate mother for little Pebbles or Bam-Bam.




(image via: Disclose TV)


In the late, great George Carlin’s epic riff on Saving The Planet, GC not only reminds us that 99.9% of all the species that ever lived are now extinct (“We didn’t kill them all”), he also points out that interfering with this natural process is just another example of arrogant human meddling. Maybe so, but we’re meddlers by nature who like to put things right if we possibly can. “Haven’t we done enough?”, Carlin asks. Indeed we have, but to quote another wise old sage (Curly from City Slickers), “the day ain’t done yet.” My guess is, neither are we.

43 Bright and Beautiful Jack O Lanterns

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43 Bright and Beautiful Jack O Lanterns: [ By Marc in Gadgets & Geek Art. ]


This Halloween it’s time to create the greatest Jack O Lantern that has ever graced the front porch. Startle trick-or-treaters, make neighbors jealous, and munch candy while admiring the flickering flame in the perfectly carved pumpkin.




(Images via indyposted, chrocodiles, thegrip, lennyvasbinder)

Some of the best pumpkins are more sculpture than anything else. With extreme depth and no space for the typical candle, they are truly works of art.


(Images via trendhunter, digitalbusstop)

Many people regret eating too much candy on Halloween, and it’s nice to know that Jack O Lanterns sometimes share that pain. While a bit crude, there’s a great three dimensional quality to this kind of pumpkin carving.



(Images via picchore, picasaweb, mentalfloss)

Compelling (and terrifying) film characters are great pumpkin fodder. While it’s not easy to carve a wonderfully realistic predator recreation, a martian is perfectly doable.



(Images via guidespot, geektonic, blissmassacre, digitalbusstop, royaltutorial, thehitman)

These Jack O Lantern examples may not be mind-blowing, but they’d still outshine nearly every pumpkin in the neighborhood. Spend a little more time this year and show some true creativity.



(Images via underneaththejunipertree, surfwithberserk, gypsyredtint, ebaumsworld)

Anthropomorphized pumpkins are delightfully comedic. It’s especially strange to see pumpkins with realistic teeth grinning with creepy stares and stem noses, but it adds a great contrasting quality to the typical Jack O Lantern’s glowing face.



(Images via coolpicturegallery, indyposted, indyposted, lennyvasbinder, lennyvasbinder, nerdnirvana, izismile)

The realism attainable with such an odd medium as a pumpkin is shocking and impressive. Incredible detail, fantastic expression, and creative execution combine to form exhibit-worthy creations.



(Images via indescribableme, mindlessmirth, westseattleblog, menupages, ypcommando)

Yes, pumpkins are cannibals. This is why it’s always important to keep smaller pumpkins well away from the voracious, larger pumpkins.



(Images via babble, extremehalloween, lifehacker, completenewengland, holidash)

Some Halloween fanatics would argue that a Justin Bieber Jack O Lantern is one of the scariest on the block, but it’s doubtful that this would stop someone from placing it next to their front door.



(Images via intricateart, ashleigh-animation, favim, gravewithaview, jasonmarkjones)

Tim Burton is the godfather of Halloween in his own way, and a multitude of pumpkins have been carved to honor his contribution to spooky culture.



(Images via outta-this-world, documentingreality)

Any manipulated material is inevitably used by Star Wars fans to pay homage to their favorite film series. As always, the fans bring an incredible amount of detail to the difficult task of forging a pumpkin into something epic.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Pretty Packaging: 15 Illustrated Boxes, Bottles & More

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Pretty Packaging: 15 Illustrated Boxes, Bottles & More: [ By Steph in Architecture & Design & Graffiti & Drawing. ]


Flourishes, hand-written text, bright colors and amazingly intricate drawings draw us in to take a closer look at the packaging of soap, cider, wine, salsa, coffee and other products. These 15 ultra-artistic packaging designs are the opposite of all-black minimalism, but just as effective at attracting our attention to items we might not have noticed otherwise.


Tempt Cider



(images via: the dieline)

Dazzling illustrations of dragonflies, jewels, bird cages and partially nude figures will certainly tempt you to pick up a can or bottle of this cider, designed by Danish brand DDB Denmark, to take a closer look.


“The concept is build on the that cider keeps a secret,” the designers say. “You can not smell or taste it but cider is an alchohol. You get tempted by the innocent look, the fruity smell and the refreshing taste. You are too couriuos to avoid a sip and suddenly it´s you that have a secret. Therefore the cider got the name Tempt.


The design is characterised by the innocent look at the first glance but by looking closer you will find small secrets and hidden details.”


Bold City Brewery by Kendrick Kidd



(images via: kendrick kidd)

All of the packaging for Bold City Brewery of Jacksonville, Florida is ultra-colorful and attention-grabbing thanks to the artistry of designer Kendrick Kidd. From the labels on the bottles to the tap handles. Each type of beer gets an appropriate illustration, like the adorable dog on Duke’s Brown Ale and a campfire on the Smokey Porter.


Milk Cocktail by Studio Hattomonkey



(images via: coroflot)

Who could resist picking up a box of strawberry milk – even if you don’t like strawberry milk – when it looks like this? Russian design firm Studio Hattomonkey uses the image of a well-known superhero to make this conceptual packaging stand out.


Leap Organics by Moxie Sozo and Charles Bloom



(image via: lovelypackage)

Lush imagery evoking the wild, natural sources of scents like lavender, clove, eucalyptus and anise adorn the outside of these soap wrappers, designed by Moxie Sozo and illustrated by Charles Bloom for organic soap company Leap Organics.


INQ Mobile by Alberto Cerriteno



(images vía: alberto cerriteno)

Artist Alberto Cerriteno lent his highly distinctive style to packaging for INQ Mobile, resulting in a box that looks absolutely unlike anything you’ve ever seen at a cell phone shop.


The Quest Wine by Studio Lost & Found



(images via: studio lost and found)

What could better serve as a visual for a wine called ‘Quest’ than a series of knights in jaunty poses? Made by a winery called Chalice Bridge, the limited release range of wines represents ‘the Holy Grail of winemaking’. Tokyo-based illustrator Skye Ogden provided the illustrations.


Rabbit Children CD Package by Brian Danaher



(images via: brian danaher)

CD packaging like this recalls the medium’s heyday, when the case and insert were often as eagerly anticipated as the music itself. Brian Danaher designed this limited edition letterpress printed packaging for Rabbit Children’s EP ‘Cemetery Friends’, saying, “The packaging helped create awareness for the new release by standing out from the generic CD comps and digital download codes typically sent by most labels.”


Kraken Rum Media Kit



(images via: the dieline)

First of all, this rum is called ‘The Kraken’, giving it automatic awesome points. Second, it’s got an amazingly illustrated label. But take a look at the press package certain lucky members of the media received as part of the rum’s promotion. Packaging blog The Dieline received this box from Proximo Spirits, which is set up as a “proof” kit with each included element offering evidence that the mythical Kraken sea monster really does exist.


Cerveceria Sagrada



(images via: packaging of the world)

Designer José Guízar drew inspiration from ‘kitschy’ Lucha Libre, one of the most iconic symbols of Mexican pop culture, for this series of Mexican beers.


“The whole concept behind the brand and packaging is inspired by the golden era of lucha in the 1950′s, when movie heroes were not Superman or the X-Men — but El Santo and his wingmen, who fought creepy monsters driving a silver ’52 Alfa Romeo with surf music on the background. The variety of styles are named after fictional characters also inspired by the vintage lucha style; “Black King” Imperial Stout, “Blond Gomez” Lager and “The Vampire’s Son” Red Ale.”


Greenpharma by Grupo Habermas



(images via: grupo habermas)

If you’re going to give a product a cool name like Snake Venom Cream, you’d be remiss not to put an image of a snake on the package. Grupo Habermas helps natural cosmetic line Greenpharma strengthen its brand with simple and elegant illustrations, paired with embossed text in bold colors.


Fruta del Diablo Salsa by Moxie Sozo



(images via: moxie sozo)

Moxie Sozo gives an unknown brand a whole lot of shelf presence with this strikingly illustrated packaging. “By using hand-drawn illustrations inspired by the woodcuts of Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, we were able to lend authenticity to the salsa while reinforcing the product’s heritage in traditional Mexican cuisine.”


Bella Vie Wine



(images via: packaging of the world)

A ‘refreshingly sweet and fruity’ wine called Bella Vie gets an uber-feminine look in this packaging by Ziggurat Brands, marketed toward women who aren’t exactly wine-savvy.


“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’! What they don’t necessarily want is to know all about the provenance of wine, the complexity of flavour, all of that flowery, fruity nonsense. It’s Friday night, everyone’s round for a pizza, crack open a bottle or three and enjoy…Treasury Wines asked us to develop abrand of rose designed for young women – a market that has very little interest in traditional wine language, codes or cues. ‘Bella Vie’ is bright, bold and simply, unashamedly about having a goodtime all the time.”


MLK by Depot WPF Branding Agency



(images via: depotwpf.ru)

Modern and minimalist, this definitely isn’t your typical big-brand dairy line – and that’s exactly what Depot WPF Branding Agency of Russia was going for in the packaging for MLK. The illustrated images on the packaging were drawn from photos of the actual farm on which the milk is produced.


“As for the illustrations, we used natural farming patterns – a family farm, where the products are produced in a traditional way. Illustrations are hand-made (with a pencil) which enables to stress the hand-made production process.”


Origin Coffee by A-Side Studio



(images via: the dieline)

The illustrations commissioned for the labeling of Origin Coffee aren’t just pretty pictures to peer at in the grocery store. These artist-designed works, curated by A-Side Studio, form a traveling exhibition which accompanies Cornwall, England’s Origin Coffee to tasting events.


Wicked Energy Drink by Kian Forreal



(images via: lovelypackage)

Traditional flash style comes to the Wicked Energy drink courtesy of tattoo artist/illustrator Kian Forreal. The design is bright and eye-catching, fittingly energetic for its purpose.